Learn How to Share Power & Influence
Having influence in a relationship is the ability to effect the character or behavior of your partner. Influence can be positive or negative depending on the situation and the dynamic with your partner, depending on how you share power. If you and your partner have an unbalance of power, one person is always giving into the other, and the other begins to feel like a parent figure. What happens next? Distance and lack of emotional intimacy.
Sharing power and influence does not mean you need to constantly say "yes, dear", but it means that you listen to your partner and consider their thoughts and feelings. Simply stated: it means their opinion has an effect on you. If you are feeling distant from your partner, couples counseling can help.
Tip #:1 Realize this is an internal process.
The first step towards changing the power balance with your partner is to notice the dynamic when influence is happening. These moments happen quickly, and are very automatic - so it's hard to catch them. Begin to notice when your partner starts to talk, and whether or not you have a varying opinion. How does the dynamic play out? Do you cave? Fight to the bitter end? Stop caring? All of this information is crucial to unlocking when understanding your personal dynamic with your partner.
Tip #2: "Know it alls" are relationship killers.
We are going to say it... “know-it-alls” are relationships killers. If you or your partner becomes a "know it all" on every subject, you run the risk of shutting out your partner. One way to end "know it all" behavior is to be honest with yourself : do you actually know what you're talking about? If you don't, it's okay to say, "I don't know." Also, you might be surprised that when you start to let down your "know- it-all" reactions, your partner may begin to get closer to you. Vulnerability is a key ingredient in relationship success.
Tip #3: You can still assert your opinion, relay your concerns and brainstorm. This is not a all or nothing.
Sometimes varying opinions actually help. We know first hand from business that brainstorming and collaborating are the ingredients to success. Relationship trials and tribulations are no different. Your first step is to simply listen to your partner’s suggestion. State your concerns and respond in a collaborative way. “That is a great idea – the only thing I’m concerned about is…”
Tip #4: Realize that this may be a bigger deal to your partner. If it is, seek to understand the underlying motivation.
It is important to check-in if your partner isn’t budging. Why aren’t they budging? Is it a power play, or is it something much more important? For example, “We fought and fought about when to send our daughter to preschool…at the end of it all, the reason I was so anxious to send her was because I didn’t want her to be behind her peers...like I was.” You'll be surprised on what you may dig up from your partner. Not all fights are about the content at hand - it usually has to do with much deeper reasons.
As always, if you struggle with sharing power, or feel that your partner constantly makes you feel powerless, consider couples counseling. It is a wonderful way to unearth your relationship dynamics and change your relationship trajectory from unbalanced, to healthy.