If you are having a power struggle with your partner, there is a good reason for that. If you keep repeating the same relationship habits, getting “hooked” by your partner’s words, and stepping on the same ‘ole trigger landmines, it’s not your fault. Your energy/subconscious/body/heart are choosing this reality for you. If you want to interrupt this energy-zapping and frustrating loop of insanity, keep reading. There is hope for another way.
If you are having a power struggle with your partner, schedule a complimentary call with me to see how you might turn this around.
I’m Conscious But Also A Teenager
I’m 53 years old, and a part of me is very conscious, knows what she wants, is confident, successful, has wonderful relationships. And yet, if I feel “scolded” or reprimanded by my husband for the pettiest of circumstances, so petty that I won’t remember them the next day if I don’t write them down, it can send me to this place of needing to be right, defending myself, putting up my dukes, being ready for the fight. Can you relate?
How is it that we can be feeling like an adult who’s in charge of his/her life one moment, and then feel like a rebellious teen the next, who’s not going to take crap from anyone? When we feel like we’re in this power struggle, there is a subconscious energy (a/k/a the body) that is attracting this “fight-with-me” vibe. We almost always think it’s attributed to something going on outside of us. But is it really?
Note: Since I’ve become aware of the this teen part of me and know how to manage her, I have much more harmony with my husband.
Take This Power Struggle Quiz
Rate yourself with the following 12 questions. On a scale of 0 to 10, 0 being the least true, and 10 being the most true, where do you fall? Start by placing your hands over your heart, taking a few deep breaths, and allowing yourself to come into the present moment, and feeling into your body. Then add up your score and see where you fall in the 3 buckets below. Remember this is just information, meant to be used as a means to pivot your relationship and do something different.
Closing your eyes can help get you out of your head and into your heart. This is important because otherwise, your answers will be “intellectual” and EGO-based. When you ask the question, go with the first response without hesitation or overthinking.
Are you in a power struggle with your partner, always “keeping score?”
Do you feel the need to defend yourself with your partner?
Does being “wrong” or “not right” with your partner threaten you?
Do you resent your partner?
Do you blame your partner for how you feel?
Do you engage in petty arguments with your partner?
Does it make you angry when your partner blames you for their feelings?
Do you complain to your partner a lot?
Do you feel jealous and insecure with your partner?
Is it scary to reveal vulnerable thoughts and feelings to your partner?
Do you expect your partner to behave a certain way to keep you comfortable?
36 or Less:
You have a healthy, secure relationship with your partner. You’ve learned to let go and surrender to WHAT IS. Being right is less important than being happy. You’re learning the art of living in the now, liking and accepting yourself where you’re at. You FEEL FREE more often than not because you don’t give away your power to your partner.
Your relationship may feel like a roller coaster ride. Sometimes you struggle and feel insecure, giving your power to your partner and other external events. Other times, when you’ve let go of the need to control outcomes, you feel good about yourself and the relationship with your partner.
Your partnership is often a power struggle. You experience a lot of anger and frustration, feeling out of control and unsafe. You’re often ready for a fight. It’s hard to say sorry and be vulnerable with your partner. You have your “emotional walls” up, and there’s not much trust there.
1) Are You In A Power Struggle With Your Partner?
What is a power struggle? A power struggle is where two or more people compete for control or influence. Have you ever felt resentful of your partner because you felt like do more stuff around the house?
You take on more responsibility than they do? If so, this can leave you feeling taken advantage of. Then you feel the need to “keep score.” You might say, “Well, Jack, it’s YOUR turn to do the dishes. I do them every night.”
2) Do You Feel The Need To Defend Yourself?
Imagine if you were walking around with a cut or wound on your arm, that you didn’t tend to. It may very well get infected if you don’t put hydrogen peroxide on it and cover it with a bandaid. The longer you walk around with it, the more there is a chance to scrape it against something and hurt it more.
Emotionally, we are similar to that unattended wound when we have a belief system that leaves us feeling vulnerable, raw, and on some deep level, abandoned and isolated. When this is the case, we tend to easily want to defend ourselves and our positions with our partner. It’s a symptom of protecting ourselves from a perceived bully.
3) Does Being “Wrong” Or “Not Right” With Your Partner Threaten You?
Depending on our personality, being wrong or not right (which seem like the same thing) may trigger different feelings within us. Being wrong may be more offensive to some than not being right, and vice versa. It would depend on what we were raised to believe. If we were taught, “Be right at all costs” because we come from a highly competitive family, then it would really threaten us to not be right.
If we grew up with very strict parents who thought in black-and-white terms and harshly judged us whenever we messed up, we might be more offended when we do something “wrong,” sort of a moral judgment against ourselves.
Our partner is often our emotional Jeti trainer, in that they mirror back to us many of our own defects, which gives us an opportunity to get stronger and more resilient.
4) Do You Resent Your Partner?
We can begin to resent the person who we believe controls us on some level. This is usually subconscious. We feel leveraged by them for whatever reason, which often evokes shame because we don’t trust ourselves. Below are some examples:
- Our partner is the main breadwinner, and we have to ask them for spending money.
- We rely on our partner to make most major decisions on our behalf because we don’t want to be bothered with them.
- We believe our partner is smarter and more capable than us.
- We rely on our partner for emotional and physical security or to meet any other important need.
- We allow our partner to make daily minor decisions, like what’s for dinner.
5) Do You Blame Your Partner For How you Feel?
Blaming others for how we feel is SO easy to do with just about everything, especially with our partner since we typically interact with them daily. We all have within us a Victim saboteur, and this part is the first to claim, “It’s YOUR fault! I wouldn’t have felt or behaved this way if you hadn’t said or done that. Cause and effect….remember?!”
The bad news (not meant to shame us) is that it is OUR mind interpreting reality, and so our partner didn’t cause anything. Therefore, we can’t blame them no matter how much it appears we merely responded to their initiated words/actions. The good news is that we are now empowered to choose a different reaction or meaning about what happened.
What if we got curious, “Why DO I always respond the same way to my partner? How would it feel to take responsibility for my reaction?”
6) Do You Engage In Petty Arguments With Your Partner?
If you continually engage in petty arguments with your partner, the part responsible is most likely the rebel teen within. Terry Real, internationally recognized family therapist, termed this part the Adaptive Child, which developed in response to needing to protect the wounded child who was being abused; it helped us to survive.
The adoptive child is the child’s version of what a grown-up should look like (remember as kids how we admired teenagers). The adaptive child thinks in terms of black and white, and is unforgiving and harsh, “I will become the perpetrator who hurt me, or I am entitled to act like my abuser.” The adaptive child will never use relational skills. It isn’t interested in intimacy–it’s threatening and doesn’t want vulnerability. It IS interested in self-preservation.
7) Does It Make You Angry When Your Partner Blames You for Their Feelings?
When our partner blames us for their feelings, this is called projection. It is the same thing we do to them when we blame them for our feelings. In the first case, when they blame us, they are making all sorts of assumptions about what we feel. Their assumptions are based on their history, and their living experience. In their mind, it makes perfect sense how they arrive at the conclusions they do.
Example: my ex-boyfriend had a habit of cheating on his girlfriends. Because this was his lived experience of how the world works, he assumed that I must be a cheater too.
Another example. My mom recently had an open space in her barn covered up with tin for the coming winter, to keep her horse and mule warm. Since this was a big change, which she doesn’t like, and she felt sorry for them, she said, “Ahhh….they aren’t able to see outside anymore from their stall.”
She has no idea if the horse and mule are unhappy with the new arrangement, but she projected her feelings onto them. Projection and assumptions lead to drama and unhappiness. It’s best to realize that we only truly know our own thoughts.
8) Do You Complain To Your Partner A Lot?
We all complain at times, and we do this because we feel powerless and frustrated to change our current circumstances. We haven’t found a solution to our problem, and so we pile a lot of verbal venom onto our partner. It’s very normal, but it doesn’t lead to any fruitful outcome.
It’s not fair to our partners because often they feel responsible for us. They will try to seek a solution, and we may not be interested in a solution because complaining gives us an emotional release (the payoff). The complaining focus breeds dissatisfaction and frustration and spreads negative energy to others without bringing us closer to a solution. In essence, we get on a hamster wheel of hopelessness.
9) Do You Feel Jealous And Insecure With Your Partner?
Are you super competitive with your partner? Do you compare yourself to them and feel envious that they are further along than you? Does it seem unfair that they have more advantages than you?
If any of these questions apply to you, do they remind you of the Adaptive Child’s attitude discussed in #6? Think back to when we were teens. As a teen, I felt insecure and jealous of other girls. I compared my body and looks to theirs. My boyfriend used to stare at good-looking women, and I recall feeling so small and unworthy, so ashamed of my fat. Thank goodness I grew out of that stage because it’s painful.
But no matter our age, we all still have an insecure part that wants reassurance.
10) Is It Scary to Reveal Vulnerable Thoughts And Feelings To Your Partner?
Most of us were raised to protect our sensitive sides. We were hurt by our parents and siblings, etc., and somewhere along the line, we decided it’s not safe to trust other people. When the trust goes so does the connection and intimacy. It results in feeling more guarded with our hearts, not being able to say things like, “I’m sorry” or to ask for help from others when we really need it.
It becomes a habitual way of relating to others, one that we assume is true. We don’t even question this belief’s validity. When we shut down our ability to communicate vulnerably with others, we also shut out closeness. We can begin to feel really lonely, even if we’re surrounded by many people.
11) Do You Expect Your Partner To Behave A Certain Way To Keep You Comfortable?
Many times when we get into a relationship, we have all sorts of pre-conceived notions about how our partner should act. We have been conditioned to believe they should play certain roles based on their sex, age, personality, etc. We have this unspoken understanding that our partner should make us feel happy, comfortable, and secure. They definitely should not threaten our view of the world or threaten our safety, but uphold our values.
This makes sense to a point because we marry or get into relationships to get some of our needs met. However, what if a partnership is much more than this? What if our partner is NOT supposed to make us feel comfortable 100% of the time, but also to push us out of our comfort zone so we can learn and evolve individually and as a couple?
Happy Relationship = Happy Life
Happy relationships are the basis of a happy life. Having a solid partnership allows us to feel supported so we can more readily move through the traumas and challenges of life. When we don’t feel loved and supported, stress can turn into trauma.
In order to stop the power struggle with our partner, we have to heal the energy between us. We have to heal the hurt and resentment in our hearts that originated from our childhood wounds. Those wounds created a part of us, the Adaptive Child, who fiercely protects the wounded child. The Adaptive Child wants to fight and plead its position to be right (or not wrong) with its partner and has no interest in intimacy, closeness, or connection.
What Is The Solution To Stopping The Power Struggle?
The solution? We have to love the Adaptive Child, teach them that they came about for a good reason (to help us survive and protect us), AND finally limit them with healthy boundaries because they are wreaking havoc on our happiness and our relationships.
How to do this? Energy techniques such as Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT or tapping) are the fastest, most effective way to do so. They get to the heart of the matter and don’t just put a bandaid on a symptom.
- First, we must go into the body and feel what’s going on there. We need to feel safe to be in our body.
- Second, we need to feel supported by someone who has our back.
- Third, after we feel safe and supported, we can begin to process and clear the trauma.
When we keep showing up for ourselves and not abandoning ourselves with shameful thoughts and feelings, true healing can begin. When we heal the relationship with ourselves, it directly impacts the relationship with our partner and everyone we know. The power struggle stops when we can love and accept ourselves.
The work isn’t easy and it takes commitment to bring about happiness, connection, closeness and intimacy. Are you ready to stop the power struggle and start living? Schedule time to talk with me.
Energy Healer, Focusing on Grief & Trauma