The power struggle phase
This page has been set up for couples calling out for some help. I'll take you through some practical steps which will hopefully shed some light on what might be going wrong, and how to get back to relating well again. I personally use Harville Hendrix, John Gottman, David Schnarch & Robert Masters, Martin Ucik & Kieth Witt's wisdom to get me through my relationship struggle and now advocate their work through my private practice. Did you see the movie Mr & Mrs Smith? It's a classic example of a relationship going through the power struggle phase, but with bullets. Although a usual couple dispute does not involve bullets, the emotional impact of hurtful thoughts and words feel just as damaging. So lets hopefully do the work before the mess turns into a physical power struggle or ends with the uninformed breakup.
When you and your partner work toward the 4 points of balance, your relationship will begin to come alive...more alive than the romance stage. Feel free to do a sex survey here. At the end you will be offered some advice. This book is a real winner when looking at sex and intimacy.
"It's easy to have hot sex with a stranger," Schnarch insists. "But passionate marriage requires that you become an adult." And this, Schnarch admits, is a challenge. Becoming an authentic adult means going against the whole drift of the culture. It specifically means, among other things, soothing your own bad feelings without the help of another, pursuing your own goals, and standing on your own two feet. Most people associate such skills with singlehood. But Schnarch finds that marriage can't succeed unless we claim our sense of self in the presence of another. The resulting growth turns right around and fuels the marriage, enabling passionate sex. And it pays wide-ranging dividends in domains from friendship to creativity to work.
More recommended reading
How does Romantic Love Go Wrong?
Your romantic relationships will typically progress through two distinct phases —
A typical power struggle cycle might go like this —
The problem is not the rupture but the failure to reconnect. The conflict is not a fundamental threat to your relationship, the threat is your inability to repair the rupture and get back to intimate connection.
What can a couple do to have a loving and fulfilling relationship?
The alternative to a power struggle is to compassionately ask for what you need and to empathically give what your partner needs, in other words, to consciously collaborate with your unconscious purpose to overcome your childhood adaptations. Imago therapy teaches you how to do this, in safety, and with respect.
This may bring you to the third stage of an intimate relationship. The first stage (romantic love), is when you want the other person. The second (the power struggle), is when you want the other person to satisfy you. The third, "real love", is when you want what is best for the other person.