I’m one of life’s micro-managers. No question about it. When Glen and I did the Star Wars personality test, he came out as Princess Leia and I was the Emporer. Neither of us were happy.
This is one of the areas I struggle with most. I’m controlling full-stop. But in a marriage it just doesn’t work. I think I know what’s best for Glen and that he needs me to run his world. Whether trying to arrange for him to meet with friends, send mother’s day cards or take out the rubbish, no area is too small for me to not get involved.
Whatever your views on men and women, having one person control the other is never good. There’s a related article by Barbara McMahon in today’s Guardian about the negative impact of controlling women. Sorry – I’ve tried to find the link online but haven’t been able to).
But here’s a synopsis. Data from the 2005 National Social Life, Health and Aging Project found that when a wife or girlfriend tries to take charge of a man’s friendships, he begins to feel a loss of control in other important areas. This is what’s known as ‘partner betweenness’ and it directly undermines his sense of masculinity as well as alienating him from a vital support network. What does it look like? Well, controlling the diary for a start. Dictating when,where and with whom your other half socialises. Feeling threatened or jealous by any friendships and seeking to manage them. Trying to muscle in on same gender friendships.
Younger men surveyed were more than twice as likely to experience sexual problems when their partners became over-friendly with men they considered to be exclusive confidants. This is motivated by distress at losing the friendship as much as by sexual jealousy. In addition, if the men in these situations lost the wife or girlfriend, it left them feeling devastated and even suicidal.
In some ways this isn’t surprising. I know I need my girl-friends. Of course guys need their mates too – and not just on (my) terms. It would be interesting to see if such data exists on men controlling women, but I think in our culture it’s taken as read that this is bad. If Paul wrote it, we’d be up in arms, but as it’s in the Guardian, it must be ok.