The Power Struggle

The Power Struggle - Cheryl Woolstone Counselling Blog

Who dominates? Who has the last word?

Whose version of reality wins?

When this is your focus you know that you are locked into a power struggle, the phase that follows romantic love, the unwelcome descent into reality.

The traits that you once found charming and quirky are now annoying.

Some couples stay locked in combat forever.  It takes a lot of energy to maintain the gridlock. And it is not fun.

The recognition that you are in a relationship with someone who is not you, does not see the world through your eyes and who has completely individual  needs and wants does not settle well for many couples.

Conflict is a Good Thing.

The best relationships contain conflict. Conflict brings life and vibrancy. It means that growth is trying to happen. Without some conflict your relationship will be flat, perhaps boring. Conflict is energy seeking clarity.

It is inevitable that sooner or later there will be a problem that you will need to solve together as a couple. You will likely have different stress management styles, world views and defensive patterns.

Conflict is stressful and can “trigger” old hurts, unmet need from previous relationship or our families of origin.

Ever notice that you get highly emotional over a  minor point or act childishly during an argument? This is the adult version of the two year old temper tantrum. You would never show this side to a friend or a colleague.

The bad news is that your partner may act or respond childishly or be over-emotional which causes the argument to disintegrate into yelling, pouting or sulking.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to stay that way.

The Truth About Defensiveness

  • We come into relationships with ingrained patterns of defense which are normal responses to stress in childhood
  • These behaviours show up naturally in our committed partnerships
  • They may be natural responses but they alienate us from our partners, creating distance and anger instead of connection and understanding
  • Those behaviour are now out of date and we need to grow into new ones
  • The purpose of adult committed relationships is to finish the emotional business of childhood
  • When we stay in connection during conflict, we have the opportunity to learn new behaviours that work much better

The Bottom Line

You can not hear your partner when you are busy defending yourself.

When you are thinking in terms of winning and losing and you are positioning yourself to dominate then you are on wrong path and fully entrenched in the old behaviours.

Try This Instead

Get curious about the other perspective. The way that you treat each other and the efforts that you put into understanding your partner’s world are more important than the focus on individual needs or want.

Tags: , ,

This entry was posted on Monday, April 18th, 2011 at 8:00 AM and is filed under IMAGO and Relationships. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply

Cheryl Woolstone Counselling - Vancouver Kitsilano - Newsletter Signup