Power Dynamics in Relationships

In certain kinds of relationships, in which there tends to be power-over/ power-under dynamics, there may be a relationship within which two people do equal work –but one of the members takes over the full leadership role, requiring the other to simply follow.

Patriarchy and certain kinds of extreme evangelical religions seem to put forth the notion that the male should get to make all the decisions, even if the female does equal work or more). In some extreme kinds of distorted relationships, the male even insists on full ownership of property and full control of money, even if both partners contribute fully to the wellbeing and functioning of the household and family.

Sometimes it is not even just about gender, as there can be same-gender relationships in which there is imbalance of power.

At least in my view, it is not a healthy relationship unless and until both have input, both have say, both experience an equal amount of power to contribute towards decisions within their lives and relationship.

An alternative–when two people are aligned with a common purpose, and aligned in a common vision of how they want the relationship to be – is that they talk together, each sharing their wants, wishes, needs, fears, goals and visions for the outcome.

If the two people can listen and talk creatively, work collaboratively, then a larger vision can emerge that can hold and reflect the needs and wishes of both individuals, and benefit the “whole.”

Gottman talks about one of the healthiest factors, predicting happy and enduring relationships, is whether or not each feels that they can “influence” the other, that is have their point of view taken into account, considered, empathized with, and the greatest sense of being “part of the same team” occurs when two people are able to come up with a creative plan that has taken both of their needs and wishes into account.

For a couple relationship to go well, each person’s individual needs and desires need to be part of the fabric of the ultimate outcome created.

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