First off, let me be clear I am not talking about living outside society’s rules and expectations. If you shoplift, run a grow-op, drink and drive, smoke in the presence of others or abuse your family, there will always be people telling you how to live; there is no age limit…

Growing up

As a child and youth you accepted as normal that your parents and teachers would tell you how to live. In fact you depended upon it. Gradually, as you moved through your teens, you developed a picture of how you wanted to live your life. That picture has undoubtedly changed over time, but your ownership of it has strengthened.

As a young adult you became more resistant to your parents freely telling you how to live, and they gradually shifted, sometimes unwillingly, to offering advice when asked.


If you married young, your husband may have taken over from your father in telling you how to live your life; and you may have taken over from his mother in telling him how to live his life.

During early adulthood you develop a deepened sense of who you are and what you want from your life. This can be threatening to your partner if neither of you understands that what is happening is normal and natural personal growth.

The key to getting through this phase of life intact is for each of you to work on knowing what you want for your future, discuss your plans, support one another through the inevitable changes, and find solutions to the apparent impasses. Resist the free advice that rushes in at any sign of trouble, but do consult carefully as needed.

Middle age

You are now old enough to never have anyone telling you how to live your life. It simply should not happen anymore. You are the captain of your life, whether you are single or married.

However, are you able to live your life without telling anyone else how to live theirs? As you mature, this is the question that is really hard to deal with for many people. Again, discuss, discuss, discuss. Discussion is not about winning an argument and having your way, but about getting past mistakes and finding solutions that both of you are happy with.

So if you are in a marriage where you are being told how to live or where you are telling your partner how to live, I encourage you to both take a hard look at your lives and do what you need to do to correct the imbalance.

You are too old to be living this way.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Neill Neill, psychologist, author and columnist, maintains an active practice with a focus on healthy relationships and life after addictions. He is the author of Living with a Functioning Alcoholic - A Woman’s Survival Guide. From time to time life presents us all with issues. To find out what insights and guidance Neill shares about your particular questions, go to