Most individuals develop relationships with people they interact with on a regular basis. As such, it is usually probable that most people develop friendships or romantic relationships with people they interact with, either daily or periodically (weekly or even monthly). Most of the relationships are therefore, formed at places of work, institutions of learning or churches. My relationship is no different; it started 19 years ago, when I met my spouse, to whom I have now been married for the last 18 years, as such, it is plausible to claim that the relationship is at a stage of complete trust and has been for a while. However, despite the fact that we have been married for so long, we usually have periods of doubts as well as periods of happiness, with the cycle constantly changing as well as moods changing from time to time depending on occurrences or events (Beebe, S.A., Beebe, S. J., & Redmond, 2011, p. 397). The relationship though no longer at its developmental stages, developed rapidly mainly due to the proximity both I and my spouse enjoyed. Due to the fact that we were co-workers, we interacted quite often and as a result were able to get through the developmental stages of the relationship quite rapidly, culminating in the decision to get married barely a year after meeting.
As already mentioned, one of the biggest causes of the strong sense of attraction 19 years ago, was the fact that he and I were co-workers. Further, I found him to be quite charismatic and organized two characteristics that grabbed my attention instantly. In addition, he had an ability to communicate quite effectively, more so when it came to making his feelings about me known. This characteristic is one of the main reasons why even after 18 years of marriage, our relationship still remains strong, as he facilitates effective and timely communication, enabling a swift resolution of any conflicts that may arise. Long term, the greatest source of attraction has always been the fact that he is my husband. Further, the characteristics already mentioned, in particular, effective interpersonal communication, charisma and good organization, continue to be attraction factors even this late in our relationship.
The relationship is one that mutually benefits both parties and ideally none of us feels subordinate to the other in any way. However, certain types of power are exercised that at times serve to depict one of us as being inferior to the other. The most common forms of power typically exercised within the relationship, include legitimate power, referent power, information and persuasion, as well as reward power. Legitimate power typically comes from the fact that he is my husband and cultural as well as religious beliefs dictate that he is the head of the family, thus bestowing legitimate power upon him within the relationship. Similarly, my spouse also recognizes the fact that there are certain areas in the relationship that I must take the lead in, hence at times the legitimate power rests with me. Personally, I am not only attracted to him as an individual, but some of the characteristics already mentioned above usually influence the way I relate with him, to the extent that I at times feel unable to make decisions independent of his input, this also applies to the power of information and persuasion. When it comes to reward power, both of us usually exercise reward power, in the sense that at times, one of us sets preconditions that must be met by the other, before they can ask for any favors. These forms of powers exercised at different times during the relationship, serve to create a situation in which both of us feel as equal partners, although the scales are slightly tipped in his favor (Jones, 2008, p. 93).
Attraction and power as described above, play very important roles in the relationship, as they are essentially the most important ingredients that keep the relationship together. In order for any relationship to work, the forces of attraction must be strong enough to withstand the challenges that typically affect relationships, more so romantic relationships. The relationship itself starts simply as an attraction to one another, or attributes one sees in the other. Further, attraction is quite important, as it is what essentially keeps two people together. Without any sense of attraction in a romantic relationship, the relationship simply becomes an obligation, rather than the companionship it was intended for. As such, attraction and knowing exactly what it is that attracts an individual, is a very important part of the relationship. Power is an aspect that must be clearly defined within a relationship; both parties must clearly define who exercises what authority, as this provides a framework upon which conflicts can be resolved. Further, knowing the extent of one’s authority, and the kind of power they can exercise, is very important, as it ensures that the relationship remains a romantic one with both partners being of equal standing, rather than a master servant relationship.
Although the relationship is strong, and my husband recognizes that I am an equal partner within the relationship, conflicts at times normally arise over certain contentious decisions, more so regarding finances. This certainly is one of the areas that I believe we can improve upon. The first skill that I am likely to utilize when resolving this issue, is the ability to encourage teamwork. By creating an environment of collaboration and teamwork, in which each of us recognizes our strengths as well as weaknesses, we are likely to build a relationship in which consultation is a key pillar. By fostering a relationship that encourages consultation, I will have created a platform within which I can easily use my conflict resolution skills effectively and encourage compromise. Once I help create an environment within which each individual recognizes the need to consult the other spouse on financial matters, a majority of conflicts are likely to be resolved before they actually graduate into full conflicts. Further, by creating an environment of consultation, I am likely to escalate intimacy, as each one of us prior to making any decision, will most likely feel the need to consult. This is likely to increase the degrees of effective communication, a factor that will undoubtedly lead to further intimacy, as well as help build trust within the relationship. By being able to gauge what is important vis a vis what is not as important to each individual within the relationship, we will be able to significantly increase the levels of intimacy, as well as our valuation of each other.
Beebe, S. A., Beebe, S. J., Redmond, M. V. (2011). Interpersonal communication: Relating to others (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Reese, C., Ziegerer-Behnken, D., Sundar, S. S., & Kleck, C. (2007). The company you keep and the image you project: Putting your best face forward in online social networks. Conference Papers – International Communication Association, 2007 Annual Meeting, 1.
Jones, P. (2008). Introducing Social Theory. Cambridge: Polity Press, Cambridge.