When writing our new book, Ancient Wisdom For A Modern Divorce, we found a certain recurring theme, ego. One or both of the marital partners were “control freaks” who each need to have the upper hand and control every situation. This trait came up in almost every story in one way or another. The story I’m going to tell exemplifies this trait that has so much to do with the demise of a marriage. As you read it, you can see just why this marriage fell apart, both sides are at fault.
I received a call from an angry client. She was beside herself because her husband had come to pick up their child, and he had not yet purchased a car seat. She stood in the driveway, ranting and raving and refusing to let him take the child for this first visitation.
She called us on her cell phone. “Why can’t you give him your car seat for the day?” I asked. “I hadn’t thought of that”, was her reply! So the husband borrowed her car seat for the day and went out and bought his own. Thus, she stopped making an issue out of something she could solve easily and perhaps paving the way for a more peaceful resolution to other problems. We have seen cases where one party refuses to buy clothing or other necessities for the child, using that as leverage against the other party.
Here are two people trying to exert control in different ways. The husband has come to the scheduled visit without the proper equipment for the child. He had plenty of time to acquire the equipment but he chose not to, or forgot. In either case, he was trying to control the situation. He knew that if he arrived without the car seat, the wife would be mad. Was he trying to control her feelings and anger knowing full well what would happen? If he had just taken the extra effort to buy the seat, he could have forestalled her violent reaction. But did he want to do that or was his purpose to provoke her?
The wife was at fault, also. You know this was not the first demand she had made on this man. Sometimes those demands can be construed as being ways to control another person. She wouldn’t let him take the child without a seat even though she had one he could borrow. She preferred to stand in the driveway and scream at him instead of handling things in a reasonable and calm manner because the screaming would get a response from him that she wanted, he could be seen as a criminal by other people which would show her to be in the right.
These control tactics are used in many ways and they only serve to break down the relationship until it is impossible to settle anything amicably. The need to control, to be right all of the time, to let your ego take over and forget about the wants and needs of the other party, is what surely breaks down all communication.
“Trying to control leads to ruin. Trying to grasp, we lose. Allow life to unfold naturally…There is a time for being ahead and a time for being behind.”
“Keep your mouth shut, guard the senses and life is ever full. Open your mouth, always be busy, and life is beyond hope.”