Who Has the Power in Your Relationship?
An interesting part of the struggle in relationships is the denial of the competition all couples face in deciding the many things that mates must decide. Where to live? Whose job is most important? Do we rent or buy? Who manages the money? Who does what to run the household? Do we have children and if so, how many? The list goes on and on.
Because of the denial that all of these decisions involve power, people unconsciously compensate by engaging in subtle behavior to maintain their own self-preservation. Some conservative Christians, for example, emphasize Paul’s admonition in 1 Corinthians to women to be submissive to their husbands. They don’t include the advice to men to love their wives as they love themselves and to couples to be submissive to each other. Women who try to follow this rule usually become skilled at manipulating to get what they need to hang on to themselves.
Some men make their mates their mother. Someone once said, “When you make your wife your mother, you have to get a girl friend.” Many women complain that they resent feeling like a mother to their husbands. I have had a number of women in counseling tell me, “I feel like I have three children instead of two” or whatever the numbers are.
For a relationship to become a soul mate relationship, the couple must feel they are equals. They must be willing to learn how to resolve conflict and to focus on each other’s strengths. They need to recognize their own denial that there is competition between them and be willing to identify the frustration of being unable to always get what they want. If they can communicate those feelings without blame and learn from each other, their love will grow.