Do You Accept Your Partner's Influence?
So, my husband told me the other day that I’m not very good at “accepting his influence.” Okay, he didn’t actually say it like that because “accepting influence” is a clinical term put forth by Dr. John Gottman. Basically “accepting influence” means occasionally doing what your partner tells (or asks) you to do or letting him or her guide your decisions. Apparently, I’m not so good at it. On the bright side, according to Gottman, it’s more important for the long term health of the marriage for men to accept their wives/girlfriend’s influence rather than the other way around (sorry guys).
Why is it so important, I wonder? Well, we know what it feels like when our partners don’t accept our influence, right? We feel unheard, unvalidated, like they don’t care about our opinions or don’t think we matter. For women, it feels like we can’t do our job of caring for the family if our men don’t accept our influence, especially around things like their health, family events or caring for children/household. For men, they can feel like their women don’t trust, appreciate or value them or their contribution if we ignore their infuence.
In other words, the “yes dears” and the “okay, I’ll do it your way” can go a long way to building mutual trust, respect and closeness. And let’s face it, we all love when we get to be “right” or have our way, especially if it means being helpful to the person we love the most.
I know what you’re thinking. It’s probably something more politically incorrect than this but basically you’re thinking: Now , hang on a minute, should I just let my wife or husband just roll over me? No, of course not. Of course, you should have a voice and an opinion and stand your ground on things that are really, really important to you. It’s just that most of the time we stand our grounds on things that aren’t particularly important to us or aren’t well thought out. Am I right? We reject each other’s influence on what? The principle of it?
Try it. You won’t lose your men’s club card or your feminist rights if every once in a while you just do what your partner advises you to do. You might find that they actually are just trying to prevent a mistake that they see more clearly than you do. And, the positive side is that it scores points in the world of love and intimacy. Isn’t that worth it?
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