Do you want to be happy or "right?"  Are you willing and open to learning or do you act as if you "already should know?"  These are two questions Dr. Julia Colwell asks when she teaches about essential relationship skills. Your responses to the above two questions will influence how frequently you engage in power struggles.  Power struggles emerge from reactive fighting and defending ourselves.  We all know this experience.  We are human.  Our feelings get triggered around our differences and our reptilian brain kicks into fight or flight.  We may feel mad, sad, glad or scared. Colwell talks about  our tendency to attempt to solve the problem while we are in this reactive mode.  Doing so usually fails!  What will help is to pause, state you are feeling reactive, practice breathing with your body, and, when feeling a bit calmer.....speak the truth about your reactions.  One of you may say, "I'm feeling angry and scared about what you want to do.  I don't feel my needs were considered."  Be patient.  Slow down.  It often helps to repeat what your partner just told you.  Listening to each others feelings and views without either partner being right or wrong, good or bad, will help move you beyond your power struggles.

Blame is a disempowered position.  If I don't take any responsibility for our problems and misunderstandings, I give you all my power and wait for you to do something about it.  But I have no control if only waiting for you to take care of it.  Colwell points out, both partners are responsible in a committed relationship.  So how do we transform our everyday experiences of blame around tasks and agreements?  First, we need to be willing to look at our part in the problem.  You may ask, "Why do I keep making agreements with you that can't be kept?  Let's look together."  The biggest influence we can have in our relationship is by telling the truth about our own experience.  A partner may respond, "I say yes or I go along with your preference because I'm afraid of your anger or feeling guilty."  This willingness to look together and share feelings will allow you as partners to move in the direction of both of you getting what you want.  With practice, this allows you to relax and feel more vulnerable and have more intimacy as partners.