This week’s post by staff writer Dallas Fitzgerald focuses on the balance of power and love in a relationship and how the factor of balance is so important.
In any relationship, all arguments are about one thing—power. Whether she wants him to put down the toilet seat after he does his business, or he wants her to leave him alone while he’s watching football, the specific topic of the actual argument is irrelevant. Strip away the surface or the “about” of the argument, and you are left with a simple equation: one partner wants something done one way, and the other partner doesn’t want to do it that way. At its core, every argument is about bringing the will of the one in line with the will of the other.
When you are in a relationship with someone, there is no objective right and wrong. Everything has to be negotiated as you go along, and each partner pushes the perceived boundaries of the other in order to see where “right” ends and “wrong” begins. Partners develop this “relationship morality” through their arguments, and each partner attempts to assert his or her view of “right” or “wrong” by stating his or her side of the argument.
In most successful relationships, arguments end when partners find the middle ground. Each gives up a little bit of power to the other one for the sake of preserving the relationship. For instance, he says he will put down the toilet seat if she agrees to leave him alone while he’s watching football. They both agree to this proposition, and in doing so, they create a balance of power in their relationship. Maintaining this balance through arguments and joint resolutions ensures the health of the relationship.
Relationships fail when one partner consistently “wins” arguments and the other one consistently “loses” them. For instance, he refuses to put the toilet seat down but also expects her to leave him alone while he’s watching football. When one partner dominates the other and dismisses joint resolutions in favor of a my-way-or-the-highway approach, then the balance of power becomes skewed in one direction. There is no reciprocation, no give-and-take in the relationship, and because of this, the relationship becomes sickly and will eventually die.
Despite the fact that they are often unpleasant, arguments are, in many ways, the most important part of a relationship. How you settle your arguments will, more often than not, determine the success or failure of your relationship. Anyone can win an argument, but in doing so, they will have failed to see the point of the argument, and ultimately, the point of their relationship in the first place.
Relationships are about subordinating power to love. Each partner must give up a little bit of power in order to preserve the love that they feel for each other. A healthy relationship fosters this love by maintaining an equitable balance of power, so when one partner “wins” an argument against the other, he or she is really just moving one step closer to losing the very thing upon which their relationship is built and for which their relationship exists in the first place—love.