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  • “Who Wears the Pants in a Modern Relationship?” Advice for Balancing the Power in Your Relationship

    The phrase, ” Who wears the pants?” is outdated by far in both my personal and professional opinion. In researching this blog, the term has more than one meaning. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, one meaning is (especially of a woman) to be the person in a relationship who is in control and who makes decisions for both people. The other meaning is to be the person in a relationship who makes the decisions.

    I found out that the history of this term is from the mid 1500s. It was then, “Who wore the breeches?”. This term generally meant to exercise controlling authority in a household and was generally applied to women from the 1500s. This was a time when women wore only skirts; equating pants with an authoritative and masculine role.

    What this phrase means now is indicating who has control and power in the relationship; especially as it relates to decision making. In a modern relationship, neither or any of you should “wear the pants”. Treating each other as equals and sharing the same amount of power is a modern relationship. It is important to note that not all relationships are with two people; those in poly relationships; or ENM, ethical non-monogamy relationships have multiple relationships/partners at the same time.

    Pants=Power Dynamics in Relationships

    When it comes to relationships, it seems there is often a driving force behind the couple/partners, or perhaps one partner who seems to always have the upper hand. This is referred to as power dynamics. All relationships have power dynamics; whether known or unknown.

    What does it mean to have control in a relationship? What do you do if you feel you are overpowering or underpowering your relationship? These are important questions to consider individually as it relates to your specific relationship dynamics.   

    One approach to increase your individual mindfulness in this area is to just notice without judgement over at least a 3 week period what you notice about power dynamics in your relationship/s.

    Balancing Power in Your Relationship

    To avoid a power struggle scenario, each person in the relationship must value themselves. Each person should see themselves as “a catch” – a person with value, who deserves an equal and loving partnership.

    Maintaining a balance of power in a relationship requires self-respect. If one person in the relationship doesn’t value themselves and they’re willing to do anything to keep the other person in a relationship, they are also setting the relationship up to fail.

    To create or maintain balance in your relationship requires what I call “relationship maintenance”; this consists of having regular talks about the quality of your relationship/s. Discuss what is going well and also what you would like to see improve.

    If you would like to explore this and other relationship topics-I work with individuals 1:1 and specialize in modern relationship therapy. Email or Call my office today and let’s talk.