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The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work – Principle 4: Let your Partner Influence you

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work – Principle 4: Let your Partner Influence you

Last Updated on May 6, 2022 by admin

For many, the “anything you say, dear” attitude is a sign of weak masculinity and losing power, but John Gottman would disagree. He believes that for a marriage to not only survive, but thrive, the driver’s seat has to be shared. It’s not about fighting for decision-making power, but about looking for ways to give each other small wins throughout the day and in doing so, trying to accommodate each other’s wants and needs without having to sacrifice your own.

Through studies that spanned almost a decade, Gottman found that the majority of wives tend to naturally look for ways to let their husband influence them, but he has not found the same for men. Why? There are several reasons, but what’s important here is that this finding is highly subject to change. It was clear that for men who are willing to accept influence from their wives, their marriages are happier and healthier, whereas those who are unwilling tend to see their marriages becoming unstable.

The only difference between the two is quite simple – it’s your attitude! If you’re open to honouring your partner’s wants and needs as equally as valid as yours, accepting their influence is a skill that you can hone over time. All you have to do is pay attention to how you relate to your spouse, and if their opinions are playing a role in your daily lives. If not, look for ways to accommodate them!

To practice honing these skills, try out Gottman’s “Yield to Win” exercise in pages 129-132 of Gottman’s Seven Principles Book.

Listed are common situations faced by couples. Try to visualize yourself as placed in that situation as if you and your partner are the ones having the conflict. Once you’ve done so, respond to the message being delivered rather than your partner’s tone of voice, seeing it as a reasonable request that you could accommodate. Make note of the reasonable request, write it down if it helps you remember! And finally, write down how you could respond to your partner in a way that is influenced by their desires and needs.

An example taken directly from the Seven Principles Book:
Usually, when you come home from your job, you’re tired from having to be “on” all day. All you want to do is play video games, but your wife, whose job entails far more interaction with computers than people, craves connection. One night she gets very angry when she tries to talk to you, but you don’t peel your eyes away from the screen. You tell her you’re tired of chatting. She yells, “Well, what about me? I will go crazy if I can’t talk about my day.”

Reasonable part of wife’s request: To talk about her day.

You say: “I’m sorry. What if you give me a half hour to just chill out and then we can talk?”

By practicing recognizing the reasonable parts of your partner’s requests, you’ll begin to just hear that, rather than their tone of voice, and your responses will be reflective of your partner’s influence, leading to a happier and healthier relationship.


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