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Venting to the World

Relationship Power Balance

There are many reasons why people stay together. We all know that it is impossible to keep the same level of love and excitement in a relationship that we had in its initial stages. Sexual attraction is linked to levels of the hormone oxytocin (human beings are a cocktail of brain chemicals), which decrease after time- and familiarity.

With human beings living longer lives-sometimes 90 +, the chances we will stay with one partner for 60+ years are very small. The truth is that attraction wanes, and attraction is a powerful reason for romance. Some people fall in love again-to feel that same strong attraction-therefore having 3 or more long term relationships in their lives. In that case, maybe marriage should be revisited as a temporary gig-with a expiration date.

However, there are many advantages of staying with one only partner for decades, especially when there are children involved. So what makes people stay together after the oxytocin has disappeared? We can list several reasons:

1) Common interests, values and goals
2) Love of a family life with their children and grandchildren
3) Having assets together-and the possibility of losing part of these assets
4) Knowing that you won’t do better
5) Fear of being alone

Which brings me to number 4, the purpose of this post. When number 4 changes, many marriages collapse. Why? Because when people feel they can do better than the partner they have, they can start getting antsy. They can start looking around for better opportunities. They feel they can find a “better” mate for themselves-based on how they perceive themselves in the dating market. I could call it the “relationship power balance”, or RPB.

The RPB can affect the dynamics in a couple. These are the changes that can occur:

1) The husband becomes very powerful. He knows he can find a younger/more attractive woman with his new money/fame/position.

2) The wife loses all the pregnancy weight and becomes a “hot babe” again. Suddenly her overweight boring husband is not exciting anymore.

3) The man or the woman in the relationship know they are much better looking than their partner. It is just a question of time for them to start feeling they got a booby prize.

4) Conversely, a man can lose all his money or power and be the weaker party.

5) One of the people in the couple can get sick-reason why, as horrible as it sounds, some husbands leave wives who are fighting cancer (John Edwards come to mind).

6) Too big age difference: the younger half of the couple knows they can do better.

As they say, the one who cares less has the power in the relationship. And I can add that the one who knows his or her “market value” is higher than their partner’s is often the one who ends up caring less. Anyway, this mechanistic (but real) view of relationships aside, there is always the hope that some people truly care enough for their partner that they are able to sustain the inevitable changes that life brings.

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January 7, 2011 - Posted by | Relationships

4 Comments »

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Brasilmagic, Brasilmagic. Brasilmagic said: Who has the most power in a relationship, your or your mate? http://tiny.cc/bs71c […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention Relationship Power Balance « Brasilmagic’s Weblog -- Topsy.com | January 7, 2011 | Reply

  2. Brilliant! I think you’ve just cracked the code of probably all marriages out there!
    You know, that silent code that (knowingly or not) most couples abide to even before the “I do’s”. Let’s face it: what’s “love” and the idea of romantic love as we have known it since we were teenagers, got to do with marriage? Isn’t it love supposed to be a “meeting of the bodies and minds”? Sounds a lot like a contract, an “agreement” (a term I think is more appropriate here). Call me pragmatic, if you must. But I think a lot of people get into trouble in a relationship thinking too much about the dreamy side of love, passion, even vanity, and forget to really ask themselves and their partners exactly what they want and what they clearly expect from that union. So why not cut to the chase and both parties state their cases? Loud and clear, please? Perhaps that’s a way to avoid the relationship power balance to interfere and eventually, collapse the marriage. If a couple truly have a good understanding of their common interests,values and goals,like you stated above, chances are there will be no inside-voices telling you that you can do better. Having said that- and being a bit afraid of contradicting myself as I say this – I know it might not be that easy but I guess it comes down to what you wrote at the end: one can only hope in finding a partner that truly cares about you… 🙂

    Comment by Flavia C. | January 8, 2011 | Reply

  3. Awesome article….too truthful for many couples to hear, unfortunately…

    Comment by Andrao Williamosa | January 8, 2011 | Reply

  4. *sigh*

    Your post is a sign of the times. In many ways, it hasn’t changed through millenium (nothing is new under the sun).

    The sign of these times is the, “me”, generation. The, “me”, generation started supposedly 30 years ago in the 80’s. And has risen to PHD levels in these electronic times. What’s in it for me?

    And the times that we live in has taken each and every unpleasant aspect of human nature and amplified it. Take electronic communications. Now it’s chic to not return emails. Not return txt’s, not answer voicemails. Not post on facebook. No return twitter.

    People have gotten more rude, amplifying and gaining social acceptance of ignoring people through the means we have in this electronic world. And that spills into our everyday life and yes, our marital life.

    People today have spun themselves so far out into the galaxy of power based mindset, that it’s no wonder why relationships suffer.

    If you were in a room, having an active conversation with someone, would you abruptly turn a blind eye to them and ignore them? But yet, the electronic world we live in, this is commonplace. And just because someone isn’t sitting in front of you, all courtesies go out the window.

    So our paradym of what it is to be a PERSON has shifted. A good person, as a stipulation of being known as good, started as polite.

    Your post talks about things as they were when we were children and as they were in those early relationships. When we, “grow up”, we are supposed to go beyond the shallow points of your article; taking a leap of faith into the actual words we spoke, “for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health……to death do us part”.

    For marriage to work, it is necessary to transcend these chains of power. You’ll have your good days and bad days. Good YEARS, and bad years. And it’s incumbent on BOTH parties to realize what life is and what life isn’t. Nothing is perfect and it’s not all vanilla and roses everyday.

    Sadly, though, much of your post is the only level most today live by. One foot out the door in a constant awareness of their, “upside”, potential in, “getting”, what they feel they deserve. None of us, “deserve”, anything.

    It’s never too late, even in this rapidly changing world, to sit back, breath deep, and keep trying. We are all just people, trying to get from A to B in life. And nobody is perfect.

    Being married allows for those imperfections. It’s not too late for everyone to look at theirownselves and see.

    Marriage…and family….are the foundations of any society; at least at this point. Maybe when computers gain full self-actualization, we can just conjure and create our own Christie Brinkley, or George Clooney. But for now, people still matter. I choose to believe that we, and relationships, still matter. And choose to believe that there is still that old fashioned leap of faith, “in death do us part”.

    Marriage isn’t about power. Or shouldn’t be. It’s about commitment and faith.

    As Plato said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” This most especially goes for your spouse. Pity we don’t live by it, thereby validating your article.

    Peace Out

    Comment by Steve | January 9, 2011 | Reply


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