Marriage and Control: Balancing Individual Rights Part 2

By Dr. Coach Love


In Part One I discussed how helpful it is for you both to understand the dynamics in your parents’ marriages. When you can identify the similarities between those two marriages and your own, you are on the path to changing the patterns between the two of you. There is also a good chance that, in the early years, your parents’ marriages had lots of conflict in the beginning like yours does.


It may be difficult for the both of you to realize what your rights are as individuals even though you are married. As individuals who are married, you both still have the right to:


1. Speak and be listened to by family and friends.

2. Decide whether to have sex or not.

3. Receive the emotional support from family and friends.

4. Choose your friends.

5. Have some me/alone time.

6. Be free from fear of ridicule, criticism, and abuse.

7. Have some privacy.

8. Speak your opinions even when they disagree with those of your spouse.

9. Respectfully express your feelings even when you feel down.

10. Spend some money as you choose.


These are only a few of the individual rights that each of you has and do not lose when you get married. Typically, these are also the issues about which couples disagree and, therefore, may become topics of control and argument. Check out blogs on control:


Here’s how to begin reversing patterns of control and conflict in your relationship.


  1. Sit down with each other and do this exercise.

  2. Review the 10 rights listed above and put your initial by those rights you believe you have and + if you also exercise those rights.

  3. Do the same for your spouse.

  4. Compare and contrast the two sets of results.

  5. How well do they match?

  6. Discuss the reasons for differences and similarities.

  7. Make a definite plan based on your discoveries of how to improve and reduce conflict and control.


Consideration, however, is appropriate in understanding and exercising your individual rights as a married person. Assuming you did not get married to spend all of your time separately or to ignore your partner’s feelings and opinions, collaboration and coordination in expressing these rights is necessary. Communication is critical.


For example, with regard to #5-Have some me/alone time. If your need for “me” time conflicts with the amount of “together” time your spouse desires, you can see how collaboration and coordination is needed. Likewise, talking about the budget is critical for understanding the money issue in #10.


Of special importance in #2, the right not to have sex at any particular time needs to be balanced with any agreements made through your marital vows and relationship expectations regarding sexual fidelity. An agreement to have sex only with your partner, likely includes an agreement that there will be consensual romance and sex with each other in the marriage— at least to some degree.


When you exercise your right to choose your own friends, special considerations apply if that friend is of opposite gender. Shared secrets or intimate alone time may indicate simply an emotional friendship, but it may become emotional cheating. Check out the blogs and articles on emotional cheating:

Again, it is necessary to communicate clearly about all of these rights when you complete this exercise. Be aware that, at times, one partner’s rights may come at the expense of the rights of the other. This can be extremely stressful and may require professional assistance to deal with this type of conflict.


Learning how to exercise your individual rights respect fully within your marriage will go a long way to eliminate or at least dim any control dynamic between the two of you.


What do you think?


That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.



Dr. Coach Love




v      I invite your comments below.

v      E-mail your relationship coaching questions to

v      Questions selected will be edited as needed to reflect privacy,

            brevity, clarity, and general interest.

v      Sorry, Dr. Coach Love is unable to offer any personal advice through this blog. This blog is not intended as a substitute for therapy. If you suspect any mental health problems, please seek immediate direct professional services as appropriate.

v      Check out relationship coaching services at  


©       Copyright 2009 P.H. Pickett, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

            Contact for permissions.

About drcoachlove

Dr. Coach Love is the author of the multiple award-winning book, The Marriage Whisperer: Tips to Improve Your Relationship Overnight, published by MSI Press, a traditional publisher in California.

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