Not just trying to "get along" anymore

I have never been one to value power, prefering to value love and sacrifice more.  But I am learning that was my undoing.  I have been making it my project to understand power and how a person needs to be aware of it. The following is an article from Psychology Today that helps me to see where I have been part of the problem of my own resentment and sadness.  I think this is important to be aware of.  So some of us may stop crying and start to work on our self esteem and .....oooh, I had always hated this word....POWER. It seems selfish to me.  But I know that I, for one, need to exert some power over my own situation...over my own well being and self respect and real honesty.  I have many times felt that the phrase "He who care the least in a relationship, wins" seems to be the story of my marriage...husband exerting power and "winning" most of the time because I was not playing power games but that is the way he perceives life in general. But I am studying POWER today for the health of being aware and having sanity.

Power Changes Everything

Denying the dignity of one partner has consequences not only for relationship stability and happiness, but for health.

...The “new science of power” emerging from decades-long research shows that “people with power tend to behave like patients with damage to the brain’s frontal lobes, a condition that can cause overly impulsive and insensitive behavior.”

The possession of power changes powerholders—usually in ways invisible to them—by triggering activation of the behavioral approach system. It’s automatic. Nevertheless, it makes powerful people quick to act on appetites, to detect opportunities for material and social rewards such as food, money, attention, sex, and approval. They think about sex more and flirt more flagrantly. Poorly attuned to others, they pay little attention to others’ feelings and assess their attitudes, interests, and needs inaccurately. Politeness be damned, they act rudely, indulging their own whims. “Having power,” Keltner reports, “makes people more likely to act as sociopaths.”

The biological oppposite marks the powerless. Their lack of power activates the brain’s inhibitory system. It also ushers in negative feelings, like anxiety and depression, hallmark emotions of those denied power. 

“Whenever someone gives up her voice,” says Harriet Lerner, author of the now-classic The Dance of Anger and most recently of Marriage Rules, “whenever one person in the relationship sacrifices too much of the self, that partner experiences the greatest loss of power and to develop depression or anxiety or headaches.” 

One of the consequences of powerlessness is that the fear narrows focus onto threats and makes the powerless keen observers of those who have power over them. They know them better than the powerful know themselves. It’s a natural channel for self-preservation.

The necessity of childcare gives rise to power inequalities that erode a sense of self and decision-making power. “The woman usually becomes the only parent who is changing her life for the children. She loses outside influence and sense of who she is. As she loses power as an individual, her partner may exercise veto power in decision making or become cavalier about when to be home for dinner.

Compounding the problem is income disparity. It tends to give men more decision-making power.

Enter resentment and anger. It can undermine the generosity and goodwill that make a relationship work. Often, sex becomes an instrument for withholding or rewarding. But most of all, the once-equal partner now has a diminished sense of self—unless she brings an unusual array of personal resources into the relationship. Here’s where charm, beauty, social skills, and fitness count, undemocratic as their distribution might be. They confer power precisely because they imply a person can function outside the relationship.