I am a 32-year-old working professional with a controlling husband who wants to monitor everything I do – from my emails, incoming calls to even my Whatsapp messages. He comes from a traditional Indian family and this could explain his patriarchal behaviour. I have tried explaining to him that I value my privacy but to no avail. Also, I have never given him cause for suspicion. How can I let him know that this makes me uncomfortable and has a negative impact on our marriage?
Dear Wife (of a controlling husband)
You’re both young, so I am hopeful that he would change his perspective and see reason in due course. You did not mention whether you have children or not, and whether he is just as controlling over them. What would your life together be like in the future if he’s controlling over them too? And how far will his “need to control” go? Even though your husband comes from a traditional Indian family, this does neither excuse nor completely explain his behaviour I will come back to this point later on.
I believe that communication over the internet, including social media platforms, has become an integral part of the fabric of our society; and not altogether a frivolous pastime. It has shaped how we interact, connect, and stay in touch with family, friends, and loved ones.
In fact, any benign medium of communication can be a double-edged sword if not used or operated properly. Take for example driving under the wrong circumstance, it can be fatal! If you had a car which you’d use it to run your own daily errands, for example, would that excuse your husband’s patriarchal behaviour in tracking your travels, or demanding that you are chaperoned? You live in one of the world’s smartest cities, should your husband still want to monitor more of your daily activities?
I now turn to you: what role do you choose to play, a captive, a child who needs monitoring, or an equal partner in this relationship? The more you get frustrated by your husband’s patriarchal behaviour, the more you enforce his behaviour as a parent, and yours as a child; rather than equal adult partners.
His need to monitor you does not stem from his traditional upbringing alone, but more from his lack of individuation development as an individual adult with his own views and experiences; and lack of, or distorted, self-worth where he expresses his “manhood” through his patriarchal behaviour and not through nurturing the relationship by creating a loving environment for both of you to grow. Rightly or wrongly, if we all unquestionably mimic the traditions within which we were brought up; there would be no progress, and no evolution in adapting to life’s changes. For some, such as your husband, it becomes a mask to hide behind, denying themselves an opportunity to grow as individuals through their marriage.
Then of course, there is an issue of personal boundaries. Marriage is not about couples fusing, and monitoring each other! It seems to me that you are not being unreasonable in demanding some “private space” and marking your personal boundaries. In fact, you owe it to yourself to claim your personal boundary for the sake of creating a healthy marriage. So, I suggest that you act rather than talk about it. Act like an adult, speak without losing your temper, and assert your ownership calmly while continuing to exercise your rights. In addition may I suggest that you both read How to Love and B Loved by Dr Paul Hauck- a marvellous short read for every couple. Failing that, just leave this magazine lying on you coffee table; perhaps he’ll pick it up and read this column!
Email Sahar@ketheric.com, @Kethericltd
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