Do you have more power in your relationship than your partner – does she/he have more than you? An unequal division of relationship power may mean that your personal power is out of balance too.
Dawna J. Grigsby
Ribbon of Worth Foundation
Ask yourself if you have power in your relationships with others. In your favorite relationship assess how much power you have and what you have power over.
Additional questions to process are: What decisions do you make about the relationship? What decisions do you make about what the people in the relationship get to do or not? Do you get to say and do what you want to without penalty?
A parent-child relationship has an unequal division of power which may persist into the adult life of any child showing up in his/her partnering experience.
A relationship involving equals does not mean an equal division of power exists in a preferred way by each partner. Any relationship with friends, couples and/or co-workers can have an unequal division of power.
Division of Power
In one relationship you may pick the movie but your partner always drives. Or you may provide options for dining out and your friend makes the final choice.
“In our social relations, we face an enduring issue of the division of power… the participants must work out a system of power, control and responsibility.” (Christensen & Jaobson, 2000)
Abuse of Relationship Privelege
Two strong personalities can develop a relationship using personal power but not without the evolution of a dynamic of whose power dominates. The equilibrium may be re-introduced through dividing who has power over which things in as fair a division as possible.
One partner over-powering the other can become an abuse of relationship closeness and cause the less assertive partner to feel unsafe.
Power as a major dimension of relationships is discussed by Dr. Andrew Christensen and Dr. Neil Jacobson in their book “Reconcilable Differences.” They place it on a continuum with a second dimension they call closeness (intimacy) .
When you relate to others without feeling any power in the relationship you may need to re-balance what supports your personal power.
Self-worth and Power
Knowing what you need to re-balance your personal power can be difficult. It may seem like being more aggressive as a partner, raising your defenses or even finding a different partner is the balance you need.
If your partner is not abusive and you feel safe in your relationship but always defer to his/her suggestions – then becoming more secure in your own worth may help you show your preferences more often.
Sense of your Self-worth
You may be able to create more relationship closeness when you and your partner respect the need for both partners to have a balance of power over the system the two of you are co-creating.
The ability to balance an external system (relationship) may be easier when you balance your internal system (sense of self worth).
Ribbon of Worth Foundation
Ribbon of Worth Foundation is a non-profit organization developed to promote the inherent worth of individuals through the Four Pillars of Worth. Each of these Four Pillars: Self-Awareness, Self-Esteem, Self-Respect and Self-Confidence are believed to be necessary to hold Self-Worth securely in place.
Which one of the Four Pillars of Self-Worth do you need strengthened in order to keep your worth intact and feel your personal power?