As water is to fish, power is to people: It is the medium we swim in. And it is typically just as invisible to us.
Power is not limited to leaders or organizations; it doesn't require outright acts of domination. It's a basic force in every social interaction. Power defines the way we relate to each other. It dictates whether you get listened to. It determines whether your needs take priority or get any attention at all.
The problem for romantic partners is that power as normally exercised is a barrier to intimacy. It blunts sensitivity to a partner and precludes emotional connectivity. Yet this connection is what human beings all crave, and need. It satisfies deeply.
But there's only one path to intimacy. It runs straight through shared power in relationships. Equality is not just ideologically desirable, it has enormous practical consequences. It affects individual and relationship well-being. It fosters mutual responsiveness and attunement. It determines whether you'll be satisfied or have days (and nights) spiked with resentment and depression. "The ability of couples to withstand stress, respond to change, and enhance each other's health and well-being depends on their having a relatively equal power balance," reports Carmen Knudson-Martin of Loma Linda University. Equality, psychologists agree, is the world's best antidote to isolation. It's just not easy to attain or to sustain...
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