NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Monday, February 4, 2013

Relationships: Overcoming Power Struggles

Couples often come to couples counseling because they're stuck in what I call "push-pull power struggles" that keep them constantly frustrated and at odds with one another.

What Are Power Struggles?
Push-pull power struggles can emerge in just about any aspect of a relationship.  One common example of a push-pull power struggle often occurs during arguments.  So, for example, one person might need to take time away from the other person to cool off  while his partner might feel the need to resolve the situation right then and there.

Relationships: Overcoming Power Struggles

If both people feel strongly about what they feel they need, they are at an impasse.  Rather than trying to find a compromise, each person often insists on having what s/he needs.  This just escalates the argument as one person feels crowded in while the other person feel abandoned.

Push-Pull Power Struggles and Problems With Intimacy
Intimacy, both emotional and sexual intimacy, is often another area where there can be push-pull power struggles.

Power Struggles and Problems With Intimacy

Some people need to have their "space" every so often, while others feel the need to be close most of the time.  Once again, if each person insists on having his or her way, this exacerbates the problem.  The person who needs "space" occasionally will feel hemmed in, while the person who likes to spend more time together can feel hurt and abandoned.

Childhood Histories Can Complicate Relationship Dynamics
Complicating these situations are the individual personal histories of each person in the relationship.  It's not unusual for people in relationships to experience earlier childhood trauma triggered in their adult relationships.  In the examples above, the person who might have grown up feeling smothered by a parent might feel smothered by a partner who doesn't allow him his "space."  Or, a person who needs to spend more time with a partner who needs "space" might feel old feelings of being abandoned as a child.

When old feelings are triggered, it intensifies emotions, and it's hard to distinguish how much of the current emotional reaction is due to the current situation and how much might be part of old unresolved emotional wounds.

Getting Help in Therapy
Couples counseling is a place where push-pull power struggles can be negotiated and resolved.  If you and your spouse find yourself constantly getting caught up in these kinds of power struggles, you owe it to yourself to get help so you can work through these issues and enjoy a more fulfilling relationship.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist.

I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.