Self Help Now: A community blog

Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade offers advice for maintaining your mental health.

Strong Women Don't Alienate with their Power

Written by Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade, Community blogger | Dec 6, 2013 9:01 PM

A lot of lists pervade the internet about the characteristics, decisions, and language of strong women. They use such words as "assertive," "aggressive," and "self-respect." Some of the women I know who embrace strength, power and leadership are, indeed, in good relationships and some can't ever seem to come up with the right formula to make an intially-satisfying romance mature into a long, healthy commitment.

What's the difference between the usually-single purveyors of female strength, certainly proud to survive qyite happily in many ways, and the really content, loved and loving family women who, also, hold responsible positions in life, including one of the most important-parenthood?

From my experience, I can say that the strongest women don't flaunt their power in their relationships but aim for equality, even a false deference sometimes, which comes from knowing who's really boss (the woman). It's like the master-slave dialectic in philosophy--the real master is the person who truly understands the needs of the other and the dynamics between them and knows how to work things in such a way that dignity and respect and true power are hers, even if she's technically the slave.

Now, I'm not talking about the 1950's "little woman" housewife. I'm saying that the doctor or professor who comes home to her house husband helps him feel valued and he helps her feel loved or vice versa. They both have power, then. Whatever the scenario, the aggressive, critical, demanding person doesn't gain power, just loss of caring and passive aggressive manipulation. It's the warm, understanding, but honest woman who makes change happen in the relationship, when necessary, and maintains the beauty of the bond when it's going well.

Of course, this dynamic isn't really about women at all but true of people, in general, in any relationship. Let's not make the mistake of thinking that standing up for oneself, no matter in what way, with the exception of abusive relationships, and proving that we are always right without concern for the other's self-esteem, is a sign of power and strength.

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