After the bliss of the honeymoon phase passes, relationships often shift to what often proves to be a challenging era.

This period is typically known as the power struggle stage.

It’s characterized by the removing of one’s rose-colored glasses, so to speak. For example, you might find that your partner’s little quirks annoy you now rather than amuse you. Or you might feel less connected to your partner in general. While this phase is completely normal, it can shake a couple to the core.

Here’s how to make sure your relationship stays fair and balanced.

The Balance of Togetherness and Individuality

There are two main “battles” happening at this point in your relationship. The first battle is the one between your identity as a partner and your individual identity. Though the two aren’t enemies, the struggle is very real.

Establishing Personal Boundaries

To keep the balance between who you are and who you are in a relationship, you must set personal boundaries.
Personal boundaries are basically lines in the sand that teach people how you want to be treated. When these lines are crossed, you have the right to assertively correct the “offender.” This is the case in all relationships, romantic or otherwise.

Identifying Your Core Values

Your core values are the things that are truly important to you. For some, it’s financial security. For others, it might be world travel. Each person is unique.

Although it seems simple, not many people can tell you what their own core values are. But to remain the same person in or out of a relationship, you must get to know yourself.

You can start by writing down the things that you don’t want to live without.

Defining Personal Pursuits

Prior to entering into a relationship, you probably embraced some type of hobby or activity you enjoyed.

The mistake some people make is to give up their hobby to devote more time and energy to the relationship. While seemingly noble, this sacrifice can breed resentment deep inside. Rather than giving up your pursuits, it’s important to hold the treasured endeavors close.

Juggle the Power Struggle in Your Relationship

The second big “battle” that often happens in your relationship is the one between you and your partner. While the previous battle was more indirect, this one is a definite culmination of negative emotions.

Turning things around

To recover goodwill and connection, you’ll need to change your thoughts and responses intentionally. Here are a few ways to make changes that can bring you closer:

Step Back to Respond

In this digital age especially, reacting opposed to responding has become far more common and acceptable.

The difference is in the amount of time, thought, and care with which you approach answering your partner. A reaction is primarily impulsive, and a response is the result of thinking things through and then proceeding based on rational decisions. To help balance the power struggle, remain on the offense. Reactions foster defensiveness while responses support harmony.

Manage Conflict Through Communication

As you probably know, communication is key in a successful relationship. More specifically, effective communication during a conflict is critical.

You must learn to fight fair to keep your relationship fair and balanced.

This might mean diving into a “build your communication skills” book or seeking the help of a professional to learn how to better communicate your feelings.

Maintain Your Intimate Connection

Intimacy is one of the most precious elements of a romantic relationship. And this goes far beyond enjoyable moments of sexual ecstasy. It is about being emotionally naked with each other.

Nurturing your intimate connection mentally and emotionally with your partner is a must.

Take time to connect with them by doing activities together, talking to one another, and setting aside dates on the calendar dedicated to the two of you. Life and its stressors will be there when you return to it. But, for a moment, take time to focus solely on your partner.

Take the first step…

If you’re ready to take a step toward changing your life and relationship for the better, I would like to help. Please contact me by phone or email so we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Linda K. Laffey, MFT



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