The point that really stuck out to me this week is the need for equality or balance of power in a relationship. We have discussed how there are often disagreements that arise in any relationship, and happy marriages use them as moments to draw closer together. Richard B. Miller, director of the School of Family Life at BYU, has researched power differences in relationships. He says, “Issues regarding power are at the root of many family problems.” (2008) Henry B. Eyring, a leader in the LDS church says, “A man and his wife learn to be one by using their similarities to understand each other and their differences to complement each other in serving one another and those around them.” (1998) Not only is each couple different from any other, but each spouse in a couple is different from their own spouse. When we focus on using our own strengths for the good of our marriage, then we are less worried about everything being the same and more worried about it being equal.
In my marriage, my husband goes to work each day and I get to be a stay-at-home mom. These two jobs are nothing alike other than the fact that we are both doing our best to care for the family that we have created. My husband earns all of the money that our family receives each month. I make a big fat zero dollars. However, I am pretty good at money management so I do most of the budgeting and buying. I am never made to feel like I matter less because I do not make any money; likewise, I do not make a big deal about managing the bulk of the finances. We are different but equal in this regard. There are couples where these specific roles are reversed and couples where there is more of a joint effort each month, but no matter what, it is the equality that helps it all flow well.
Again, each couple is different, what is a struggle in one marriage may not be a struggle in another. Miller says,
“We have learned from others that power is made up of two major components. The first is the process of power, where one spouse tends to dominate conversations, doesn’t listen to the other partner’s opinion, etc. The second component is power outcome, which is determined by which partner tends to get their way when there is a disagreement” (2008)
Take time and evaluate how your relationship works. What changes can you make to allow it to become more equal?
Eyring, H. B. That We May Be One, Ensign, May 1998, 66.
Miller, R. B. Who is the boss? Power relationships in families. BYU Conference on Family Life, Brigham Young University, March 28, 2008.