Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Power without love is reckless and abusive and love without power is sentimental and anemic.” The ideal is empowered love. So how can you enjoy the synergy of the two in your relationship?
Partners are always afraid that if they succumb to love they’ll lose their personal power — their ability to direct and shape their own life. They don’t want to live someone else’s life; they want to live their own. How do partners integrate power and love, instead of giving one up for the other? The answer to this question is partner equality.
Take household chores as a mundane example. Who cleans the bathrooms? Even if you’re always the one cleaning the toilets, your partner might be cleaning out the kitty litter box. You both know that you have nitty gritty duties that have to be taken care of and you’re willing to divide up these tasks.
If you and your partner have a strong sense of who you are and what you’re worth, what you’re willing to do for the well-being of being a couple, you won’t try to coerce or manipulate each other. You’ll both know that “cleaning up poop” is part of life.
In addition to household equality, understanding equality in the psychological realm is vital. This means that you have the power to define what you want, what you think, what you feel, what you believe, and what you do — all of which may be quite different from what your partner wants, thinks, feels, believes, and does.
The psychology of long-lived couples, however, fits together like jigsaw puzzle pieces. You resonate with your partner in deep ways that make both of you psychologically compatible even if you think you have very little in common. Read about equality in relationships.
Ultimately, equality is about respecting your humanness and the humanness of your partner. You have to see yourself and your partner as worthy of being with each other and of having made the free will choice of staying together. Relationships are not indentured servitude. If you think that you couldn’t survive without your relationship, you actually have no power to be yourself within it. Power imbalances happen when you can’t risk the relationship, but the reality is that a relationship is always at risk.
Love is yearning for power and power is yearning for love. Power and love become degenerative when they stand alone. But when these two forces meld and coexist, their interaction creates equality. Martin Luther King, Jr. knew that in a society the only way to personal happiness and fulfillment was through equal rights. A healthy relationship is the integration and balance of love-power between two individuals who know that they are of equal value, neither one a slave to the other in any realm of their lives.
Are you straightforward about letting your partner know who you are and what you want?
How do you and your partner handle household chores?
Read about standing up for yourself in a relationship.