A Psychological Look at Marriage And Divorce

September 25, 2020

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:

  • Physical – one party using physical force against the other party to get their way;
  • Financial – one party withholding financial assets and keep the other party dependant on them for all financial resources; and
  • Emotional – one party may withdraw and give the other the silent treatment during arguments which results in a demand-withdrawal dynamic

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.

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