Power struggles can kill your marriage if you let them. When your partner wants one thing, but you want another, a mental battle of wits can ensue. You both step into separate corners, backs against the metaphorical wall, and talk or shout without listening. Each person wants to win. Both feel defensive and the gloves are off. Momentarily, the fact that you are both on the same side is forgotten. It is you against your partner until one of you retreats.
All romantic relationships reach a stage where power struggles may emerge and they need to be handled in a way that does cause resentment between you both. When people discuss power struggles in relationships, they are really talking about “energy” tussles, where one person’s energy clashes with another’s. Much of the time, the problem occurs when one person wants the other to do something that he or she does not wish to do.
Power struggles happen in romantic relationships, but also within family and friends. Also, they can take place in the office, or even at a shop counter. The underlying motivation is an attempt to get your needs met. Whenever they occur, however, you can be sure that they elicit a strong sense of will that can quickly transform into anger.
Remember that you have choices as to how to behave. Many people do not recognize that they have such options when it comes to how they respond to power struggles.
Their emotions are high, which blinds them from seeing the different ways they could behave in such situations. It’s only in hindsight that people realize what may have happened. Looking back helps if you learn from the situation and make a conscience decision to alter your behavior.
When a power struggle rears its head, there are several more helpful methods of coping you may choose:
You can decide not to put pressure on someone if you want. Then, when they exert pressure towards you, you can walk away until the situation has calmed down. No one can force you into a corner unless you allow him to do so. This method of dealing with power struggles is most useful when a situation has been blown out of proportion and you find that you are not getting anywhere anyway. It can also be beneficial to back off if the problem stems from an inconsequential issue that is not worth fighting over.
Change Your Energy
During a struggle, people fight each others’ energy. However, if you alter your energy, there will be no reason for your opponent to be defensive. You can easily dissipate a feud by shifting your attitude. Doing so does not mean that you are defeated. It means that you have decided to find a more positive manner of coping with the issue.
You can turn the situation around by not talking for a while. Listen to what the other person is saying to you so that you understand his point of view better. Lower your tone of voice when you respond so that you sound calm, and state your own point of view.
Use logic initially to get your message across rather than emotion, as emotion fuels energy.
The result will be that the person you were having a power struggle with will relax and become calm. Communicating with him will become easier, and feel less like a fight. At some point later, if you decide to discuss what happened, you can tap into what triggered your strong reaction. Focus on what may underlie the anger…for example feeling hurt, abandoned or dismissed. You have a better chance getting your partner to respond to these expressed emotions than anger.
Power struggles are never easy. However, you can choose to back off and let matters cool down, or let the situation slide entirely if it does not mean that much to you. Alternatively, you can work at altering your energy, as this will change the energy of other people around you.