Hey guys, welcome back! So today’s content is in response to a request from one of my Instagram followers. She was interested in the topic of power dynamics. In her case, the power dynamic is when one partner makes all the money and the other stays home. So I’m definitely going to cover that one, as it is the most common one I hear. But I’m also going to cover other kinds of power dynamics in marriage as well. Spoiler alert: the solution is the same for all of them!

In marriages where one person’s working and the other’s holding down the fort at home, things can get a bit tricky in the power department. The one bringing in the paycheck may have a little more say, mainly because they’re the ones bringing in the money that is then being used to support the home.

On the flip side, the non-working partner might take total control over decisions regarding the kids and the home, leaving the working partner feeling like a guest or as if they’re not allowed to make those decisions because they are not the primary caretaker.

But let’s remember that power is subjective. If you feel like the power dynamic is lopsided in your marriage, in other words there is an area where the two of you are not equal, that is just your thought. Your partner may or may not disagree. If they do, that’s just their thought as well.

If we look at a marriage where one partner makes all the money and the other is a stay-at-home parent, but that stay at home parent does not feel financially inferior in any way – what is the X factor? Why does she feel perfectly equal while another woman in her shoes doesn’t?

It’s her thought, right? Her perspective. Her mindset. She doesn’t see herself as financially inferior. She sees herself as pulling just as much weight as her working partner does. She values her role and doesn’t apologize for it.

Here’s the tricky thing about how you view yourself. You will actually act in congruence with that thought, therefore making it more of a reality. We have a term for this – self-fulfilling prophecy.

Let’s take an example. Suppose you are the stay-at-home parent and you want to make a bigger purchase. If you have a thought that because you don’t make the money, you don’t get to use it without permission, then you will feel inferior which will drive you to ask for permission. Now, because you’ve asked for permission you have reinforced this idea that you need to.

On the flip side of that same coin, if there is a decision to be made regarding one of the kids and you make that decision on your own without consulting their other parent, it is because you think you hold the power in that area and you reinforce that thought by acting as though you do.

Side note: I completely support the idea of conferring with each other on both money and kids. It’s not the act of checking in about a big purchase that I discourage. It’s the energy behind the ask – the thought that you need permission rather than support.

Let’s take a totally different power dynamic. Let’s say you did something really hurtful in your marriage. Maybe you went as far as really disrespecting your partner. Or maybe you really let your partner down by not being supportive in a tough moment.

Whatever it is, if because of your transgression, you now feel that your partner has the “upper hand” then you will act accordingly. You will most likely lower your eyes, maybe grovel a bit, and not make any requests.

Now I am all for apologizing and communicating after a tough moment. But that is very different than carrying the notion that you are now the “bad partner.” Thinking that you are inferior because you messed up will lead you to act in inferior ways which will then create more evidence for your brain that you are inferior.

Other forms of power dynamics in relationships can come from age differences, if one partner is the biological parent of a child in the home and the other isn’t, sexual intimacy, and other responsibilities.

So, what’s the solution? Thought work and communication. The first one is done without your partner’s involvement. This is what I specialize in. Helping you change your thoughts about yourself your partner, and your marriage. Power is not an objective, tangible thing. It is a thought. If you think you are powerful, you will act powerful. If you think you have no power, you will not try and exercise any. Obviously neither extreme is healthy, but you get my point.

Once you’ve cleaned up your own mindset, good communication is the secret sauce here. Both partners need to lay it all out on the table—expectations, who’s handling what, and how decisions get made. Some marriages thrive because partners identify their domains and stick to it. There is nothing wrong with that at all!

Other marriages need a more collaborative approach. All too often roles just kind of happen over the years without any direct communication about them. Women just “become” the default parent. Men just “become” the secondary decision maker with the kids. These aren’t coincidences, they are roles that are allowed to develop due to a lack of communication.

In episode 42 – Solutions for the Default Parent, something really struck me in that interview. Women were complaining about being the default parent but when we took a closer look, most of those women were not asking for help – at least not in a respectful tone. And many of them were criticizing their partner for HOW they helped because they weren’t doing it “right.” I’ll link that episode in the show notes for you so you can listen.

So, if you’re struggling with a power dynamic in your relationship, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do I see myself as inferior or less powerful?
  2. How am I contributing to this dynamic?
  3. Have I initiated a sit-down conversation with my partner about our roles and how I feel about them?

This is called taking ownership of your own experience. This is how marriages strengthen and evolve. When partners take responsibility for their own thoughts and feelings – and then communicate them with their partner in an honest, respectful way.

Now I know this is no easy thing to overcome. Many power dynamics are just a mimicry of what we saw growing up. We are so affected by our own parents’ marriage. Their dynamic, whether they were married or not, set the tone for our romantic relationships. This is why I am so passionate about this work.

I know all too well how YOUR marriage will affect the future of your kids lives and relationships. My mission is to help you improve your marriage so that your kids get the childhood they deserve and the adulthood you crave for them.

If you’re ready to take ownership of your own thoughts, feelings, and actions… if you’re a mom who just wants to do right by her kids but feels a little stuck, let’s have a free call. I am really good at what I do and I will help you squash your self-defeating thoughts. Schedule a free call by scrolling down and clicking on the link in the show notes.