The deeper Adam and I get into developing the WLE methodology – examining conflicts of our past, and entering new conflicts as we learn to work together on this joint venture – the more I am seeing the POWER STRUGGLES that have woven their way through so many areas of our relationship.
The power struggle between us had the potential to be THE thing that could have broken us. It’s a little scary to think that it STILL could.
I’ve been very open about the fact that I’ve been on quite a journey of self-mastery for what has amounted to about 5 years. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to me that I am still on that journey, but somehow I still find myself shocked by this fact. It feels like I’ve come so far and yet there is still so far to go.
This self exploration is not comfortable. There are some pretty ugly truths I’ve had to face. The biggest one being that my part in what could have been the demise of my marriage was all about control.
It’s so much easier to blame Adam than myself; his absence, his distractedness, his substance abuse. It’s time to admit that I was a big problem within our conflict. Our training in Conflict Resolution has brought this to light.
I used my position and my role within this relationship to exert my own power over our situation. I used displays of anger, bullied, demeaned, coerced, and threatened him. This does not paint a flattering picture of a loving and supportive wife.
Why, you may ask? One word- crazy. Well, maybe a little. No, the real reason was desperation.
I was desperate to try to get the upper hand in our relationship, because I wanted fairness, understanding, equality, and justice.
I won’t deny that many times I felt hurt by some of Adam’s behaviors. I was. They were destructive, even if they were unintentional. However, the breakdown of our relationship was more about this POWER STRUGGLE for control than anything else.
I lashed out to try to regain control of the situation, but never, not once, did this work. He never saw any of it, because he just walked away. And stayed gone.
I’ve been forced to reflect on this awful time as we have honed our expertise in Constructive Conversations. I can see both sides now. I can clearly see where I threw my weight around in a “power play” and in response he simply “walked away”. He withdrew, he shut down emotionally, and he avoided me altogether. More passive than my approach, but equally as damaging.
He does this even now. He is so used to being the boss that it is very challenging for him to slow down enough to actually work with another person. He has to really work to include me in his process and not leave me in the dust.
It’s taken a loooong time for me to learn that Adam’s response is not a direct attack on me as a person. He is not deliberately leaving me out. He brushes past uncomfortable conversations and avoids blame. The boss can’t be wrong, after all. But, subtle as it may be, it is his own version of a “power play”. Then the whole cycle gets triggered again.
We’ve seen this back-and-forth struggle with our dealings with the kids, with money, with the businesses. Even with sex. Why? How can we get past something that has so completely permeated our lives?
Oh, friends. I wish I could tell you we have been magically cured. I wish I could tell you we had one big conversation and never had to do it again. But that would be a lie.
I can tell you though that we have changed and it’s an ongoing process and commitment to our relationship.
We added 3 critical things from our training to our arsenal and the progress we’ve seen gives me hope for anyone who uses them.
- We PAUSE to really examine the story we are telling ourselves to get perspective
- We have a conversation before we blow up into a fight or freeze each other out in the moment
- We go through all the Conflict Conversation tools until we get to a successful resolution
We still disagree and we still have to check ourselves, but we don’t have endless, agonizing periods of feeling discouraged, unheard, frustrated, and unsatisfied. We still have those feelings periodically, but they are short lived because we have equipped ourselves to talk about them in a way that gets us mutual conciliation.
The power equalizes and the balance is restored.
I have a tendency to take things personally because I don’t take criticism well. I get my feelings hurt easily and I lash out when I’m frustrated. I HATE those feelings, and it doesn’t have to be that way for me.
I’m continuing to develop my self awareness about them so that I can get ahead of them by assuming responsibility for ME. There is HOPE! There is hope for all of us!
WLE is a resource that offers the same real, life-altering tools that led Adam and me back to each other from the brink of separation.
More than anything, we want to help other people’s personal lives and businesses improve with the knowledge and experience we’ve gained.
This week we had a live Conflict Resolution workshop to share these tools and skills. We’re confident that the suggestions we provided can change your life the same way they’ve changed ours.
We shared the powerful Conflict Conversation tools that have improved our marriage and communication more than we ever thought possible.
If you’d like to gain awareness about the ways power struggles come up in your relationship and learn how to mitigate the frustration and pain that comes along with them, we recommend joining our Facebook community.
In it we make daily posts to enrich communication between partners. It’s a great place to connect with other entrepreneurs and their partners.