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Who Is Really "Wearing Pants" (Calling Shots) in Your Household?


Val is a life-long practically oriented student of effective emotional and attitudinal responses to the many challenges of life.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Keeping a feminine approach is vital -- men hate bossy females.

-- Ida Lupino

It's Like Marrying for a Wrong Reason

O.K., some of you guys out there, I know the title of this post is not particularly flattering to you -- but hey, you are not alone being stuck at that marital role. Many others have succumbed to anything from charms to hysterical tantrums and all the way to sexual blackmail by the "weaker gender".

Personally I have seen quite a few of those husbands who might as well wear a kilt -- though not for the reason a "McTavish" would do.

As for the "hierarchy of volitions" at my own home, neither my wife nor I ever had a need to play a top decision maker -- and I am talking 56 years back. We talk, we compromise at its worst, but ultimately agree, always nurturing the relationship which comes first. Because it's so much easier to fix a wrong decision in household matters than to fix hurt feelings of someone whom you once continued to love equally after the honeymoon was over.

Imposing our will over each other would even be downgrading to our resolve to live together. Namely, I could never really understand how anyone could live year after year with someone who disrespects their opinion, their tastes, and preferences.

So, what do you say? As if I can hear some of you who may contend that "marriage without fights of wills would be phony", because "people are not perfect and imperfect people can only produce imperfect marriages".

Well, in my view, nobody is expecting either people or their relationships to be "perfect", but two imperfect people's willingness to bridge their differences is all that counts -- when love and respect are enough of a motivator.

I have seen quite a few examples of marital control freaks. Interestingly, I noticed how they came in three distinct categories, and the rest of this post will be covering their main characteristics.

Image by Robin Higgins from Pixabay

Image by Robin Higgins from Pixabay

I was quite a spoiled brat. I have quite a temper, obviously inherited from my father, and I became very good at ordering everyone around. I was the princess; the staff were absolutely terrified of me.

-- Lisa Marie Presley

A Spoiled Brat in Charge

One type of control freaks that I saw as the most common was a spoiled brat. It's the one who just happened to be her or his grownup version of that girl or boy that used to throw a tantrum annoying enough to make parents give in every time.

They must have it their way no matter what. So they will terrorize their spouse, kids, parents and in-laws demanding that they cater to their whims, needs, and wishes. Kids will be dumped to their old folks on weekends, if not on everyday basis, in a ruthless abuse of grandparents' love. Like I said it to one such grandmother: "They didn't make this baby for themselves, they made her for you." Aside from the point that the baby "happened" to them, not being planned at all.

The only time and place that I ever witnessed a spoiled brat's control being crushed was during my mandatory military service in ex-communist Yugoslavia. There was no warm water for washing our face and for shaving in the morning. We took group showers once in two weeks. Water was not running continuously, but only intermittently during commands for soaping and for rinsing.

Winters were harsh, drills exhausting, food very basic. Suffice it to say that bean stew was considered a delicacy dinner.

Being a drill sergeant I had a pleasure of breaking those self-centered spoiled brats and making soldiers out of them. Some sobbed in their beds at night, two of such kind deserted, and couple of others in our battalion hang themselves, unable to deal with hard military life.

American military, if compared to those conditions, would be like living in the hotel's presidential suite and having parties every day. So, no spoiled brat left that place unchanged. And by the way, don't let any of it fool you -- it was, despite all that, the third strongest military in Europe. And certainly not because spoiled brats were missing.

But outside of that scenario I've never witnessed a controlled spouse winning over a spoiled control freak. To them it's a matter of psychological survival to have an upper hand in all decision making. Without being able to do that, their insecure nature would feel like naked and exposed to the world as a laughing stock.

Again, other than having a secret urge to put such a human specimen in place, I just couldn't understand why an intimidated spouse was putting up with all that. Why not just leave? Love couldn't be an acceptable reason, because who can love a self-centered idiot? But well, looks like there is always someone who will.

Image by Bruno/Germany from Pixabay

Image by Bruno/Germany from Pixabay

A young person has to start making decisions for themselves at a much earlier age than an overbearing parent allows them.

-- Unknown

A Family Martyr -- Also a Control Freak

There is this second type on my list of control freaks, who may, or may not be deeply inspired by religion -- but, unlike the spoiled brat who does it all for themselves, this one is doing it "for the family's own good".

Overprotective, worrying, paranoid about all imaginary or real possibilities of a mishap -- if not a tragedy -- they are imposing their rules in the house, many of which could be called quite strict.

A number of those that I witnessed were grossly into a healthy living, playing experts at nutrition if not also medical specialists of many fields. Obsessing over food, air, and water pollution, over climate change, over possible terrorist attacks, violent crime, scams, incompetent doctors and car mechanics -- you name the rest -- they took upon themselves the role of "family protector".

Control freaks of that kind always talk about their family; they like bragging about kids who "take piano lessons", excel at sports or in school. Everything good that's going on in their family gives them a victorious feeling. It's a triumph over evils of the world, over bad health, over any imaginable mishap that they successfully prevented.

Such a person has no time for themselves, for a hobby, for a fun, and if you see them in a vacation setting, they are the ones always making sure that everyone has enough sunscreen on their face and body. They are in a true sense martyrs, "sacrificing" their own comfort for their family -- and yes, exaggerating a lot while doing it. And yes, being a pain in a butt by their "only meaning well".

Mothers like that oftentimes produce some future marital pushovers, because they were never allowed to decide for themselves about anything. Of course, it may also take an altogether different direction, but that's one of the possible and unfortunate outcomes.

Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

Mom's a hypochondriac, too, so the best part was that every week she would get a disease that the medical shows were dramatizing. I'll never forget, they did an episode on sickle cell anemia, which as far as I know is almost exclusively African-American affliction.

-- Kathy Griffin

A Health Condition As a Tool of Manipulation

And for the third and final type of marital control freaks, I certainly couldn't leave this one out whom I like calling "poor-me" manipulator.

I am about to talk about a variety of hypochondriacs, those from lazy and faking a condition all the way to those psycho-somatic sufferers with real, legit conditions caused by emotional issues which they somatized into some health screwups.

So, they may suffer from chronic headaches, backaches, indigestion, heart palpitations -- anything which might pose a limitation for them to fully function as spouses and parents.

Such people are known to delegate chores in the household and decide about anything including the TV programs being watched -- which might "aggravate their condition and trigger another episode". They are more tolerated than loved by the family members, who at one point or another start seeing something phony in all that.

If anything, they notice how such a person is kind of enjoying their bossing everyone around. It usually creates a whole sickening atmosphere in the house where all family fun is replaced by everyone's awareness about the person's reports about how they feel, almost from moment to moment.

Weather plays a major part in it, because everybody already knows if it rains that some arthritis flareups will be talked about, or sinuses will hurt, or that backache will make it impossible to stand for a prolonged time in the kitchen, so somebody had better wash those dishes.

And you can bet that no doctor, no chiropractor, nutritionist, or shrink can fix that condition, because the person is unconsciously motivated to keep their status quo -- above all, their role of the decision maker at their home. Complaining has become an addiction, and such a person can't imagine being any other way anymore.

Well, there may still be another type or two of marital manipulators that I missed, but these three I see as the most common.

Which brings me to this final conclusion that certain kinds of people, maybe in bigger number than we would suspect, are not really ready for a marital and family commitment. But marriage license doesn't involve screening them out. Quite unfortunately. What are your thoughts about it?

© 2020 Val Karas

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