Who is in charge of the temperature controls while you and your partner are driving? Who controls the remote while watching television? Who decides where you sit while dining at home? At a restaurant?
I know that these all seem like trivial questions, yet they speak to a big issue in relationships, that of the POWER STRUGGLE!
After a couple has been together for awhile and made it through the “honeymoon” stage of the relationship, they enter the power struggle phase. This is where the “chemicals of love” have worn down a bit and we begin to experience who we are actually in a relationship with and we begin to butt heads as we notice our differences (For more on this, see my post, “Three Stages of Relationship”).
Let’s return to the original question, “which side of the bed do you sleep on?” No, I’m not going to analyze what it means if you sleep on the right or the left. It’s just an interesting metaphor for your relationship. Like most things to me, it’s more about HOW it happens than WHAT actually happens.
I’ve been sleeping on the left side of the bed for at least the last twenty-five years, whether I’m with a partner, a lover, a wife or alone. It’s mainly because after a few too many car accidents, it’s the most comfortable position for me.
Back to the HOW though. In speaking a few months ago to a woman I’ve spent many nights with, she remarked that from day (or night) one, I just “took over” that side of the bed, which had formerly been her side.
I didn’t ask, negotiate or debate, I just did it. She laughed about it with me and didn’t mind at all though. She felt it was a very “alpha male” action and actually appreciated/admired the energy behind it.
Now with another person, this might have been the beginning of a power struggle episode. And if I look back over the many decades and many women that I have shared a bed with, I can’t remember EVER asking about bed side. I’ve always just taken MY side and it’s NEVER been an issue.
Does this make me an inconsiderate lout or an unevolved caveman? I don’t really know. And if it does, is that even important in this context? Let’s compare power struggle with passion and see if we can make sense of this.
The power struggle is fueled by unresolved issues that each partner brings with them from childhood. I certainly have my share of these childhood issues (why else go to all of the trouble of becoming a psychologist?), we ALL do!
In contrast to the power struggle though, PASSION comes from strong polarity between the partners. There needs to be a strong masculine energy and a strong feminine energy to ignite that spark. We all have both a masculine and a feminine aspect and it can play out in either or both partners. However, to have that PASSION, that strong sexual charge, you need one partner to embody one polarity and one to embody the other. You can take turns and mix it up, if you are conscious of it. However, just as a battery needs a positive and a negative pole to create electricity, a relationship needs polarity to create PASSION.
My preference in general is to choose passion over power struggle. It doesn’t always work out that way, yet on the good days, when I’m a little more conscious of what’s going on, that’s where I shape it. So instead of engaging from my wounds, I prefer to engage from my healthy aspects, from my core.
And on my good days, my strong days, I engage from my core without even being aware of it or of it being a conscious decision. And it generally results in a win-win situation, where there isn’t the need for a power struggle.
And while as a psychotherapist, I’ve got a pretty well developed feminine side, when I’m coming from my core, it’s a more masculine essence. And that is where I would like to believe my “bed side” choices and other decisions of that nature come from.
So, please comment below and let me know your thoughts on this issue, as another alternative to the power struggle aspect of relationship. What’s YOUR experience with beds, remotes, temperature or anything else?
Thanks so much,
Dr. Adam Sheck
If you’re interested in more of my thoughts about relationships and creating passion and purpose, please download my Free Special Reports, “20 Rituals For Romance!” and “The Secret To Owning Your Mission!” by subscribing to the Passion Doctor Newsletter at the top of this page.