He controls everything. He insisted on this house — three doors down from his parents. I can’t even consider work in another city. And any vacation we get is used up on the annual trip to his sister’s.
Whether you struggle with a partner over where to live, what to eat or where to send the kids to school, what you struggle for is control, or power.
Only one of you can have the deciding vote, which means the other one has to relinquish power. Sometimes one partner is ready to concede on virtually every issue, but that’s likely to be the same partner who’s ready to relinquish responsibility — and blame you for what’s wrong.
The roles aren’t generally that well-defined. And even when they are, new situations present themselves, and partners change their minds, get resentful or feel unappreciated. They struggle!
Sadly, they continue to struggle even after they’ve forgotten what they thought was worth fighting for. That’s how we know the struggle — between partners, communities or countries — is mostly about power.
Case in point, do Republicans disagree with Democrats more than they disagree with other Republicans? Are they fighting for a cause or for control? And by the time they’ve done what’s required to gain power, have they relinquished their true power?
Isn’t true power simply the freedom to choose, to be who you are, all of who you are?
I realize that changing the way we do politics is an epic task — let’s not give up, though. And let’s not make the same mistakes in our intimate relationships.
Like the politicians, we often trade our true power for money. Then, we struggle to control the money…but it’s an ongoing struggle, because the money has seized power!
Think about it: Maybe you married somebody knowing he was going to take care of you financially, and that you would have to make some concessions in order for him to do that. Maybe you agreed to live in the Northeast, put your career on hold, or take care of babies or aging parents.
And if you’re the partner holding the purse strings, maybe you, too, traded your true power to get your hands on them!
Ironically, in our quest for power, we can lose touch with how it feels to wake up and choose to snuggle, go for a walk or hit the pavement. There’s this pressure not just to gain power, but to maintain it. That’s the bear, the prison, the leash…the ongoing sacrifice of true power.
We find ourselves fighting over how many hours to work, what we can and can’t afford, and how to prioritize. We find ourselves enslaved by money, fighting over how to get more and how to spend what we have.
Do the kids go to private schools? Do we fly or drive to your sister’s house? Do we keep the job you hate? Are we ever going to get out of this neighborhood? What can we afford!? Is it ever going to be a good time to have a baby?
Yes, as a practical matter, you need money; and somebody has to decide how to spend it. But that doesn’t mean letting money control you.
When you retain your freedom to choose, you can exercise power without a struggle. And that will feel as good to your partner as it feels to you!