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By Chandrama Anderson

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About this blog: About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and grief and have lived in Silicon Valley since 1969. I'm the president of Connect2 Marriage Counseling. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in ...  (More)

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Are You Exerting Power You’re Not Aware Of?

Uploaded: May 4, 2023
Power can be overt or covert.

If you grew up in a family where you were expected to comply (which means it was generally not discussed, and there were consequences if you didn’t comply - everything from love and affection being withheld to actual punishment), you may be employing complying behavior to your spouse - or you picked a partner who expects you to comply. Usually with complying behavior, not much is said, and a lot is expected.

An example of this: You had plans to go on a trip on Friday after the kid’s school got out. Your children wanted to play for a bit after school, and you agreed to 15 minutes. Arriving home 15 minutes later than expected, your spouse is waiting for you outside, and announces that since you’re 15 minutes late, the trip has been called off.

You may tell your partner what to do, directly, and expect it to be done. Often there is a great deal of judgment that goes along with this.

These examples are not healthy behavior. It is power and control behavior.

All of these power, control, and potentially emotional abuse scenarios are unhealthy. They leave the lesser-powered partner walking on eggshells, feeling as though s/he isn’t enough. This sets a terrible example for your kids and their future, especially in their adult relationships.

It’s important to sort all of this through in your mind and heart. You may want professional help doing so.

It is your right to say, “Yes, no, or maybe.” And please know that “No” is a complete sentence. No explanation is required, one is simply NOT consenting to this behavior, request or order. Everyone needs healthy boundaries. You have to be your own person, and know your values and limits in order to have boundaries, and say no. I’m not saying it’s easy to say or do these behaviors.

Usually power-based people are unaccustomed to people saying no, standing up for themselves, and having boundaries. In fact, power-based people (including bullies) pick people (consciously or unconsciously) to be with they think that will be easy to control. However, controlling people and bullies usually fold like a deck of cards when confronted.

Please note: this is NOT true in the cycle of domestic violence. Standing up to a physically abusive partner can be extremely dangerous, even fatal. If you are in a domestic violence situation, you need a very specific plan to leave safely. Men are physically abused by their female partners, too, and also need a plan. Do not read the following link on your phone or any home computer. Go into the library at your kids’ school, or at a trusted friend’s house. Any hospital or doctor’s office, police or fire station will also help you. Here’s detailed information on making a plan to leave:
What is it worth to you?


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