How To Manage Marital Power Struggles
POWER STRUGGLES ARE HERE TO STAY
Anyone who has been married longer than five minutes realizes pretty quickly that power struggles are alive and well between husbands and wives today! You need to know how to manage them productively or else they can destroy your marriage.
When we talk about power struggles we’re not talking about one spouse insisting on having the final say in a disagreement but rather a battle for control where one spouse runs the show.
When confronting power struggles it’s easy to either give-in and be swallowed up in the other person’s power, or give-up altogether and call the marriage quits because you will not subject yourself to their relational tyranny.
WHERE POWER STRUGGLES COME FROM
Deeply held beliefs spawn power struggles. For example, the notion that a man has authority over his wife and she is to be blindly obedient and subservient to his power; this creates power struggles.
Another example is of the modern woman who is her own person and does whatever she pleases demanding respect in the process simply because she’s a woman and who conveys very little respect or use for her husband.
Both of these beliefs spawn power struggles and are destructive to marriage. Many men and women, however, bring these beliefs with them into their marriages.
HOW POWER STRUGGLES END
The above examples of power struggles are extreme cases. But inevitably, unless you’re able to deal with a power struggle in a healthy and productive way, it can end in only two ways:
1) The marriage will crumble and fall apart leading to a loveless marriage or divorce
2) Or the pain of the power struggle will cause the husband and wife to find a way to fix it
The good news is that when a husband and wife love each other enough to become humble, treating each other with love and respect, power struggles can be resolved and the relationship will be stronger as a result of it.
It’s likely that counseling will be necessary, though, especially when the beliefs are deep-seated and have been held for a long time.
TWO KINDS OF POWER STRUGGLES
Here are the two kinds of power struggles usually found within marriages:
1) One spouse insists on running the show
2) One spouse shuts the other spouse out of his/her life completely
RESOLVING THE POWER STRUGGLE
The only way to really resolve a power struggle is by acknowledging that a marriage consists of two distinct individuals who have their own set of thoughts, beliefs, needs, feelings and values that are EQUALLY important, valuable and essential. And as such, each spouse makes the commitment to NOT silence the other, or take advantage of the other, or dismiss the other.
THE DEEP DARK SIDE OF POWER STRUGGLES
There are times, sadly, when a power struggle deteriorates into abuse which can be of a physical, mental, emotional or spiritual nature. At times, a spouse might not even be fully aware that he or she is being abused.
Keep this in mind: The power struggle doesn’t have to result in physical or sexual violence to be abuse.
Always remember that there is verbal, emotional, mental and spiritual forms of violence that are also abuse which are equally devastating.
We often hear of domestic violence, which is a real problem in many marriages across this country. But there is also emotional and verbal violence, which is exhibited by men and women.
Abuse is not gender-specific.
WHAT DOES ABUSE LOOK LIKE?
How do you know if your spouse is being abusive?
Well, if your husband or wife is constantly exerting control over you, controlling your life, behavior, choices and actions, which can be anything from telling you what you can or cannot wear to which people you may or may not have as friends, and where you are allowed and not allowed to go, then it is abuse.
Does your spouse monitor your actions, track where you go, and invade your privacy? Then this is abuse.
Are your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and needs dismissed or diminished as unimportant or irrelevant? This is abuse.
Are you made fun of, put down, mocked, ridiculed or threatened? This is abuse.
Are you made to feel insignificant, helpless, ugly, unworthy, stupid, unlovable or weak? This is abuse.
You should never tolerate this kind of treatment from anyone, and especially not from your spouse. Find professional help immediately because you will need help freeing yourself from this life-diminishing, and possibly life-threatening, environment.
Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of thinking that this will take care of itself on its own or that your spouse is going to magically change into the prince or princess you’ve been longing for.
If you are in an abusive marital situation, get help today.