The All Powerful

So last week on Thursday I didn’t go to class… Instead I was at the park helping little kids shoot Nerf Crossbows at planets for free snow cones and cotton candy..

But I finally managed to catch up and I read the material that was covered that day.

It was all about power in a relationship. We all know, or should know, that power and conflicts are a normal part of intimate relationships.

But could we all define power? For blogging purposes we’ll say no, no you can’t so that I can define it for you! The definition in the context of intimate relationships that is, of course….

Power: the ability to get someone to think or feel or act in a way that he or she would not have done spontaneously.

Now  that could definitely be read with a negative connotation but we shouldn’t think of the use of power as something inherently bad. Naturally power can be abused but it can be used to benefit others as well.

Now there are four different types of marital power relationships:
1. Husband-Dominant
2. Wife-Dominant
3. Autonomic Equal but Separate
> This means that the decision making was equal but separate. Each spouse had authority over certain areas.
4. Syncratic Jointly Shared
> This means that the spouses shared authority over all decisions

Okay, okay so how do measure power? Generally everyone, along with researchers measure marital power on the basis of who makes the major decisions.

Now some people would say that they don’t want to have any power over their spouse and that they wouldn’t want their spouse to have power over them. Even go as far as to say that power contradicts the meaning of marriage.

But that overlooks the point that power is an integral part of human relationships.

We all need to feel some sense of control in our lives. It’s vital to our mental health. When we feel a lack of control or helpless or both we are likely to become depressed and vulnerable to all kinds of physical and mental ills.

Now when we feel some degree of control over the circumstances within our lives we are better able to cope and even more capable of dealing with various crises of life.

So how do we manage to feel in control? Emotion Equation:
Stimulus + Physiological Response + Cognitive Interpretation (You Choose) = Emotion You Feel

All this of course is easier said than it is done. I know that. But your attitude towards any situation really will set the tone how things will go.

Point is: The use of power is inevitable in any intimate relationship. And the way that the power is used and the way the balance of power is perceived are important to marital satisfaction.

So what are sources of power? Well an obvious one is going to be whoever has the most resources to bring to the relationship may have the most power.

Example: Money. The spouse with the highest income will probably have the most power in the relationship.

Now in the United States the male typically has the most power but that may not always be because he makes the most money. Especially considering how the modern mother today is also a working woman.

Working women who make more than their husbands have said that her husband has equal authority to make decisions in their marriage because among other things, “he is such a good father”.

Women like that. Men that make good fathers, that is.

Now outside of marital status and just a relationship the partner with the most power is usually the one who is least interested in maintaining the relationship.

It’s so true. It’s one of the best/worst principles of relationships. Because I mean if you care the least you have the most power, and how liberating is that? But if you’re not the one that cares the least and just really want things to progress in a certain direction but it can’t because well you just care too much! And there you are waiting.

Of course there are types of power in marriage:
1.) Coercive/Reward
2.) Legitimate
> Spouse has the right to ask and you have the duty to comply
3.) Expert
> Spouse has special and prevalent knowledge to a situation
4.) Referent
> Desire to please
5.) Informational
> Persuasion by spouse that what they want is in your own best interest

Basically there will be power struggles in marriage.

But conflict isn’t necessarily a bad thing, all the time. Conflict can bring issues out into the open! Conflict can help clarify issues. Through conflict people can grow, we should all know that we grow by striving and not by coasting. Small conflicts can defuse more serious conflicts. Conflict can also create and maintain an equitable balance of power.

Granted if conflict is not handled in a constructive and satisfactory to one or both partners the consequences can be, and likely will be, destructive to the relationship.

Naturally people fight about a lot of things. And there are multiple sources of tension. So naturally because there are so many sources of tension, man has created categories for them, which are:

1.) Power and Control
“who tell who what to do and when” – who has the final say for important decisions such as child rearing
2.) Nurturance
“Who takes care of whom and how” – Think of a married couple, a husband has a really stressful job but his wifey takes good care of him. She reassures him and provides great emotional support. But then they have a baby and the wife increasingly focuses her nurturing on the baby and the husband becomes discontent and hostile. He starts staying out late and drinking and then they fight about that but the real issue is why he started drinking
3.) Intimacy and Privacy
Basically this involves the amount of interaction versus the amount of alone time that each partner desires. If both partners have roughly the same needs for intimacy and privacy, their relationship will be harmonious in this area.
4.) Trust
Couples can fight, but still have a satisfying relationship if there is a basic foundation of trust.
5.) Fidelity
This means more than just sexual faithfulness. Infidelity can occur even without having a sexual relationship with someone else. Essentially it could be simply put that a general adherence to one’s marital vows.
6.) Differences in style
Just the differences that make up individuals.

So how do we handle conflict? 

There are principles of good fighting, and they are:

Maintain your perspective – Pick your fights, some things aren’t worth fighting about.
Develop Tension Outlets – Coping skills! Hobbies!
Avoid Festering Resentment – Practice forgiveness, don’t be such a prideful prick. And you know when you’re being a prideful prick, no one should have to tell you.
Be Sensitive to Timing – If you’re too heated, walk away and come back when you’ve cooled down and collected your thoughts
Communicate without Ceasing – Silent treatment is the worst treatment, ever. Communication isn’t a cure-all but while communicate there has to be a certain level of calmness and affection to help de-escalate negative emotions
Be Flexible, Willing to Compromise – Accommodtion and compromise are both important during conflicts. Collaboration and consensus is always desired but not  always practical.
Use Conflict to Attack Problems, Not Your SpouseThis is the most important
Approach the conflict with a problem-solving attitude rather than a spouse-bashing exercise
& Keep Loving while You are Fighting – Don’t use “low blows” during times of conflicts, you should not deliberately attack your spouse. Attack the problem, act our of concern for the well-being of your spouse.

This is kinda a lot to process.. I’ll be surprised if anyone reads it all.. haha

I know this entry has much less personal application – and I know how much people like that part.

But this section just really allowed me the opportunity to think about my relationships with others and how some are better than others.

I’m grateful for the good relationships I have with family members, and good friends. I’ve been quite blessed to have contact with some of the best people around 🙂



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