Think about all the arguing couples you know and ask yourself, how many of them are good at sharing power? There are many couples where one person caters to the other. Often men cater to women to make them happy in the beginning of relationships.
Then there are many couples where a power imbalance is par for the course so they don’t fight. Things are easier that way. I’ll ignore your irritability, your drinking too much, your selfishness etc. so we just get along. The path of least resistance sometimes turns into the mushiness of codependency.
Then there are those rare couples that pursue the work & struggle that sharing power requires. Couples fighting is ok if they are on a path of sharing power and learning to be a team. Relationship problems require two people who can present their point of view.
Many fighting couples come into my office and begin with; “We don’t communicate well”. I think that often means one person has too much power & takes up all the space. The other person gives up their power by not saying enough or not taking up enough space. Both people collude in this pattern.
The too much person has to learn to edit, put their finger over their mouth, shut up & listen even if you don’t like what the other person is saying. They would effectively be sharing the power by recognizing they are not always right & by having a value on fairness.
The too little person has to find their courage to be authentic and address what they want & don’t want even if the other person disagrees. They would be taking more power by standing up for themselves & believing they deserve more respect for their differences. Often they are too afraid of the wrath or disappointment of the other.
It is ironic that many times when the too little person admits they are afraid of the other; then the too much person is furious at feeling portrayed as “Darth Vader or a Wicked Witch” (though this is not the case). This then becomes another reason to be completely unreasonable & ballistic with the agenda that the too little person regrets saying their truth. Caving in is precisely the result that the too much person desires.
This effectively maintains the status quo & the power imbalance remains. When the too little person gives up then they are allowing themselves to be manipulated into continuing to shut up. The too much person blows up to manipulate the other person into permanent silence.
Sharing power requires a heap of respect. Divorce is because respect has evaporated. Dialogue instead of monologue means recognizing two points of view exist in most situations. Dialogue is far more interesting and does not happen very often because it takes time.
We are a frantic, hurry up culture. There is no time for the layering of the many conversations that creates a depth of understanding. It is the norm for couples fighting to be so defensive in the first conversation then they don’t really hear what’s important to the other person.
When couples fight, it is unfortunate that most people give up too easily after the beginning conversations because of defensiveness.
Defensiveness is built on someone being too sensitive, feeling attacked too easily or insecurities. The other person is too insensitive, too self righteous or judgmental. Defensiveness pollutes hearing both sides to every issue. Only honest dialogue leads to sharing power through negotiation, problem solving and feeling like a team with your partner.
Read more on my website on the relationship page.