Marital (Secret) War for Dominance: a No Win Game
Those Odd Couples
Have you ever been an unwilling witness of a couple engaged in a nonsensical argument that clearly wasn't about "what" was right, but "who" was right? As if that was not silly enough, didn't they try to suck you into their little game by asking your opinion - actually to take sides?
Hopefully you told them what I used to in such occasions - "It's between the two of you." Trying to step in by telling them how pointless was their verbal fight couldn't change anything, as they probably just gave you a look as if you were "spoiling something there".
Well, it had to end anyway, so changing the subject was the smartest thing to be done on your part. With something staying in the air for the rest of your visit that was telling you how the "Round Two" would follow shortly after their sweet smiles walked you to the door.
Feud over Control
It may start as early as in the dating phase of relationship, or as late as at senior age that couples lock horns in an almost desperate need to impose their authority in marriage. In many cases it's only one who first starts the game, and the other one joins soon after, by showing that no bossing around will be tolerated.
Before you know it, both of them are equally in that competition of wills, using it every time when a decision is to be made, or just for venting out some accumulated stress on the job, or anything unrelated to their household issues.
For the similar tune up for nerves some folks buy a punching bag, go for a brisk walk, take a bath with some lavender oil, or have sex. And then, some others prefer having a good fight having to show "who is the one wearing pants" in that house.
That Classical Weapon
While we are at pants, why not brighten up that marital tag of war with a little joke, which could also have an educational twist - after we stop laughing. It's about a husband who wants to prove to his wife that she is not fit to be the boss.
For that purpose he challenges her to try to put his shirt on - if she can. The woman being quite busty fails the test. Then he asks her to put his pants on - if she can. Having the lower part matching the upper one, she fails again.
Now infuriated, she takes a pair of her panties from the drawer and asks him to try those on - if he can. Well, it was his turn to fail, upon which she says sweetly: "You see, darling, you couldn't get into my pants, and that's the way it's gonna be until you change your attitude".
What's the moral of the story? Don't start a war that you are bound to lose.
Common Does Not Mean Normal
No matter how common it may seem, even between spouses who otherwise show a considerable emotional closeness, it is in a mild way pathological with some sado-masochistic passion of putting each other's qualities down and putting up with the same treatment. As if in a silent agreement to feed each other's compensating for their insecurities which need to be expressed as a power.
So they try in vain to play control freaks, knowing that nothing is achieved and the other one is not taking them seriously one bit. Doesn't that even call for a good comedy writer as an inspiration? Why are we surprised that humans make wars to parade with their power, if they enjoy playing such idiotic games at home.
Not to Bring In Childish Impulsiveness
Insecurity is a pretty well spread feature of mentality, but no one can deny such folks the right to marry; and when they do, they oftentimes seek a partner for their little game of controlling. I am not an analyst, and to me it doesn't seem significant "what experiences or conditioning in their childhood resulted with such a behavior".
I am for a radical approach to therapy - grownups should simply leave their infantile emotionalism back there, together with their diapers. We do grow out of that formative stage, and adulthood means responsibility, not emotional feeding on those aspects of ourselves that have no place in our adult life.
If that was not so, then why don't all of us indulge in a good emotional tantrum every time when things don't go our way. Mind you - not that some folks don't do exactly that in order to coerce their spouses into catering to their whimsical mentality.
Too Sweet to Give Up
Somehow I think that marriage counselling doesn't achieve much in the direction of "burying the axe" between spouses. They are enjoying it way too much as to give it up, even though contradicting themselves with whining to the others about "his/her unbearable controlling behavior".
Oftentimes, that energy exchange gets unconsciously blended with sexual energy, and, crazy as it may sound - adds to the pleasure of it. I personally knew a couple who went right to bed after having a good argument---by their own admission said with a shameless giggle.
Well, what can we say - it takes all kinds, right? In some cases, and again, I am quite tempted to call them rare - couples do get tired of their routine, and change their tune. Maybe after one of them happened to get seriously sick, and a sudden prospect of a possible loss sobered them up.
As a Warning to Those Mild Mannered in Love
Basically, this article is not so much about offering an advice to such couple how to snap out of that dark passion---as it is to serve as a warning to those young and mellow folks contemplating marriage, and with a partner displaying signs of a bossiness.
There are many of such cases where one of them starts as a nice and easy going personality - only to turn into something different later on, while being cornered into letting off the leash some of their own dragons dormant inside, provoked by a bossy partner.
It's unfortunate that they feel that need to be "guided" by a stronger hand in life, not knowing that "guidance" is about to take a character of a despotic control to which they will have to answer with an equal force of resistance.
When It Gets Too Much for Too Long
One of the most unfortunate outcomes of such marital bullying is not a divorce but a spouse, usually wife succumbing to that long mistreatment and turning emotionally dull and indifferent, often depressed and robot-like, just accepting it---oftentimes "for sake of kids".
In her misery, she may still go passively aggressive by secretly getting kids to take sides and feel sorry for her. It has its rewards in that stronger bond with them, and in having someone who understands while probably getting a similar treatment.
Unless they shake it off in their adulthood, such kids may perpetuate that victimhood through their own marriage, with the same dysfunctional features going on for generations.
Kids should Be Enough of a Motivation
What makes all suggested causalities pretty useless in psychology textbooks is the wide variety of possible outcomes. Meaning that it's equally possible that kids from such dysfunctional families may learn a big lesson from it, and insist upon a sound marriage of their own, not wanting the family history to repeat itself.
Being from a broken family myself, I could testify to such a possibility with my marriage that has nothing of those symptoms which I witnessed as a kid. Still some other kids may develop a cynical attitude about marriage and stay single.
One way or another, that marital struggle for authority certainly affects kids negatively, and often confuses them, as they see those on whom their very survival depends being in such a discord.
So, maybe, if not for the health of their own marriage, such couples could heal their style of interacting with each other-- just for sake of kids. After all, their kids did not invite themselves to this world, and even if they had, they wouldn't have chosen parents who had no consideration for their emotional development. Something to think about.