Last time we talked about the stages of marriage, we left you with the idea that you’re going to need those romantic, exciting, and adventurous memories to get you through the next phase.
Sounds ominous, right? It kind of is. Even the name sounds a bit scary: The Power Struggle.
As the name implies, you can expect to go through some of the most difficult times you’ll ever face during this phase. It’s also one that couples often come in and out of several times over the course of their life.
Many relationships simply aren’t able to survive it.
That being said, these periods can also mark some of the greatest growth. Both personally and as a couple. When committed partners can weather their storms side-by-side.
Know the Power Struggle for What It Is (and Is Not)
Once the inertia of attraction slows, we begin to view our partners differently. Our positive perspective seems to have taken a 180.
We fight over every little thing. Our triggers are pulled and our buttons are pushed. We’re constantly wondering if we’ve made a mistake.
A number of our clients describe themselves as feeling like they’re walking through a field of landmines while navigating this phase. All the imperfections we ignored in the Romantic Love stage are now frighteningly clear.
While yours and your partner’s landmines are real and the power struggle can be brutal, know this stage for what it is – and, more importantly, what it is not.
Namely, it’s not about the two of you.
The Landmines Were Planted Long Before You Met Each Other
Imago philosophy poses that what we perceive as landmines in our relationship’s power struggle phase were actually planted years ago as a result of our unmet needs as a child.
We sought out our life partners based on a largely innate sense that they were the ones who could help us locate those landmines and disarm them.
Unfortunately, they weren’t there when the bombs were planted. So they’re most likely going to trip over them first. Just as you will trip over their landmines.
If left completely unchecked, your power struggles are likely to leave you feeling:
- Distant and lonely
- Stuck in explosive cycles of breakup and makeup
- Like you should end the relationship for good
Depending on how far down that road you’ve traveled together, it can take quite a bit of sharing and vulnerability in order to get to the root of your matters.
The sooner you address the landmines, the better your chances of a true life-long partnership.
When the Battles Are Over, Your Journey Has Just Begun
The first step in overcoming the Power Struggle stage of your marriage is a recommitment to one another.
It may require you recommitting more than once. But finding a way to end the battles can allow you to begin the journey of self-healing and reaching your full potential. And you can enter the third stage: the Conscious Relationship.
Shifting your perspective now on what a life partnership really means can help you see what your power struggles are really about.
If you feel like you’re traveling through seemingly endless minefields, it may be time to get some outside perspective.
Rock Solid Relationship therapists Norene Gonsiewski and Tim Higdon can provide helpful insight and the practical solutions you need to strengthen your relationship and overcome the obstacles you face. We’re just a phone call or email away!