According to a recent study performed on 181 couples between 18 and 73 years old, the secret to a happy relationship is when both partners have high levels of personal power. German researchers asked each couple questions, including their sexuality, fascination with each other, and trust to determine their relationship quality.
In addition, they asked the participants about their experiences with positional power and subjective power. Subjective power comes from one’s perception of themselves, whereas positional power comes from external measures, such as financial capabilities and educational achievements.
What Were the Findings?
The results determined that when a person’s sense of personal power was high, they were significantly more satisfied in a relationship. Catherine O’Brien, a therapist, added that power indicates that partners feel understood and also understand one another. Also, they both participate in decision-making.
Catherine also said that people with high personal power know their strengths, rarely seek approval and are self-sufficient, therefore building healthy relationships.
Usefulness and Limitations of the Study
The research provided limited results because of the broad range of the couples’ relationship timeline and their ages. For example, a month-old commitment and a 52-year one look different because the first one has less conflict. Also, the study focused on heterosexual couples hence the findings may be contrasting for more diverse couples.
According to Emily Altman, the CEO of The Couples Workshop, gay relationships get affected by factors such as gender roles, culture, and social environments. If the relationships survive and thrive even with social hurdles, the couples build resilience, hence personal power in the process.
Tiny daily choices, including what to eat for dinner and where could cause a power imbalance, leading to stress, so when couples support their partners in minor decisions, they develop a higher sense of personal power.
More ways to increase levels of personal power include:
- Healthy conflict resolution
- Being straightforward with one’s opinions and ideas
- Finding a supportive community
- Asking for help when needed
- Acknowledging one’s value
- Taking individual recharging and reflection time
In healthy couples, differences in education, financial capabilities, and other objective power indicators do not affect them. Their influence on each other and confidence in their value keep them happier for longer.
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