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Hilary Smith
Ever noticed how many gripes in your relationship are more about the balance of power than about love?

Power might show up in how strong you are or how much social status you have. Perhaps it's about which of you argues best or who is easier with emotion. It might be about which of you is most talented, or who wants who more. Whichever way you cut it, someone's slice of pie seems bigger.

You might think of power as a kind of energy that people give off when they work at being themselves and being with others. When you let your partner matter to you, the possibility of losing them cranks up the stakes, and the power issues get stronger. When you're at a crunch point, and something you want is more important than pleasing your partner the power stakes surge up again.

Power is a given in relationships. It's there. What you choose is how to approach it. Sharing power with your partner is one strategy.

In practice this might be about fair shares and turns when you're being loving. And it might descend into tit for tat on a bad hair day. Fairness appeals straight to that kindergarten kid in your heart that wants to be very sure you get your turn. The same kid would very happily hog the show if they could get away with it.

Fair shares can focus you on getting and blur giving. You can miss the spirit of generosity when your partner does something to please you if your attention is on getting the turn they owe you.

So if fairness isn't the whole answer, what do you add to the mix? Taking hold of your very own personal power is one option.

If you use power as the purse for a prize fight, then you clamber into a better position at your partner's expense. If your partner does better, then you pay. It's not much of a way to encourage closeness.

Accepting your personal power is a different approach to improving your own standing. It's about being close to your partner and still being yourself. You don't persuade your partner to your view. You don't capitulate to theirs. How bad is being different? Can it be worse than scrambling over each other to be the top of the pile?

When you face one of those either /or situations that demand an answer you might want to consider letting the relationship win. You get alongside each other and try to find an option that allows you both the room you need.

If you can't find a solution that works well for you both then don't win or lose. If you can honour what you or your partner give up as a gift to the relationship you will be much more powerful partners.
Hilary Smith

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