As the Houston relationship counselor, I’ve seen firsthand the trends that begin to emerge with certain kinds of problems. Recently, I wrote about power plays and how trying to “win” in a relationship just leads to both of you losing.

The feeling of self-importance that leads to this attitude can come from many places, but one of the most prevalent in our culture has to do with our societally approved gender roles and dynamics. Most men tend to unconsciously take on the dominant or “winning” role, while most women are submissive “losers,” with the result being that the couple suffers from marriage issues because one person is constantly giving in to the other.

In general, these unconscious desires to be dominant or submissive stem from childhood. Despite attempts to level the gender playing field, our culture still tends to favor men, and from a young age, we are well aware of this. Men hold positions of power. Men get to fight in wars, play professional sports, and beat up the bad guys in action movies. Obviously, there are examples of women doing this too, but culturally they are “male” activities. Boys and girls internalize this and it affects them, even if they don’t realize it.

Houston Relationship Counselor: Is Turning the Tables Better?

But what about relationships where the woman is the dominant force. We all know couples where it’s clear who really “wears the pants” in the family, right? Maybe their parents told them not to let anyone control them and raised them to feel strong, smart, and entitled. Are those relationships healthier for subverting cultural norms?

Hopefully my use of “wearing the pants” gives you a clue to the answer. As silly and sexist as the phrase is, this is what our culture tends to do when people stray from the norms. Couples where the woman plays the dominant role will not only have the same marriage issues as relationships where the man dominates, they will also have to deal with the societal repercussions of being different. Men who submit to their wives are “henpecked” or “whipped” or whatever new colorful phrase we’ve come up with most recently.

What, then, is the solution? Equality. Both people in a relationship have to see each other as equals and respect each other’s opinions fully, realizing that neither one of them matters more than the other, regardless of their sex. But if your sense of entitlement is subconscious, how can you deal with it?

Houston Relationship Counselor: Consciously Recognize Your Partner’s Equality

The only weapon against subconscious behavior is to recognize that we might be doing it – even when we think we aren’t. If you head into a disagreement only thinking about why you are right and your partner is wrong, you’re going to have marriage issues regardless of your sex.

Instead, consciously strive to see each other’s point of view. Work to develop empathy and understanding. And ask yourself if you are trying to “win” because you actually believe in what you’re fighting for or because you simply don’t want to lose and give up that “power” to your partner. If you and your partner are unable to find equality and balance in your relationship on your own, contact the Houston marriage counselor for help today.