Hierarchy v Partnership

Many marriages are built on a hierarchical model. It works for some people to a certain extent. It provides clear roles and structures that may feel safe and familiar but it can also have some drawbacks. One drawback may be that is can stymy the growth of intimacy (deep connection, not just sex).

Let me explain what I mean.

Hierarchy is a one up one down type of position. Someone in the relationship needs to ask permission from the other or needs to get approval or someone makes the ultimate decisions. Advice my be given and received but the ultimate decision is made by one person.

This is in juxtaposition to a partnership where both jointly decide and co- parent, co-lead, co-clean, etc.

No one is the final arbiter.

Partnership can be a lot harder in the short run. It requires more communication, more openness, more self knowledge, more boundaries.

Hierarchy is harder in the long run. It can stunt development and fuel resentment.

The biggest casualty to hierarchy is intimacy. It is hard to be open and be vulnerable with someone who is not your equal partner. It is risky.

I have seen that many in a mixed faith marriage (MFM) are wanting to move from a hierarchal  model to a partnership model. This is sometimes part of the tension in a mixed faith marriage.

How to build partnership?

The first step is to choose to be a parter. Write out what that would look like. One person changing is sometimes enough.

Questions to Consider:

-How are you already acting like a partner. How are you not?

-What is the consequences of a hierarchal relationship in 5 years in 20 years?

-What is the consequences of partnership in 5 years in 20 years?

-Is there room for two in your relationship?

-Do you feel resentful or like you have to ask permission? Why?

If you are in a MFM and are tying to create an more equal partnership and need some help. Let’s talk.


Talk to you soon,

Brooke Booth, JD
Certified Life Coach