Question #1: On a scale of 1-5, how much of a control freak are you?
Do you take care of your responsibilities and assume those around you will also take care of theirs in a timely and efficient manner? Give yourself a 1. Do you insist on your timelines, your guidelines, and your quality control standards? Give yourself a 5. Or, perhaps you fall somewhere in the middle.
Question #2: Who or what makes you feel out of control?
Perhaps it’s a person—a family member or your boss who makes impossible requests. Or, you have too much to do for the time allotted. At least you don’t have enough time to perform to the level of perfection you require of yourself. Do you stress out because there is something you cannot control like your upcoming work review, or a lay-off, or the possibility you may get COVID?
Question #3: How does your inability to control your circumstances affect your marriage?
Think about the times when you felt you were not in control. Did you get angry? (“What do you mean you didn’t set the card tables and chairs the way I told you to!”) Anxious? (“But it’s such a long drive home and you’ll be by yourself and you know you always get drowsy at the wheel.”)
Do you get frustrated? I tend to get frustrated when there’s something I’m trying to accomplish—usually under time constraints—and I can’t. Think: Blog post is due and the computer goes “blooey.” Then I go “blooey.” Why? Because I’m not in control and my goal is frustrated. I’m frustrated. Bob informs me these are not the moments he most enjoys spending with me. Are your spouse’s least favorite moments with you the ones when you feel you’ve lost control?
The Bible has a few things to say about the inadvisability of needing to control. Do you agree that people who feel they must be in control often get angry? James 1:20 is clear that the anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God.
What about anxiety? Matthew 6:25 says: “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is life not more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Instead, we need to surrender control to God, acknowledging that He is good and the One who should be in control. (I write this while pointing at myself!)
Repeat after me: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6) That’s acknowledging that—really—I can’t control my life, but He can. Sure, there are some things that are my responsibility. But is it really my job to control everyone and everything around me?
Ask God (and maybe your spouse) what you need to surrender control of. (That your house passes white glove inspection at all times? That you arrive 15 minutes early for all events? That husband and children perform to your standards?) See if things don’t go more smoothly at your house when you let go of the need to control. Just relax your grip on life, hand it over to God, and breathe.