Do you find that you and your partner argue about every little thing? If you say “black” does your partner say “white”? Does your partner frequently find fault with anything you say or do?
Do discussions seem more like debate or like trying to convince or persuade your partner to see things from your perspective? Do you feel: “I can’t do or say anything right?” Do you feel more like adversaries than loving spouses?
This is the stage of marriage called the “power struggle.” It happens in most marriages. You can work with to learn how to get through it in the shortest possible time and regain your closeness. The importance of shared power and partnership in achieving an intimate and effective relationship is paramount. Fortunately, marriage therapycan help.
The Honeymoon Aftermath
Once a relationship moves past the honeymoon stage, many stall in the power struggle stage, which is usually focused around religion, parenting, allocation of time, sex, intimacy, the home, social life, personal habits, hobbies, privacy, and finances.
It’s when partners stop hearing each other’s complaints, needs, and wants and start defending and protecting themselves against criticism and attempts of forced change. Sadly, this is what many couples report after one of them has had an affair.
The power struggle is not supposed to last, but many couples cannot seem to find the balance their relationship needs, and once had. When one partner has no voice the imbalance of power will destroy the couple relationship and create a parenting relationship.
Couples who are unsuccessful at navigating through the power struggle remain at battle, and may decide to end their relationship. Relationship counseling can help you to hear each other again, giving both partners an equal voice, and equal rights to having their needs and wants validated and understood.
Is your partner someone who often hides behind the newspaper, television, a book, work on the computer–who clams up and won’t talk about issues or feelings and leaves arguments or discussions without closure or resolution–who is withholding, emotionally distant, and non affectionate at times? Counseling can be the perfect place to come up with strategies to change this dynamic.
Minimizing and Maximizing
Does your partner often say “I don’t know” or “I just need some space and time” or “nothing is the matter” or “please stop talking this to death” and sometimes lies or is secretive about themselves? This often makes the other partner feel isolated in the relationship.
If your partner someone who is always bringing up issues and then talking on and on about them–who makes a big deal about seemingly unimportant issues–who gets angry and won’t let the subject go and or exaggerates or nags using “always” and “never” a lot, counseling may help.
If any of this sounds familiar you are likely experiencing something called the minimizing-maximizing dynamic. Without intervention this type of polarization occurs and the marriage seems more like a war zone than a haven. In just one counseling session you can learn how to ease the stress of this.