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Reconciliation Post Reply     Print Topic    
User Topic: Power Dynamics
RockyMtn
♀ Member
Member # 37043
Default  Posted: 5:45 PM, June 10th (Monday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Just had a really interesting conversation in IC about power dynamics. She said that a lot of As occur when the power balance between the two people is out of whack and the person having an A does so in order to right that balance, whether they know this to be a reason or not.

In my case, I would have been the one with the power. By virtue of being more responsible and also having a job that was less demanding - I ran the household, the kids, the finances, and so on. When you have that kind of responsibility, power often comes with it (i.e. how can he make any financial decisions if he doesn't have the time or energy to educate himself on our financial situation?) He was resentful of some of that power, I know that. But he didn't do anything to correct it. Nor did I, but I think its more his responsibility than mine to take initiative. Anyway...

I'm curious about how power played a role in your pre-A marriage. Has anyone else ever explored this?

As important, I'm ruminating a bit on power now. He may have been the one to betray and was momentarily powerful (best of both worlds, blah blah blah)...but I worry that the power balance is whacked again because I have the decision-making power in our marriage. We both can make choices, of course, but...he doesn't have any reasons to leave, no desire - I have a whole bunch of reason and fleeting desires to leave this whole mess. Not that this is unfair - its really fair and a consequence. But I also don't want unhealthy patterns to emerge. I don't want to hold anything over his head. Justified or not, I want to start healthy patterns in R, not reinforce old ones.

Thoughts? How is the power dynamic post-A for you? In R?


Me, BS, 30s
Him, WS, 30s, Steppenwolf
Kids: Yep
D-Day 1: September 2011, 6 week EA
D-Day 2: January 2013, discovered EA was a PA; there was another PA in 2010. All TT.
Goal = serenity.

Posts: 667 | Registered: Oct 2012
scaredyKat
♀ Member
Member # 25560
Default  Posted: 7:29 PM, June 10th (Monday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I, too, was a SAHM, but not for long, but I did all the finances, make all the major decisions, etc., mostly because he abdicated all the responsibility. He was an absentee husband/parent. He was already involved in his alternative life when my kids were little.

However, he SO resented me. He resented my competence, my ability to juggle all the things needed to run a house and raise two active boys and all their interests. He resented being tied down to us, but was too selfish to let us go to find a real life for ourselves.

I hated having all the power, tried my best to keep him in the loop, I was vilified for the simplest decision I made when he wasn't anywhere to be found.

I never wanted to be in control. I wanted to be in a partnership. That's hard to do if your spouse has checked out.


Me-BS-60-Can't tell you how painful it was to change this number!
HIM-SAFWH-63
Damn autocorrect is responsible for the silly errors, sorry!

Posts: 3259 | Registered: Sep 2009 | From: In my head
DixieD
♀ Member
Member # 33457
Default  Posted: 8:27 PM, June 10th (Monday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

The idea of power is an interesting one and it can look very different on the surface. Shortly after dday I was reading about power and thinking how it related to my parents marriage. Anyone who knows my parents would have said that my mother was the one with the power or the boss so to speak. But when I really analyzed it, it was my father who had the power, simply by being an alcoholic. We all gave him power by the way we reacted to his behavior. We allowed ourselves to be held hostage by it. It was his behavior which ruled the family by default. That was sort of an a-ha moment for me.

This mirrored my own marriage. I would have appeared to have the power. My husband would have thought that too. And I think it shifted at times and was given back and forth between us. But for a long time leading up to his affair he had the power because of his increasing passive aggressive behavior. It was VERY subtle and sly as PA behavior is. You don't see it happening but it is VERY controlling and therefore powerful. And like with my father, who is also PA, I would submit to the power of his moods because it was just easier that way.

While at the same time, my husband would give away his power and decision making because he was afraid of failing. He would then become resentful. And with his sucky PA attitude he would in the end achieve power again.

How is the power dynamic post-A for you? In R?

We are now aware of it. He is very aware of his PA attitude and it doesn't fly anymore, from either of us. As far as power to leave, we both have that and we both know it. But I understand what you mean, I would seem to have more power with regards to having an remorseful husband who does not want to leave the marriage.


Growing forward

Posts: 1742 | Registered: Sep 2011
RockyMtn
♀ Member
Member # 37043
Default  Posted: 7:43 AM, June 11th (Tuesday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Dixie, what a response! You gave me an aha moment. My husband is an alcoholic. 5 months sober. But his drinking was very PA when I think about it. He was very functional (I don't much like that word, but people kind of know what it means) so I wasn't always reacting, if you will. Often, I didn't even know it was a problem - for weeks or months, there would be no issues with his drinking. But when things got out of whack, when I "demanded" things of him (more help, more presence, more openness), he'd ramp up the drinking. I always pinned that on escapism, but I think he was also giving me a message, PA-style - "back off, or the problems could get worse, Rocky." And so we'd focus on the night of drinking or whatever and my needs were put on the backburner. I'd focus on the triage of the fighting about drinking instead of the underlying issues I had - he wasn't around enough, he wasn't helping, etc.

he SO resented me. He resented my competence, my ability to juggle all the things needed to run a house and raise two active boys and all their interests.

Kat, yes yes and yes. This was going on for us to a T. But instead of realizing that getting involved in all of that could be rewarding after some practice (which I think he realizes now, or is getting there), he avoided the difficulty of getting into the family groove. He'd do it when he felt like it and when it got to hard - adios.

The resentment factor is what I want to avoid at this point. I don't want him to resent that he is in a "powerless" position where I have the "power" of being the one betrayed, the person he has to "make it up to." As time goes by and I heal, I also want to ensure I let go of the resentment for the As and all his pre-A behavior.

Resentment is the pits.


Me, BS, 30s
Him, WS, 30s, Steppenwolf
Kids: Yep
D-Day 1: September 2011, 6 week EA
D-Day 2: January 2013, discovered EA was a PA; there was another PA in 2010. All TT.
Goal = serenity.

Posts: 667 | Registered: Oct 2012
DixieD
♀ Member
Member # 33457
Default  Posted: 9:10 AM, June 11th (Tuesday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Rocky, you just gave a good description of my childhood.

My mother, in charge, tough, controlled would put the hammer down and my father would comply....for a while....and then slip and then slip a little more and then a few months later she couldn't deny it anymore, she'd get fed up enough and the hammer would come down again. Around and around it went. I'd look at the calendar and think, yup - it's about that time again.

It gave her the illusion of having power in the relationship, when really she was giving it away by tolerating the same crap over and over.

PA behavior is emotionally abusive but the person on the receiving end is left so confused they don't know it's happening most of the time. Nothing is clearly out in the open.

PA involves a life of inaction, based in fear and that fills the PA with resentment. My husband wasn't just resentful of me, he was resentful of the world and everyone in it. Once he recognized where that PA behavior and resentment came from, he was aware of it and could work on it.


Growing forward

Posts: 1742 | Registered: Sep 2011
wert
♂ Member
Member # 34478
Default  Posted: 9:47 AM, June 11th (Tuesday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

This is an interesting topic. I am not interested in analyzing how we were, but instead how I felt the power dynamic was.

I would say, I did a lot of the work both house hold an earning. The power was pretty even, although I did defer a lot of superficial things (decorating, etc to my W).

I would say that now the power has shifted heavily in my direction because I no longer will defer. I have an opinion on everything. I drive decisions now across the board. I listen and will consider what she says, but I will decide what is best for our family in most matters - period. That won't change as long as we are M'd.

In general I think pointing to a M power imbalance as a reason for the A is encroaching on assigning M problems for the A. I fully accept that its all a mixed up muddle but I would be careful heading to far down that road.

take care..



Posts: 1408 | Registered: Jan 2012
Jospehine85
♀ Member
Member # 35971
Default  Posted: 9:50 AM, June 11th (Tuesday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

My WH has been a narcissistic bully our entire marriage. Every responsibility in our marriage was dumped on me so he could pursue his career. So the power was on his side.

Eventually though, our children stopped looking to him for anything. THEY perceived me as the one with power and in a sense I was.

When WH perceived I was now the more powerful, he started sabotaging me, sabotaging my work, verbally belittling me, telling me he was divorcing me, walking out on me, shunning me and all sorts of other PA techniques to beat me down.

Needless to say I started walking on eggshells around him and the power was back in his court.

But you know what? When someone spends 3 years telling you they are divorcing you and walking out and abandoning you for months on end, you stop caring about him. Power back on my side.

That's when he had his affair. He had been out collecting phone numbers in bars for quite some time before he found someone more broken then him who actually wanted the self-centered drunk in the bar. In his mind, the power was back on his side once he started the A.

Some of my mind movies are times when he was incredibly smug and indifferent to me. Looking back now, it was definitely him thinking "I have a secret. I have a girlfriend, so there bitch. I am hot stuff".

He realizes now, that his A is when he lost everything: respect, integrity, self-respect, self-esteem, family, love, wife.

Now, I am the one who is fairly indifferent to the marriage, so he is the one who feels like he is walking on eggshells. It's not me being PA, it's just me having zero tolerance for anything even smacking of PA from him. Unfortunately, his behaviors are so ingrained in him he has anxiety attacks trying to edit/monitor himself.


Me - BS 40s
WH - 50s
4 Kids
Dday May 2012

Posts: 811 | Registered: Jun 2012
jojo42
♀ Member
Member # 37583
Default  Posted: 10:03 AM, June 11th (Tuesday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

This is interesting- we were just discussing it. We both pointed out that I have always been the one in control, with the power, and always keeping him in check. In his A, the OW was a bit of a wreck, so he was playing the power role in the relationship-telling her what she could and couldn't wear, where she could go, who she could hang out with- he says she needed to be "fixed". I have never needed that, and he has never tried to control me. I've always been incredibly independent and self-sufficient. So, was the A a way for him to act out that power role? I never had a problem with sharing it, he just never really steps up because he knows I'll take care of everything! This is something we will definitely need to explore further in MC...


Me: 30, BS
Him: 30, WH
Married: 1 year, together for 7 years
1st child due in Sept 2013
DDay: 09/02/12, 09/22/12 admitted to EA ,false R, then 06/02/13 found out about PA & EA with same woman (OW is a coworker)
Hoping for R

Posts: 72 | Registered: Nov 2012
DixieD
♀ Member
Member # 33457
Default  Posted: 10:14 AM, June 11th (Tuesday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

In general I think pointing to a M power imbalance as a reason for the A is encroaching on assigning M problems for the A.

Yes, I agree. IMO, the very nature of (all/most/some?) affairs, are extreme PA acts. That still falls squarely on the shoulders of the WS and if the balance of power in the relationship is out of whack as Rocky's IC put it - it's in the WS minds, along with a lot the other wayward crap.

It also surprises me how many WS think they suddenly have tons of control and power in their affairs, when in reality that again is an illusion they discover after dday. They handed over all their personal power to another untrustworthy morally bankrupt person.


Growing forward

Posts: 1742 | Registered: Sep 2011
rachelc
♀ Member
Member # 30314
Default  Posted: 10:41 AM, June 11th (Tuesday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

Very much an issue in our marriage before my affair. Probably one of the reasons he had his affairs then. Still struggling with this.
But yes, if you don't feel powerful or equal, an affair is no way to fix it....


his Ddays: 2/10, 7/11
my Ddays: 1/12, 4/12 broken NC 12/12

me: 48
him: 51
4 kiddos in lower 20's

ôSlide the weight from your shoulders and move forward. You are afraid you might forget, but you never will. You will forgive and remember."


Posts: 4473 | Registered: Dec 2010
mindbody
♀ Member
Member # 27941
Default  Posted: 2:31 PM, June 11th (Tuesday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

This really has me thinking. We have made some progress in the power dynamics dept. -it is an ongoing project because new issues arrive that require not allowing the old negative dynamics to take control.

WSO and I have talked about this before, and after reading the thread, maybe we have just scratched the surface and need to explore it more. Unfortunately, I am the explorer and he is the scratcher.

Perhaps even that fact can be linked to our power dynamics. I'd like to discuss this issue in more detail with WSO. I'm sure WSO's brain would rather us be playing golf. So if he agrees to talk, then later I could/would be considered controlling his/our time. If we played golf for 4 hours and had our conversation for 1 hour, he would consider that equal. 4 to 1 ratio is how his brain operates as being equal. Why? Because the hour of discussion would seem like 4 hours to him and the 4 hours of golf seems like 1 hour to him.

I read an article that listed four major stumbling blocks in a relationship. Tit for tat was one of them and I can see how it affects the power dynamics.

With power and control, it is boggling and sad to me that WSO really doesn't understand that his own choices and thought processes lead him to believe he is being controlled. I don't know if that makes sense to anyone. If there is something that is bothering me, I don't talk about it much, I do what I have to do to try and remedy it. If my cell phone has major problems, I get a new one or have it fixed. WSO will talk, and talk, and talk to me (and others) about problems at work with his employees, his hardly functioning cell phone, and his band problems. It used to be more about his dysfunctional children. These are problems that have an effect on a lot of other people besides himself. Does he do anything to address these problems? Unsually....no. It's as if life, circumstances and people control him. He complains as if he is powerless when really is just doesn't want to use his power in a postive way.


I think power, individually and as a couple, can be very effective. It takes a powerful couple to successfully R and a powerful person to become authentic and whole. We both step aside and let the other "preside" over certain projects or activties because we know and realize the talents and strengths of one another. I think that is a good time to relinquish power as a couple.


Posts: 298 | Registered: Mar 2010
ReunitePangea
♂ Member
Member # 37529
Default  Posted: 5:44 PM, June 11th (Tuesday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

In general I think pointing to a M power imbalance as a reason for the A is encroaching on assigning M problems for the A.

I hear what you are saying however what reason for a WS having an A do you find acceptable. None right? While power imbalance may not be an acceptable reason, it very much is a reason why in some cases. At least in my own case, I think it certainly is an important issue at play.

Now that I better understand this to be an important issue, what do you do to address it? Since DDay, my WW expressed very early that she felt she had lost some power in the relationship. How do you know what the right power balance is in a particular M? How do you keep both parties satisfied with the current state of power balance in the M? Difficult questions when for many years the perceptions of what the actual balance is where drastically different based on her inflatting her impression with her A's.


BS - Me 38
WS - Wife 39
D-Day - Oct 12
Married 10 years
OM1 - 12-year LTA
OM2 - 9 month A turned into open relationship with couple for another 1 1/2 years

Posts: 448 | Registered: Nov 2012
crazyblindsided
♀ Member
Member # 35215
Default  Posted: 6:48 PM, June 11th (Tuesday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

My WH has been a narcissistic bully our entire marriage. Every responsibility in our marriage was dumped on me so he could pursue his career. So the power was on his side.

Eventually though, our children stopped looking to him for anything. THEY perceived me as the one with power and in a sense I was.

When WH perceived I was now the more powerful, he started sabotaging me, sabotaging my work, verbally belittling me, telling me he was divorcing me, walking out on me, shunning me and all sorts of other PA techniques to beat me down.

Needless to say I started walking on eggshells around him and the power was back in his court.

But you know what? When someone spends 3 years telling you they are divorcing you and walking out and abandoning you for months on end, you stop caring about him. Power back on my side.

That's when he had his affair. He had been out collecting phone numbers in bars for quite some time before he found someone more broken then him who actually wanted the self-centered drunk in the bar. In his mind, the power was back on his side once he started the A.

Some of my mind movies are times when he was incredibly smug and indifferent to me. Looking back now, it was definitely him thinking "I have a secret. I have a girlfriend, so there bitch. I am hot stuff".

He realizes now, that his A is when he lost everything: respect, integrity, self-respect, self-esteem, family, love, wife.

Now, I am the one who is fairly indifferent to the marriage, so he is the one who feels like he is walking on eggshells. It's not me being PA, it's just me having zero tolerance for anything even smacking of PA from him. Unfortunately, his behaviors are so ingrained in him he has anxiety attacks trying to edit/monitor himself.

Ok this is us to a T. I never wanted to have the power, but of course had to take on that role because I was the responsible one of the two. My WH is very PA and I believe a lot of his A's were taking back his power, even though he already had his own power.

I will never understand it. I will never understand the smug look on my WH's face and I have seen it more than a few times.

I identify with so much of this post. My WH and I have both walked on eggshells at different times as well as the power dynamic switches.

How does it ever get brought back to even power dynamics after the A?


BS/FWS (me):40 Madhatter
WS/BS:42 Serial Cheater
Together 18 years, Married 13
DD(10) DS(7)
DDay(s) 5/08, 5/09, 3/30/12
Final Dday 7/11/14 Affair never ended

Posts: 2266 | Registered: Apr 2012 | From: California
RockyMtn
♀ Member
Member # 37043
Default  Posted: 8:39 PM, June 11th (Tuesday), 2013View ProfileEdit MessagePrivate MessageHomepage

I think power, individually and as a couple, can be very effective. It takes a powerful couple to successfully R and a powerful person to become authentic and whole.

That's beautiful.

In general I think pointing to a M power imbalance as a reason for the A is encroaching on assigning M problems for the A.

Yikes. No. Well, I mean, for me - it doesn't feel like blaming the M. My IC is also anti-blame the M. neither of us buy the "50% of the M problems belong to each of you" crap. When I discussed with her, we didn't say it was a "why" - she just said power issues are often present in Ms where an A happens. I am a big believer that marital issues pre-A are more often largely on the shoulders of the WS. And the A itself? Never the fault of the M.

I would actually say that his issues with any power dynamics are just that - his issues. Sounds like some WS as described in this thread felt emasculated. That's their deal - not the M's fault. Other WS might have grabbed power via passive agressiveness. I now see my WH was in a position of power because of his drinking. Those are ALL on the WS - not on the M. Do I think I could've done a better job getting out of the power cycle? Sure. But if his A played any role in gaining power or "balancing" power (which I'm not even sure that it did), then he should figure out why he has such a big friggin' issue with power...not so much look to the M as the source of the power problems. I hope that makes sense.

Now that I better understand this to be an important issue, what do you do to address it? Since DDay, my WW expressed very early that she felt she had lost some power in the relationship. How do you know what the right power balance is in a particular M? How do you keep both parties satisfied with the current state of power balance in the M?

I don't know exactly for each M. For me, the best thing, not just for power but in general, has been to be vulnerable and expect vulnerability from him as well. I think I felt SO responsible for so many things in our lives - and felt such a need to control it because he seemed so out of control - that I didn't know how to be vulnerable. And vulnerability does not mean lack of power necessarily, but its being willing to put power aside.


Me, BS, 30s
Him, WS, 30s, Steppenwolf
Kids: Yep
D-Day 1: September 2011, 6 week EA
D-Day 2: January 2013, discovered EA was a PA; there was another PA in 2010. All TT.
Goal = serenity.

Posts: 667 | Registered: Oct 2012
Topic Posts: 14

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