Strength & Weakness: Theirs

Now, we have looked at strength and weakness in both men and women. How do strength and weakness affect relationships?

Through the Looking Glass

Couples are perceived by their friends and family. These people form and perpetuate opinions of the couple based on the strengths and weaknesses they perceive. Ofttimes, perception is not reality.

Strong Man-Weak Woman

Fictional couple Luke Spencer and Laura Webber...

Considered to be the ideal relationship in many religions, the woman is subservient to her man in all manners. In many cases, this relationship epitomizes what society defines as “marriage” and enjoys great longevity. She submits to his opinion and wishes, regardless of or without her own opinion. His role is open to interpretation:

  • Benevolent head of the relationship/household
  • Protector
  • Manipulative
  • Tyrant
  • Abuser

Behind closed doors, this couple may be far more equal than they portray to the outside world, which may lend to the length of the relationship. On the other hand, sometimes they are far more inequitable than perceived, as in the case of abuse.

Weak Man-Strong Woman

Society frowns on this relationship regardless of the benefits accrued by the couple. Whether it takes the role of a sexual domination (in and out of the bedroom)  or a pervasive ceding of his will to her demands (capricious or otherwise), the man is judged as spineless, whipped or some other equally derogatory term.

This couple is fueled by either a need to be opposite at home than is demanded throughout the work-a-day world or a genuine subservience of the man. Historically, these relationships last only as long as the woman continues to find satisfaction in the relationship.

Weak Man-Weak Woman

KissPostcardThis couple is either terrifically balanced or horrifically abused. Neither emerges as a dominant force and both agree to follow the opinions and wills of outside sources.

In the cases where they follow people who genuinely choose well for them, they are a happy couple floating through life. When the PTB choose to manipulate them, they are prone to taking the position of dupe, often to the point of financial ruin.

This couple will likely be together forever. They lack the initiative to change their own circumstances and are willing to stay with what they have in favor of seeking out anything else. They are unlikely to feel as though they “settled”, instead feeling they have an equal mate.

Strong Man-Strong Woman

The power couple exudes strength to everyone in their path and wake. They function well as a team. Quick judgment leads to accepting the other’s idea as sound, prudent and/or advantageous. The power struggle is never publicly shown.

This couple runs risks. That behavior is as dangerous to their status as it is profitable. Often, what is unseen by the crowd are the internal struggles for dominance, the resentment of ceding power and unforgiveness.

Longevity is in this couple’s future as long as they remain overtly communicative and unite against external forces. When the conflict comes between them, the sheer force of wills can tear the couple apart.


(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2011
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  1. … have you noticed how a man rarely identifies himself as “I am a husband and father,” but women often blurt out “I’m a wife and mother” first, even when they have other jobs as well? Perhaps off topic, but as I said, my mind is a dangerous thing left out to wander.

    • Yes, frankly I have. I attribute it to millenia of social training as putting women “in their place”.

  2. Red, it seems to me these four descriptive-classifications as they are stereotyped appear dated and are actually a substantial demonstration of the serious problem that has developed in society.
    I’ll offer just one example, in the “strong man/weak woman” category, the abusive husband sees himself as a “strong man” and therefore also considers himself “rightfully” entitled to be the “head of the household” whether he is a physically abusive moron, punitive in nature psychologically, your average run-of-the-mill insecure control freak or an absolutely deranged psychotic nut case–just because “society generally approves” a popular “strong man /weak woman” relationship.
    That societal nod of approval actually exacerbates the problem, and sadly, “nobody bothers to rewrite the book”. In a modern society that professes to be so advanced–there can be no justifiable excuse offered for “approval” of that type of relationship.

    • In truth, there is no viable reason for approving of an abusive relationship regardless of gender.

      The four classifications merely exhibit the way we look at one another in terms of strength as a characteristic. The combinations are not cliche until we, as a society, swallow the stereotype as the archetype in the relationship. Interesting take. Perhaps, this series will be expanded (yet again) to include such discussion.

      Glad I got you thinking.

  3. We are none of these. Both of us have strong points and weak points and over time, we have learned to make the best of them. As a team, we’re so great together it often feels like there is nothing we can’t overcome. Faced with adversity, we support each other and hold each other up. When something good happens, we celebrate together.

    We’re not perfect and often we both like to think we’re right and the other is wrong. Of course, I’m usually the one who is right 😉

    It works. Twenty years married this coming March and there’s still fire between us. I think this is the best of the scenarios.

    • That is so great, Mike. It does take fire to stay together that long. I hope you have many, many more anniversaries! Red.

  4. I’m glad you said perception is not reality, or I might have had to disagree with you, in that what was given was too one-dimentional. However, when talking about other people’s perception of a couple, who knows.

    Strong man/Strong woman – two people who are confident in who they are and flexible enough to compromise when needed. They fight fair because they don’t need to do the put down/abuse thing. Their confidence in self allows them to see the other as an equal and partner, so they work things out (in private) but present a united front to others.

    Hmm, sounds a little like what you said, doesn’t it? Anyway, looking forward to the next post in the saga.

    • You see, it does not always get lost in translation!! Just like what Mike was just saying, it is a team thing. If the couple stands together against what comes their way (even when it is children), they have the best chances of survival.

  5. Excellent topic for discussion, although it is so difficult to distill it down to a few paragraphs for sure. Certainly the dynamic of dominant and submissive (substitute words for strong and weak) roles in couples are conditioned by societal factors, but I also wonder if there is a strong gender-based tendency or predisposition at play.

    Each of us has a natural equilibrium point – a comfort zone so to speak. I guess this is a chicken and egg kind of question. Do societal norms and acceptance of gender based roles reflect a given statistical preponderance, or do they drive those roles?

    • From what I have studied and observed, there is no true gender specific nature to the personality types (strong vs. weak). While upbringing plays a role, exposure also plays a role. Mix in the “sow wild oats” age and people tend to turn out quite different than they were even as teens and especially in comparison to their parents.

      What I have found is those who are seeking societal acceptance fall into the weaker end of the spectrum regardless of their interpersonal strength in the relationship. But that, my friend, is fodder for another post 😉

      • Setting aside gender specific nature to personality types and continuing along the chicken and egg approach, you mention that environmental factors such as upbringing, exposure, and sowing wild oats that has people turning out quite differently than their younger selves and their parents. Again, I wonder if part of this is an innate tendency to explore and find a comfort zone that resonates with more instinctive sense of self, or if it is shaped entirely by environment and societal norms. In other words, is a weak person weak by nature or by nurture? Behavioral modification can certainly occur to help overcome an innate weakness, but it requires effort, a swimming against the tide type of thing if so. Or, is a weak person entirely so by nurture and environmental, and therefore change in persona is more readily achievable (shape-able if you will) by altering the environmental factors? I will concede that environmental factors of societal norms are not easily changed.

        Interesting discussion. Cannot wait to see more of it unfold. Thanks Red!

        • First is the look into what comes naturally…then society. Society may take more than one day, but nature you will have in a few moments. 😉

  6. I just have to say: Love myself some Luke and Laura. The shows are crap now and I have to have the dominatrix barbie for my collection.
    Nice post.

    • Isn’t she grand? Never got into that one, but watched those for a couple decades before I ditched the box altogether. Better for my creativity. Red.

  1. Strength & Weakness: Balance | Momma's Money Matters
  2. Strength & Weakness: Nature | Momma's Money Matters
  3. Strength & Weakness: Nurture | Momma's Money Matters

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