How does this power (below) play out in your marriage or life?
I just heard, “Power always comes from what someone else needs.” Or we can also say, If you really need something and you see someone who can meet that need, they have power with you. (By Juli Slattery in Passion Pursuit videos)
How does this “power” play out in your marriage or life? How do you yield your power? How does your spouse yield their power over you? Has it been used wisely, or foolishly? Has it built up, or torn down? The likelihood is that the answers will be both, do you have examples you would like to share?
What are your thoughts to this statement(s)?
Personal thoughts: This really hit me in a few different places. My personal self-revelation, although this part isn’t really a new revelation…. I don’t like to be controlled. I don’t like someone to have power over me, I believe it’s because of the abuse that power can produce. I also believe some of it is because I have had to learn to be self-sufficient. The new, self-revelation part is that I try to live a life where I don’t need anything from anyone. When I start to feel I need something, that person does have the power to hurt me, and they usually do.
Edited: For some clarification….
- “Power” is not inherently bad or good here. It can be used for the good, or it can be used for the bad. It can be used with wisdom, or in foolishness. It can be used to build someone or something up, or it can be used to tear them/it down. It does not equate to “controlling”.
All sorts of question pop-up (for me) from the core question posed by SC.
Is an unmet need for intimacy a result of misused power? My take is ‘yes’ and ‘no.’
Yes, if the unmet need is a direct result of an intentional effort to control.
No, if the unmet need is a result of benign neglect.
in summary, not all unmet needs are caused by intentionally exercised control (power).
I would say that for someone to actually exert power over you, a few things have to come in to play.
First, you have to relinquish that power. I think that whether or not we know it, we relinquish at least some level of power in every relationship, but to varying degrees. The more intimate the relationship, the more power you relinquish.
Before someone can use that power over you, tho, they have to recognize on some level that they have that power. I don’t believe that it has to be a conscious awareness, but on some level, they have to know they have it. In your case, (forgive me for using you as an example) sexual refusal was a way of you retaining power, but I don’t think you recognized it as wielding that power over your husband. It happened on a more subconscious level, but I would be willing to wager that on occasion it was more deliberate than others, and might even lean towards retaliation.
Also, any expectation that you hold, grants a certain amount of power to another, whether they recognize they have it or not, and I believe that this is an area that you have particular struggles. I would guess that what you see as a breach in trust, is often a matter of expectations. Yes, you probably expressed those expectations quite clearly a number of times, and at worst, a breach can feel like a betrayal, and at best it just feels the other party is completely self absorbed. Still, it was you who relinquished power. If that seemed too personal, rest assured that we all do it at times, myself, probably more than most(that’s why I’m an expert).
When you say it isn’t possible for recovery, I think what you are really saying is that it is impossible to re-establish trust. I think I agree with that to a point, but I also think that it can be situational, and even that you can choose to trust based on nothing more than faith. And that….is also granting power, because I don’t know if you can separate trust from granting power.
Recovery for me might look different than what it does from you, but it really is expressed in trust without evidence, and forgiveness when that trust is misplaced. It is a matter of me recognizing that I gave permission in the first place,
Interesting topic. I think Doug is on to something.
True intimacy requires vulnerability. So does trust. Because we have been hurt or, as you say, power over us was used in an abusive or harmful way, we naturally avoid intimacy, we fear being vulnerable, we sidestep situations/relationships that might impact us . Which also means we resist various forms of power and influence as well. Sad to say, in doing so, we tend to resist things that would actually be good for us – like love!
Try loving someone who doesn’t want your love. Try petting the cat that hates people! That level of resistance toward what will impact us positively (call it power or influence or love, etc.) might end up making us very independent, self-sufficient, and give us thick skin if not a hard heart.
It seems to me as followers of Jesus, we are called to yield or submit to Jesus and to one another in the Body of Christ. If we do this voluntarily it is submission. (if we are forced to submit, it is subordination) If we refuse to do it, we actually hold ourselves from others at arm’s length, construct walls instead of connections, become islands instead of communities. It seems to me that these and other things are ways we seek to isolate ourselves from others and the “power” or influence they might have on us. I believe that true submission to Christ enables me to submit to others (“as is fitting in the Lord” COl.3:18; or “out of reverence to Christ” Eph. 5:21). We trust Christ for protection and grace in our times of interdependence with broken humans who still sin. But, we are also blessed, even mutually blessed when we do.
For instance, isn’t accountability a way of giving power or responsibility to someone to help us?
I’m not a profound person, so I really didn’t understand the question, but wow! Doug and OWM explained it so well. I’m afraid their explanations tell me where I’m at. Not such a nice place, I’m thinking. A lot of food for thought, though.
I see myself acting as the cat that hates people. I am independent, self sufficent and thick skinned. Somehow, I hate the thought that I have given other people power over me. I am the person that some have tried to love (in their own, pathetic way) and I have not accepted it. I am not talking in marriage, though. I’m talking other relationships, that were hurtful and never got resolved.
Yes, you absolutely can, but at one_woman_man pointed out, it comes at a cost. That cost is paid in the form of a hardened heart.
You have to go beyond the point where you have to convince yourself that you don’t care. You have to get to the point that you don’t care. When you get there, I suspect that you won’t care about much of anything.
I was thinking about this question as I was driving to work this morning, and there is something I would like to add. I noticed that you edited the original post, and this is really more in response to the part you deleted.
If I get this wrong, please clarify, but I will try to capture the intent of your words. You said something to the effect that you were not sure how to, or if you could recover.
When someone does some thing that hurts us, whether it is one time, or an ongoing thing, there is one power that you have that actually trumps anything you might have endured. You have the power to forgive, whether they are repentant/remorseful or not. When they ask forgiveness and it is granted, it frees both of you, but if they don’t you can still strive to find that freedom for yourself. In some cases, exercising that power creates real change in the other, but in other cases, obviously it does not. Just remember that your recovery is not tied to their actions. It is yours, and you also have the power to claim it.
Another question.…. Can one, so easily remove a need, and not “relinquish” power? (as Doug stated)
Can a husband remove his need for sex or connection (emotional/sexual) with his wife, so that a wife’s refusal or dismissal of his needs or wants, no longer carries the power over him to make him miserable or to hurt him? If it’s so easy, why do we have heartbroken husbands here? Can a wife remove her need for a leader, protector, and all other things a husband provides? Is not some of this coded into how we are created, therefore it’s really out of our control, to some extent? A child has needs, and they, especially while they are young, don’t really have the the choice on what they “relinquish” or not. They learn to cope. Those coping mechanisms follow them into adulthood.
It seems to me that there is something greater at work, in certain situations, than one deciding to “relinquish” power. It also seems it’s beyond “expectations”.
I think OWM and Doug tackled the original question and I can’t think of anything else to add. So I’ll throw in my thoughts on a follow up question:
Can a husband remove his need for sex or connection (emotional/sexual) with his wife, so that a wife’s refusal or dismissal of his needs or wants, no longer carries the power over him to make him miserable or to hurt him?
For me, this is cyclical. Somewhere between days 2 and 4 after sex, I feel desire and arousal building up within me for connection with Wifey.
By a week, I’m easily agitated and much more cautious about my interactions with Wifey lest my pent up emotions and desires manifest themselves more directly. Kind of like spooking a stray dog or cat you’re trying to get close to.
By day 10 it starts to dissolve along with my ability have strong desires about anything. I go with the flow and defer to others preferences because I feel like mine don’t matter.
By two-three weeks it feels like things are just dulled. I guess this is where Doug describes it as convincing myself I don’t care. I pick myself up by my bootstraps, drag out the old self-reliance, self-sufficiency, and inability to experience Wifey’s attempts to show me love outside of sex. It’s not that the refusal or dismissal doesn’t hurt, it’s that I just don’t allow myself to feel anything.
The worst part is Wifey totally sees through my facade of pretending like everything is fine, but she doesn’t engage me about it because inevitably the conversation will lead to me wanting sex and her being unable to make it a reality. So I have to pretend like it doesn’t matter, that I’m not aroused when I’m connecting with her the way she prefers, so that my desires don’t “spoil” the moment.
I think by the time a husband has removed the need for sexual/emotional connection with his wife, the relationship as a whole is in serious trouble.
B ecause of my personality and the fact that i had severe sexual abuse as a child, i do not like to be controlled in any way. I know a lot of my reactions and viewpoints of life come from a perspective of fear thus the need to control everything in my life (hello MRI for my hip coming up which means claustrophobia which means no control, i will need prayer for that as i would like to claw my way out of it and i desperately need an MRI)
So i do not do well when my husband deals with me forcefully or tries to change my fearful reaction to things, he has learned to approach me with compassion and gentleness but i also have to say i like being challenged so every once in a while he needs to shake things up with me so i can reevaluate my thinking if need be.
How this relates to sex i don’t know. A lot has been resolved due to HRT and my drive going up a bit but i still have baggage and if he tried to control me in that way i would shut down more. Sex is the ultimate intimate and it cannot be achieved by being coerced or bullied in any way.
It’s like there has been a power struggle in our marriage. It feels like DW has the power but that’s because I’ve determined that I have unmet needs. I really feel like it’s time to die to those desires and hope to find relief from the struggle.