Why Relationship Power Struggles Can Be Unhealthy

In every relationship there are certain topics we don’t talk about enough; Adebola Aduwo is opening up the discussion in this piece.

Relationships can be so complicated sometimes. Maybe if we communicated early on and made our deal breakers bold and clear enough, these issues wouldn’t come up so often.There’s always a little confusion when it comes to power dynamics in a relationship. Most people believe one partner should have more control in the relationship.

You may have heard statements like, “One person should be respected more than the other, the excesses of one spouse should always be tolerated” time after time. I’m not here to tell you that the standard you’ve grown to normalize is an old school ideology that should be binned (hey, I said it anyway!), but certain relationship ‘how-to’ templates need to be reviewed.
One of those templates is pleasing your spouse (or anyone, for that matter) at your own detriment. There is a big difference between a controlling attitude and a healthy power struggle. It can be cute to see your new bae being jealous and protective in a new relationship but it becomes concerning when someone starts making you do the things you hate.

Notice that the person with the ‘power’ is always happier. You go all the way because you don’t want to see them grumpy or wait… maybe you’re afraid of losing the relationship altogether. Somehow, they are in control of your emotions but they never want to be told what to do. When you try to snap of out the madness, they leave you feeling inconsiderate and accuse you of being selfish! You make yourself available for their needs and feed their ego all the time.
In Episode 2 of #MTVShugaNaija, we saw what manipulation can do to a person that’s in love. Leila is so in love with Tobi that she’ll do anything to make him happy. He ignores her texts because she refuses to send him nude photos. Instead of standing her ground, she ends up feeling pressured into doing something she’s uncomfortable with.

Further along in Episode 3, Diana and Chike have a misunderstanding because she is reluctant to do his bidding and right now, she’s probably thinking of ways please him so she doesn’t lose her ‘source of income’.
Dominance and subordination in a relationship depict a power imbalance. One thing everyone needs to know is that power should be equal in a relationship. Of course, some sacrifices have to be made but there’s a thin line between compromising occasionally and losing yourself. A lot of relationships are hanging by a thread because respect and equality are a foreign language. It’s disturbing that one person has to pull all the weight and be submissive in a relationship involving two adults.

This is an issue we should be having honest discussions about. It’s unwise to sweep these things under the rug and act all ‘love conquers all’ when you’re actually dying inside. If you’re not comfortable with anything, speak up and lay down your rules!
Do you have any advice for people trying to navigate power struggles within a relationship? Leave us a comment below!

  • bolu adeosun

    Love conquers all, and true love is very blind??

  • Olamide Jaiyeola

    I totally agree. Good read?

  • Oghentega Sakpere

    Awesome Girl, Awesome! I recently had to break off a friendship because of this. I’ve been in a relationship before where I had to do things I wasn’t comfortable with too, to please the other person. But God knows not even in my next life. I really believe we should take our time in getting to know people rather than rushing things. Maybe then you’d notice the power struggle tendencies and back off immediately. I Like the flow of your writing. ❤

  • Onyinye okpara

    Dear Jesus, finally someone addresses this issue . A lot of women have lost their identities trying to please their partners, respect is a foreign term in some relationships . Some ladies don’t even know they should draw a line, I think we need to constantly remind ourselves that we don’t need to be in a relationship to be happy. Know your worth as a woman.

    • Onyinye okpara

      I believe we have to make sacrifices and compromise in a relationship but don’t become a stranger in your own body because you want to please your partner. What happens if they leave, would you like the new person you’ve become? There is a difference between evolving and changing your personality except if you are like Cee-c.

      • Temitope Ogunlana

        Why bring Cee-c into this ? I agree with you though. Socrates said to know oneself. As we evolve, we need to make sure we don’t loose our persons and values trying to get the approval of people, not just a partner.

        • Onyinye okpara

          ????I just had to

  • Tayo Owonikoko

    You always discuss important issues which people tend to ignore.. Relationship is supposed to be an icing on friendship and if I am right friendship is not dominance over the others…this topic has affected lots of relationships.. In my opinion compromises should be made but not at the expense of one’s happiness…nice write up debola.

  • Moyosore Adelowo

    I hate to break it to you, but what people call “love” is just a chemical reaction that compels animals to breed. It hits hard, then it slowly fades, leaving you stranded in a failing relationship. Break the cycle. We are all fickle sentients. — This is for humans that have refused to step up and accept their status as the most advanced creatures on the planet.

  • Moyosore Adelowo

    When it’s not BDSM, even people who do BDSM have safe words to make the dominant realize they are taking it too far…
    Humans just like to complicate the simplest of things since well simple is boring.
    Everyone has excesses, but you’re ready to accept and absorb because love was tin tin and the person has your mumu button. It’s only being selfish if the same isn’t returned.
    why is this an issue?
    People just dive in without having the talk but are all lead in the heat of the moment by how fluttery their tummies feel when they see, hear or talk to the person.. but they leave poor Lil Ol’ brain out of it.
    Understanding and love is all it is. most people aren’t understanding.

    • Sylph.

      This spoke to my soul.

  • Moyosore Adelowo

    Gerald’s game ( a movie) kind of explains a bit here. two old couples go for an alone time at a beach house, Man brings out handcuffs for some BDSM… wife never done it before, but for the sake of their marriage and spicing things up, she agrees, along the line she’s uncomfortable, she let’s him know and he isn’t too happy about it but yeah whatever.. oh well. poor guy had a heart attack and died on top of her. The end.

    • Sylph.

      Lmfaoooooo I. Saw this movie and laughed ridiculously all through. The part where the dog was nibbling on him >>>>>

  • ? Chairlady ?

    Interesting piece and this actually happens a lot in many relationships these days. I’m more concerned that it’s “ladies” that are usually asked and taught to be submissive and accept all sorts of rubbish. Anyhow, regardless the gender, we should all learn to stand our ground, know our boundaries, no when comprising has turned to rubbish and also learn to be very considerate. Don’t lose yourself because of any relationship. Nice piece, Debola. I’m now a fan . I need autograph plixxxx ?

  • Adesina Titilope

    So so true. You hit the nail on the head! I’m jst sick and tired of this believe that if a relationship/marriage fails,its the woman’s fault.. meaning she was the one that failed. Everyone starts reminding you how your clock is ticking and how u should be more tolerant. The mata jst tire me.
    Most comments below practically spoke my mind(kudos to y’all) but even in relationships where there were ground rules at the beginning, those ground rules can change at some point. It’s possible to agree to A,B C at the start of the relationship and later, A doesn’t seem so bad, u are guilt tripped into taking B sometimes and then u just keep sacrificing until, pkakam!, there’s practically none of u left in that relationship!
    IMO,itz not enough to jst set ground rules,b ready to stand by them thru and thru Nd even “enfore” by standing ur ground (not by violence biko). Of course, this is easier said than done and there will be compromises here and there..(that is if the love is for real anyways), but it should be both ways! That’s so important,so at least,no one is emotionally drained
    Then,try not to lose yourself. Dnt get too dependent financially,emotionally or otherwise cos this is wat leads to entrapment(psychology tins). I know relationships are there for mutual support and all,but dnt b too dependent. Stop being jst Tunde’s wife/gf and start being Tobi,the real you.
    These would make it easier to notice when you are not getting as much as you should in a relationship.
    I know it seems I’m talking more to ladies bcos most times,in our society at least, it’s women that tend to do this more..heck! They are even forced to sometimes. But truth is,it really can be either way.
    Anyways,my Tori too dey long. Make I carry myself comot.
    Nice work Debola

  • Damilola Latoyah Edward

    Well said dear

  • Heartfelt

    Speak up and lay your complaints you are considered a nag, keeping quiet ends up the wrong way also, well everything works out with the right understanding partner

  • Temitope Ogunlana

    Takes two to tango. In my opinion, the power tools that the two parties in any relationship should both yield are love and respect for the other party. You can’t be in a relationship with someone and want to suppress them, that’s military rule. Generally speaking, we need to allow people shine in their own skin, nurturing them where we can.

  • Rhoda Ade

    Finally, someone addresses this.
    I just feel the pressure that accompany relationships is unnecessary.
    Debola thanks for this.

  • Sylph.

    Nice one, Adebola. Shake this skyscraper well so all ladies can fall from it.