Three words you just don’t want to see lined up in a row: relationship power struggle. Perfect balance may not be always attainable. In fact, it’s never attainable! But when your relationship becomes an ongoing tug of war, dysfunction sets in quickly. From there, peaceful co-creation is a pipe dream. A major factor in such situations is the power imbalance. Our culture, in general, favors some while others struggle. This dynamic does not vanish just because two people fall in love.
What dynamics can cause a power imbalance?
Age-gap relationships are tricky on many levels but one aspect remains under-examined: ageism. In general, the younger partner is taken less seriously. Even the older partner may contribute to this reality thanks to long term conditioning.
We live in a male-dominant society. Women face far more hardship and oppression than men. The results of this imbalance play out in more ways than we can list here.
We also live in a white-dominant society. Mixed race couples must remain very diligent to not fall prey to the insidious traps of racism. Again, cultural conditioning can often trump intent. Never take it for granted that you can keep learning.
Money issues have the potential to poison any relationship. When one partner earns substantially more than the others, resentment is always lurking. Such an imbalance is also a recipe for controlling behavior. This topic requires your full focus and attention.
Education differences also have the potential to create a difference in perceptions, acceptance, and the way couples discuss, explore differences and resolve any differences or conflicts.
6. Communication Talking Styles
Different communication talking styles help to create misunderstandings and different interpretations of what is heard. One style is direct and delivers information logically without emotion and the other delivers information more emotionally, and they often do not understand what the other is saying. Both talking styles are logical and emotional, just not in their delivery, and delivery is everything!
7. Programming or Family Conditioning
We are raised in an environment where we are constantly downloading how to be in relationships with others, especially with a partner. Even when we are too young to know that this is happening, we are taking in our world and filling up our subconscious mind full of what is in our environment. We either follow this programming or conditioning or we are in rebellion to it. So, unless we want to be coping it or rebelling against it, perhaps challenging our programming with something that works for us and our partner may be a good thing!
How to Survive a Relationship Power Struggle and Reach the Peaceful Co-Creative Stage
1. Understand and respect the power dynamics listed above
The strength of the above dynamics goes far beyond our individual relationships. They are always present yet most often invisible. This is not a destination. So embrace the journey of awakening and use it to become co-creative with your significant other.
The foundation. Power struggles often fill the gaps that poor communication creates. Learn to ask for what you need and listen when you partner does the same. Seek equality in your communications. This means balancing out who talks and when. Develop active listening. A big part of healthy communication is mutual respect.
3. Reject perfectionism
Our relationships are never going to look and feel like a pop culture fantasy. If we could let go of the romantic-comedy and love song imagery, we’d all be better served. Accept that road bumps are inevitable. Embrace them as teaching moments.
4. Identify triggers
It’s so important to know what sets you off. It’s equally as important to communicate these triggers to your partner. In a loving, equitable relationship, we seek to learn and grow. A big part of this is understanding that individuals evolve and their connections must adapt with it.
5. Take counsel but trust each other above family and friends
6. Explore the difference that may be in you and your partners talking style
When you learn if there is a difference in your talking styles and learn how to create a bridge between the different styles communication is easier and power struggles can be a thing of the past.
7. Discover what kind of conditioning or programming you downloaded
Once you discover what kind of conditioning or programming you downloaded growing up and if it supports healthy relationship patterns, you are ready to reprogram for a healthier relationship.
In any relationship with a built-in relationship power struggle, those around you will have their opinions. Never forget that they can also fall victim to the conditioning that creates power imbalances. When we are all immersed in an unbalanced culture, we must always be questioning. In addition, we must be wary of any and all advice. To better hone this skill, see below.
Conflict resolution is a skill
Like any skill, conflict resolution takes time to learn and master. From there, it requires regular maintenance. Therefore, it’s super helpful to find a compassionate and experienced guide. Working with a therapist is a proven path towards becoming the kind of couple who recognize patterns and don’t panic in the face of a relationship power struggle where many couples get stuck and can’t seem without help to get out of this stage and onto the co-creative stage. Couples counseling is also a proven path towards the peaceful reprogramming and onto the co-creative stage.