Susie & Otto


Control, Manipulation and Other Things That Really Screw Up Relationships

If you were to get 100 people together and ask them this question...

"Do you do things to try control or manipulate your husband, wife, partner or other loved ones?"

We think you'd find that almost every one of them would say "No, I don't do this."

But...regardless of what most people's first "reaction" to this question is...

The truth is almost everyone tries to control and manipulate the people they love most and most of the time it's totally unconscious.

So, why do we do this? Why do we have this need to control and manipulate? And... How does this play out in our important relationships?

For starters...It's just a part of being human--we all want our way and to feel loved and appreciated.

We all have different ways of doing it--sometimes being forceful and domineering and sometimes withdrawing and being aloof.

And much of this is unconscious behavior learned very early in our lives.

So if we're all trying to control one another, how can two people ever find peace, happiness and love together as a couple?

The answer's pretty simple but not always easy to do...

You both have to learn to unravel your unconscious behaviors and create new habits that support the kind of relationships and life you want.

The two of us have read books on the topic, listened to a lot of men and women over the many years we've been giving relationship advice and we've also dealt with trying to control one another for just as long...

Here's a little of what we've learned about control...

1. At their core, women and men generally have different reasons for trying to control the other. Most women want to control their men so they can feel loved, secure and even peaceful.

Here's what's usually not said but implied...

"If you come home each evening and eat dinner with me, I'll know that you love me."

"If you dress up in your new shirt and pants, you won't embarrass me."

"If you were more affectionate during the day, I'd be more open to making love with you more often."

Most men want freedom most of all--as well as being wanted and appreciated by their women--and they control to get their needs met.

Here's what's maybe not said but implied...

"Just let me relax when I get home and don't make me help around the house."

"I don't want to go to this event but I'll go because you want me to and then I'll sulk, letting you know I'm not having a good time and don't want to be there."

"Since I'm in charge of the finances, here's what we're going to do..."

Now of course, not all men and not all women fit this model and these ideas certainly may not apply in your relationship.

But it's worth taking a look at it from this angle to discover what you and your partner do when you fall into controlling one another.

2. When there's a struggle for control in a relationship, there's usually one who pushe and there's one who withdraws--and these roles can change depending on the circumstance.

It's pretty obvious to blame the one who pushes as trying to control the situation but believe it or not, it's also the one who withdraws who's trying to control and get his or her needs met.

They just go about it a little different way but it comes off as control, nonetheless.

3. Control never brings the security, peace, love or freedom that we want.

When we get what we want by controlling another person, we're always on guard because we fear if we aren't, whatever illusion we've created for ourselves that we have what we want will be taken from us.

The feeling is--"If I let down my guard for one second, he/she will go back to the old ways."

This is especially difficult when there's been infidelity or a fear of it in the relationship but can be about something as simple as trying to control one person leaving dirty dishes in the sink or remembering to take the garbage cans to the street.

We're not saying that giving up control is easy but we are saying that so far, we haven't seen control bringing true happiness.

If you've been trying to control your partner and not feeling like things are getting better, it might be time to find another way of being.

So what do you do instead of control?

Here are a few ideas...

1. Notice what your particular brand of control is in your relationships. How do you go about getting your way? It might be that you don't realize how strong you come off (that might appear pushy to someone else). It also might be that you don't realize how you collapse and just "go along" while shoving down anger and resentment--even though you might not consider this "getting your way."

So just notice what you do when the two of you get into power struggles.

2. Interrupt your pattern and try a different behavior. If you storm off and slam doors or sit down in front of the tv or a computer when there's a power struggle, stay engaged with the other person.

If you talk, talk, talk and the other person doesn't say anything, try giving the space for the other person to speak.

If you retreat or pull away, move toward.

If you find that you push forward, move back a bit to create some space and breathing room.

3. Use "Magic Words" from our "Magic Relationship Words" program at to stay engaged with the other person.

You might use words like "It's not my intention to... (make you wrong or hurt you.)"

Or use inclusive language like "How can we...(both get our needs met in this situation?"

4. Choose love instead of control. It's so easy to go on auto-pilot and go through life doing what we've always done.

It takes courage and being conscious to choose love.

We invite you to choose love instead of control because in the end, everyone wins if your do.

©2010, Susie & Otto Collins

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Susie and Otto Collins are spiritual and life partners who are committed to helping others create outstanding relationships of all kinds. They regularly write, speak and conduct workshops and seminars on love, relationships and personal and spiritual growth to audiences all across the USA. They are the creators of the "Relationship Toolkit" which has helped people in over a dozen countries improve their relationships. It includes a video called Spiritual Partnerships plus two booklets Love and Relationship Success Secrets and 101 Relationship Quotes Worth a Million Dollars! You can also read more articles like these and subscribe to their weekly newsletter on love and relationships by visiting their web site at Their new E-book Should You Stay or Should You Go? has just been released and is now available See Archives 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002 and 2001. Other Relationship Issues, Books

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