Saturday, September 30, 2023

Handling Power Struggles: The Gift of Stress…

February 26, 2011 by  
Filed under Misc., News, Opinion, Relationships, Weekly Columns

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( In every relationship you will get stressed, and that stress is a gift. It’s a gift because it’s here to tell you that something is wrong, and you need to get to work to figure it out.

According to Zohar Adner, author of ‘The Gift of Stress,’ “We crave control… when our current situation doesn’t match our ideal, we often start craving control. We want the stability, certainty and security that our experience will match our ideals. The problem is that most things in life are out of our control — everything from the weather, to the price of gas, to other’s attitudes.”

In many relationships, the most stressful times are when two people butt heads and try to force their will upon the other. It becomes a stressful situation because you both want things done your way, and when the other   person doesn’t comply, your environment is no longer ideal. Commonly known as the power struggle, this period can make or break a relationship. It can make a relationship because if two people learn to share the power in their relationship and respect each other through the process, they will grow together.

If they choose to hold onto their individual power at the cost of their partner, then their growth is stunted and their paths diverge. Power struggles create a rift and mire the relationship in hostility. This distance that builds between two people festers with resistance, resentment and plenty of catching the crazy. So how do you make sure power struggles don’t ruin your relationship? Recognize when you are the offender in your relationship and choose to change it.

Communication: The first step to avoiding power struggles is to maintain communication. When we are frustrated, it is easy to shut down and run away from the issue, or scream and shout to make your partner want to run away from you. Either choice shuts down the lines of communication. The issue has not been resolved, and it isn’t going to magically take care of itself. Be aware of your fight-or-flight reflexes when dealing with your partner, and if you need to take a time out, ask for one. Just make sure to come back and address the issue with respectful, open communication.

It’s My Way or the Highway: If your need to control your partner and the relationship is so strong that you offer them the door whenever you don’t get your way, then you have a problem. Using your love as a weapon is abusive, and you need to check yourself. Learning, growing and evolving mean that you will have to make changes, and if you truly love and trust your partner, then who better to be a teacher? Your relationship is a safe space to try new things and experience new ways of living. Open yourself up to finding solutions that work for both of you, or else you’ll always end up alone.

Co-Dependence: We all have emotional defense systems that we created in childhood to protect us from our shame of being unworthy and unlovable. In our quest for self-value, we belittle and judge our partners in order to feel good about ourselves, or we become dependent on them to define our self-worth. When we allow these emotional deficits to rule our lives, we create an abusive relationship with our partners, where we either attack them to gain the upper hand or allow them to walk on us in order to fill our neediness. When faced with an issue, be aware of what you say and how you say it because no one is better than any one else.

Being Happy versus Being Right: In any power struggle the desire to be right will inflame the conflict. When you hold on to the need to be right, you forget to listen and the struggle becomes a war in which you must win, instead of a negotiation to find the best choice for the relationship. Let go of your competitive nature. You either both win and learn to happily co-exist, or you both lose and end up apart. Work on finding a win-win solution, and you will be happier for it.

No Blame, No Shame, No Past Issues: It is common to want to blame and shame your partner or drag up old issues to use as ammunition when you are in the midst of a power struggle. Blaming and shaming are control tactics used to disarm and disempower. Rehashing old issues is a diversion tactic typically used when you feel you are losing ground in an argument. If you wield these weapons, they will destroy your relationship. Shifting blame from yourself to your partner is another tactic that will stunt your growth. You need to own up to your own faults and learn from them.

Stress will warn you there is an issue, but it doesn’t have to be resolved with a power struggle. It’s an opportunity to learn how to solve issues as a team with a positive win-win solution. It’s within your power to create a strong and loving relationship with an equal partner. The choice is yours!

Written By Rebecca Brody

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