Is your relationship being poisoned by power struggles?

Updated: Mar 17

“Yeah, we fight. Everybody fights. But ‘power struggles’? I don’t know. I don’t want to think we’re in that category.”

No one wants to think that. It sounds ugly. Sordid. Low class. Very dysfunctional.


But the power struggles that plague relationships and bring them down are natural, even inevitable. But not intentional. They’re just what happens so often when normal people attempt to get their needs met.


But why guess? To look at the role power has played in your relationships, try to answer these questions:

1. For your current relationship, which statement is truer:

a. “Most of the time, I feel I have less power than my partner.”

b. “Most of the time, I feel more powerful than my partner.”


2. For most of your past relationships, which statement is truer:

a. “I generally felt disempowered.”

b. “I generally felt I had the upper hand.”

3. For your current relationship, which statement is truer:

a. “We each of us probably spends most of our time trying to get our needs met.”

b. “We probably spend more of our time trying to keep the power equally balanced between us.”


4. For your current relationship, which statement is truer:

a. “When my needs aren’t being met, I get frustrated and I do things I’m not proud of to try to get my needs met.”

b. “When my needs aren’t being met, even though I’m frustrated I won’t do anything that puts my partner at a disadvantage.”


5. For your current relationship, which statement is truer:

a. “When my partner’s needs aren’t being met, they get frustrated and do things they end up having to apologize for.”

b. “When my partner’s needs aren’t being met, even though they’re frustrated they rarely will do anything that puts me at a disadvantage.”

Your answers to questions 1 through 4 should make things pretty clear to you. The more often your answer was option “a” to a question, the more likely it is that something having to do with power is causing trouble in your relationship. And see what happens when your partner answers these questions too.

And by the way, most people say that for at least 3 out of the 5 questions, it’s option “a” that applies. This is a relationship that’s clearly stuck using power to deal with conflict.

There’s a shorter, simpler test:

Which statement would you say is truer:

a. “Most of the time, too many of my most important needs are not met in my relationship.”

b. “Most of the time, most of my important needs are being met in our relationship.”

If you chose option “a” here, then clearly whatever you’re doing to get your needs met in this relationship isn’t working.

So here you are. Depending on your answers to these questions, you’ve just told yourself you need the help Why Couples Fight offers.

Why fight at all when you can do something much simpler that actually works? It’s all in our new book.

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At this point we are limited in our ability to respond to new requests for our services. You can contact us at info@chestnuthillinstitute.com for further information. We can not, unfortunately, give advice about your situation via email. But there’s an excellent chance that the help you need is sitting right there in one of our 15 books. That’s what they’re for!

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