If You Need To Have The Power In Your Relationship, Don't Get Married Before Knowing This

Understand what you want and everyone benefits.

Woman needing the power in the relationship izusek, Prostock-studio | Canva

Since many people told me that my article on knowing if you’re the “difficult” one in the relationship resonated with them, I thought I would expand into the territory of knowing if you need to have power in your relationship. Overall, this fits with my larger theme of helping people understand who they are and what they want, versus what they like to think they are and want. The more you deeply and objectively understand yourself and your needs, the more likely you are to find a partner who is compatible with you long-term.


Many women say they want more “alpha” husbands, but then would be very upset if they were ever told what to do. What these women really may want is a more active, confident husband who still lets them call the shots. If this is the case, it is beneficial to know this ahead of time, so that you can get into relationships that will make you happy, versus struggling forever to be happy in something you don’t want.

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A lot of women that I see want a man who has ideas and takes charge of some or even most arenas but loves them so much that they still will defer to the woman and give her ultimate veto power. These women want to know their husbands will do anything for them. This often goes along with preoccupied attachment. Often, when you were raised in a home where your needs for consistency and emotional security were not met, you grow into an adult whose number one need is to know that a partner would give you anything within their power to give you. This unconditional love can reparent you and can allow you to open up and trust your partner enough that you can reciprocate by unconditionally loving them in return.




Also, some men I work with realize that they want to be the partner who receives unconditional love and who is more catered to. (Despite the popular media conception of men as the gender who gets catered to, this dynamic seems to have flipped years ago and currently is only a small minority of couples that I see.) In this case, this is very healthy for a man to know in advance of marrying or remarrying. I tell men this all the time in regards to sex: know that sex is important to you and filter on this when dating.

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Note that I am not talking about people who want a doormat and to rule the roost sadistically. This tendency would also be important to know about yourself so that you can get into therapy and work on it. People who want to wield power cruelly in their relationship, whether by withholding affection purposely or by ruling the finances with an iron hand or anything else, unfailingly saw this type of cruelty in their family growing up. They will need to process and work through their family of origin issues before being a suitable partner to anyone.


However, it is naive to think that most couples have a 50–50 power split. Like compromise, this is better in theory than in practice. I have never seen one yet and I can usually tell in the first minute of couples counseling which partner holds most of the power. Quite honestly, it usually goes better when it’s the woman, as long as the woman is appreciative of this fact and grateful for it. A common dynamic that seems to work well is when the woman holds the power because the man is in thrall to how attractive he thinks she is, but she also feels grateful for him because he is loving, reliable, and protective.

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In general, if you are single, this is the time to go to therapy, read books, and figure out who you are and what you need on a deep level. If you felt frustrated and sad in prior relationships because you couldn’t get your partner to give in on important-to-you issues, you can certainly work on being more flexible and open-minded. But, I am a straightforward person with over a dozen years of couples’ counseling experience, and I am here to tell you that the desire to have ultimate veto power in the relationship is not usually something that can be changed.

The best-case scenario is to find someone who loves you and does not mind giving in when you’re very opinionated about something. The key is to understand that this is what you want so you then don’t also penalize this person for not being assertive enough, thereby putting your relationship into an impossible situation.


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Dr. Samantha Rodman Whiten, aka Dr. Psych Mom, is a clinical psychologist in private practice and the founder of DrPsychMom. She works with adults and couples in her group practice Best Life Behavioral Health.