A Psychological Examination of Relationships Can Reveal Power Imbalances and Why You Love The Way You Do

All relationships have unique characteristics

Understanding what makes each other tick can help us learn about connection and separation.

In every romantic relationship there are different dynamics and power balances. The roles we take on in a relationship can often be traced back to our childhood when we developed our worldview of love and how to interact with those around us. However, the dynamics we learned in childhood are not always fixed and can change with each relationship or even change throughout the course of a relationship with one individual. It can be beneficial to consider your attachment style, the roles you take on in your relationship and your love languages in order to better navigate your marriage or long-term relationships.

Types of Attachment Styles And Impact  

There are four major main attachments styles identified by psychologists. These include:

  1. Secure
  2. Anxious / Preoccupied
  3. Dismissive / Avoidant
  4. Fearful / Avoidant

Your attachment style is thought to be derived from your childhood relationships with your caregivers, however, relationships over time contribute to your attachment style as well. Couples with very different attachment styles tend to have more conflict within their relationships and they find it difficult to reconcile their very different approaches to situations. However, this does not always have to be the case. Learning about your attachment style and how this can impact your relationships is a great way to overcome common drawbacks of mismatched attachment styles in a relationship.

Power Imbalances in Relationships

All relationships have unique characteristics and no two relationships are the same. This is true for relationships of any nature and can generally be traced back to our childhood relationships with our caregivers. Power imbalances occur when one party wields power over the other party in either a direct or passive manner. Power imbalances result when we do not have the ability to make informed choices and advocate for our emotional and physical well-being.

Some examples of different power imbalances are as follows:

Extreme power imbalances can lead to toxic and abusive relationships. If you fear for your safety and need assistance you can contact the Calgary Domestic Violence Collective or the Calgary Police Service.

When attending mediation, recognizing power imbalances is very important. Your mediator will be able to assist you in creating an equal "playing field" and minimizing power imbalances to create effective resolutions.

Love Languages - Why Are They Important? 

The five love languages were developed by Dr. Gary Chapman and outline the most common ways people like to receive love in order to feel valued in their relationships. The five love languages are as follows:

  1. Words of affirmation;
  2. Gifts;
  3. Actions of service;
  4. Physical touch; and
  5. Quality time.

While all of the above “languages” are important to a relationship, identifying the top ways in which you give and receive love can help you become more intimate with your partner. For example, one partner may like to show their love and affection through giving gifts, but their partner feels loved when they spend quality time together and doesn’t place a high value on gifts – this can lead to arguments as both parties feel neglected as they are not effectively communicating in their love languages.

The more you learn about yourself and how you psychologically approach relationships, the better you will be at identifying roadblocks and overcoming obstacles in your relationships or resolving issues upon the breakdown of a relationship.

Step Parents and Other Guardians Have Legal Rights and Obligations

in loco parentis, in Latin means “in the place of a parent”.

It is important to know your legal obligations to the children in your life.

Did you know that in Alberta, stepparents can be legally responsible for paying child support in the event of a separation? Often times, stepparents are considered to be in loco parentis which in Latin, means “in the place of a parent”. If a party is found to be in loco parentis, they have the same legal obligations to their stepchildren as parents do to their biological children.

What Does it Mean to Be in Loco Parentis

Most often, the concept of loco parentis is raised in order to determine one’s obligation to financially support a child following the breakdown of a relationship. If a party is found to be in loco parentis they may be legally required to pay child support in the same amount and for the same duration of time as if they had been the biological parent. However, being in loco parentis isn’t just about the financial obligations to a child, being in loco parentis also means that you have decision-making rights and responsibilities. As such, you are legally bound to weigh in on the medical and educational needs of the child, as well as day to day decisions such as who the child interacts with and what activities they are enrolled in. It is possible to waive decision-making obligations through a Court Order or Divorce Judgment should one not wish to exercise this legal right. However, as child support is the right of the child – this cannot be waived and must be paid in accordance with the Federal Child Support Guidelines.

What Is the Legal Test?

The Family Law Act outlines the threshold that must be met in order for a party to be considered in loco parentis. The first thing the court will determine is if the party in question is married to or in an adult interdependent relationship with the parent of the child. If so, the court will then look to determine if the party has demonstrated a settled intention to treat the child as if they are their own. If the answer is yes, then the court will begin a facts-based analysis. Some of the factors that the Court will take into consideration when determining if a party shall be considered in loco parentis are:

This is not an exclusive list of factors that the court will consider but it does provide some necessary framework for parties and family law lawyers to use when determining if a party is in loco parentis.

Can Grandparents Be in Loco Parentis?

If grandparents, or any other relative, have been the custodial parent to a child for a significant amount of time, they can be found to be in loco parentis. Often, if parents are unable to raise their children for any reason, grandparents’ step in to assist and may become the legal guardians of their grandchildren. If the child’s biological parents then make an application for custody of the child, the grandparents may have a strong claim for continuing to have custody and decision-making rights of the child. However, the test will always come down to the best interest of the child.

If you have questions with respect to being in loco parentis, connect with us today to learn more.

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