Healthy relationships are dynamic and flowing. Issues and problems arise, get discussed, resolved, ebb, and rise again. Money, sex and power are among the most tumultuous concerns. Money and sex are generally easily understood, although not necessarily easily resolved. Power, on the other hand, is a complicated and complex concept. It is often confused with the issue of control–who is dominant and who is submissive? Do I have to dominate someone else or something else in order to feel powerful? Not so surprisingly, the answer is “NO”. As a matter of fact, it is when I feel powerless that I have the need to control someone or something else. A batterer is a good example of someone who feels powerless and, thus needs to control someone else. Let me be clear–this in no way excuses his actions. Let me explain.
There are a number of ways in which to look at power, for instance on two levels, external power and internal power. External power can be related to political and economic power. It is more apt to be coercive. Internal power, on the other hand, is non-coercive and non-dictatorial. It might also be called psychological power. The individual has a sense of inner strength and potency. There is no need to control anyone or anything else. For whatever reasons, most of us do not develop this sense of internal power as we grow up.
In an intimate relationship, a power struggle may ensue in order to compensate for feelings of internal powerlessness, or a lack of awareness of one’s internal power. Internal power imparts a sense of self-esteem and self-assurance. So how do you and/or I arrive at this goal? It seems to me that unless we are reared very uniquely, without any type of oppression or suppression, it is virtually impossible to be in touch with our internal power–and that’s what being in therapy generates, and it is never too late to become whole and empowered.
I hope that this has been helpful. I would welcome any questions, comments or challenges.