Chapter 6- Principle 4: Let your partner influence you!
This chapter is meant for a partner who is unwilling to share power/influence in the relationship. More of a male thing, but females can also fault with this principle.
81% of couples where the men do not do this –will self-destruct.
Women tend to match or reduce negativity. Men tend to escalate it, usually with one of the four horsemen (criticism, contempt, defensiveness or stonewalling) even if this does not happen every time, it does lead to the 81% self-destructive couples, as it obliterated the other’s opinion, instead of taking it into account. 65% of men did not automatically search for the partner’s underlying position, and escalated instead of de-escalated the negativity. The point is still to show honor and respect to the spouse [regardless of the culture/beliefs at hand]. Some men show latent resistance to have their spouses influence them. The point of this principle: don’t argue back to statements which are: harshly phrased, conflicting with one’s own agenda, or are inconvenient requests – rather, accommodate to them.
The issue is not to express or not express negative emotions, but it is how one would accommodate to them. Accepting influence of wife reduces her harshness. Strong foundation of compromise leads to easier-found solutions. Accepting influence will make it easier for the husband to establish deeper love-maps, increase fondness and admiration, and to turn towards each other. Women tend to be more naturally oriented to relationships/emotions, whereas men tend to be more action oriented. Therefore, men have to make an added effort to learn about emotions and emotional/relational elements of the situation, even as benign as going shopping for home stuff and getting excited about patterns on the dishes in the store. Gottman (who is a male) called it “emotional intelligence”.
Learning to yield is an important lesson in life: There are people who will regularly run into obstacles and others who will usually drive around them. The latter are the happier people in life. Women tend more often to bring up the sticky issues, while men tend to a first avoid them. Perpetual problems are better identified when the core issues behind the conflict situation are identified and delineated. Working with the delineation of the underlying issues helps the couple not escalate by identifying the real situation and thus they are better equipped to more truly turn to each other. If acceding power/influence in the relationship is difficult for one, s/he is best to acknowledge this disposition so that both partners can work at this issue in a way which is upfront, yet also comfortable for both.
- Accepting influence questionnaire. – These true or false questions assess how much a person is accepting his (or her) spouse’s influence;
- Exercise 1: ‘Yield to Win’- Common conflict situations are given to the couple – i.e. understanding the request behind the apparent negativity, and intensity the emphasis on how important the issue is for the partner.
- Exercise 2: The Gottman Island Survival Game: see if you can coordinate a hypothetical “survival list” for a deserted island stay. Then, see how you and the other responded to influencing each other.