Making Someone Better or Controlling Them?

I get questions like this quite often and wanted to share my answer. It may help you.

“I just finished reading your woman of values piece.  Thank you for sharing this wisdom.

I was just wondering though, is self sacrifice a part of this ‘ideal’ woman?  How far does that go? For example: If a wife loves her husband does she give her all to him… Meaning, if he wants a certain thing in the bedroom, even though she doesn’t like it, he gets it? Because she loves him?
If she tries to ‘make others better’ as you’ve said, does that mean telling someone not to drink or look after themselves… but not in a controlling matter.. what is the difference between telling someone not to drink and controlling someone?  How else do you ‘make someone better’?

Thank you for the time!

Keep up the inspiring thoughts!”



Thank you for reading my blog. So sorry for the late reply. I try to answer everyone and think through things but it takes some time.

When I wrote that piece, I wasn’t thinking of a “perfect girl”. There is no perfect girl and there is no perfect guy. I was describing the pursuits of the women I admire, that they identify what is truly valuable in life and spend time, energy, and resources to obtain them.

In short, it’s not about reaching a level higher than others, but daily pursuing the truly important things God has marked out for us.

Among the important things in our lives are our relationships. I would even say, after God, our family and friends are most important. If something, in this case someone, is important to you, you protect them and cultivate them. Sometimes this means protecting others even from themselves, from the wrong things they insist on doing.

If you see a stranger walking towards the edge of a cliff you would stop her. Shouldn’t we be more vigilant for the people we love?

Now the difference between controlling and cultivating is this:
Controlling someone is motivated by pride and fear. Cultivating is motivated by love and hope. Controlling someone means manipulating events and circumstances to minimize the effects of mistakes and to lower the risk of failure. Cultivating means to add, sometimes to prune, to shape, to cover, to expose, to do whatever it takes to make someone grow and flourish. 

Controlling has the effect of limiting a person through the minimizing of risk. Cultivating has the effect of expanding a person through love and care.

So for the husband and wife question, I would suggest they talk openly, expand their ability to communicate, and that should improve things not just in the bedroom but in the whole home.

For the case of the person drinking, I would encourage you to help her see the beautiful future she could have by taking steps to take care of herself.

To make someone better means to cultivate them, and we cross over to controlling when our good intentions get tainted by pride (we know better than them), fear (we’re afraid our efforts aren’t working), and impatience (we want to see change right away).

So before you do anything, ask yourself, “Am I expanding this person? Or am I limiting this person?”



David Bonifacio

David Bonifacio Husband, Father, CEO of Bridge. #DB

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Ressa - February 12, 2013 Reply

I think it’s also important to add that this controlling behavior can happen even outside of marriage. We can see it in friendships, the workplace, or even bf/gf relationships nowadays. It’s good to observe a person in this area. I am thankful that I got saved when God showed me how unhealthy being in this kind of relationship could be. When I got out of that, people would say “Your glow is back. Congratulations. Keep that light Res. It was gone for quite a while.”

I guess what I’m trying to say is that any form of control in any relationship should have a borderline. If the control is suppressing that person from being the best of his/herself and is only causing both parties to be destructive, then you have to re-evaluate, talk about it with the person/persons involved, and make your move from there.

Somehow this kind of relates to the blog I read by Pastor Dennis Sy that explores the same question. A little similar though the context is different. I think.

    David Bonifacio - February 13, 2013 Reply

    Yes, her question deals with a situation outside of marriage as well. I don’t think things have to be too complicated. Things get complicated when we focus more on how others are acting than we do on how we act.

yhumm abanilla - February 17, 2013 Reply

in my own situation, am i controlling my bestfriend or cultivating her?

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