Leanna, a mother to a six year old son and a ten year old daughter, fell in love with a new man and became engaged. She was a relatively successful, hardworking woman and her fiance was stumbling in his career, in between jobs and contemplating going in a new direction altogether. Problem was, he didn’t know where he wanted to go or what he wanted to do. And while he complained quite a bit, he didn’t seem to have any ideas or any get-up-and-go to change his situation.
Leanna sensed that what lay behind his indecision was fear and so she resolved to be a good woman, to be his support and his foundation so that he knew that she would support his decisions no matter what. She assured him that she would be there to support him if he failed and to celebrate with him if he succeeded.
This sounds great, doesn’t it? I mean, what better gift could you give your partner than your unwavering support, encouragement and assistance as he or she makes their way through a challenging transition? The only problem was that Leanna’s relationship with her partner very quickly took on the dynamic of a mother/son interaction. Before long, they began a pattern of consistently arguing because she felt offended that that he wasn’t taking her advice (that, she, being a successful professional, felt he should be glad to receive). Meanwhile, he felt that she didn’t give him room to make his own mistakes and that she had become the classic judgmental, bothersome nag.
Despite their efforts, their relationship became a power-struggle, with the other trying to assert their power over the other. Leanna was hurt by her partner’s ignoring and blocking her out (of good advice) and she took it as a sign that he didn’t admire her. Her partner was hurt because he felt like Leanna didn’t listen to him nor respect him.
Meanwhile, the children watched the power struggle between the both of them and felt caught in the middle. While they genuinely wanted to be happy for their mom finding a companion, they couldn’t help but feel resentment for the fact that the power struggle was causing stress in their mom, which she could not hide. The more she tried to ‘bring him up’, to get him to rise to the occasion to be the man that she wanted him to be, the more he rebelled by not listening to any of her advice—even against his own best interests.