The Danger of Micromanaging Your Spouse Your ruler-of-the-household approach may be wearing thin with your spouse. Here are 3 tips to help come together as a team. BY SHARON RIVKIN, M.A., M.F.T.
Don't let your need to control things push your spouse away and leave you all alone.
“ Micromanaging is a form of anxiety that manifests as controlling behavior... The ultimate result of micromanaging is a spouse wanting freedom from the micromanager!”
You come from work and your first verbal exchange with your spouse isn’t: "How was your day?"
It’s, "Are the kids’ rooms cleaned?" "Did you read my list and go to the grocery store as I asked?" "Do I have to do everything around here myself?"
Does this happen in your household? If yes, it could be that you or your spouse is a micromanager. What does that mean? Micromanaging is a form of anxiety that manifests as controlling behavior. The micromanager feels compelled to have their hands into everything and doesn’t really trust that their spouse will pull their weight or accomplish tasks. Therefore, the micromanager feels the need to constantly remind them (or look over their shoulder) to make sure the task gets done. They scrutinize their spouse’s every move and, after a while, the spouse starts to feel incompetent, anxious, frustrated, and angry. The ultimate result of micromanaging is a spouse wanting freedom from the micromanager!
Below are specific ways to recognize that you might be a micromanager:
* Maybe your husband has told you that you’re driving him nuts with your controlling behavior or your constant obsessing about having a clean house that trumps quality time with your family.
* Maybe you’ve sensed your wife tuning you out or distancing herself.
* Maybe there’s low level of anger or annoyance from your spouse.
Pay attention to these signs. Without you even knowing it, you may be a micromanager.
Below are three thoughts for the micromanager to help you and your spouse become a team who are working together, rather than one person controlling the household:
1. Micromanaging can be traced back to childhood. Maybe you grew up where you were micromanaged, which made you feel controlled, with no voice in the family. Or, you may have grown up with total chaos, and your coping mechanism was to micromanage yourself. If this is the case, remember how you felt, then put yourself in your spouse's shoes to experience what he might be feeling with you.
2. Tackle the problem by prioritizing what’s really important in your life. Instead of being so vehement about getting tasks completed, replace your demands with quality time with your family.
3. The price is too high. Most of us like a clean house, but if it consumes your every thought and behavior, pay attention because you’re probably driving your household and yourself crazy. Micromanaging is a way to handle anxiety, so what can you do? In the moment of micromanaging, do something different. Recognize that you’re anxious and that’s why you want to micromanage; take a time out, breath, try to relax, and reflect on the consequences of micromanaging.
Micromanaging needs to be taken seriously because the last thing you want is your spouse to start resenting you or finding ways to distance himself from you. So if you’re unable to stop micromanaging, there are competent therapists who can help you address the underlying issues that are creating this anxiety.
Also known as the "last ditch effort therapist," Sharon M. Rivkin, therapist and conflict resolution/affairs expert, is the author of "Breaking the Argument Cycle: How to Stop Fighting Without Therapy" and developer of the First Argument Technique, a 3-step system that helps couples fix their relationships and understand why they fight. Her work has been featured in Oprah Magazine, Reader's Digest, Time.com, Yahoo!News.com, WebMD.com, and DrLaura.com. Sharon has appeared on TV, was quoted on The Insider TV show, and makes regular radio appearances nationwide. She has also appeared on Martha Stewart Whole Living Radio and makes regular radio appearances nationwide. For more information, please visit her website at www.sharonrivkin.com.