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Overcoming Power Struggles in Relationships

By Allie Ochs

Be they romantic, family or work-related, relationships are subject to power struggles. We struggle to dominate the relationship wanting to impose our views and beliefs on others. In doing so, we miss learning from others and hinder our growth. Power struggles in romantic relationships are partially rooted in our past. If we experienced control while growing up, we want to control our romantic relationship. If we didn't receive enough love, we want to control our partner's love for us. It is all about getting our needs met. Yet our partners have no idea that they are expected to compensate for what we missed earlier in life. There is nothing wrong with wanting our needs met, as long as we are realistic. After all, relationships are intended to improve our lives and help us become better people for each other. Our power struggles continue, because we are unwilling to give our partners what they want until our needs are first met.

We even refuse to meet our partner's needs, when it would be so easy to change a little. Darby has an annoying habit of leaving all the lights on. She never washes Peter's clothes and refuses to have his parents over for dinner. Peter needs her to make a few changes. Regardless of what lead to their power struggle, it takes little effort to include his clothes with her load of laundry. She can make an effort to conserve energy just as easily as she can invite his parents occasionally. Darby gets upset when Peter leaves his dirty laundry everywhere, doesn't help with cooking and can't remember his shopping list. It wouldn't take much for Peter to change either!  Instead, this relationship has become a power struggle over whose needs are more important.

To break this vicious cycle, we can easily give our partner what he or she needs. Remember, we are talking about realistic needs. Chances are, our partner will take notice and reciprocate. Here are little changes we can make immediately:

She wants you to help with housework.
Do it! You don't have to become the CEO of Molly Maid, but you can make the time to pitch in!

He wants to have his parents over for dinner.
Do it! Choose a time that suits everyone and make it simple and easy. Show your good will!

She wants to be included in your plans.
Tell her what you are up to. Call her and keep her in the loop. A quick phone call takes no effort!

He doesn't want you to be on the phone with your girlfriend all evening.
Talk to your girlfriend when he is not prese nt. If you must while he is around, keep it short!

She wants you to stop reading girlie-magazines.
Stop it! Anyone can, unless there is a serious addiction in which case you must seek counselling!

He wants to have more sex.
Do it, if you can. If you require more intimacy, ask him for it!

She wants you to be more attentive.
Do it! Stop wasting your time on things that don't matter. Invest this time in her instead!

She wants you to help resolve relationship issues.
Do it! Stop stonewalling! Problems never go away, by ignoring them. Step up to the plate- this is your relationship too!

He wants you to stop spoiling the kids.
Stop it! He does have a point. You are not doing your kids a favour. Find the middle ground, and be on the same page when disciplining your children!

The list of simple changes we can make is endless. The bottom line: we must make these changes for the sake of our relationship. If you are making changes while your partner does not, at least you break the cycle and lead by example. If you both continue the game of I'll give you what you need, if you fill my needs first, power struggles will destroy your relationship.

bq. You must be the change you wish to see in the world.                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Gandhi

© 2006 Allie Ochs, Relationship Expert, Coach, Speaker and the Author of “Are You Fit To Love?” ISBN 0-9720227-9-1. Her articles are published in numerous magazines and newsletters. She has appeared on radio and TV. To order her book or to take the Fit 2 Love! Test visit her website at www.fit2love.com. For FREE relationship/dating advice e-mail: askallie@fit2love.com


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