I’m Controlling Towards My Partner: Will I Ruin Everything?

23 April, 2020
Q Salam, I've been in a relationship for almost two years and have recently realized that I have a very fearful insecure attachment style.

I've also noticed that I'm very controlling, sometimes even emotionally abusive towards my partner.

I've expressed this to him and he has showed nothing but support and love which I'm very thankful for hamdoulah.

But I can't help but feel like a bad person and as if I don't deserve this good of a treatment.

I'm really struggling with self esteem and self worth and it makes me worried that I won't be able to get better and it will affect our relationship and soon our marriage inshaAllah.

I'm in need of advice please

Answer


In this counseling answer:

Whatever is going on that causes you to react in a negative way,  please write it down in your Journal.

When you notice that you’re being very controlling or emotionally abusive, picture a big red stop sign in your mind- stop and apologize.

This will be the start insha’Allah to a cognitive behavioral change which will help you develop a more secure attachment with yourself and your fiancé.



As salamu alaykum sister,

Shokran to writing to us with your concerns. According to your question and presenting issues, you feel that you have a fearful and secure attachment style in your relationship.

I'm Controlling Towards My Partner: Will I Ruin Everything? - About Islam

You also state that you have low self-esteem and self-worth and worry about how all this will affect a future marriage.

Realizations  

Sister, you have been in a relationship for almost two years before you realized that you are controlling and emotionally abusive towards your partner. I am wondering what brought you to this realization and desire to change.

When you discussed this with your fiancée,  you stated that he responded with support and love. While you are thankful, you still feel as if you are a bad person do not deserve good treatment.

You are seeking to change but are afraid you may not be successful.

Self Love and Loving Others

You struggle with self-esteem and self-worth issues and you are worried that you won’t be able to get over these problems and it will affect your relationship and your soon-to-be marriage.

Sister it is good that you have insight into your behaviors, emotions, and feelings in regards not only yourself and your emotional well-being, but also how you function in relationships. This is especially important when trying to create a future marriage.

It sounds as if your fiancé is a very supportive and loving person. This is a positive when you are trying to resolve any internal issues that concern your ability to securely attach, maintain, and have a healthy relationship.

Self-love and acceptance are vital in regards to loving others and treating them with respect and honor.

Often when one lacks self-love, they are unable to treat others with kindness and often project their feelings of insecurity, non-acceptance (criticism), and other unhealthy emotions on to those they are close to. 

Insecure Relationships

As you probably know insecure relationships may develop from experiences during childhood if needs were not met in a critical way. When faced with adversary, adults denied security as a young child may feel less secure in themselves as adults.

A lack of self-confidence, self-esteem and self-love can lead to problems within relationships. Fearful avoidant attachment styles refer to people who fear future bonds with others.

For instance,  you may want a relationship and seek it out but when it becomes too serious, you may avoid or withdrawal from the relationship.

Sister as you are already in a relationship, plan on getting married, and your fiancé is supportive in your healing, it appears that you have already attached to your fiancé and feel close to him.

You have not withdrawn from him; you are however emotionally abusive towards him possibly due to your own internal issues and lack of feeling secure and lack of self-love.  


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Self-Monitoring

If you are experiencing low self-esteem, loss of confidence, anger, hurt and pain, and are taking your feelings out on your fiancé that is a big problem.

Sister I would kindly suggest that you make a very conscious effort to monitor how you are feeling, how you are behaving, how you are treating your fiancé. Identify what your triggers are.

In fact, I kindly suggest insha’Allah that you start a journal. When you notice that you’re being very controlling or emotionally abusive, picture a big red stop sign in your mind- stop and apologize.

Write down in your Journal what you were doing or saying in that moment, as well as the feelings that went along with it. Also jot down any precipitating events which could be factors in making you feel insecure, angry or lacking worth.

It might be a memory, a feeling, it might be something you fear will happen. It may be something he said or did, or it may have just been random.

Whatever is was, remember you are in control of your responses, you can choose to react with abuse and controlling behaviors or you an choose to react with kindness, patience and love. 

Journaling

Sister, this is a process of self-discovery, change in thinking and reacting, as well as acceptance and love for self. Whatever is going on that causes you to react in a negative way,  please write it down in your Journal.

As You begin this journal of monitoring and examining your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, you may notice a pattern. You may also notice triggers that caused you to act out in negative ways.

When you have identified these triggers, it will be much easier to automatically identify them and stop them in their path so you do not act out an abusive and controlling ways.

This will take time, effort and commitment on your part but the rewards and blessings will be immense insha’Allah. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Often times behaviors have been ingrained for so long that they become difficult to break, however it is not impossible.

I would also kindly suggest that you engage in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This may help you further to identify and change your thoughts and behaviors.

It will also help you insha’Allah to see the good inside of you and to see that you are deserving of a good treatment. A lot of negative feelings, perceptions, and cognitions occur because of things we have been through in childhood.

Childhood is a critical time as it is during this time that we learn ways to think and react about ourselves and the world around us.

CBT can help us change the way we feel about ourselves by changing our faulty thinking and behavioral patterns. This in turn helps us to treat other better.

Change is Possible

Destructive thoughts behaviors and eventual actions can be changed. You have to really want it though sister.

You state you feel like a bad person and you don’t deserve to be treated good. However it becomes a cycle because you are then controlling and abusive emotionally towards your partner.

Perhaps it is that you see you and your partner as one, and you are possibly treating your partner as if you feel you should be treated.

The fact remains is that you do have insight into your problem and therefore there should be nothing holding you back towards making positive changes.

You do have the strength to make these changes and you have the will- because you do love your fiancé ad you do not want to continue hurting him. Through healing self, you can insha’Allah heal your relationship. 

Conclusion

Sister I kindly suggest that you do begin a journal of your thoughts, emotions, feelings, and behaviors. Focus especially on how you treat your fiancée and how you feel about yourself.

Note the trigger points if there are any, as well as emotion you are experiencing when you are becoming controlling or emotionally abusive. Analyze these trigger points in emotions and find out where they’re coming from.

When you are interacting with your fiancé and you feel like you are becoming controlling or emotionally abusive, imagine a huge red stop sign, take a deep breath in and exhale, gather your thoughts for a few moments, and say something positive and uplifting. 

This will be the start insha’Allah to a cognitive behavioral change which will help you develop a more secure attachment with yourself and your fiancé.

Please do enlist the help of a cognitive-behavioral therapist if you’re having difficulty doing this on your own.

I am confident that you will be able to overcome a negative attachment style and replace it with a healthy one. We wish you the best.

salam,

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees are liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

Read more:

https://aboutislam.net/counseling/youth-q-a/love-marriage/how-to-fix-a-broken-relationship/

https://aboutislam.net/counseling/ask-the-counselor/self-issues-ask-about-counselor/how-to-overcome-bad-habits-get-closer-to-allah/

https://aboutislam.net/reading-islam/living-islam/just-do-it-how-to-stop-waiting-until-you-feel-like-it/


About Aisha Mohammad
Aisha received her PhD in psychology in 2000 and an MS in public health in 2009. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. Aisha specializes in trauma, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach.
Aisha works at a Family Resource Center, and has a part-time practice in which she integrates healing and spirituality using a holistic approach. Aisha plans to open a holistic care counseling center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocate for social & food justice. In her spare time she enjoys her family, martial arts classes, Islamic studies as well as working on her book and spoken word projects.