Who’s the Boss

We all like to be right, right? Whether we admit it or not, we hate to be wrong, to seem less smart, or feel out of control. This can become an issue in relationships when it’s more important to one or the other partner to feel like they’re right. 

Power is important to some people more so than for others. For some that are in positions of power in their professional lives, that wield that power daily, such as in law enforcement, for example, it can be hard to shut that down in their dealings with others outside of their job, including partners and spouses. Being in control of every situation is crucial to people who work in that realm, but should that be part of your love relationship?

How do you reconcile this in a partnership/marriage? On the one end of the spectrum it’s about being sure and confident, knowing your own mind, having a set of ideals and principles and adhering to them no matter what. At the other extreme it can mean becoming too overbearing, controlling or even abusive. 

Finding the balance  

There has to be a happy medium for each partner in the relationship to feel equally balanced as far as feeling powerful or able to make decisions in the relationship. No one partner should be making arbitrary decisions or making choices for their partner without their input. There should always be an ability to be flexible, to consider each viewpoint and to be willing to compromise with their partner if something is important to them. 

A respectful discussion and consideration of the partner’s opinion should be a part of every decision made that affects both parties as a couple. For example, one partner wouldn’t accept a job in another state without consulting and considering all options with their partner, even if that job meant they would be receiving a promotion and an increase of salary and that new job advances them on their career path.  There must be consideration of how each decision affects all the parties involved including your partner and any children in the family. 

Warning signs 

There are definite warning signs that tell you that you are dealing with someone who wants all the power in the relationship. They are often too controlling, putting too many conditions and rules on the relationship. They can’t bear to be wrong or to be seen as weak. They will fight over the smallest issue, just to come out on top. They refuse to hear both sides, will shut down any dissenting opinions and my even “fight dirty”, discount or belittle their partner’s opinions if they do not agree. If this describes your relationship you may need to seek professional counseling to change the nature of the relationship.  

Relationship goals

The healthiest and happiest of couples understand the beauty of compromise. They are willing to bend, to be flexible, even to admit that their partner is right and they are wrong. Sometimes they will give in and concede a point, simply to keep the peace and to keep their partner happy. If something is important to their partner, it’s important to them. 

They pick their battles and are happy to flow with power shifts in the relationship. They are happy if their partner is happy. For everyone to feel important and loved is the main thing. In their ideal relationship everyone gets their way and it’s good for all. You don’t always have to be right to be happy. This makes for a great balanced relationship where everyone feels like they’re getting what they want and need.

A healthy and balanced relationship is a true partnership where no one is the boss. There’s a give and take and a ton of compromise that happens in the daily dealings of life. Partners understand that they won’t always agree and that’s okay. There’s not a power struggle or competition; only understanding, love and empathy. Because the only thing that truly matters is both of you feeling loved every day. 


About the Author:

Stuart Fensterheim, LCSW helps couples to overcome the disconnection in their relationships. As an author, blogger and podcaster, Stuart has helped couples around the world to experience a unique relationship in which they can feel special and important, confident in knowing they are loved deeply and that their presence matters. The Couples Expert Podcast consists of weekly provocative conversations offering the perspectives and insight of experts from a variety of relationship related fields. Stuart also offers daily relationship video tips on The Couples Expert YouTube channel and by subscription in Stuart's Daily Notes. Stuart is happily married and a devoted father of 2 daughters. His office practice serves the greater Phoenix, Arizona area including the cities of Scottsdale, Chandler, Tempe, and Mesa.