In a new relationship, and maybe even in a not-so-new one, the person less dependent on the other, less in love, perhaps–holds the power. One way the least interested wields power is simply by refusing to become more interested.
To wit: A study I set up featuring a youngish couple I was seeing for therapy, one in a rather old-fashioned dynamic. I was getting my graduate degree at the time.
The wife, Madeline, came in saying that she felt “powerless” in her marriage. Her husband, Frank, made all the decisions, she said. He might be oblivious to this fact, she added,, and might want to believe otherwise, but their lives revolved around his desires, not hers. She felt this truth passionately, but had difficulty articulating the myriad ways in which her powerlessness was manifested—and how it diminished her. From what they ate for dinner to what they saw at the movies, she felt she had little say. Why? “Because I don’t decide how we spend the money, nor do I have access to our money.” Continue Reading →