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How to Give Up Control in a Relationship

15 Things Happen When You Give Up Control

The World-Famous System for Relinquishing Control has Unexpected Side Effects

What happens when 18 women tell the up-close and personal story of how their marriages were struggling in some way, and describe exactly how they stopped controlling to restore the passion and playfulness?

First, you get an inspiring book of best practices for a playful, passionate marriage, which you can then apply to your own relationship.

Second, some other patterns emerge.

Let’s say you’re in the habit of giving your husband “helpful suggestions,” like all of us were.

Or maybe you’re less subtle about it, and you just come right out and tell him what to do, like we also did.

And let’s say that one day you decide to stop controlling…

Then what?

Here’s what we found out by putting all the first-hand accounts together in the book Surrendered Wives Empowered Women: Inspiring True Stories of Women Who Made Their Relationships Intimate, Passionate and Peaceful Again: As soon as you stop controlling your guy, your relationship gets so much better!

AND all of this happens too…

1. You discover your real purpose in the world.

This one is obvious if you think about it.

Being the arm-chair critic of your man’s life is a big distraction from your own life, which you’re not paying attention to when you’re trying to control him.

It’s like your life is riding around in a car with no one at the wheel, maybe faking an injury so it can get some attention.

What emerged is that as we stopped focusing on him, our real purpose in the world was there waiting for us, calling us to come out of hiding.

Relinquishing inappropriate control led us to the joy of doing what we were born to do.

2. You regain your dignity.

None of us liked feeling like our mother on her worst day.

The part where you keep calm and carry on like a Londoner during The Battle of Britain in WWII? Surprisingly gratifying.

3. You get a lot more energy.

Controlling someone you can’t control is exhausting.

When you stop controlling, it’s like quitting your second job and drinking 3 energy drinks right after you’ve slept for nine hours. Click To Tweet

4. You become more attractive

Talk about an extreme makeover.

No matter how beautiful you are physically, control spoils your good looks.

A wife who’s smiling, laughing and flirting (which is what you tend to do when you stop controlling) is a supermodel as far as her husband is concerned.

5. Your sex life improves

For many of us sex had gone missing. Turns out, men aren’t sexually attracted to their mothers, or their mothering wives.

Once you stop acting like his mother, you go back to enjoying being his lover forever.

6. You have more fun

I’m cheating on this one, because having more fun actually comes ahead of giving up inappropriate control of your husband or boyfriend.

In other words, you have to START having more fun to STOP being so controlling. In the 17 years I’ve been doing this work, that’s the only way I’ve ever seen anybody pull it off.

That said, it’s also true that when you stop controlling, you spend a lot more time doing the things you love.

7. You get more help

Maybe you feel like your husband is not that useful or capable or smart. That’s how we felt too. Why do you think we were so controlling?

But then when we stopped controlling, inexplicable things started happening. Our husbands researched the health insurance and found a better plan, started doing the dishes and putting the kids to bed, and got the computer working right.

We found that every time we turned around, our guys were doing something helpful, although usually not the way we envisioned them doing it.

I know, I know—we couldn’t believe it either. Go figure!

8. You feel more feminine

Managing everybody and everything can make you feel masculine. We started to feel downright hairy. Not on purpose, obviously.

Giving up trying to control our guys made us softer. Receiving gifts, compliments and help that we previously rejected made us feel more like women––well looked-after, adored women.

9. You’re more attracted to him

A perfume commercial reminded us, “Want him to be more of a man? Try being more of a woman.”

When you stop being so hairy, he seems to grow some hair on his chest and suddenly you remember that you’ve always liked hairy chests.

Fireworks ensue.

He also feels the drive to become a better man–and so he becomes one.

10. You have more tender moments

One woman wrote about how her husband spontaneously apologized– without her complaining, fuming or sighing heavily–for making them late to a family party.

It was a special moment for her because she couldn’t remember him having done that previously. Ever.

Our husbands got more romantic and gave us more compliments too. They held our hands, or held our face as they kissed us. They shared their deepest secrets and their wacky ideas.

We loved every minute of it.

11. Your other relationships improve

Relinquishing inappropriate control gets to be so relaxing, beautifying, and enjoyable that you start doing it with your BFFs, your dad, your kids, and everybody else.

And they start opening up to you more because they trust you. You have a deeper connection than you’ve ever had.

12. You feel the fear and do it anyway

All control is based in fear, so when you stop controlling someone you really couldn’t control anyway, all you’re doing is giving up your costly coping mechanism.

When you stop trying to control someone else, it’s scary at times.

But when you start deciding to choose your faith instead of your fear, it’s empowering, too. You gain courage for other scary things in life.

Like fulfilling your purpose.

You start living out loud and honoring yourself like never before. It’s terrifying and exhilarating.

This is living.

13. You stop fighting city hall

When we started focusing on our own feelings and desires, we discovered superpowers that we never knew we had before.

It’s so easy and fun to get what you want by expressing a desire in a way that inspires your man that fighting anybody over anything just seems like too much effort.

We were no longer victims who felt powerless, and the anger we felt about all the injustices in the world just….dissipated.

14. You get more presents and compliments

There are more flowers for no reason, more diamond rings, more road trips and more sushi dinners, even when he doesn’t like sushi.

He says how beautiful you are and how lucky he is to have you and says it more often.

15. You become your best self

All of us decided to relinquish control of our husbands and boyfriends because we wanted better relationships. We wanted to be loved. But a funny thing happened along the way.

We gained confidence, and a sense of calm. We were more pleasant and grateful, and even respectful. We were happier.

In other words, we became the best version of ourselves.

At least, that’s what the authors of Surrendered Wives Empowered Women and I have experienced.

A surrendered wife knows she can’t change anyone besides herself, so she doesn’t try. She focuses on her own happiness, and that improves the intimacy.

True, we don’t tell our husbands what to wear, or what to eat or how to drive or what to do at work anymore. But then again, that never seemed to get us what we wanted anyway.

The passion, the playfulness, and the intimacy–and the other 15 cool things that we got when we let go of control–were all through the magical door marked, “surrender.”

By Laura Doyle

Hi! I'm Laura.

New York Times Bestselling Author

I was the perfect wife--until I actually got married. When I tried to tell my husband how to be more romantic, more ambitious, and tidier, he avoided me. I dragged him to marriage counseling and nearly divorced him. I then started talking to women who had what I wanted in their marriages and that’s when I got my miracle. The man who wooed me returned.

I wrote a few books about what I learned and accidentally started a worldwide movement of women who practice The Six Intimacy Skills™ that lead to having amazing, vibrant relationships. The thing I’m most proud of is my playful, passionate relationship with my hilarious husband John–who has been dressing himself since before I was born.

11 replies on “How to Give Up Control in a Relationship”

Another excellent article and great reminder to keep the focus on you not him. So many things you said are very true but you can’t see it in the moment when you are wrapped up in control. As a first born always having to be the mom growing up, this is especially hard for me. Thanks Laura.

Susan, I’m also a first-born with much younger siblings who made herself the mommy, so I can relate. And I remember feeling like I had no choice but to be controlling for a long time. It was huge for me to be able to choose the intimacy and not my fear and control. Glad I’m not the only one!

When I focus on self-care and expressing what I want, I get accused of being selfish and only focused on myself. Any tips on how to deal with that?

Kyrie, Sometimes when you’re changing it up, it gets uncomfortable for the people around you who already know the old dance. I see that a lot. So it could be just a transition you’re in. I recommend expressing lots of gratitude for your self-care and especially his contribution to it–whether he paid for it, watched the kids so you could go or was quiet so you could sleep longer, etc. And kudos for focusing on your self-care! You’re on the right path to having a great relationship.

Hi laura

Thanks for his great article as are all your other posts and blogs. So i have a question that I need your expert help with. Firstly i have to confess i have been extremely controlling in my marriage which created my unhappiness in my marriage. I like physical touch and to so i would ask my husband to give me hugs and kisses everyday which he did at the beginning of our marriage. Then when he forgot i would get upset and cry and give him the silent treatment. Then when he would ask me what’s wrong i would tell him you don’t give me hugs and kisses and you don’t show me love. Then when he tries to do it right then i used to push him away and say to him your only doing this cos im telling you to, why can’t you just remember without me asking you for it and he would apologize and say he’ll remember next time. Now after a year or so of this happening my husband got tired of it and actually started avoiding me. Also i made my husband do the 5 love languages test and his language is acts of service which i knew already cos he does a lot around the house without me asking him and he’s our main breadwinner as ive been stay at home mum for a year now and we’ve only been married for one and half years. Things have gotten a lot better since i came across your blogs and surrendered wife book and started practicing the skills but im still new to them. So the one thing i need most to feel loved and desired and cherished is for him to give me lots of physical touch and intimacy and spend quality time with me and i have asked him and reminded and demanded so many times but he keeps making excuses. Lately since I’ve been trying to be respectful and Stating my desires without control or demand and trying to be easy to please, he’s agreed to spend some time with me when i organise it usually one evening a week and it goes ok but not great. But im still struggling with receiving hugs and kisses from him and i feel so desperate most of the time that i try to give him a hug and a kiss and he half hearted and reluctantly does give me a hug but not a kiss most of the time and has even blatantly refused my offers the other day claiming it was too hot. I felt rejected and undesired that i cried and felt sad all afternoon. He saw that i was crying and upset but didn’t bother to comfort me. Instead he gave me money that night cos i mentioned to him that i was short on spending money. I felt that was his way of apologising and i felt like throwing the money back at him to tell him i don’t need your money, i need you and your attention and time. The old me would have definitely done that if the thought came tomy mind. And its been a few days and im still upset with him about this issue and we haven’t resolved it. So Laura i would greatly appreciate your assistance. Sorry about the really long question.

Thanks so.much!!

S, Sorry to hear about the painful situation in your marriage. Of course you want to be hugged and kissed every day! That’s normal and appropriate and it can all come back and be spontaneous with the Intimacy Skills–no need to have to ask for that from your husband. Your natural magnetism will draw him to you. I invite you to have a complimentary discovery call to help you get there as quickly as possible. You can apply here:

Thanks so much for your understanding and support. I did use the discovery call and it was helpful. But i think i need marriage couching as well as i need help with practicing the intimacy skills to improve my marriage. So i will apply in next month or so when i am financially ready.
Thanks again

S, I’m excited for you to get support. It makes such a big difference to have someone in your corner who has been there herself and turned her own marriage around. You’re going to get there too. Maybe someday you will also be a coach who can tell the story of how you were struggling and then you made your marriage magical again. You’re not alone! Everyone on my team has been where you are. We look forward to celebrating with you!

I really can’t ever see #14 happening because he never did any of this in the 20years I have been with my husband. He only thinks of himself how hurt he is and what he can next spend his money on. Even though I work and buy him gifts. He recently told me he was done with the marriage can’t see himself working on it because he is too broken. I rejected sex alot because he was verbally abusive and always in a bad mood. Nothing could please him. He sought friendship with another women and could see a better life with her. Now I have been practicing the skills but am always meet with rejection when I voice my desires. And when apologising for disrespect (which is few and far between because I am never disrespectful) He says what’s done is done it is what it is no amount of apologizing can undo what has been said or done. He still stand with his decision and plans to leave and cut all ties despite still having great sex (which I initiate) and 2 children that are fearing him leaving but hate what he is doing to break up our family. I have read both books and await a discovery call tommorow thankyou

Sarah, Wow, this sounds incredibly lonely and difficult for you. I’m sorry to hear you’re living with the threat of him leaving. I’m happy to hear about the great sex though! That’s huge because physical intimacy can definitely be a gateway to emotional intimacy. I’m excited to hear you have a discovery call scheduled. You’ll find it so valuable. Your marriage may seem hopeless right now but I see every reason to be hopeful that it can became the one you dreamed it would be 20 years ago if you continue to choose your faith over your fear. You’ve got a good start.

We now have great sex which I initiate. But he said it just sex we both have physical nweds that need to be meet. There is no feelings that is genuine from his perspective and that it’s nothing more than just sex.

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