Power Struggles in Relationships

Power Struggles in Relationships


Power struggles in relationships refer to a competition between partners to gain more control and influence, and how partners deal with it might break or strengthen their relationship. Regardless of how much you love each other, you will almost certainly disagree. That said, it’s essential to keep in mind that disagreements are not the same as power struggles. 

Insisting that only your opinion and needs matter in the relationship can tremendously impact how power conflicts are formed. Whether you are not respecting your partner’s boundaries or ignoring their take on a certain issue, it is something that should be revised if you want to be in a loving, fulfilling relationship.


What are Power Struggles? 

Fighting for power and influence may become obvious early in a relationship, yet sometimes it only becomes a problem once significant issues are discussed and not resolved. In addition to divergent viewpoints and opinions, emotional difficulties experienced by one or both spouses can also lead to power conflicts.

For example, insecure attachment patterns might cause someone to cede control over significant decisions due to a fear of being rejected or abandoned. An individual with personality disorders such as narcissistic personality disorder or antisocial personality disorder may feel compelled to control and dominate their relationship.

If unresolved power conflicts are the result of a mental health issue, only a mental health specialist may be able to determine this with accuracy. One spouse making all the decisions in the relationship while the other often feels ignored and unheard, angry, and unhappy would be a classic example of a power struggle in relationships.


Signs of Power Struggles 

Power battles can negatively impact relationships, harmony, and general well-being. Identifying the warning signals of a power struggle is critical to resolving the situation and creating a more positive dynamic. 


Frequent Conflicts

Power struggles can take the form of ongoing arguments and confrontations. These disputes usually center on dominance assertion, control, or decision-making. Couples may argue too much and too often, each trying to get their wants and preferences to win.



One partner continuously tries to dominate and control the other in a power struggle. They could try to control their partner’s choices, behaviors, or decisions by employing a variety of strategies, including coercion, manipulation, or even threats. 


Unwillingness to Compromise

In a relationship, the power struggle stage is characterized by a reluctance or inability to compromise. Both parties could maintain inflexible stances and be hesitant to compromise or find common ground. Because neither partner is prepared to give in, decision-making processes become difficult and may result in ongoing arguments in partnerships with power struggles.



One typical strategy used in power disputes is manipulation. It may entail guilt-tripping, manipulating emotions, or other subtly effective strategies to obtain the upper hand in the relationship. Manipulative actions destroy confidence and create a poisonous atmosphere where authority is used as a weapon.


Lack of Intimacy

One spouse may use closeness, love, or emotional support to control the other during power battles. They could cut off communication to manipulate or punish the other person. Withholding intimacy or love can erode the relationship’s general closeness and trust while also causing emotional estrangement.



You and your spouse are prone to getting defensive toward one another as a result of power disputes. It’s challenging to maintain your composure when you’re questioning your ability to function as a cohesive unit. Being locked off might make people more critical of one another’s intentions, words, and deeds.

When criticism is delivered without a real apology or an effort to mend the connection, it damages your friendship permanently. To get over this phase of a power struggle, you and your spouse need to identify what is causing you to defend yourself. Relationships thrive when vulnerability, empathy, and mutual acceptance are encouraged where criticism used to be.


Resolving Power Struggles in Relationships

Conflict resolution techniques are crucial for having meaningful conversations about difficult issues and reaching a mutually beneficial solution. In a partnership, preventing and resolving power conflicts requires active listening, aggressive communication, and daily love choices.

Other things to start implementing in your relationships to resolve power struggles are:

  • Express your emotions; before doing so, take a deep breath to understand what you feel. 
  • Focus on similarities between you and your partner instead of differences, as they are the foundation of each relationship. 
  • Learn to identify your partner’s needs and prepare to compromise.
  • Be clear about your needs and expectations. 
  • Talk to your partner about your different perspectives to help understand each other better. 
  • Value your partner’s perspective, and don’t compare it to your own. We are all different, and what works or matters to you might not be the right option for your partner. 


It is also highly recommended that you seek help from a mental health counselor, whether individually or as a couple. They can investigate potential reasons for your difficulties and suggest useful coping techniques.

It’s normal to feel anxious about relationship changes as well. The tug-of-war that emerges during the power struggle stage might harm your relationship. Instead, gaining strength as a couple during this period requires learning new techniques and abilities. It is possible to reach new depths of comprehension, better appreciate diversity, and develop your capacity for disagreeing.



Power struggles in relationships can be detrimental to both parties’ general satisfaction and well-being. Addressing the underlying issues and achieving a more balanced dynamic require identifying the warning signs of a power struggle. 

When there is an obvious imbalance of power or when there is a fundamental difference of opinion, partners may fight for control of the relationship, leading to power conflicts.

Not everything negative comes from power struggles. By reaching an agreement, identifying common ground, and using positive conflict resolution, you can improve your relationship and understand your spouse.


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