For most of us, relationships are like a series of magical moments. Initial days are filled with nervous excitements that keep our spirits soaring.
The excitement makes you feel alive; you develop this urge to share every moment with your loved one.
And after some time into the relationship, a horrible thing happens.
The Power Struggle Stage.
Anytime between 4 months and 2 years in the relationship, you notice that solid feeling about love is starting to fade away. This feeling is replaced by an internal panic that makes you feel trapped in the relationship.
We feel that our partner who was supposed to love and take care of us will abandon us.
Most relationships go through this power struggle stage. Some people will get so frustrated that they try to find ways to get out of this relationship. In comparison, others will try hard to bring behavioral changes in their partner to make things the way they were before. You want your partner to behave the way they were behaving in the initial days of the relationship.
It is common for people to develop resentment against their partner during this stage. They get angry when they discover that their special someone is not being what they thought they were.
Probably your partner will have a similar feeling about you, and soon you realize that you are struggling to be yourself around your SO anymore.
There is complete uneasiness in the relationship where both of you don’t open with each other anymore.
The power struggle is the opposite of what a partnership should be, which is why you must avoid getting into this phase in a relationship. But the question is how to avoid a power struggle?
What are power struggles?
A couple gets to the struggle phase when they are trying to be happy and harmonious while still trying to be independent and maintain a sense of self.
Experts believe that when you make an effort to be ahead of your partner or when you feel threatened that your partner is better than you, the relationship enters the power struggle phase.
In this stage, there are constant conflicts and fight between the couple, the bond weakens, and both of you feel sad and depressed about how things are going.
Couples who are not able to get over these issues sadly decide to break up.
Before deciding to split up, you must make all efforts to find a positive solution to the problem. It is not appropriate to split up as soon as you see signs of power struggle in your relationship. It would be best if you put honest effort into working things out.
Signs Of Power Struggles In A Relationship.
Simply put, when one of you feels superior to the other, it starts a power struggle. For instance, arguments related to overspending on shopping and declining to help clean the house are signs of power struggle. Although you are a team, none of you likes the interference of your partner and being questioned (or being told) what to do and what not to do.
Man being threatened by the fact that his woman earns more than him, a wife being worried that his husband is trying to control him are signs that the couple is going through a power struggle stage.
Going through this stage is unfortunate because we get into a relationship to feel more satisfied and live a meaningful life with people who love and care for us. But when there are constant conflicts and uneasiness in a relationship, it changes the whole dynamic.
Why Does Power Struggle Occur?
When two people with strong personalities get together in a relationship and constantly clash on issues related to equality and their sense of identity, it leads to a power tussle. While this occurrence is common, but it is important to know that many relationships don’t go through this phase.
This phase is common in relationships where-
– There is a lack of communication, understanding, co-operation, and empathy.
– One partner believes that he is ahead of the other because he contributes more to the relationship.
– Other partner believes that he plays a more vital role in the relationship.
Tips To Overcome Power Struggle In A Relationship.
The initial step is to acknowledge the existence of the problem and have more clarity and details about the issue.
The problem is that you are not having a harmonious relationship with your partner, and there are many disagreements. You have tried a lot of things, but nothing seems to make things better.
If you dig deeper, you will find that you both are triggering each other’s attachments fears-
– Fear of rejection.
– Fear of being controlled.
– Fear of being trapped.
When you acknowledge the existence of a problem that you are struggling to solve, you have successfully taken a right first step towards fixing your relationship.
1. Define Rules and Roles.
Establishing rules regarding who does what in a relationship is the first step towards ending the power struggle. By doing this, you are reducing room for conflicts and arguments. Both of you will have your own tasks to put your focus on.
There will be less likelihood for any one of you to interfere in each other’s territories or duties. When you live as a unit, there are fewer instances of one partner trying to control what the other partner is doing.
2. Re-Define Goals.
Often, when any one of you has nothing to work on, you end up hijacking and interfering in each other’s work to improve things by doing this. However, unknowingly, you are laying the groundwork for conflicts and disagreement.
This is more common in relationships where one partner is more focused and goal-oriented than the other. To end the power struggle, You must therefore re-define and set new goals together in a relationship.
Once both of you have clearly defined goals, there will be lesser conflicts, and instead of wasting time in minor disagreements, you will realize that there are more important things in life to worry about.
3. View Yourself As A Team.
It is wrong when you have competition; it defeats the whole purpose of having a relationship. To make your relationship successful, you must work as a team.
Your efforts should not be directed against each other. Everything you do should add value to the relationship. Resist the temptation to be ahead of each other, focus on working as a team to better the relationship. There will be disagreements when you are together; instead of attacking your partner to prove your point, try to resolve the situation more positively.
4. Avoid Manipulations.
When either of you starts being manipulative, it impacts your relationship in a very negative way. You are a team, and you have to be honest with each other. When you are manipulative, you lose your credibility in front of your partner. They will find it hard to have trust and faith in you.
Being manipulative means attempting to control how your significant other behaves, thinks, and feels using your actions, words, and omissions.
A manipulative partner is not always aware that he is being manipulative. They may believe that this is how a relationship works typically. Additionally, they may be finding you manipulative and think that they should give it back to you the same way. They are often aware of their manipulations, but they do not realize how it impacts you and the relationship.
When there are no definite boundaries in a relationship, there are more chances of manipulation to occur. It helps when there are clear boundaries in a relationship. Setting up boundaries is comparatively easier at the initial stages of the relationship. However, it is never too late to politely make your partner know what is ok and what is not, what you can tolerate and what you can’t.
5. Learn From Other Couples.
One of the best methods to know how to handle power struggles is to take lessons from the experience that other couples have had. If someone has been through similar issues in their relationships, don’t hesitate to seek their assistance. Learning from the experiences of others will assist you in finding a solution you’ve struggled to discover.
If one of your close relatives or friend appears to have found the right solution to end power struggles, then you must try to find out what they are doing right.
6. Take A Break.
Professional commitments, work pressure, kids, financial problems, hectic schedules can be hard on your relationship. Maybe you are going through a power struggle with your partner because of the overwhelming stress you have been taking in your everyday life.
Taking a break and giving some attention to self-care can positively affect your mental health. When you feel happy and positive you will be able to contribute to your relationship in a better way. You will be able to make healthy decisions. It is like having a ‘couple therapy’ without even visiting the therapist.
7. Plan New Activities Together.
Doing exciting things together as a team brings you close to each other; it strengthens the bond between you two. When you are going through the power struggle phase, you either focus on different tasks or interfere with each other’s jobs.
When you do fun things together, you get the opportunity to reconnect together and realize the importance of living as a team. You can choose from various options, joining the gym, yoga, or salsa classes together or finding time to cook together.
8. Think Before You Speak.
If you have been in this relationship for a long time or have been part of other relationships in the past, you must have known by now the importance of thinking before you speak. Because once you say it, you cannot take your words back.
This is especially relevant to situations when you are having a fight or disagreement over something.
You are a responsible adult, not a teenager anymore. Saying hurtful things to your partner cannot benefit you in any way.
Sometimes when you are hurt, it is tough to control yourself. You believe that by using strong words, you are making your partner realize how hurt you are. But as you grow older, you understand that there is no place for aggression in a healthy relationship. If you are in a challenging situation and you think you will not be able to control yourself, it’s better to get away and not speak until you are in a better state of mind.
It is not uncommon to have power struggles in a relationship. There are numerous methods to resolve this situation. The best alternative is to work as a unit and show care, love, empathy, and care for each other. Avoid being aggressive and attacking each other, don’t try to be ahead of them; it’s not a competition.