Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Power games in a troubled marriage

Power games in a troubled marriage

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Monday, January 3, 2005 10:12 PM

Beth and Randy have been married for 10 years now and the relationship isn’t what it used to be. There was a time when the couple were madly in love and believed nothing could come between them.

Now, four children later they are not so sure. Both have real issues with each other. Beth resents Randy’s friends who seem more important to him than her and the kids. He is out of the house a whole lot and she senses that he has drifted far from her emotionally.

She suspects he is seeing some women but cannot prove it, though she is convinced that one day she will. She feels that since he is the only bread winner in the family, he uses his paycheck as leverage against her. He only gives enough for the household expenses and keeps the rest. She doesn’t even know how much he earns because he won’t tell her.

Randy has his complaints, too. He feels that Beth withholds her affection and often avoids having sex with him because she is angry at him. He worries that if he gives her money, she will not manage it well, just as she failed to do in the past.

When love is going well, there is nothing more beautiful, more satisfying on the planet. When, however, it begins to go wrong, it has misery for company. And sooner rather than later it becomes a power struggle with the spouses or lovers using various weapons to gain advantages.

It’s what is called power games. Power games are used to intimidate and eventually get what one wants, even if it means hurting the partner.

For example, Randy uses money and Beth withholds sex. Both are power games that damage love and make it more difficult for true intimacy to thrive.

Another power game that is meant to intimidate is the use of anger. A man has a mean temper and does not hesitate to use it when he needs to do so to gain an advantage. The partner is intimidated by his loud voice and angry words that fly like arrows whenever he gets upset. In order to avoid his outbursts, she does what is necessary to give him what he wants.

The same is true of the power game of violence. Some women are so scared of getting punched out that they give way to the man who uses violence as a weapon. The guy might get what he wants, but, in the process the level of love keeps dropping until the only thing holding the relationship together is fear.

Conflict is another power game. Some spouses threaten to pick fights if they don’t get what they want. And they become so good at it that the partner, completely intimidated, will back off and give way rather than engage in verbal scuffles.

Take a look at your relationship and ask yourself if you or your loved one is using power games to gain unfair advantages. If so, then you know that your love is slowly eroding and the day is approaching when you might find yourself in a loveless relationship.


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