In the book, “Compatibility”, I cover the touchy subject of differential power in relationships; some people like to take charge and others are more along-for-the-ride. In the west, where equality and individuality are prized, it can seem wrong for one person to have more power than another in a personal relationship. We know that perfect balance is rarely achieved but,..should it be?
You’ve been given a plate and an appetite, and you have two pies to choose from. One is Power Pie...it’s delicious and gives you the freedom to make decisions that create great outcomes in your life. But, Power Pie is always served with a side of risk and failure. Your second option is Comfort Pie...it’s also delicious and gives you the freedom to relax and feel safe. But, Comfort Pie is always served with a side of boredom and mediocrity.
You choose how much of each pie you want served onto your plate; how much Power Pie and how much Comfort Pie do you want? You can fill your plate to the edges but, more of one pie means less of the other. And, remember that, when you choose Power, you’ll get risk and failure as well and, when you choose Comfort you’ll get boredom and mediocrity as well.
How do you choose? Everyone has a plate, everyone is offered the same two pies...the only difference is appetite. The secret to choosing is to ignore the obvious; it’s not about the pies, it’s about the sides! Both pies taste great; Power is delicious and so is Comfort thus, it’s your taste for risk and failure or, boredom and mediocrity that will determine how much of each pie you choose. If you can be honest about your taste for each of these sides, you can choose the right ratio of pie.
Still having a hard time choosing? It’s hard to choose Comfort, even when you have an appetite that can cope with boredom and mediocrity, knowing you’re giving up Power and all the delicious freedom and greatness that comes with it. Equally, it’s hard to choose Power, even when you have an appetite for risk and failure, knowing you’re giving-up Comfort and the relaxation and safety that comes with it.
Jack Spratt could eat no fat, his wife could eat no lean,
And so, between the two of them, they licked the dishes clean."
Old English Nursery Rhyme
In my book, “Compatibility”, I explain how compatible couples actually share power so both handle what they have an appetite for and both, if there's good-will and benevolence, benefit from a power differential in the relationship. Sometimes people with an equal appetite for power meet and marry but, more often, people with different appetites for power meet and, if you choose someone with a complementary appetite, it works well. There’s less conflict if one person enjoys decision-making, risk and failure, and can handle what the other person doesn’t want to - fighting over power is a common source of tension in relationships that can be removed if one person prefers comfort to power. Have an honest conversation with your partner (or yourself) about power, risk and failure versus comfort, boredom and mediocrity...where your taste lies, their appetite for these things and how to share the dish with each other. In this case, equality is not about having the same on both plates, it’s about each person having an equally full plate of what they prefer.