On my best days, I can be a strong, independent and determined woman, full of moxie and passion. On my worst days, I can be aggressive, abrasive, quick to anger, controlling and dominating.

Marriage has magnified the second set of adjectives in ways that have caused me to confront my own sinfulness and unhealthiness.

In Genesis, shortly after the passage that details the fall of man where God is pronouncing judgment on Adam and Eve, he says to Eve, “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”  That phrase “he shall rule over you” evokes a visceral response in me.  It literally makes me cringe.   

I have been brutally confronted with my tendency to dominate my marriage and my husband in incredibly destructive ways. While I won’t exposit that passage in Genesis or any other for that matter, I will offer three ways to make sure you’re not dominating your marriage or your husband.    

  1. Listen more than you speak.

Stop talking, stop arguing, stop trying to drive home your point and be right.  Just stop. You’ve probably never been accused of listening too much so practice listening more than you speak.

Don’t merely hear the words coming out of their mouth while you’re busy constructing your next response in your head. Listen to them. Seek to understand. Ask clarifying questions.    

The same goes with interrupting. If you’re continually interrupting your spouse, you’re likely not listening to what they’re saying.

If you’re doing the majority of the talking, you’re probably dominating your marriage, and if you’re interrupting, you’re definitely dominating the conversation or argument.

  1. Check your motives at the door.

Dominant people can easily fall prey to being manipulative and selfish.  If you’re dominating your marriage, you’ll find it is a prime place for manipulation and selfishness to manifest themselves.

Start by checking your motives at the door.  When you’re about to engage in a conversation that could quickly become emotionally charged, ask yourself, am I being selfish?

If you find yourself in the midst of an emotionally charged conversation that you feel like you’re losing, ask yourself, am I manipulating right now to get what I want?  Or, am I manipulating this situation or person so that I can win?

Clarifying your motives will enable you to stop, regroup, and apologize if they are wrong.  If your motives are not wrong then that’s great, continue being self-aware and cognizant of your spouse.

  1. Apologize for your actions regardless of whether or not your spouse will apologize for theirs.

If you have done something wrong, you need to apologize.  No ifs, ands, or buts.

If your spouse has also wronged you and doesn’t recognize it, or worse, refuses to apologize, you still need to apologize.    

Regardless of what they do or don’t do, own your stuff and apologize for it.

It’s a tall order to own your mess, apologize and ask for forgiveness when you may very well be hurting deeply from some wrong way your spouse has treated you.

If you are withholding your apology until your spouse complies with an apology, you are dominating your marriage and seeking control over your spouse.      

When my husband and I find ourselves in emotionally charged conversations or even during seasons that are challenging, these three things help to make sure neither one of us is not dominating our marriage.