Power and love are a toxic couple? Usually, but not always. Because so-called micro-power games do a relationship even good.
It’s 8:05 – and I stare at the ceiling. It was agreed that he would wake me up. At 8.00 clock. At least I made that wish very clear yesterday before falling asleep. Why did not I just set an alarm, the man asked. “Because I do not want to,” I thought and “Because it’s so nice to be awakened by you” said. And now he is not coming. Although he has been awake for an hour and I hear him rumbling in the kitchen. 8:07. Damn it! 8.14 clock. I’m still late! Why do not I just get up? That’s why! The bedroom door opens. I lie down asleep and grin into myself. Round one, she’s going to me.
In every respect, there are small power games
No, my husband and I are not on the verge of separation. Why am I still getting involved in such a kindergarten nonsense? Well, because I have to. And now I know too: we should all. At least that’s what Dr. Wolfgang Krüger and speaks of his 20 years of experience as a couple therapist: “In every respect, there are small power games,” he says. “Such games are born at the very beginning and – they will always be part of the relationship.”
And let’s be honest, we all know them. When he calls from the living room and pretends she does not hear him – so he has to get up and walk over to the other end of the apartment. Or if he had to apologize, “I’m sorry,” but delayed until the evening and makes them crazy with the wait.
Loud clichés? Perhaps. But everything has already been experienced, says Wolfgang Krüger. He calls this the “quiet power games” and has given them as much attention in the book “Love, Power and Passion” (Herder Verlag), as they deserve: a lot. Because that this mini-struggle increases, is also due to the zeitgeist. More than ever we live today in the age of strong women. We go out into the streets, raise our voices, work even more consistently for our principles, values, rights. We no longer see discussions with the partner as a warning signal, but as what they are: border-balancing and staking out.
Silly? Total! But also very commonplace
The whole thing is complicated by the new, digital playing fields. If the man on the Whats app question, where we eat later, despite two blue hooks and a subsequent, slightly aggressive “???” still silent. And I pay him back by saying “Are you checking for spelling mistakes, please?” ice-cold scroll past. Silly? Total! But also very commonplace.
The question arises: what makes power with our relationship? It shapes us as a couple at least as much as the common love, the expert claims. This is so confusing because we do not usually match the two terms in our head. The evil power drips with control and selfishness. But in love, devotion and selflessness resonate. According to a study by the pair psychologist Krüger, even 70 percent of couples exclude the coexistence of the two feelings. That is very romantic, but also quite naive. Because in fact there is always both in every functioning relationship. Power plays, if they do not totally degenerate, are always a sign of a deeper bond. You know the other, know your limits, but you know him well enough to know how far you can reach your tolerance.
You should also focus on your own life
Power relationship as a love barometer so? In a sense, yes, but there is a but: First, both must be aware of the games. If we find the balance by eliminating the micro-power games through conversation or well-placed humor, that even strengthens the relationship. And secondly, the ratio of who initiates the game and who is condemned to play must vote. “The role of the strong must alternate again and again, the distribution of power is constantly changing.” Whoever wins is then almost not that important anymore.
Yes, yes, of course, the Olympic idea counts. There is still a winner tip: “Most of the time, the one who withdraws from the partner at short notice, meets new colleagues, finds a series just for himself or something like that – simply shifts the focus back to his own life.” says Krüger. My husband just perfects this with retiring. And is our vacation planning even then calm, although (or because ?!) That’s why I’m almost hysterical. Here, only our holiday is on the loose. But when does power break?
A healthy mediocrity is important
The formula for it is as simple as it is dangerous: micro-power games improve the relationship, macro-power games destroy it. Whereby, especially the mixtures are difficult, which one of the partners does not recognize – and therefore can not respond. If the other systematically does things that hurt, for example. Prick, bring out long-standing dispute issues, in principle, do not respond to calls back. “If you as a ‘victim’ these mechanisms on the shabby, you should definitely retreat consciously in the short term and evaluate where the partner thins out the relationship.” And also ask yourself: why?
Naturally, the reasons for this are as diverse as the people themselves. For unfilled people, for example, power struggles are a great distraction maneuver. They manage to always make a relationship conflict out of their own development problem. As a result, they have less to think about themselves, but instead can simply argue with the partner. Or is it your own self-esteem that always drives you to test out your alpha potential in the relationship? The worst power processes are denial, says Krüger. Nope, I do not, I do not see, is your opinion. Because the other is literally left powerless.
Decisive is the willingness to get on with the other
Incidentally, talking at this point does not always help, according to US psychologist John Gottman. For 20 years, he has been researching in his love lab how married couples interact with each other. He considers it one of the greatest myths of love that communication is the royal road to a happy love. Decisive is rather the willingness to get on with the other. If the man comes out of the office too late, one can either assume that he neglects the relationship – or perhaps even see it as it is: that a spontaneous conference held him. Really! So, the basic mood is the deciding factor and, in the relationship, makes us react either sympathetically or reproachfully, Gottman said.
Fortunately, my husband and I have never left the micro level. I always accept his game challenges and initiate some here and there myself. Because it is important to me, because we explore our limits and do not fail in the end. We play fair, at eye level. And according to the ancient rule “May the better win”. The man picks up the alarm clock on my bedside table. Round two, you just opened.