Power couples

Power couples captivate us. 

Power couples are a living embodiment of an intimacy to which we all aspire.

We want to build a fabulous life, with a wonderful partner that will bring out our best selves. You bring your “a-game” every day because you know your partner is in your corner. On the flip side you feel tremendous satisfaction knowing that your partner is also at their best with you by their side.

Power couples stand out. They are at the top of their game. They are each in high demand but attend to their marriage with care and determination. Power couples have a certain nobility and an obvious grace. They inspire and push the boundaries of human achievement.

Power couples seem to have it all.

Despite that inspiring paradigm this is often seemingly out of reach. Many of us don’t have the resources to become a power couple. Maybe we can’t hire people to run all of our errands and attend to our daily mundane tasks.

However, ordinary couples move toward becoming a power couple when they enter the challenging conversations about how values and priorities are attended to.

What is a power couple? 

When both spouses are not only accomplished in their respective fields of endeavor, they do so while carefully and deliberately loving and supporting one another without reservation, then we have a power couple.

There are three key dimensions of a power couple; intimacy, power, and coherent boundaries.

Every couple will aspire to discover the depths of their intimacy. At the end of the day, power couples are people who need people. They value family and close, intimate bonds. Power couples always attend to their relationship quality; they don’t wait for problems to arise, because they tune-up and course-correct on an ongoing basis.

They understand the limits (and potential consequences) of their respective power. Power couples typically work within a human environment that offers “support” in ways that often seek to cross boundaries, create uncertainty, and then probe for weaknesses. Power couples have to have a good nose for human frailties.

This is where a practice of healthy restraint within predetermined boundaries comes into play. Power couples will often sit down and specifically discuss their priorities and values. Power couples are one another’s safe haven, while attractive others are held at arm's-length by comparison. 

There are 8 things power couples do better because they do it differently

Power couples are deliberate and purposeful and we can learn from them as we examine our own relationships. Let’s look at the 8 ways that power couples guard their intimacies with care and maintain healthy boundaries at work. 

"I always thought love was up close. Love is the dinner table, love is consistency, it is presence. So I had to share my vulnerability and also learn to love differently. It was an important part of my journey of becoming. Understanding how to become us."  Michelle Obama
  • They are the vanguards of family-friendly sensibilities. This may also be described as having a “healthy work-life balance.” Power couples are often “owners” rather than “employees” which means that they have greater freedom in finding harmony between work and family values.

    Love may be up close but we're all only human. Even power couples. When power couples annoy their partner (they only LOOK perfect after all) they make a speedy repair.

    Do you struggle to say “I’m sorry?” Is your partner awkward around making amends?

    Making repair attempts is a teachable skill. We will use neuroscience to identify the specific phrases and word groupings that will effectively calm your partner down.
What do you say about someone who’s always there with support and understanding, someone who makes sacrifices so that your life will be easier and more successful? Well, what you say is that you love that person and treasure her.” Ronald Reagan.
  • Power couples commit and don’t quit. A power couple is a committed couple. The level of implicit and explicit commitment is total, unequivocal, and exceptional. This is a predictable condition of pre-eminence or fame, as both partners are beautiful lures in a sea of attractive others and temptations to stray abound.

    They can’t help it; they shine and they are noticed.

    The reality of near-constant adulation requires power couples to craft specific strategies for commitment that allow their marriage to thrive.

  • Power couples strive to avoid wasted time. On the way to “becoming” a power couple, time becomes infinitely more valuable. Power couples understand that their time is now a beyond precious commodity and they start exchanging money for time at an ever-increasing rate.

    Many power couples outsource routine tasks and mundane chores so that they can be with their families during their time off unencumbered by trivial tasks and errands.

    Power couples happily exchange money for time, and time for precious experiences. They do this with clear agreements and firm understandings. Power couples are explicit and direct about their relational expectations.

    It is not unusual for extremely prominent power couples to craft written understandings that they periodically review on a predetermined schedule.

  • Power couples are grateful. It is interesting; one of the consistent signs of a power couple is an understanding of how they were lifted into prominence. Power couples give healthy feedback and express gratitude and appreciation freely. They have humility. They don’t always take themselves too seriously, but they can be deadly serious about their values and goals.

  • Power couples are more creative, productive, and playful. Power couples are able to sustain their creativity and playfulness because they consistently feel the encouragement and support of their spouse. They spark and fuel the fires within each other.

"Again and again, we're searching for that person who's a magic key for us, makes us feel connected, secure, part of something bigger than ourselves. Without it, the world ain't any fun." Tom Hanks
  • Power couples operate from kaizen. What is kaizen? It is a Japanese concept which roughly translates as "continuous improvement." It is an idea that first emerged during the 1980s when Japanese manufacturing set the standard of quality for the world.

    Power couples use kaizen as a way of benchmarking their personal and relational goals as a deliberate, pre-planned process. Power couples are particular because they know what they deserve.
  • They present to the world as a coherent whole when need be. You won’t see much daylight between a power couple when they unite behind a shared cause or concern. Power couples build their intimacy through shared values and enthusiasm.

    When I see that a couple is struggling to find this coherence I will work with them on something called the “Gottman dreams within conflict and Rappaport interventions” but I just call them generative conversations.

    They will spend time allowing each other to speak in paragraphs. They will hone their listening skills. Power couples share power. They collaborate. I want the couples that I work with to find that place together as well.
  • Power couples understand the pitfalls of prestige, power, and pre-eminence. Research tells us that power couples have a particular skill set; they have a healthy skepticism of human nature.

    Power couples understand that no one is as important as their spouse, although many attractive others will present themselves. Power couples have a realistic awareness of their desirability and often say “no” while setting limits with many people in different ways. Power couples operate from self-awareness and emotional intelligence.

    Because they have a healthy skepticism of human nature, they are also students of best practices for dealing with the demands of others; the public, the press and, of course, their powerful partner. Demands invite conflict, therefore power couples know the value of emotional regulation.

    Emotional regulation is a bedrock of science-based couples therapy. If this is an area where you and your partner struggle consider reaching out for help. In our intensives, we teach couples how to regulate their nervous system, and help their partner to regulate theirs as well.

Power couples are public perceptions that are confirmed or rejected over time

Many couples are eager to present as a power couple. When it isn’t real, the ruse never lasts long. Most of us “feel” the empathy real power couples have for one another when we encounter them.

Both spouses in a power couple are pre-eminent in their fields of endeavor, but somehow still manage to make intimacy look almost too easy.

Power couples inspire and intrigue us. They have inner elegance and poise. Power couples are a form of human royalty, they make being your best seem utterly effortless.

Power couples inspire us and authentic power couples inspire one another.

And when ordinary couples are reliably and relentlessly curious, collaborative, and empathetic in deciding how to best share their dreams and aspirations, as well as the mundane tasks at hand, they become, however briefly, a power couple too!

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Daniel Dashnaw

Daniel is a Marriage and Family Therapist and the blog editor. He currently works with couples online and in person. He uses EFT, Gottman Method, Solution-focused and Developmental Models in his approaches. Daniel specializes in working with neurodiverse couples, couples that are recovering from an affair, and couples struggling with conflict avoidant and passive aggressive behavior patterns.

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