Negotiating Power and Control in Your Relationship
Something that comes up with a lot of couples, especially when one of you, or both of you, works in a high-pressure environment, is how couples share power and control in their relationships. When you have a CEO mentality or an entrepreneurial mentality at work, that can be good for your career and for those workplace relationships, but how does it translate to your home life? It’s really important to remember: You are not the boss at home!
So how do you take off that work hat when you come home and negotiate with your spouse about making important decisions? How can you navigate how to have authority and power and control in the relationship? Who gives power and control? Who gets to make decisions? How do you make those decisions?
We often slip into roles in our relationship that we’re not necessarily specific about. As we grow and develop as people, we often have to renegotiate. That is, we need to do regular check-ins with each other to discuss the agreements that we’ve had in our relationship, maybe for quite some time. When you’re checking in, be very explicit with your partner about having a new agreement – whether it be new goals as a couple or as individuals, or something else you want to change about your relationship. You can use the Awareness Wheel for this.
The 5 Segments of the Awareness Wheel
The Awareness Wheel is a great tool that can help you to pay attention to ‘staying in your lane’ while you talk about what it is you want to negotiate. The 5 segments of the Awareness Wheel are:
1. Sensory Segment
For example, maybe your heart rate increases when you’re talking about a certain subject with your partner. This also includes observing – what do I observe in my partner that shows their sensory reactions? Are they sweating? Are their eyes dilated, etc?
2. Thinking Segment
This includes all the things that happen in your brain – thoughts, judgments, mental influences that you have. It’s very important to be able to distinguish your thoughts from your feelings. For example, you might say “I feel that you’re being unfair,” but that’s not a feeling – it’s a thought.
3. Feeling Segment
What are your emotions? What are you feeling about the thing you’re discussing? Are you scared to bring it up? Are you excited? Are you worried about whether or not your partner will be receptive to this idea you want to bring up?
4. Wants Segment – What Is It That You Want?
It’s really important for us to be able to express what it is we want when we’re bringing an issue to our partner. You might want to take a new job in a new city, but know that your partner might be hesitant to relocate. So you can come to your partner, explain that you want to talk about it, check in with your partner to see if this is the right time to talk about it, and if not, set another time, that is good for both of you to talk about it.
5. Actions Segment – And How Are You Going to Get It?
In this example of discussing moving to a new city, you can do your research, gather your information ahead of time about this new job, and about this new city you might move to, so you can show your partner what it is that excites you, so that when you talk about it, you can give your partner ideas about what you like so much (and what they may like) about this new city and this new life.
This really allows you to take responsibility to share power and control in the relationship. And when we do that, we allow our partner to know that they are really important to us – and that’s how we make our love work.
In the following video, I talk a little more about making the switch from that ‘boss’ mentality when you get home, and why it’s important for your relationship.
Learn How to Communicate – And Have the Relationship You Desire
When you and your partner check in with each other regularly, you give your relationship the attention it needs. This is best done through regular relationship counseling, which has been shown to greatly improve relationship functioning and satisfaction, but you can also check in with one another simply by setting up an annual time to do so, and by using that time to discuss your personal and relationship goals, and where you both are emotionally.
Are you interested in learning more about how This LoveWorks can help you to gain the relationship you desire – with real communication, compassion, understanding, passion, and more?