A romantic relationship would only be healthy and fruitful if both partners share rights and responsibilities equally and have got equal say in it. When the honeymoon phase is over and your body has released all the feeling-good hormones, then you would perceive your partner and relationship realistically. You would realize the personality traits, quirks, habits, disagreements, and differences of opinions and points of view. Today, we’ll discuss the power struggle stage of relationship; its various types, signs, and how to deal with it.
The power struggle is a stage in the relationship when every partner tries to dominate the other. After the honeymoon phase, partners don’t listen to each other, highlight each other’s flaws, and become defensive. The other partner would retaliate, resist, or avoid engaging with you.
Types of Power Struggle Stage of Relationship
Some of the four main types of power struggle stage of relationship are as follows;
Demand withdrawal is a type of power struggle where one partner wants changes, and actions, and discusses things in order to resolve relationship issues, conflicts, and differences. The other partner would avoid dealing with issues out of anxiety and fear and that would intensify relationship issues.
One of its main examples is that silence follows right after arguments between partners. Here, one partner provides time and space to the other partner in order to cool things down, and the other doesn’t when it comes to the resolution of the problems. Both partners have got great intentions in their hearts and mind, they remain patient, and it results in the form of positive change in the relationship.
It is a type of power struggle where one partner focuses on developing intimacy and closeness, and the other partner smothers the mood and runs away from it. One partner (pursuer) feels that their partner is cold and avoids feelings and affection; the other partner (distancer) would think that their partner is needy. However, it is a form of push-pull situation where both partners find themselves in a hot-cold unhealthy situation and they don’t agree on the terms and conditions of intimacy.
A very good example of a distance-pursuer power struggle relationship is that one partner turns off their phone in a long-distance relationship, and the other partner would send a message through friends and family members.
It is a type of power struggle where the fear in one partner triggers shame in the other. Often, the fear and insecurities of one partner would take out shame and avoidance in the other partner. For instance, if a relationship is facing a financial crisis where one partner feels stressed out because they don’t have sufficient money, and the other would feel embarrassed that they aren’t earning significantly. Resultantly, one partner feels stressed out and anxious, and the other avoids the situation to hide their shame.
It is a form of power struggle in the relationship where one partner feels the need to punish the other, and lashes out at the other partner with demands, anger, and criticism. Here, partners hold back their love and they use love as exploiting and manipulative tool to offer reward and punishment. In order to avoid punishment, the other partner retreats and becomes emotionally unavailable. However, such forms of relationships are highly toxic and they fall under the category of ultimate threat. The recipient of contemptuous behavior and punishment would become silent in order to avoid an argument.
Signs of Power Struggle Stage of Relationship
Some of the top signs of the power struggle stage of relationship are as follows;
Playing Mind Games
One of the top signs of a power struggle in the relationship is playing mind games to manipulate and exploit the other partner. It could be about anything like not texting first but replying and always talking about your ex, they employ such tools and techniques to control the minds of their partner. Whether they have a problem or not; they always follow the passive-aggressive approach to send their displeasure in the relationship. The focus of gamers or exploiting partners is to gain an upper hand and victory, rather than building a healthy relationship.
One of the partners would consider themselves superior to the other partner. Here, one or both partners would have feelings of superiority over the other. It is because of their education, family background, financial status, and profession, that one of the partners feels that they deserve more than that. Resultantly, one partner (settler) always focuses on dominating the other partner. It is an unhealthy form of power struggle where one partner always feels like they are not enough.
Couples and partners involved in the power struggle in marriages and relationships, feel like they have to compete with their partner. It could be in the form of having a bigger social circle, looking better, feeling prettier, or having a better professional position than their partner. Salary raise and promotion news of their partner doesn’t make them feel excited, rather they would feel jealous.
Pulling Each Other Down
Couples and partners in power struggle relationships would feel like their partner is pulling them down or they are doing it to their partner. You would find the tone of your partner mocking while talking about your accomplishments, opinions, actions, or shortcomings. Or you feel contempt over their behavior, actions, or views, or it would make you feel that you are always justifying your behavior or yourself to your partner. They would always make comments about your work and life that you aren’t doing enough or worthwhile.
No Romance At All
You don’t remember the last time you had fun, have gone on a romantic date, talking and laughing with your partner. Instead, you and your partner are always fighting about the chores and shared responsibilities. When it happens in the relationship, one of the partners would employ silent treatment, distancing, avoidance, and withdrawal approach.
How to Deal with the Power Struggle Stage of Relationship
Some of the main tips on how to deal with the power struggle stage of relationship are as follows;
Accept Power Struggle Issue
The first step in dealing with any type of relationship issue is to acknowledge the problem that it exists, and it means that you have to say it out loud. It may seem like you’re always arguing, fighting, and having heated arguments on the surface, but it is jeopardizing peace and stability in your marriage and relationship.
Therefore, you need to scratch the surface and look deeper and find out the exact cause of the problem. It is possible that you and your partner are facing the fear of rejection, abandonment, or feeling trapped in the situation. Recognizing the root cause of the problem would help you to remove it from the relationship.
The key to building a healthy relationship is open communication, and couples have to overcome the communication barriers that are causing the power struggle issue in the relationship. If you want to get out of the power struggle issue in your marriage, then you should learn the art of effective communication. Building a strong connection with your partner would help you to improve your communication issues, and power struggle problems, and promote intimacy issues.
Conflicts, fighting, and arguments with your partner would put you in a destructive cycle. It would fuel apprehension, fear, and insecurities that would trigger the power struggle issue in the relationship. A common example of a power struggle issue is that one partner is constantly fighting, and the other is not paying attention to them. That’s why it is important for couples to avoid fighting and protect themselves from escalating the situation. They have to break the cycle of fighting, forgive each other, and let their wounds heal.
Not Playing Victim Card
It is normal to feel victim when your partner is punishing, shaming, and smothering you; because your personal freedom is in great jeopardy. But it doesn’t give you the right to make the other partner feel guilty every time a problem rose up, and use the victim card to prove your point. Before blaming your partner, it is significant that you should take a step back and analyze the whole situation and look at things from a fresh and new perspective.
If your differences are becoming the source of fights, conflicts, and arguments, then it means that neither of the partners wouldn’t become authentic and true in the relationship. In order to avoid the situation of conflicts, you should accept your partner as they are rather than trying to change them into whatever you want them to be. Both partners need to learn to convey their views without hurting and criticizing the views of their partners.
Conclusion: Power Struggle Stage of Relationship – Types, Signs, Tips
After an in-depth study of the power struggle stage of relationship, its various types, signs, and how to deal with it; we have realized that managing the power struggle issue is a very subtle art. If you are studying the power struggle stage of the relationship, then you should keep in mind the abovementioned managing tips and various types.
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