Moving Beyond the Power Struggle


Remember the song that said “For everything…, turn, turn turn, there is a season…, turn turn, turn.”  This is a phrase from Ecclesiastes that provides deep reflection on some automatic behaviors in relationships.   After the “Romantic Stage” of all relationships there comes a period in which the partners feel hurt and betrayed by each other.  This is often referred to as the “Power Struggle”.  At this time conflicts are not resolved and resentments begin to build up inside both partners. 

Many people handle this stage by turning away from the other person.  It just feels safer and less fraught with frustration and grief.  The endless repetitions of all too familiar fights are avoided by shutting down, stonewalling the conversation, and turning inward.  This can have devastating effects on a love relationship.

Unbeknownst to you, your partner feels lost and abandoned.  S/he feels unimportant and unloved by you as you stop talking and control your own reactivity through silence.  What you are doing to feel secure and to avoid the conflict feels provocative and offensive to your partner.  Obviously this is not going to move the relationship closer.

 What is required here feels counter-intuitive.  You must stop your retreat and turn toward your partner.  You must abandon the security of your fortress of silence and approach your partner with an open hand and a curious mind set.  What you say is not as important as making the approach with warmth and a desire to be closer to your friend.

~ Dr. Howard Lambert




3 Responses - click here to join the conversation to “Moving Beyond the Power Struggle”

  1. Mary says:

    Great post, Howie! You describe so well the positive intent that partners may have in turning away. AND, you make a poignant point about how harmful this is to the relationship.
    Of course, we also need to look at how a partner who “attacks for closeness” may be equally wanting connection but blocking it at the same time!

  2. Ginger says:

    Wow.. so well said!

  3. Well said. When couples are past the “honeymoon stage” and no longer on their good behavior, and everyday life kicks in, that’s when the real issues start surfacing. And with them the real potential for getting to the real potential for the relationship. That’s when what matters to each couple has to go beyond immediate satisfaction and security, to a larger meaning.

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