We Asked. They Answered.

Unveiling the Power Couple

Interview with Dr Nicholas Briffa

24 May 2022

We tend to come across many buzz-words which might sound alluring and perhaps crave the esteem that these-buzz words bring along, without at times realizing what they really mean or what’s behind them. One in particular is the power couple. Life on Point reached out to Dr Nicholas Briffa, Cinical Psychologist, Sexologist and Couple Therapist by profession, to unveil the meaning behind the power couple.

What is this power couple and how can this idea of the power couple influence the couple itself?

To start with, a power couple is not a perfect pair. It’s not about having a prince and princess like relationship where everything is covered in sunshine. The idea of the power couple refers to a couple who empower each other, make an effort to involve themselves in each others’ worlds to serve as a medium through which they can help evolve each other into better persons. It is the couple who appreciates the good within each other, and constructively understands what needs to be done to improve one another. In this manner, each of the individuals are growing on their own and growing together as well. One of the main challenges and realities of many couples is that couples tend to grow apart. Individuals within a power couple, look at each other as an asset for one another. There is a strong element of collaboration but also of team work. They are not only interested in each other but they genuinely wish for the other to succeed. Both individuals express an element of appreciation towards each other even for the smallest of things. More than that, a power couple doesn’t perceive each others’ success as a threat. They appreciate and celebrate each other’s success and strengths without doubting their own successes and strengths.

Focus is also geared towards quality time. While understanding the importance of earning money, the significance of spending time together to build a meaningful connection is not underestimated. They do not only invest in their successes but they also invest in their relationship. There are other important characteristics which enable the couple to nurture this kind of relationship. namely;

  • Predictability. Being able to predict your partner’s behaviour and acting in positive ways when foreseeing your partner’s actions.

  • Reliability. Knowing that you will be supported not only in times of need, but also supported in thought and mindset, fosters a sense of belonging and safety for both partners.

  • Faith. The sense of being absolutely certain of your partner’s intentions and behaviours.

  • Communication. Clearly communicating feelings, needs and concerns helps establish a common ground and understanding.

  • Imperfection. accepting imperfection is salient. Owning responsibilities of shortcomings and humbly apologising while committing to improve.

Whether we like it or not, our time is limited, and we need to choose our focus and choose our battles. It often feels that prioritising career, comes at the expense of the relationship/family needs and vice versa. Does it have to be that way? And how can a couple endure, and support each other’s lifestyles?

When a flower blooms, it doesn’t feel the need to compete with other flowers, it just blooms and that’s what makes it beautiful in and of itself. Similarly, when someone within a power couple blooms, it is appreciated and celebrated for what it is - independent of the relationship but also as a result of the relationship. Having a healthy balance between individual needs, relationship needs and life needs can help ease this approach towards each others’ successes. To an extent, it is also a matter of perspective. Having common challenges and goals can be perceived as a blessing and an opportunity to collaborate, work together and grow together.

There is nothing wrong in itself to value careers. Yet again, striking a balance is virtuous. It is unfortunate for someone to feel in competition with work, or family life. Within a power couple, life goals and life ideals are aligned as much as possible to facilitate together the dreams and lives of each other. It is natural to lose balance at times as needs arise, however what’s important is for the couple to ultimately refocus priorities towards a balance between work, life, family and individual needs. As long as this balance is acknowledged, valued and maintained, individual success will minimally influence the relationship itself.

Recent years have seen a record level of startups in Malta. Many of which tend to be side hustles by couples who entertain the idea of becoming entrepreneurs. The initial fervour might help drive the couple to overcome any obstacle both within the relationship and within the new venture. However, as time passes, the fine line between working together and being in a relationship together tends to blur. What can couples do to work together in a healthy way?

Striking a balance and aligning goals is fundamental within the relationship, however, if we’re speaking of a business share

d between the couple, one might wonder, can a ship have two captains? Distinguishing between relationship needs and business needs can prove difficult, yet it’s not an impossible feat. Some practical recommendations are:

  • Setting of boundaries to distinguish relationship issues from business issues. • Seeking new adventures to keep the relationship alive.

  • Balancing working time with quality time as a couple.

  • Role clarity within the business remit.

  • Clear ground rules when dealing with business issues.

  • Having a physical place where to discuss business issues for example at the office, to help segregation.

The month of May tends to be synonymous with weddings. While couple therapy tends to be the last thing to think of at one of the relationship’s peak moments, we’re intrigued to know whether couple therapy is only there for when trouble shows up. For anyone who has never been to therapy, when should you go and what happens?

At the start of my studies, I remember Prof. Simonelli remarking that if we had never had sexual problems yet, we will have them at a point or another in life. It is natural for a couple to experience problems. Nowadays, people have expectations and high standards when it comes to relationship needs, and they’re not tolerating mediocre relationships as a result.

To sustain a certain level of depth and general satisfaction, the couple might need to invest in the relationship to develop a meaningful connection. In this sense, couple therapy is not solely there to treat a problem but also to help couples invest in their relationship, to grow as persons, to grow the relationship and to grow old together.

Following the insight provided by Dr Briffa, we come to realise that the power couple is far more than a fancy buzz-word. It requires benevolent commitment through which the couple can help build each other up through the journey of life.

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