Influence, Marriage

Think about the first big argument with your spouse.  Can you even remember?  Thinking back, was it absurd?  I’m going to quickly share mine, trusting you are not going to cast judgement on me.  My wife and I were in Wal-Mart purchasing some last minute items needed for our summer travels.  I suppose if we knew we were going argue we probably would have chosen a not so public place.  Nevertheless, it came to a point in our shopping when we needed to decide what size bottle of Downy wrinkle release to purchase (because no one wants to travel with an iron in their luggage).  Her, thinking more on the side of the weight of our luggage, wanted to purchase the smaller, travel size bottle.  On the other hand, I wanted to go with the regular size because it costs less per ounce (you are already judging me, I can sense it).  I wasn’t going to budge and she wasn’t either, so out of frustration we ended up parting ways on aisle 11 and individually taking a 15 minute stroll around Wal-Mart to cool down.

Here’s the thing, wrinkle release wasn’t our issue, nor was the size of the bottle.  Our issue, and maybe you and your spouse has experience this before, was our inability to listen and be influenced by one another.  Instead of operating with a “Team” approach, we took the “Me” approach and it resulted in a senseless, and now laughable, argument.

Accepting Influence

Maybe it was all my fault.  John Gottman, marriage therapy guru, says that 65% of American men are incapable of accepting influence.  This would make some sense considering men are socialized to pursue positions of power and rank.  But, I’m not quite ready to throw a gender tag on it – I’ve told you before I’m a skeptic.  However, I would agree it seems men have a more difficult time accepting influence (i.e. sharing power) with their spouse.  In Gottman’s research, he concludes if a man (or other partner) is not able to learn how to be open to influence/share power then there is more than an 80% chance the marriage will implode. Yikes!

If you’ve made it this far in the story I’m going to bet it is only because you are curious what size bottle we ended up buying.  After calming down, we came together as a team and decided to buy the larger bottle – BUT, only if it stayed in my luggage.  We both learned a valuable lesson that day.  More often than not, when we listen to one another and see one another as teammates we can find solutions that are amicable to us both.

If you and your spouse would like to learn more about the importance of accepting influence from one another, please don’t hesitate to contact our office.  We have some great counselors who would love to.