Necessary Elements to Finding “Right balance” Interpersonally

There are many writers who talk about the necessary elements in a healthy couple relationship. Some of these writers, and some of the concepts put forth by these writers, I find particularly pertinent in the context of this website.

As we move from the topic of “interpersonal right balance” on toward what I am referring to as “systemic right balance,” we extend our exploration to the larger field of cultural dynamics, dynamics between one gender and another, between one race and another, between one political stance and another, one country and another, dynamics between humans and other species, even dynamics between humans and the Earth.

Three concepts stand out to me, which to me feel like necessary elements for relationships which are in “right balance:”
*One is the critical need not to engage in “Power-over/ Power-under” dynamics,
*Another is the need for “giving better back,” so as to endeavor to increase understanding and collaboration, rather than engaging in competitive or retaliatory behavior.
*And the third is the importance of repair after rupture in intimate relationships, referred to by Sue Johnson (among other people) in the practice of EFT (emotionally focused therapy).

A) Terry Real (, in his 2002 book, How Can I Get Through to YOU? Closing the Intimacy Gap between Men and Women, talks about the concept of Psychological Patriarchy. Addressing this problem of Psychological Patriarchy is necessary so as to avoid power-over/ power-under relationships, which render impossible relationships between equal partners.

In a recent course discussion Terry addresses his concept of From Ego to Eco. His concept, as he states in the course description, “will teach a practical, effective way to get individuals to remember that they are a part of a larger whole, EVEN when they are triggered, using that as leverage to help them overcome their knee-jerk reactions.”

Terry goes on to explain, “When people make the leap into “Us Consciousness,” they quickly realize how certain behaviors poison their environment.”

Moving from power struggles of “my way versus your way” to an “Us consciousness” is a leap important in dyadic relationships, but also essential to systemic balance.

Terry himself draws the parallel between being out of right balance in a dyadic relationship and being out of right balance with Nature:

Love demands democracy.

Individualistic “power” is power over, not power with. The individual stands apart from and in control of nature, whether the nature being dominated is your spouse, your kids, your own body, your own thoughts.
We cannot truly connect to each other from either a one-up or a one-down position.
A relational perspective is synonymous with an ecological perspective: You do not stand above nature– you are in nature. In all our relationships, we have to learn to trade in dominance for collaboration, narcissism for humility, independence for interdependence.

B) Mona Barbera (, in her 2008 book, Bring Yourself to Love: How Couples Can Turn Disconnection into Intimacy, articulates the concept (and tool) that she refers to as “giving better back.”  What she means by this is that an individual, even when triggered, one an step out of the triggered place, and (instead of retaliating in kind) can come from a place of open-hearted vulnerability –typically engaging the partner into a more open-hearted place themselves.  If one wishes to read this chapter, it is available to download (


C) Sue Johnson, in her Emotionally Focused Therapy work (Hold Me Tight, Love Sense, emphasizes the importance of repair when rupture has occurred.  She talks about the necessity — for the partner who has been hurt — to be able to be heard and empathized with by the partner who did whatever it was that created the hurt.

Such a practice would not only benefit dyadic relationships, but any and all relationships that would be needing revision – systemically (one gender with another, one country with another, humans with other species, humans with the Earth).

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