Control Is Not a Four-Letter Word

by Mark Gungor

Control is not a bad word. It’s not a bad thing. Yet in our culture today, people treat it as is if it is a cuss word. Many think it’s a horrible insult and freak out when someone accuses them of trying to control something. Frankly, I just don’t understand it.

Here is a scenario to help illustrate what I’m talking about:  A wife is texting and emailing very personal, sexually charged and inappropriate things back and forth with a guy from work. She is also meeting this guy alone for coffee and lunch. When her husband talks to her and challenges her on this, she fires back, “You can’t tell me who I can be friends with and what I can and can’t do! You are just trying to control me!” And then he feels bad and backs down.

Or maybe it’s a husband who goes out drinking and partying with his friends several nights a week till the wee hours of dawn and when his wife confronts him, he shouts ”You are a control freak!  You can’t tell me when I can come and go in my own house!” Then she thinks she’s wrong and just lets it go because she surely doesn’t want to be controlling. Are you kidding me?!


I am stunned at how many people in bad marriages just shut up and empower the other person because they fear the charge of being a controller. Whenever you have a badly behaving spouse, there is always an enabler who is weak and insecure and all the badly behaving spouse has to do is accuse the weaker one of being controlling, jealous or insecure, and they win.

Listen to me people, these are not bad words, but too often we freak out and act like they are as bad as the “f” word for heaven sake. Instead of recoiling and feeling awful when someone says you are “just trying to control me”, you need to look them dead in the eye and reply, “Yes!  I most definitely am.”

Sadly, most people don’t think it’s a compliment, rather they come all unglued…especially women, but sometimes guys do too…when they are labeled as controlling, jealous and insecure.  First of all you need to understand that if you are not in control, your life will get out of control. Do you want your life to be out of control? Most of us would say no.

So then why on earth do we take it as an insult rather than a compliment? Do not fear that phrase; wear it as a badge of honor. The next time you say something about your spouses over-the-line behavior and he or she tells you that you are just trying to control them, smile and say, “Oh, thank you! I’m trying to get some control in my life!”

We live in a world filled with control and it’s a good thing. It would be like you getting pulled over by the cops for going 85 m.p.h. in a 25 m.p.h. speed zone. Would you yell at the officer, “You are just trying to control me!” Yes, he is controlling you because he is trying to keep bad things from happening. He’s trying to keep you from destroying and hurting yourself or other people. You are breaking the law and just like in marriage when you are “breaking the law” someone needs to step in and stop you from destroying or hurting yourself, your marriage and other people.

God gives us the ability to have control. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to say no to what’s wrong and destructive in life. We need control and must have it. You are truly becoming a person of real faith when you understand that you need control.

These three words, control, jealous and insecure can all have derogatory meanings, but not every use is bad and evil. For instance scripture tells us that God himself is jealous. How can that be a bad thing? And aren’t we supposed to be like our father in heaven?  Here is the definition from the dictionary for the word jealous: intolerant of rivalry or unfaithfulness; vigilant in maintaining or guarding something.

Shouldn’t we be intolerant of unfaithfulness and vigilant in guarding our marriages? The word has been hijacked in our culture and something is wrong when we come to believe that being jealous is always a bad and evil thing. Now, if you think that every other person from the age of 5 to 95 is a constant threat to your marriage, that is crazy jealous!  But if you are protective of your marriage, you will be jealous and guard it. I hope most people are smart enough to figure out the difference here.

But badly behaving people use these words as a sledgehammer rather than the good and righteous way they can be used. The word insecure of course can be undesirable, as in a weak and insecure person lacking in confidence in him or her self.  Actually, the very people who back down because they are being called insecure are, in fact…insecure!  But there is a high side to the word. Again, back to the dictionary definition: not adequately guarded or sustained.

Here we are again with the guarding. If my wife is going out with other guys, pussyfooting about town I have a newsflash for you: I am going to be insecure about my marriage!  Her behavior is causing the insecurity because our marriage is not being adequately guarded or sustained. So when she accuses me of being insecure, my answer would be, “Yes, ma’am, I am. Thank you very much! You’re gallivanting around is creating insecurity. And, I am also jealous and am intolerant of unfaithfulness. Oh, and by the way… I’m controlling and trying to keep you from dating other men and ruining our marriage!” I would embrace the idea of control because without it, there is destruction and anarchy.

For some reason people have come to detest these words…especially the word control. Do you know who else hates control? Who else is for absolute anarchy and lawlessness? The devil. Satan himself is all about things being out of control and in total anarchy. So every time you bend and bow and let your spouse bully you into backing down, that spouse isn’t the only one who won and got away with it. The devil sits and laughs his butt off because you are also bowing to him every time, too. You are giving in and letting chaos rule in your marriage and the devil wins. Real people of faith understand they need control and don’t freak out every time they hear the word.

This is radical thinking. Control is not a curse word. It shows you are strong in your faith when you have control and allow control in your life. If you panic and implode at the thought of being called insecure, jealous or controlling, then you have bought into the twisted connotations of the words our culture has attached to them and you are not understanding that these can be righteous charter traits to have.

I know that this is going to really fire some people up, but seriously…save the keystrokes. Don’t bother writing to me to fill me in on all the psychological babble on the evils of control and how Dr. Oz and Oprah say it’s emotional abuse. I don’t want to hear it. I fully understand that there are some extreme cases out there where one spouse is actually psycho and keeps the keys and the phones, won’t let them have any money, they monitor every move and won’t allow the other person contact with family and friends. I get it…but most cases are not like the movie Sleeping With the Enemy where Julia Roberts has to make a break for it in the middle of the night because her husband is so deranged.

Hear what I’m saying and be realistic about this. I have all kinds of people around me, even beyond my wife, that help to “control” me and keep my life in order and it’s a needed and necessary thing. Just because there are lines, limitations and boundaries, because there is order and control doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. When it comes to marriage, as a husband, yes, I get to control my wife from seeing and dating other men! As my wife, yes, she gets to control me if I’m texting inappropriate things to other women or spending money like a drunken monkey. That’s marriage. I control her and she controls me.

If you don’t have control in your life, what do you get? Chaos and anarchy and they will destroy your life and your marriage.  Control is not evil. The lack of control and the intolerable and egregious behaviors of a misbehaving spouse is the evil.  We have it backwards in our culture today and in order for marriages to be strong, healthy and successful, we must start viewing control as a very good thing.

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    9 Responses to “Control Is Not a Four-Letter Word”

    1. Margaret wrote:

      Excellent DVD about the marriage. Thank you!!!!

    2. Mary wrote:

      THANK YOU, thank you, thank you…. My husband of 40.5 years has filed for divorce without any discussion about it, and with the accusation that I control him and he’s done! Truth be told he has been planning this for several years (ever since a neighbor he “admires” moved in with her own motives and shared with him intimate information about her failing marriage… which she terminated in ’07)… YET, my husband, whom I love dearly (and he knows this) announced he filed and I had better contact an atty. (which I have)… the proceedings are stretched out now for over a year because after 40 + years our combined finances are quite complicated and these things take time.
      To say I’m all over the map with emotional angst is putting it mildly… his reason?…. I’m controlling him and his life!
      Enough said… but I just wanted you to know that I totally agree with your article and I am putting it into an email which he may or may not read… but he certainly needs to read this one. If only to know how I feel is not unusual or crazy. Thank you for helping me feel less vulnerable and more in “control”.
      Best regards,
      MJ

    3. Joy wrote:

      Two words: Thank you!

      • EVE wrote:

        hey MJ
        I totally agree with you. Kindly read fascinating womanhood. you can download a PDF free.It will help you understand your husband.
        EVE

    4. Shelley wrote:

      Thank you. I’m all three (contoling, jealous, and insecure). This is the first time in my 40+ years I’ve seen anything positive written about any one of them; to see them ALL put into a positive light in one article is just simply amazing. Thank you for giving me much needed hope & encouragement…..

    5. Paula wrote:

      WOW ! I never saw it that way that is great!! What an eye opener! I am aloud to stand up and say “this behavior is not okay”

    6. jael anderson wrote:

      Thanks, it’s so refreshing to hear the truth. God bless you. We love your marriage tapes and have gained such incredible understandingas how to communicate to each other and this article among others is so great.

    7. Colleen Mace wrote:

      Mark, you are awesome. I absolutely love that the Lord uses you to speak truth into the hearts of marriages. Most people won’t like alot of what you say…but, it needs to be said and it needs to be heard. I want to have these insights shouted out to all I know. So, I will repost them on facebook. I pray that your wife is feeling stronger every day. Thank you for caring for marriages….

    8. Carren wrote:

      This is EXCELLENT teaching!!!!

     
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