I tend to compare my last relationship (which was my 9.5 year long marriage) to my current relationship (almost 7 years). I was always trying to find out how I could express how the 2 relationships were very different.
Today I read an article about Love and Power and it resonated something within me. I am a monogamous woman. My values aren’t too old fashioned, and I think that I can be happy with one person for the rest of my life. Yes, I have experimented in the past with women, dating a couple men at a time, etc. I prefer to have a long lasting relationship with a man. Sure, I’ll kiss a girlfriend here and there, grab boobs & butts (women are sexy, and should be appreciated goddamnit!)
That is the article I will be referencing.
I realized that in my marriage there was no sense of equality. I felt like a lesser-than. I cooked, I cleaned, I did all the things ‘that a woman is supposed to do’ *barf* and after many years I resented it. Heavily. I resented not only this man that I felt like I was a slave to, but he repulsed me physically after a while because of all of this. (side note: we are friends, he is not repulsive, but at the time, I found him to be so. Though I don’t think he has changed much in his expectations for a woman.)
Anyhow, I think focusing on the Elements of Equality is the most important part of the article.
The Elements of Equality
- Attention. Both partners are emotionally attuned to and supportive of each other. They listen to each other. And both feel invested in the relationship, responsible for attending to and maintaining the relationship itself.
- Influence. Partners are responsive to each other’s needs and each other’s bids for attention, conversation, and connection. Each has the ability to engage and emotionally affect the other.
- Accommodation. Although life may present short periods when one partner’s needs take precedence, it occurs by mutual agreement; over the long haul, both partners influence the relationship and make decisions jointly.
- Respect. Each partner has positive regard for the humanity of the other and sees the other as admirable, worthy of kindness in a considerate and collaborative relationship.
- Selfhood. Each partner retains a viable self, capable of functioning without the relationship if necessary, able to be his or her own person with inviolable boundaries that reflect core values.
- Status. Both partners enjoy the same freedom to directly define and assert what is important and to put forth what is the agenda of the relationship. Both feel entitled to have and express their needs and goals and bring their full self into the relationship.
- Vulnerability. Each partner is willing to admit weakness, uncertainty, and mistakes.
- Fairness. In perception—determined by flexibility and responsiveness—and behavior, both partners feel that chores and responsibilities are divided in ways that support individual and collective well-being.
- Repair. Conflicts may occur and negativity may escalate quickly, but partners make deliberate efforts to de-escalate such discussions and calm each other down by taking time-outs and apologizing for harshness. They follow up by replacing defensiveness with listening to the other’s position.
- Well-being. Both partners foster the well-being of the other physically, emotionally, and financially.
After I read all of that I had a EUREKA moment. This is why I’m happier. This is why I feel like an equal in our relationship rather than a lesser-than. This is why I love him so much, still to this day. These are such elementary reasons to feel how you should in a loving and equal relationship, yet we don’t even think about them at all.