Leaders and Followers in Your Marriage

Hello beautiful people. My name is Athol, YouTuber talking about marriage, relationships and getting what you want from them.

In this episode I’m going to talk about something that is a little bit of an ugly truth. It’s not something most people like really consciously thinking about, and that’s that in any kind of relationship there is always a power dynamic between the two people involved.

We don’t like thinking of this stuff consciously because we like love to feel magical, mystical and a visceral experience where everything just works and everybody is happy. We want to just work because we love each other and it’s awesome. But the truth is, there is always a power dynamic in every human relationship. That power dynamic may be 100% power to one person and none to the other, or it could be 75/25 or 50/50 or sloping the other way 25% for you 75 for them, or they have all the power and you have none, but there is always some sort of power dynamic in the relationship.

It usually shakes down to a leader and follower dynamic to at least some extent. That’s both in the sense of the relationship as a whole, one person may be the default leader in just about everything and the other one the follower, and it can be sometimes for particular tasks or skills or things within the relationship. One person may be the general leader but in specific to something another person may be that specific leader for that thing.

I want you to understand that this is really, really common in all human relationships. We are incredibly social creatures. We are very social animals and when we get together, we tend to form into groups and somehow the group always picks a leader and the leader always sets direction and the group follows.

This is through every facet of human interaction. Even in something as simple as sports, when you have two teams playing a sport, yes there’s a referee on the field that is technically in charge of everything, and there are two coaches on the sidelines saying what the team should do, but we always pick a team captain. In terms of the game itself, how the game is played, the team captain has no particular role, no particular additional abilities. It’s not like if you’re playing soccer and a team captain scores a goal you get two points. It’s not like they have any special skills, abilities, traits, anything that is going to influence the outcome of the game in terms of the rules, but we have team captains because we form as groups. The team captain creates that little bit of group discipline and sometimes the referee talks to the team captain because the team captain has influence over their players, but this is all social. It is all a social construct. It is all just the relationships and interactions. The team captain role has no particular effect on the game other than socially influencing his team.

You can see the power dynamic clearly with a parent/child relationship. There’s no question that the parent loves the child and that the child loves the parent, but there’s a really clear imbalance between the two of them in terms of who has the power. Absolutely true when it’s an infant. As they get older that balance can shift a little more as they become more self-regulating and certainly by the time they’re teenagers they are starting to assert themselves and try to claim power for themselves. This is just about the entire reason why teenagers are difficult, because they’re trying to upset the balance of power and be powerful themselves. If there’s not a power dynamic between a parent and a child there really should be, especially when they are little. I’m sure you’ve seen families where a three year old or a six year old is actually the one running the show, and how catastrophically disorganized those families are.

Its the same with best friends. With any best friend relationship, whether it’s two guys or two girls or whatever it is, there’s almost always a leader and a follower. There’s almost always one of them deciding let’s go see a movie. There’s almost always one of them saying this is the movie we will see. Let‘s go to this restaurant. Let’s do this thing. I’m throwing a party. One person setting the agenda and the other one following along. And they can be perfectly happy relationships. It doesn’t mean there’s not love between them. It doesn’t mean they don’t like each other or don’t respect each other.

So in terms of a marriage or whatever your relationship is, there’s two of you and almost invariably you’re going to form into a hierarchy of two. One person is going to lead, one person is probably going to follow. So the question is not at all is there a power dynamic. There’s a power dynamic for every human situation. If you get on a bus, the bus driver is in control. On that bus the bus driver calls the shots and says what happens. Doesn’t matter if there’s a CEO and the Mayor sitting in the back of the bus, the bus driver is controlling things. They’re in charge for that social situation.

Sot it’s not a question is there a power dynamic, is there a hierarchy of two. There absolutely is. There will always be. The real question is, what is that leadership like? Is it a benign leadership? Is it a caring leadership? Is it someone that is invested? Is it someone that actually cares and is truly concerned about the person they’re in the relationship with? Are they invested, connected, kind, caring, compassionate, thoughtful and strong? Or are they cold, uncaring, checked out, disinterested, exploitative, abusive, harsh, cruel? That’s the real question, because when the leader is basically good, the power dynamic is not concerning. Everything runs pretty smoothly. The leader is happy, the follower is happy.

But when the leadership is crappy, eventually the follower starts saying this really sucks and I don’t want to be here any more. I’m unhappy. I’m miserable. And if you watched yesterdays video about missed signals, sometimes this is when they start signaling they’re really unhappy. Sometimes the leader doesn’t really care, or notice, or whatever it is.

So summing up, there’s always a power dynamic in every relationship. That power dynamic can be a benign one or it can be a slightly more cynical, cold one, but there’s always one. And I think a big question to ask yourself too is whether or not you’re actually the leader, or you’re the follower, and what does that mean for you.

Anyway, going to leave it there. I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. Please like, share, subscribe and all that good internet stuff, and I will see you tomorrow.


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