As many of you know my specialty is couple therapy (www.coupleworks.com). When two people in an intimate relationship come to my office they are in distress. One form of therapy — Imago RelationshipTtherapy — calls this time of turmoil “The Power Struggle.” Harville Hendrix, the founder and main developer of Imago Relationship Therapy, describes the power struggle as a natural development in the journey of marriage and love. In his famous book about marriage, “Getting the Love You Want,” Hendrix points out how partners go through various stages that begin with the romantic phase –chemistry, in love feelings, and a conviction of having met one’s soulmate– and at some point in time after a commitment is made transitions into the power struggle. It is here–the power struggle–a couple can learn the deeper elements of loving by engaging their partner in conscious dialogue resulting in empathy, understanding, and acceptance. This is the essence of Carol Kramer’s work. In my interview with her she pointed out how couples can move past their power struggle by remaining present, regulating anxiety, and moving away from individual needs by listening fully to their partner about love that heals the wounds of misunderstanding. This process, listening fully with empathy, is the basis for a deeper and enduring love.
In my 2003 unpublished work on relationships, “Love’s Crossroads,” I looked at the content of relationship struggles. I conducted a survey asking couples to write about their conflicts. My content analysis came up with what I called “The Ten Crossroads of Love.” (The number you see next to each Crossroads represents the number of participants who wrote about struggles that indicated specific Crossroads content.)
- Commitment… 6
- Discovery… 13
- Trust and Fidelity… 17
- Separation and Individuation… 10
- Unfulfilled Expectations… 5
- Life Passages… 9
- Sexuality and Intimacy… 18
- Money and Power… 5
- Personal Awakenings… 3
- The Unexpected… 15
Each of these are part and parcel of the power struggle. It is here that partners have difficulty listening and hearing each other’s pain. It is here that intimacy ends and love is questioned. It is here that a couple arrives at the Crossroads with the choice to go forward on one of three paths: the path of divorce, the path of misery, or the path of growth. It is work at the Crossroads, the place where the power struggle becomes the most intense, that a couple has an opportunity to create the love that they want and need by traveling the path of growth.
I will from time-to-time discuss each of Love’s Crossroads in future PNRR posts. (BTW: I hope to publish my manuscript of “Love’s Crossroads” later in the year.)
If you have reached a Crossroads of Love and are in the midst of a struggle (power or otherwise) interact with us at PNRR. Tell us your feelings about the interview with Carol Kramer. Ask us your questions. Send us your music.
if you are interested in attending her workshops or her professional training programs you can contact Carol Kramer here.
Let’s start off our musical set with Richard Thompson “Saving the Good Stuff for You,” followed by Paul Simon’s “Love,” and finally, Peter Townshend, “Let My Love Open the Door.”