Power Struggles in Relationships

Instructor: Gaines Arnold
This lesson discusses how couples tend to have power struggles in their relationships as the initial stage of the relationship ends. The dynamics of a power struggle are discussed along with how they can be used as both a positive and negative force and can be resolved.

A Struggle Started

While dating, Jen and Dave would do anything for each other. He held open doors for her; she sent him endearing texts during the day. They were in love and not afraid to show it to one another. After they were married, the same honeymoon atmosphere continued…for about nine months. One day Dave came home from work and asked Jen what she had been doing all day. 'You had the day off.' He said, 'Why weren't you able to go to the DMV?' Jen had been working in the yard and forgot about the car registration, but all she heard was his tone. They argued about what annoyed each about the other for another thirty minutes and then she left.

Couples always go through an initial period during which the love is exciting and new and their partner is perfect. Unfortunately, those days end, for some quicker than others, and then the power struggles begin. Relationships between two people are difficult, but they don't have to end as a result of a little fighting.

Why People Have Power Struggles

No two people are alike, which should go without saying, but sometimes it's a forgotten fact in the heady days of early romance. As an individual matures they have unique experiences that shape their personality and actions. Since no two people have the exact same experiences, couples will have areas of disagreement that can be difficult to resolve. It is these disagreements which cause power struggles.

What a Power Struggle can Lead To

The couple first has to realize that power struggles within a relationship are normal. They can also lead to either positive or negative consequences. How the couple handles the struggles determines what the outcome will be.

When the fighting is fierce, it may seem that there is no way that this can turn into a relationship builder, but it can. First of all, these early struggles show how you are going to fight. You can learn to fight fair (no name calling, no dredging up past indiscretions that were previously forgiven, etc.) or as a couple, you can learn what hurts and continue to use that to 'win' the struggle. Another positive is that these struggles iron out the relationship and allow the combatants to become better friends who learn to truly compromise with one another. Friendship is the basis for a long-lasting relationship. That hot, romantic love only takes you so far if you don't learn to be friends also.

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