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How to Deal With a Relationship Imbalance

by Maura Banar

An imbalance in a relationship indicates that one individual is performing more work than the other. Although relationships certainly do fluctuate in terms of issues like effort, power, finances and emotions, chronic imbalance can lead to significant problems including excess stress on the person carrying more weight than the other. Imbalance in a relationship can be characterized -- although, not always -- by controlling, abusive behaviors that maintain one partner's control over the other. Dealing with a relationship imbalance doesn't always mean the problem will be solved, but it can point out behaviors that are detrimental to a healthy relationship.

Communicate your concerns to your partner about the imbalance in your relationship. Healthy, balanced relationships are characterized by effective communication between partners. Without the ability to express your feelings, thoughts or desires, an imbalance is created, placing the other person in your relationship in a position of decision-making for both of you. Although not always, this imbalance can be intentional and often occurs in relationships in which one person is abusive or controlling of the other person. Communication, in a way that clearly states what you expect as an outcome, provides the other person with the opportunity to make fundamental changes in their approach to your relationship.

Take steps to change core foundation imbalances in your relationship. It is theoretically impossible to exactly match your partner's income, penny for penny, but if there is a significant differences in your incomes, it can create problems. Similarly, disparities in other factors such as household responsibilities and the rearing of children can affect both your relationship and your sense of autonomy. Once you've identified imbalances in one or more core foundations of your relationship, seek opportunities to change the imbalance. Speak with your partner about the imbalance and work toward a mutual solution. For example, if you are the partner who makes a higher income, find ways to support equality in helping your partner see the value in the work they do, or in helping them find employment with a higher income.

Discuss your concerns with supports outside of your relationship. Lisa D. Butler, Ph.D., of the University of Buffalo, explains that supportive friends and family have a way of balancing you out, even if everything around you is out of balance. Reaching out to your support system can give you a forum to voice your thoughts and feelings about your relationship. Subsequently, these same friends and family can also provide you with a different perspective and objectivity that you might otherwise not recognize. Rely on the supports you trust the most to give you their most accurate perception of your relationship and the possible causes of the imbalance. If most or all your supports appear to see the same problem, it may be time for professional intervention.

Seek professional intervention in the form of a counselor or therapist. If possible, encourage your significant other to join you in attending marriage or relationship counseling. Marriage and couples counseling, explains the Mayo Clinic, can facilitate changes to resolve problems in relationships. These problems are often associated with imbalances such as finances, power and control. In many cases, the counselor or therapist can act as a mediator between you and your partner, encouraging productive, rather than ineffective, communication. If your partner is unwilling or unable to attend couples counseling, attending alone can also help you process your feelings about the relationship imbalance so that you can make changes.

About the Author

Maura Banar has been a professional writer since 2001 and is a psychotherapist. Her work has appeared in "Imagination, Cognition and Personality" and "Dreaming: The Journal of the International Association for the Study of Dreams." Banar received her Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Buffalo State College and her Master of Arts in mental health counseling from Medaille College.

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