Chapter 2 - Influences Subchapter: Power

Managing power dynamics

When making decisions do you or your partner:

  • Respect each other’s individual decisions?
  • Make sure you’re both involved in all shared decisions?
  • Make sure that any conflict on shared decisions is resolved through compromise without pressure or coercion?
  • Ensure that a YES is freely given without pressure or coercion?
  • Ensure that a NO is respected and can be freely made without fear of negative consequences?


Respect each other’s individual decisions

Individual decisions are I decisions.

  • I want gelato, not ice-cream
  • I want to catch up with my friends for lunch


Sometimes respecting your partner’s individual decision is hard, especially when it affects you.

It might even be tempting to try and influence your partner and get them to change their mind.

  • “But I thought we could spend all day together - can’t you have lunch with your friends some other time? We can do anything you want – my treat!”


The offer of a reward is made to encourage your partner to change their plans. You earn more money and are willing to spend it to get what you want.

But if your partner confirms they prefer to catch-up with their friends, you then should say:

  • “I hope you have a great time and say Hi to everyone for me.”


So easy, and you both feel great about your awesome respectful relationship.

Using a reward to influence someone is OK, but a NO is always to be respected.


Make sure both persons are involved in all shared decisions

Shared decisions involve someone else. Shared decisions are both your business and the other person’s business.

  • I want us to go clubbing, not dinner and a movie
  • We should buy a TV for the bedroom


There will come a time in most stable long-term relationships where you’ll need to make a joint household purchase. And you agree with your partner – to be able to cuddle up in bed and watch your favourite shows sounds great!

Your partner does all the research about what brand to buy, you both agree on a budget, and Saturday morning you head off to the store to buy a new TV!



The Field Model diagram with two characters on Yes - the Action Zone lights up.


But when you get to the store, you find a TV that your partner thought was way out of your price range heavily reduced. It’s still more than your budget but seems like a great buy.

Your partner knows all about this TV and decides this is the one to get.

But if you buy this TV you’ll be over budget and it will mean you can’t afford to treat your sister to a day spa for her birthday. And you don’t want to use credit.



The Field Model diagram with one character on Yes and one character on No - the End Zone lights up and both move to it.


You explain to your partner that you can’t afford to spend any more than the agreed budget and why. Your partner is disappointed with your NO but agrees there was a set budget and that’s all there is to spend on a TV.


Conflict on shared decisions must be resolved without pressure or coercion

But what if instead of agreeing to stay within budget, your partner insists that you put in the extra money so they can get their preferred more expensive TV?

Your partner argues that they know more about TV’s than you do, the TV is on sale right now, and you could take your sister to the spa next month instead of next weekend.

Your partner seems really set on this TV, so you say you’ll think about it.



The Field Model diagram with one character on Yes and one on I Don't Know - the Maybe Zone lights up.


You don’t really want to spend any more money on a TV, and you’ve been really looking forward to taking your sister to the spa on her actual birthday. And after all, it’s your decision to make.

But your partner keeps hassling and reminding you that because they’ve done all the research and it’s their TV too so they should get some say in which one is bought.

What if your partner is right? You really don’t know anything about TV’s other than how to watch them.

Maybe it’s better to put off the birthday spa date with your sister to keep your partner happy?

Eventually you agree to put in extra money to get the more expensive TV.



The Field Model diagram with one character on Yes and one character on No - the End Zone lights up and both move to it.


Even though you’ve said YES to the expensive TV, it’s really a NO.

Your partner coerced you into your YES decision because it wasn’t freely given.

Your original NO wasn’t respected.


What a power imbalance can look like

  • A partner ignores your opinions, ideas, or the things they know matter to you.
  • One person wants the relationship to work more than the other and can end up sacrificing their own needs to keep their partner happy and relationship intact.
  • One person always making their views known while not listening to or ignoring the other person.


An imbalance of power in a relationship can make you feel

  • exhausted and frustrated
  • inferior and powerless
  • dominated by the other person in the relationship
  • lacking any influence or control.