Power Couples

Since the era of technology, all famous couples are privileged to have greater exposure to all citizens through media, interviews and public events in which ordinary couples’ curiosity about the “secrets” of the ‘rich and famous’ lifestyles can be rewarded. Do these famous pairs have some greater abilities, inclinations, tools or qualities that make them more prone to have successful, glamorous and connected relationships as compared to ordinary pairs?

For example, while watching President Obama dance with his wife, Michelle, at a recent ball, it was easy to perceive their attention, pride and joy in being with each other. Their mutual respect and love for one another was evident. How they looked at each other revealed not only love, but pride and joy in their union. Not all famous pairs emanate this type of respectful connection, love and comfort with one another but those who do inspire us to emulate their style and find the glow in our own relationships.

Most pairs can identify within their own group of friends those couples whom they admire for their respect, positive attitude and wholesome connection with each other that enriches everyone around them. Conversely, listening to mates argue, discount each other’s views and “correct” their partner with their own opinion leaves friends uncomfortable and compassionate with the shamed mate without an immediate recourse of easily supporting the offended partner. Contacting the critical partner later may be perceived as inappropriate and intrusive.

In “Can a Man and Woman Be Just Friends?” Author Lynn Norment wrote in an Ebony article, “No sex, no lust, no passion?” Her eighty-year old father responded, “A man is always going to have an ulterior motive.”

If we accept that male and female intentions at the start of a relationship are different, we may agree with the Senior father. If, however, we accept that motives in relationships are not fixed, but get promoted by attraction, desire and hope, we cannot predict by gender or age what anyone’s intentions may be.

Similarly, Power Couples, as humans possess the same motivations as ordinary individuals and follow their childhood role models and family culture in their search for self-gratification and happiness.

After seeing many people in therapy over the years, I believe successful relationships of power and non-power couples have a direct correlation to parental roles and behaviors they experienced. Being raised in a blatantly sexualized household, children often accept their parents’ behavior as the “norm” and frequently emulate it. This may not correlate with their impulses or desires but with their original family’s culture.

Are Power Couples different from other pairs?

  • Not necessarily. The most significant influences children are exposed to are their parental relationships, language, attitudes, parenting skills and world-views.
  • Another molding factor is the youngster’s innate personality style and the parental responses to his/her needs, wants and preferences.
  • Acceptance, love, validations, affirmations, appropriate praise and modeling of healthy values help children mature and become secure, self-guided, kind and loveable adults.

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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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