Sunday, March 7th, 2021

R Shopper Columns


When I was a young boy, I played a children's game called, "King Of The Castle." One player was chosen to be the King. Standing on a mound or tub or box or stump, the king tormented the other players by shouting: "I'm King of the Castle."

Another player would challenge him by standing on a hill with the king. The two opponents stood about a foot apart from each other. With our palms outward, each player would give a quick push on the other person's palms. The goal was to make the other person lose their balance and fall backwards. Then the winner would be the king of the castle!

There are some of us who still play the King of the castle in our relationships. We seem to find ourselves in a power struggle with our partner. We argue about everything- even about the most trivial issues. It seems that we cannot agree on anything. We push and shove with our actions and words in order to be in control.

Sometimes, we find ourselves in a relationship or marriage with a rigid and critical person acting "king of the castle." The rigid person has a specific way of doing things. They are saying to us, "This is the correct way of doing things. If you don't do it my 'correct' way, you are wrong." This person backs up his rigidity by his frequent use of "shoulds" and "musts." Should is like a parent word. It prescribes a certain way of doing things and doesn't allow exceptions.

If we are a person who is a "people pleaser" or if we do not trust our own judgments, we may find ourselves attractive to a rigid person because they can make decisions and seem so sure of himself or herself. At first, it feels good to have someone take charge and step up to the plate by making a decision and saying what they want.

The relationship with a rigid/critical person may work for a while; however, there may come a time when we may feel invisible. Since the rigid person's focus is upon himself and "the way things should be done," our opinion and voice are seldom heard. The message is, "I count. You don't." We feel that our ideas and what we want doesn't matter. We may begin complaining to him or her that they are being very controlling and selfish. Resentments begin building and we may find ourselves saying to them, "All you think about is yourself." Of course, the rigid person is going to be shocked and hurt.

We become tired of living under the king's rules and begin looking for ways to knock them off the throne so that our voice is heard.

Next month we will look ways of turning the kingdom into a democracy.

Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through

Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700