Do you feel trapped by your marriage? Is your spouse in control or wants control of everything you do? Everything you say? Even your thoughts? A controlling marriage can leave you doubting yourself and turn into other issues as time progresses. Once you’ve identified that you need to leave your controlling marriage, you might be unsure where to start.
These five tips will help you take the first steps toward leaving a controlling marriage. Know that you’re making the right choice for your mental health and your future; keep with it! Follow these tips for a more efficient process.
5 Tips For Leaving a Controlling Marriage
1. Safety First
The first thing to do when you’re leaving a controlling marriage is to assess your safety. Yes, that means you too, fellas. Let’s avoid the misconception that only ladies can be victims of domestic violence or physical harm in a relationship. Start by assessing the level of danger that leaving your controlling marriage presents.
Do you feel physically endangered? Has your controlling partner been violent before? With you or with objects, or with both? Has your spouse made threats about you leaving? This is a classic technique favored by controlling people. Comments like “if you leave, I’ll kill you” or “If you leave, I’ll kill myself” are nothing more than shameless manipulative attempts to make you stay.
If you truly feel like you’re in danger when you want to leave, you can have the police present while you pack your things. It also helps to have friends and family near for moral support, but if your spouse is truly dangerous, involve only the police.
2. Have A Plan In Place
Next to safety, this is the most important tip we can offer. If you leave a controlling spouse without a plan for where you’ll go, how you’ll get by financially, and how you’ll file for divorce, you could very well end up back where you started. If you make the decision to leave, get a plan together for how you’ll stay gone. If your relationship is somewhat abusive, you must also keep all pieces of evidence and consult a Virginia divorce lawyer on what to do next.
Figure out your living situation first. Where will you stay in the short term after you leave? The long-term? Will your current job allow you to rent or buy your own place, or do you need time to find a more lucrative employment opportunity?
3. Be Prepared For Emotional Manipulation
If you’re in a controlling relationship, the chances are good that you’ve already fallen victim to this behavior. However, when you leave a controlling spouse, their attempts to win you back might take you by surprise; enough for you to even question your decision. A controlling person may use behaviors like gaslighting, guilt-tripping, or embellished sorrow to “win back” your affection through pity.
Be prepared for the breakdowns, the gift-giving, the promises, etc. These will likely be the first tactics your controlling spouse will employ, and usually what follows once those fail is anger.
Be prepared for anger as well, and if at any time you feel like you’re in physical danger, don’t be afraid to go to the police and get help.
4. Find Support
Once you leave your controlling spouse, you may feel very isolated and alone in your struggle. Any breakup is hard, but splitting a marriage in two can be especially devastating to everyone involved; especially if you have children together. It’s important to build your support system before you leave. Try support groups, counseling, and be sure your family and friends know you’re leaving so they can be there when you do.
Without the right support system under your feet, you might find the process is a hundred times more difficult. Sometimes, it’s better to hear it from someone else because we tend to sugar-coat and downplay toxic behavior in people we love.
5. Stay Strong in the Aftermath
The next few months after you leave your controlling spouse will probably be the hardest. It’s important that you’re not in constant contact with them, as this can be an opening for further emotional manipulation and gaslighting. You know why you left, and you know why you can’t go back; don’t let them convince you otherwise.
Stay strong with your support system, and get yourself set up to move forward with your life. Divorce is hard, but it’s even more difficult when you’re not focused and confident. You deserve to be happy with someone who values you as a person, and your controlling spouse wasn’t that person for you.
Don’t let a controlling spouse dictate the rest of your life. We only get one life, and you certainly don’t want to spend the next forty years under the yolk of someone who makes you feel bad about yourself, your decisions, and doesn’t let you live the way you want to. Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to the freedom you’ve wanted for so long.