When the couple is formed, each member pursues some objectives, implicit or explicit, that they want to obtain in the relationship. They are not immutable objectives in time; throughout the couple’s life, their importance changes depending on the individual and social development or the phase in which they are, if they have small or older children, if they are retired, with pressures economic, etc.
Marriage Relationship Goals
The management of shared money can be an example of how the couple works as a social entity. The needs and objectives that each member wants to solve with the money are made explicit in the communication and mutual understanding. There has to be a method to set the priorities to which the amount available will be applied. The way to fix them is a reflection of the distribution of power in the couple. It is not about objectively reasonable or equitable priorities being set, but about being accepted and acceptable by both. As a social entity, a joint and coordinated decision is taken.
Money is not the only element in which power relations are reflected; in reality, they occur in every one of the goods that are shared. They do not always have to be the same; for example, while one member takes the lead in spending on social relationships, it may be the other. In the couple’s internal world, one of the members may have more capacity to get the other to agree to do what he wants. A power structure is established, defined as the ability to influence others to do what one wants. But the power depends on the management of the resources that one has.
The power structure in marriage in the couple is reflected in dominance relationships. Its importance in the couple and their conflicts has been widely recognized. That is, “when the behavior of a person, A is predictable from the behavior of a person B, B is said to be dominant over A.” This definition has as a problem that the behavior of submission predicts, in general, the cessation of the attack of the dominant individual. Therefore, applying the previous definition, the individual who submits would be dominant over the other. The definition of dominance that focuses only on behavior gives rise to ambiguities resolved if the result of the confrontation is taken into account as to who remains in possession of the resource in dispute.
“Physically, he wins a fight, displaces another child from his place, ends up having an object that they mutually desire, or that controls the other child’s behavior, usually through verbal commands.”
It seems clear that, although neither the presence of a dominance structure nor its absence is the determining cause of conflicts in the couple, having the decision-making resolved in a satisfactory way for both contributes to their stability. Problems arise when the decisions that are made lead to a negative outcome for the other person. Negativity is measured from a subjective point of view and consists, most of the time, in a discrepancy between expectations and results.
The solution to the problems presented to the couple has to start with the fact that the two are capable of communicating. They also need to have the ability to generate alternatives and value them for the achievement of the proposed end. This requires problem-solving skills. If they are lacking, training is necessary, which has been successfully addressed by classical cognitive behavioral therapy.