As a marriage counselor in Leesburg, i work with many couples that get into trouble when one partner experiences themselves as “one down” on their spouse. This can occur when one of the couple makes less money than the other, feels inferior, has low self-esteem or works as a stay -at- home -mom. Perhaps one partner is more outgoing or better educated. There is a reflex to correct the power imbalance often in dysfunctional ways. Having an affair, flirtatious behavior, triangulating by withdrawing into work or on line stuff, proving your spouse is not so hot, can become a misguided attempt to feel more powerful and become “one up.”. While all social systems such as business organizations, churches, families and clubs all evolve to find their power balance, couples are no exception. How a couple balances power presents both danger and opportunity. If a couple can celebrate one another’s experience of feeling powerful in a productive manner, this process contributes to the personal enhancement that is so crucial for long-term relationships to flourish.
The challenge for “Smart Couples” is to talk about this perception through negotiating and honest expressions of this “one down” self-perception and find healthy, more adult ways to share power through collaboration or celebrating one another’s experiences. “Smart Couples’ learn to negotiate.