Avoiding power struggles & getting back into the dating scene

Hi Mary Jo, 

How can a husband and wife avoid power struggles in marriage? 



Power struggles happen when couples feel compelled to compete instead of work together. An element of “winning” shows up in conflicts and instead of working together to negotiate compromise, you begin fighting for your way or nothing. Here are tips to help you start working as a team instead of rivals.

  1. Talk about what’s happening with your partner. Take the first scary step by opening the discussion. Focus on making sure you understand each other’s perspective instead of judging it.
  2. Restore emotional closeness by prioritizing your relationship and making your partner feel loved. Couples begin competing when they feel taken for granted or devalued. 
  3. Watch your words. Are your words harsh or critical? If you treat each other worse than your good friends or favorite pet, you need to be practicing kinder words. 
  4. Focus on each other’s contributions to the family. Partners begin to want their own way when what they do for the family goes unnoticed. Noticing and reassuring your partner what an incredible mom or dad they are helps them trust you and open up to working with you as a teammate. 

Hi Mary Jo,

I was recently in a relationship that ended after 9 years. How do I get back into the dating scene? I’m very scared. What’s your advice? 



It is scary, but there is no rush to jump into anything fast. The limiting factor will be your fear. Fear limits you by making you feel less confident in yourself. Remind yourself of your “social price” – that’s what you have to offer in a relationship. Characteristics such as kindness, intelligence, resilience, and patience are desirable. Explore various next steps and choose the ones you’re most comfortable with. That begins with getting into the right frame of mind and then taking the leap. You know yourself best; trust your inner wisdom. Here are other suggestions:

  1. Develop a new social circle. Hanging onto old friends is comforting, but they knew you when you were with your ex. Making additional, new friends can help the future feel like a fresh start while exposing you to potential relationships. 
  2. Plan activities. You won’t find new friends or new dates if you stay home and get comfy on the couch. Attend meet-ups, get involved in a community project, or invest in a class or hobby includes meeting and mingling. If you have no idea what your interests are, this is a good time to begin trying new things. 
  3. Curb unhealthy cravings. After a break-up or when you feel lonely, you’re more susceptible to unhealthy cravings. Binge drinking, desperate dating, and overeating are examples of self-destructive behaviors that will make you feel worse about your situation. 

You’re at a crossroad and have an incredible opportunity to meet someone who wants to share your life. Or you may decide your life will be more meaningful single. Whichever decision you make, focus on taking time to establish a healthy lifestyle.