3 Secrets for Getting Your Spouse or Romantic Partner to Do What You Want

giving a flower

(Image/The Conversation)

Imagine a famous influencer—say, Oprah Winfrey—criticizing her audience and demanding that they do something she wanted them to do without so much as the courtesy of telling them why she believed they should.

“Oprah’s Book Club sales were down last month and I’m really disappointed in all of you. Tell me again how you’re too poor to afford a $20 book! Yeah, right. I bet you had $20 for fast food, you illiterate fatties,” the Bizarro Oprah might say. “Buy this new book, peasants. You owe me after your pathetic showing last month.”

Everyone with an ounce of pride and self-respect would flip Bizarro Oprah the bird, NOT buy the book she was promoting, and never pay attention to her again.

The most successful salespeople succeed because they tell the right story to the right person at the right time.

People buy things or services because they are trying to solve a problem. They need a new outfit for a wedding. They’re embarrassed about their landscaping, so they hire a landscaping company to give their home curb appeal. They need a place to spend the night while travelling.

You can wear a potato sack to a wedding if you really want. But you dress to kill because you like the feeling of looking good (or not looking bad).

A product or service sale should ideally be an exchange that BOTH parties feel good about. The business is happy to offer a widget or their service expertise for a price. And for consumers buying those things, they would rather have the widget or have the service done more than the money they’re exchanging.

In our human relationships, we are also constantly “buying and selling” in our everyday exchanges. Ideally, both parties feel good about these exchanges in our relationships with our romantic partners, with our children, with our friends, with our co-workers, with our employers, etc. That it was a “good deal,” or “fair exchange,” or “worth it” for everyone involved.

Because love is often present in our most personal relationships, we might not think of them as businesslike relationships, but it would be a mistake to believe otherwise. Parents. Children. Siblings. Best friends. Lovers. Spouses. All of these relationships can break when the “value” of being in that relationship goes away for one side.

Those are abusive relationships. If we are abused, we should try to remove ourselves from people and situations where we are mistreated. If we abuse others, it makes sense that they will eventually not want to have a relationship with us.

When we don’t see the value in a product or service, we hold onto our money.

When we don’t see the value in a personal relationship (or are not providing value for others), someone will choose to remove themselves from it at the earliest opportunity.

The Secrets of Successfully Selling Things are the Same Secrets for Influencing Others (Namely Your Spouse/Partner) to “Do What You Want”

They won’t do what you want because you tricked them. They won’t do what you want because you manipulated them. They won’t do what you want because you brainwashed them.

They will do what you want for the same reasons people are happy to exchange their money for goods and services in billions of transactions every day.

Persuasion Secret #1 – Give them what they want.

One of the surest ways to get someone to do what you want is to simply give them something first.

It’s called the rule of reciprocation.

The Hare Krishna religious organization started handing out flowers and books in airports and other public places back in the 1960s and ‘70s, because they understood that nearly everyone who accepted a flower would feel obligated to give some of their time or money in return. That simple act grew their orange-robed community to millions of people and created millions of dollars in funding.

In 1974, Phillip Kunz, a sociologist at Brigham Young University wanted to know what would happen if he sent 600 Christmas cards to complete strangers.

More than 200 (more than 33%) sent Christmas cards back to him—several with long, multi-page, handwritten letters included.

The world thought leader on persuasion is Dr. Robert Cialdini, a professor emeritus at Arizona State University, and author of the bestseller Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. In an interview with NPR, he said that the rule of reciprocity is drilled into us as children, and is observable in every human culture he knows of.

“We are obligated to give back to others, the form of behavior that they have first given to us,” Cialdini said. “Essentially, thou shall not take without giving in return.”

It’s why it’s so unexpected and socially awkward to pass someone in the hall and say hello, only to have the greeting ignored.

“Give them what they want” sounds nice in a headline, but what we really should be doing is giving people what they need.

“People say they want to be rich, they need to be fulfilled,” wrote former U.S. Special Forces operative Mike Martel in an article for Lifehack. “People say they want sympathy, they need empathy. People say they want power, they need respect. If you supply what someone truly needs, they will do anything you want.”

Persuasion Secret #2 – Ask them to help you solve a problem.

You want something from someone. Thus, you have a problem to solve. So recruit them to help you, to rescue you, to save you.

“Present this as an opportunity to ‘help’ you by taking a look at something with fresh eyes and give you their seasoned opinion,” wrote venture capitalist Chris Snook in an article for Inc. “When they come in thinking that they are there primarily to protect you from making a potential mistake, they are listening and learning with both ears and eyes open. Their normal filter to block information will be gone and they will see it for what it is. Assuming you have a great solution or idea in front of them, they will likely feel compelled to act when you get done showing them.”

Persuasion Secret #3 – Tell them—very specifically—what you want and why.

This third secret is the primary reason I’m writing this.

I’ve read both husbands and wives write in blog comments and private emails about how frustrated they are with their spouse—one because they never feel as if they understand what their partner wants, and are perplexed by her or his unwillingness to say what they want. And on the other side are all of the spouses who have spent YEARS trying to explain themselves to their partner, only to feel ignored, invalidated, disrespected, etc. And they don’t want to HAVE TO explain themselves to their partner anymore. “They should already know how I feel about this!”

And I’m here to say:

  1. I totally understand why angry spouses/romantic partners don’t want to have to explain themselves. For example, I always wanted my wife to tell me what she wanted me to do to “help her” with house cleaning. I thought that was reasonable. She didn’t. She was right, and I was wrong. I was wrong, because by doing it that way, I was making it HER responsibility to keep things clean and organized, and to keep projects on-task. When wives start feeling like your mom, they stop wanting to sleep with you because that’s a really normal response in a parent-child relationship. HOWEVER.
  2. That’s not the dynamic I’m talking about. My wife 100% should have never had to be the team leader on house cleaning and childcare. But, could she have done a better job of explaining what she really wanted in a way that made sense to me? Yeah, I think so. I think I’ve demonstrated that I truly understand the problem, and I think I could have understood it while I was still married if the message was delivered in whatever way would have been more effective than however it actually happened.

If my wife had said something like: “Matt. You’re smart. When you go to work, you perform your job duties at a high level without someone hanging over your shoulder every second telling you what to do next. In fact, you’d hate it if that’s what happened. You pride yourself on understanding how your work contributes to the greater good of your company, and you’re always thinking about new ways you and others at the company can do things to have even greater success.

“Because of that, it really hurts my feelings and makes me feel disrespected when you don’t apply that same level of thoughtful care and observation skills to our home, to our child, to our marriage, to me. I feel like our family and marriage is way more valuable than our jobs. And it would mean so much to me if you would simply apply the same level of care to us that you do at your job. It would make me feel loved and cared for so much more than you might realize.”

A conservation like that might have changed the world for our three-person family.

My day job is to use words to sell things on the internet. And I can tell you unequivocally that the No. 1 thing you can do to get more people to click a button in an email, or to fill out a form, or to order something online is to very simply, very directly, very specifically tell the customer what you want them to do.

Fill out this form, hit submit, and we’ll call you back within the hour!

Order today for the industry’s fastest shipping on the tools you need to finish the job!

Enter promo code SAVE at checkout to save 20% on your next order!

When you tell someone what you want them to do using clear language, and you supply the reason for why you want them to (or why you think they should—telling them what’s in it for them) more people will respond favorably to your sales and marketing efforts. And so too will they in your personal relationships at home and in your daily lives.

We shouldn’t lead with give me, give me, give me.

We should lead by example. We should go first. We should give first. (And BELIEVE ME when I say that I know so many of you already give the most and sacrifice first in your relationships—people who do not reciprocate are not so different than relationship abusers, and I’m sorry.)

I’m simply saying that for most of us, there are ways of adjusting how we do things to increase how often we successfully get the responses we want in our interpersonal relationships.

We use selflessness to achieve what we “selfishly” want.

When we succeed in giving first, and recruiting our loved ones to cooperatively help us solve problems, and by clearly explaining what we want in ways the people we know and love can hear and understand us?

Good things happen.

Remember Phillip Kunz? The guy who mailed Christmas cards to 600 strangers?

His family received Christmas cards from many of those strangers for the following 15 years.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

67 thoughts on “3 Secrets for Getting Your Spouse or Romantic Partner to Do What You Want

  1. jeffmustbeleast says:

    Great article Matt. I think your third point on clearly stating what you want and why is likely one of the biggest issues in a lot of troubled marriages. What makes it worse is once both spouses are hurt, it can be very hard to accurately hear what the other person is saying. We can easily start assuming the intent/meaning behind someone’s words that may not be accurate. If the pain is too great, I think it is possible to not hear the other person even if they are trying to be clear. I’m trying to practice “active listening” constantly. It drives me crazy at times, but I’m starting to realize how important it is when communication has broken down.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. gottmanfan says:

    “If my wife had said something like: “Matt. You’re smart. When you go to work, you perform your job duties at a high level without someone hanging over your shoulder every second telling you what to do next. In fact, you’d hate it if that’s what happened. You pride yourself on understanding how your work contributes to the greater good of your company, and you’re always thinking about new ways you and others at the company can do things to have even greater success.

    “Because of that, it really hurts my feelings and makes me feel disrespected when you don’t apply that same level of thoughtful care and observation skills to our home, to our child, to our marriage, to me. I feel like our family and marriage is way more valuable than our jobs. And it would mean so much to me if you would simply apply the same level of care to us that you do at your job. It would make me feel loved and cared for so much more than you might realize.”

    A conservation like that might have changed the world for our three-person family.”

    The sad thing is that it takes a lot of emotional self-regulation and understanding of relationships to know:

    1. That is what explains his behavior and and how to frame it in a way this particular man can relate to.

    2. How to deliver it without anger or aggressive non verbals.

    3. How to respond to this if he doesn’t respond to what she said with his own self-regulation and understanding of relationships and how to answer in a way this particular woman can hear.

    That’s why it so commonly goes wrong. It’s not yellow belt level stuff. It can be learned but it’s not easy if you didn’t grow up with these skills so they are your default.

    Like

    • JBrookeB says:

      Gottmanfan:

      I fall into the category of individuals who were raised without healthy models of communication in the home. I’d rather not delve too deeply into my childhood situation, but I can say there was an inordinate amount of hostility, passive aggressiveness (passive aggression?), and learning not to share feelings and emotions.

      I want very much to improve my ability to effectively communicate my needs to a partner while also learning better ways to ask how I can be better for them.

      You’re exceptionally knowledgeable and I’d like to ask if you have any recommended reading beyond what’s already been discussed on these pages? I’m very familiar with the 5 Love Languages, Mars/Venus, Waffles/Spaghetti (now I’m hungry), and How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It.

      I’m looking specifically for anything geared toward individuals who were raised believing they shouldn’t share feelings and emotions lest they want to risk “rocking the boat” (which would generally lead to silent treatments or anger/passive aggressiveness).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. gottmanfan says:

    Let me throw out what has helped me to do a better job in asking my husband to change something. Maybe it might help some wife out there.

    All the black belt stuff is too hard for me to remember in the moment so I use 2 things to shape my message.

    Hierarchy and aggression.

    Many husbands have been raised in a particular culture (US culture anyway) and will hear everything said through the lens of hierarchy and aggression. The unconscious/conscious mission is to avoid being put in a one-down position at all costs.

    So a wife “telling” her husband to do x, y, or z will get a defensive response as the default. Because you tripped the hierarchy trap. If someone can tell you what to do in male culture they are in charge and you are lower in position. And that is emasculating and to be defended against vigorously.

    This is not how typical female culture works (in the US anyway) so it’s not clear that is the message you are sending. And it’s perplexing when you get the sarcastic “thanks mom” or “you are not my boss” response. But it makes sense seen through the hierarchy lens.

    So that is why a wife must be very, very conscious of the message being presented as a REQUEST or a PREFERENCE to not trigger the hierarchy trap.

    The 2nd piece is about *how* you present it. It must be very gentle with friendly tone of voice and non verbals so it comes across as non-threatening.

    Doing it that way won’t trigger the aggression switch so your husband goes into fight, flight, or freeze mode to defend himself. Many men are vigilant against any signs aggressionas signaling the red alert for defense shields to be raised. So you have to come waving a white flag of just wanting to negotiate not fight.

    See Matt’s example of what he thinks his wife could have said for an example of the non-hierarchy, non-aggressive approach many men would find more palatable.

    The goal is to make it as EASY as possible for him to respond to your request.

    Like

    • jenny4 says:

      Gottmanfan-So. I need to be clear about what I want or need, explain why and be direct but not too direct otherwise I’m seen as aggressive? I’m not sure I can function like that, in all honesty. I feel like if I’m not direct enough he just doesn’t get it. But if I’m too direct then I’m not cognizant of the hierarchy? I guess I’m idealistic but I’m not thinking there should be a hierarchy in my marriage anyway..I feel like if I explain my needs and why, then maybe that should be enough? Not trying to start anything just seeking to clarify. I feel like Gottmanfans ideas might work in some siturations but I also feel like I’d lose a large part of myself in the process if I did this.

      Liked by 1 person

      • gottmanfan says:

        Oh I get it Jenny!

        I am in no way saying this is easy. I am saying it is like traveling to another county and learning how to communicate with another culture’s language rules and customs. So you can GET THROUGH to him.

        Most marriages with “communication” problems are because we don’t have the right set of skills to know how be flexible enough to speak each other’s language.

        And it needs to go both ways. But the issue of this post was about wives communicating with their husbands.

        Does that seem reasonable? I am not advising groveling or permanent unilateral change.

        Just thinking about it as cross-cultural communicating and learning to get better at being bi-lingual.

        Liked by 1 person

        • gottmanfan says:

          Most people are familiar with different love languages.

          I think of it like that. Many husbands and wives have different “communication” languages styles.

          We have to figure out what our styles are and then be able to learn how to speak the other person’s style too.

          Like

        • jenny4 says:

          Gottmanfan-Seems reasonable. LOL. I actually did live in Japan for more than a year and had an easier time communicating cross-culturally than I do in my own household. I get what you’re saying about cultural differences.It’s about awareness. Feel like I tried it all-including Matt’s three tips–but if it is unilateral or unreciprocated change then it only can go so far. Thanks for all of your insight.

          Like

          • gottmanfan says:

            It makes sense to me that women have an easier time adjusting to an indirect culture like Japan as you experienced.

            I’ve never been there but had female friends agree with your experience and also had American men tell me how mystified they were in having to deal with Asian indirect styles since it is so different than their direct style.

            I think when you have made good faith efforts to try all of the above it requires a new approach.

            I have had to do that in my relationship. Set boundaries of the status quo is not acceptable. (My husband has done that with me too at a different point)

            It’s far to easy to let years go by with no significant change. And if we have done all reasonable communication stuff it requires a different level up. Something to communicate the seriousness of the situation.

            Could be couples therapy/coaching to help navigate. (Though have to find a good fit)

            Could be something else.

            Have you had success with that in the past?

            Like

            • gottmanfan says:

              I am amazed by how many husbands have been told over and over by their wives that they are unhappy but they don’t think it is serious.

              Until she moves out. Or wants a divorce etc. and he is shocked.

              So that is why if someone isn’t “getting it” some action may be necessary to get through when verbal is not working.

              Something direct.

              Like

        • OKRickety says:

          gottmanfan,

          “And it needs to go both ways. But the issue of this post was about wives communicating with their husbands.”

          I rather think you read the post with your own “lens”. Rather than the usual perspective, I think Matt actually kept this post even-handed. The only time I see otherwise is when he recounts his own marriage experience as an example.

          Like

          • gottmanfan says:

            Okrickety,

            I probably did read it with the lens that Matt said he was going to write a post based on comments from a husband that his wife didn’t want to ask him for what she needed. Because it didn’t “count” if she had to ask.

            And I also was keying onto the part where Matt was describing what his wife might have said to him that could have possibly helped him “get it.”

            But I agree it was written in a way that could apply to either side.

            Like

      • gottmanfan says:

        The other side of this ALSO needs to happen for a happy marriage with the husband learning to speak in the way his wife can understand as well.

        What do you think are the two factors that would be an easy cheat sheet for husbands?

        I would nominate most wives filter their husbands communication through two things

        Trust-safety and proactive partnership

        Can I trust you to be there for me? Do you have my interests at heart and not just your own? Are you a man I can feel safe with?

        And can you consistently show a proactive approach (not dominance or passivity) so I have a PARTNER in this?

        Do these resonate with you? Or would you pick something else?

        Like

  4. gottmanfan says:

    So why don’t the subsets of women Matt is talking about in this post clearly ask for what they want?

    Well lots of reasons but one may be messages of female culture. Where it is expected that you will proactively seek understanding of what the other person prefers. If you have to tell the other person it is seen as the other person not
    knowing you, not caring enough about you to know you.

    A lot of this is not specific to male/female dynamics. It is really about indirect vs direct cultural expectations.

    For example, Japanese *men* and others in indirect cultures communicate with indirect messaging so is not about strict male/female differences. They don’t say “no” in meetings, they communicate no indirectly and expect you will understand that.

    But, in general, males in Western cultures are raised and operate more with direct messaging “just tell me what you want.” And they think their wives should speak in their cultural style.

    In general, females are raised and operate with more indirect messaging that involves understanding nuances and how it relates to what we know about the other person. And they think their husband should speak in their style.

    Accommodations of different styles is what is required. Not insisting that the other person is “wrong” for having a different style.

    Like

  5. OKRickety says:

    gottmanfan,

    ‘They don’t say “no” in meetings, they communicate no indirectly and expect you will understand that.’

    About three years ago I travelled to Malaysia on business. In working with the employees at our manufacturing plant there, I experienced this. I don’t remember specifics, but I realized they (both males and females) were unwilling to directly say “No” to anything. I don’t know how good communication can be achieved if one party is unwilling to directly state what they think.

    ‘Accommodations of different styles is what is required. Not insisting that the other person is “wrong” for having a different style.’

    I agree, but what I perceive is that almost all of the “experts” on marriage are saying that masculine styles of communication are wrong. In fact, I believe they invariably extend that to all things masculine. In other words, men are always wrong and women are never wrong (or, if they are, it must really be a man’s fault she is wrong). If society believes this (and I think it does), it would certainly explain the pathetic state of marriage today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gottmanfan says:

      Hey OKRickety!

      Thanks for adding your thoughts.

      You said:

      “I don’t know how good communication can be achieved if one party is unwilling to directly state what they think.”

      Well again that is because you are looking at it from the lens of your direct style. When people use the same indirect style they use the same rules. Billions of people in the world use an indirect style and see their style as “good communication” and wonder at the rudeness and strangeness of the direct style.

      That’s why we have to see it as different styles to start communicating from a different place than good or bad.

      Liked by 1 person

    • gottmanfan says:

      Okrickety,

      You said:

      “what I perceive is that almost all of the “experts” on marriage are saying that masculine styles of communication are wrong. “

      I think there is some validity to that statement. I have often said that couples therapy is unnecessarily set up in ways that accommodate a typical husband’s comfort and communication style. (Sit on a couch and talk about feelings).

      As a woman who has a Spock like style I feel a lot of compassion for why men hate going to therapy. I don’t like that set up either. Why is it set up like that? (Well that’s another story but its roots are in Freud who was clearly not a feminist so it’s not about that)

      I don’t think though that excellent therapists or relationship researchers present it like that.

      And there are a LOT of different experts and styles out there that are male communication friendly. Gottman’s therapy, for example , is presented, in a very linear behavioral science based style that many men find more comfortable.

      As we have talked about before there is just a LOT of bad relationship crap out there for both men and women.

      Liked by 1 person

      • gottmanfan says:

        Meant to say

        **DON’T** accommodate a typical husband’s comfort and communication style. (Sit on a couch and talk about feelings).

        Like

      • gottmanfan says:

        I said:

        “Gottman’s therapy, for example , is presented, in a very linear behavioral science based style that many men find more comfortable.”

        This is direct style friendly.

        It tells you what to do. It has clear goals. It has clear guidelines. It explains why it is important to do.

        Emotions matter too of course. But imho it often takes a direct friendly approach to get a certain level of safety for many men.

        So they can feel they aren’t being ganged up on and attacked or told that their wife’s style is better and they are a failure (see hierarchy and aggression as for safety)

        Once the safety cues are there, good willed husbands are open to learn and find ways to change to communicate bilingually and show his wife love in her language.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Dana says:

      Can I get my partner to *want* to get on a plane? I love travel and he has flight anxiety and hasn’t flown in probably 15 years. :(

      I know this is more complicated than simply having different interests, but I travel alone or with a friend when what I really want is to travel with my partner, at least some of the time. I was single a very long time and traveled alone and wished I had a partner to share it with and now I have one, but there’s this.

      He says he’s willing to work on it, to eventually be able to take a flight with me, but I don’t see any steps in this direction even though I do get the sense he understands how important it is to me.

      Trying to be patient and empathetic is getting hard. I’m beginning to think I just have to come to terms with the fact we’ll never travel together (travel that involves flying, that is).

      Like

      • gottmanfan says:

        Dana,

        I am so sorry to hear that your love of travel with your partner that is so meaningful to you is not being proactively handled.

        Maybe you know all this but I thought I’d share my personal experience. Having a phobia sets up a lot avoidance. (I know that all too well). It’s not usually a lack of wanting to please your partner so much as it’s hard to overcome the intense emotions that trigger the avoidance. It can sometimes feel physiologically like you are can’t bear it. When you have had a panic attack you fear having another etc.

        As you may know, the good news is that fear of flying is very treatable with the right therapy approach. It might be helpful (if you already haven’t) to research a good Cognitive Behavioral therapist who specializes in exposure therapy helping people with a fear of flying.

        It can be easier if all the legwork is already done and he might be able to show up to an appointment that he didn’t have to research or set. It’s the **avoidance** that is so hard to overcome based on my experience.

        And for many men it can set up a sense of failure in not being able to fly and a second layer of not being able to make you happy. That double sense of failure makes it even harder emotionally and sets up more avoidance.

        Which puts you in the tricky position of trying to help without triggering his sense of failure or that you are telling him what to do.

        It helps me to think about it as a joint thing to be solved together. Recognizing that what I am asking of him is very difficult for him. And trying to find ways to make it easier for him (ways he finds easier not what I would find easier)

        Not me waiting for him to do something and getting angry at the avoidance. Which is my default I have to work against.

        Don’t know if any of that resonates with your situation but I have been in a similar situation and it was challenging to navigate.

        Like

    • Dana says:

      That’s a cultural thing you’re referring in the Malaysian employees. Not to stereotype every Southeast Asian country but I have been to the vast majority and it’s apples and oranges in terms of communication styles.

      Liked by 1 person

      • OKRickety says:

        Dana,

        My intent was to corroborate gottmanfan’s statement about indirect communication being typical of those cultures.

        Although the current Japanese experience with marriage seems to suggest that indirect communication isn’t working so well today. As I understand it, the marriage rates in Japan have gone down significantly and the whole pre-marriage situation is quite dysfunctional.

        Like

        • gottmanfan says:

          Okrickety,

          Japan’s gender, sex, marriage, and fertility issues are quite interesting and complex as I’m sure you know.

          From everything I have read indirect communication styles aren’t a major factor in all that though. 😀

          Like

  6. OKRickety says:

    gottmanfan,

    Your mention of Sue Johnson above led me to a little research and I found reference to the article Marry or move in together? Brain knows the difference, written in 2014. One quote:

    ‘Marriage is linked with numerous health benefits that simply cohabiting doesn’t seem to provide. Now, research suggests the reason why the brain links “just” living together with a lack of commitment and can’t relax.’

    I don’t suppose it would make a difference to those looking to choose between cohabiting and marriage, but it sounds like it should.

    Like

    • gottmanfan says:

      Oh the research on the difference between living together vs marriage is quite interesting.

      It seems to have to do with making a conscious deliberate choice to marry rather than “sliding into it” as just another thing to do since we’ve been together so long if that makes sense.

      Making a commitment as a definite choice produces better outcomes.

      Like

    • gottmanfan says:

      Thanks for the interesting article. I knew of the previous research with the married women but had not heard of the newer experiments with different types of couples.

      It seems it’s all about the perceived security of the couples. Which makes sense in light of the previous research on married women.

      Those who felt emotionally secure felt less pain holding their husband’s hand. Those who didn’t feel emotionally secure with their husband didn’t have a pain reduction.

      Like

  7. OKRickety says:

    gottmanfan,

    Matt wrote: ‘The Secrets of Successfully Selling Things are the Same Secrets for Influencing Others (Namely Your Spouse/Partner) to “Do What You Want”’

    This finally struck me in light of your liking for Gottman, particularly the issue of Accepting Influence. I want to focus on the implicit concept that the one wanting to provide the influence needs to be aware that their presentation is significant in whether or not the influence is accepted. I believe this to be true and should always be presented as part of any discussion of Accepting Influence.

    Gottman says the 65% of American men are incapable of readily accepting influence.” Reading this, I understand it to mean that the problem is usually the men (Does it mean 35% of the time women are the problem?). I also presume there is no fault being attributed to how the women present their influence. I find that concept ridiculous, but, unfortunately, what I think the majority of society believes. Specifically, the problem in marriages is almost always the behavior of men, not that of women. As I noted in the previous paragraph, I think this is grossly inaccurate.

    Like

    • gottmanfan says:

      Okrickety,

      I’m not sure I understood the meat of what you were saying so I will throw out random responses 😀

      I like a lot of researchers and relationship idea people. They are most useful in concert imho. Like a symphony sometimes you need a violin solo, sometimes a clarinet or piano.

      I got the name gottmanfan here on this blog because I used to quote his research a lot here. I did that because earlier SO MUCH of the posts and comments were about men are like x, women are like y with lots of anecdotes and stereotypes.

      Gottman’s research is useful for that kind of thing because his research is specific by gender. So you can get some science injected into the conversation. It’s the clarinet.

      Ok to your point about accepting influence. Gottman has a very specific definition for that term. It is NOT about marketing or manipulating.

      It is simply about hearing your partner’s request and not getting defensive and hearing it as a signal for fight, flight, or freeze.

      According to his original research 35% of men could accept influence. Could not go into fight, flight or freeze. 65% of men could not. Women, according to the same research at that stage universally accepted influence.

      A lot of this has to do with the different cultures men are women raised in. Accepting influence is a cultural norm for most females.

      This does not mean that men are “wrong”. It means that what works in one situation does not necessarily work in another. And we all have to learn new skills to be successfully married.

      His research showed that women ALSO had to learn new things. Wives who did not know how to set boundaries early in the relationship failed to save the relationship from
      later divorce.

      This also imho has to do with culture. It is common in male culture to know how to set boundaries around other people. It is not common on female culture in the same way. So women need to learn to do that better just as men need to learn to accept influence better.

      And as you said it matters how you bring things up. Women who raise issues with their husband harshly/critically set up the conversation for failure. Gottman says women need to learn to raise issue with “soft startups”.

      There are things that men and women do wrong. Gottman clearly states this. He does not say that men are wrong and women are right.

      I don’t know of any respected researcher who says that men are wrong and women are right.

      Even Terry Real says that women respond incorrectly and need to learn new skills/attitudes. It is not just men who need to change.

      Like

    • gottmanfan says:

      Okrickety,

      Help me understand why you think society and experts say that men are wrong and women are right.

      Do you have an example of a relationship “expert” who says that?

      I know you got some bad couples therapy where your concerns weren’t treated fairly so I can understand that part.

      But I am not getting the part where “men” are accused of being the problem and “women” are not.

      So I am asking directly since I am kind of a direct style person. 😀

      Like

      • OKRickety says:

        gottmanfan,

        “I don’t know of any respected researcher who says that men are wrong and women are right.”

        That may be true of the researchers strictly speaking (although I’m not sure that you could say the equivalent about which sex they think is the bigger problem in marriages), but I don’t think it’s the general attitude of society and especially the authorities such as law enforcement, church leaders, judges, divorce lawyers, etc.

        This was also my general experience with my divorce. The authorities (no law enforcement was involved) all seemed to consider that I was tremendously at fault and my wife was a wonderful example of humankind. I believe my behavior surprised my female lawyer because at one point she spontaneously remarked that she did not see signs of anger in my behavior.

        From what I understand of the anecdotes of other divorced men I personally know, my experience is absolutely typical. There is a reason that Men’s Rights groups exist.

        Are you familiar with the Duluth Model (Domestic Abuse Intervention Project)? It is my understanding that it is the gold standard for how the state authorities make their decisions. Essentially, it assumes that men are always the perpetrators and women (and children) are always the victims. I understand that this issue is not specifically marriage-only, but I think it is indicative of what is taught generally as being the truth about marriages.

        “Even Terry Real says that women respond incorrectly and need to learn new skills/attitudes. It is not just men who need to change.”

        But, if I remember correctly, he very much ignores the woman’s behavior until after he has pounded on the man first. I don’t think that one-sided approach is going to work well with men generally (and I think he recognizes that but does it anyway).

        Like

        • gottmanfan says:

          Okrickety,

          Thanks for explaining it. Let me see if I got it right.

          Your personal experience is that people thought of you as the cause in your divorce. The person at fault.

          Your wife was considered “sweet and innocent.” while you were labeled the “angry guy.”

          Your perspective of how common your experience is confirmed by similar experiences of divorced men you know.

          I am familiar with Men’s Rights groups. I think they have some valid points particularly around custody and visitation rights for minor children in divorce.

          I am familiar with the Duluth Model. I can understand your concern that men not be automatically assumed to be perpetrators. Domestic violence is a complicated issue and the Duluth model is based on minimizing risk of severe injury and death. And on average it is far more likely that women will be the recipient of severe injury and death than the other way around. I don’t present the Duluth model as ideal.

          I am aware that women commonly abuse men and that it is not addressed enough. There are limited resources for abused men and that is not acceptable.

          I say all that to agree with you that there are problems in applying averages to individuals. And that the Duluth model is a corrective to the previous problem of police and courts and churches etc providing very little if any relief or support to abused women.

          It is difficult to find the right balance. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t accept imbalance.

          My issue with most of the MRA, MGTOW, Redpill etc is that take some legitimate points and things that are unfair and combine them with misogyny. Women are all kinds of horrible things or objects to be dominated and gamed. Feminists most of all are worthy of contempt and ridicule for their looks. The root of all evil appears to be feminists and beta men from what I could tell of the general ideas. Lots of evolutionary psychology/Mars/ Venus stereotypes undergird the assumptions. Women want to be dominated but are too stupid to know it. Or conversely women want to dominate you with fitness tests.

          Most of that stuff has *some* validity in mating behaviors. But it gets off track in the attitude.

          How is that in any way helpful? As my grandmother used to say “two wrongs don’t make a right” for trying to correct imbalances and definitely turning women into the “enemy” doesn’t seem productive to me to solve any of the above problems.

          Even Christians congregate on Dalrock’s blog and the comments are just so filled with offensive things against women I found it hard to read. I read some of it in an effort to understand. I used my male filter of hierarchy and aggression and could get some of the allure I think.

          I saw you comment there sometimes. I wonder what you find helpful in his approach? I would like to understand.

          Like

          • OKRickety says:

            “Your personal experience is that people thought of you as the cause in your divorce. The person at fault.”

            More accurately, they presumed that I was the person at fault. They didn’t know (or even want to know), but instead supposed that what they’ve been told about husbands on the average must be true.

            “It is difficult to find the right balance. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t accept imbalance.”

            My primary objection is to the idea that swinging the pendulum to the other extreme is somehow acceptable. Does no one today understand how to get close to a balance on anything, or must we continue, both individually and as a society, to be so polarized?

            “My issue with most of the MRA, MGTOW, Redpill etc is that take some legitimate points and things that are unfair and combine them with misogyny.”

            There are many who consider those groups to be the antithesis of feminism. I believe that feminists generally take some legitimate points and things that are unfair and combine them with misandry.

            “Even Christians congregate on Dalrock’s blog and the comments are just so filled with offensive things against women I found it hard to read. […] I saw you comment there sometimes. I wonder what you find helpful in his approach? I would like to understand.”

            There are a great many Christian men who have been sold a bill of goods regarding women and marriage. For example, Guy M. Richard, in the article How Jesus Trains Husbands, writes this (Note: Richard’s definition of beauty is being in the image of God):

            “If I am giving myself sacrificially to my wife, then I should expect that over time my wife will become more and more beautiful.”

            While that sounds wonderful in theory (and I suggest you read his article to see an example of what church leaders think is good marriage counsel), I think it completely discounts the reality that women (just like men) have a human nature that quite often overrides the ideal behavior with a bad behavior. In my own personal experience, I think that I changed my behavior during my marriage, behaving more like the Christian “experts” on marriage taught. I strongly suspect that those changes were a factor in my marriage failing.

            When I first read Dalrock, he very often did analyses and commentary on various studies that related to my own marriage and divorce experience and the state of marriage today. I found them very helpful in understanding my experience. Unfortunately, those types of posts are extremely rare in recent years. In short, I don’t currently find Dalrock helpful in his approach, but I do still find some of the posts to be of interest.

            As to the “offensive things against women”, I offer no specific justification. However, if you can see that many of these men have been greatly mistreated both by specific women, and by the authorities during and after divorces, perhaps you can understand why they may have a great deal of anger or bitterness.

            Like

            • gottmanfan says:

              Okrickety,

              You said:

              “Your personal experience is that people thought of you as the cause in your divorce. The person at fault.”

              More accurately, they presumed that I was the person at fault. They didn’t know (or even want to know), but instead supposed that what they’ve been told about husbands on the average must be true.

              “It is difficult to find the right balance. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t accept imbalance.” (Edit note typo should have said *should*)

              My primary objection is to the idea that swinging the pendulum to the other extreme is somehow acceptable. Does no one today understand how to get close to a balance on anything, or must we continue, both individually and as a society, to be so polarized?”

              I think both of those are the problem with people defaulting to the less complex answers.

              Natural to do that. The brain’s “fast thinking” vs “slow thinking”. But doing that results in a lot of problems and injustice and as you said polarization. So it must be challenged constantly.

              We don’t agree on some basic things but I appreciate that we can dialogue respectfully to the goal of not defaulting to simple first pass assumptions but seeing and understanding the complexity of our points of view.

              Seen through that complexity we agree on a lot. And the things I don’t agree with you on we can at least try and understand an accurate representation of the views and why we hold them.

              I am certainly not a black belt on that skill either but like all others it takes intention to get better, correct information of goals, and practice.

              I think it’s just another example of an accumulation of lack of that skill that creates the polarization. You see it in 2 people like marriages, small groups, and thousands and millions at a country level.

              The Duluth model is imho an example of mainly incorrect goals based on incorrect diagnosis of domestic violence. I think Gottman’s research on distinguishing between the two types of domestic violence produces a more accurate diagnosis. (See my linked article on the bottom of page for details.)

              Like

              • OKRickety says:

                gottmanfan,

                “We don’t agree on some basic things but I appreciate that we can dialogue respectfully to the goal of not defaulting to simple first pass assumptions but seeing and understanding the complexity of our points of view. Seen through that complexity we agree on a lot. And the things I don’t agree with you on we can at least try and understand an accurate representation of the views and why we hold them.”

                I don’t expect to agree with the vast majority on most issues and certainly not regarding marriage. To the degree that you and I do agree about marriage, I primarily attribute to your willingness to consider thinking outside the usual boxes that most people, especially women, seem to insist on restricting themselves to. Thank you for that willingness.

                Liked by 1 person

            • gottmanfan says:

              Okrickety,

              You said:

              “When I first read Dalrock, he very often did analyses and commentary on various studies that related to my own marriage and divorce experience and the state of marriage today. I found them very helpful in understanding my experience. Unfortunately, those types of posts are extremely rare in recent years. In short, I don’t currently find Dalrock helpful in his approach, but I do still find some of the posts to be of interest.

              As to the “offensive things against women”, I offer no specific justification. However, if you can see that many of these men have been greatly mistreated both by specific women, and by the authorities during and after divorces, perhaps you can understand why they may have a great deal of anger or bitterness.”

              Thanks for the explanation. I can understand seeking information/community to make sense of the breakup of a marriage. To make sense of how to reorient to a traumatic event.

              So his blog sounds quite different now that it’s original form? Do you have a sense for why it shifted to the current state? He is married so I assume he isn’t dealing with it from a place of an unwanted and/or unfair divorce.

              To your point about the commenters having a great deal of anger or bitterness, I absolutely understand that. It’s kind of like the stages of grief.

              My issue is the people who are guiding and influencing the people who are in the initial stages.

              My problem is when the “leaders” (informal in terms of blog/Reddit influencers) don’t point towards the goal of health. How do you respond when you are suffering? When you have been mistreated? When you are discriminated against systematically?

              And then the extra layer of Dalrock’s blog. How do you respond when are a Christian?

              Those “leaders” and long time commenters can move things in responding towards a goal of health or farther away.

              From what I can see, the influence is in the wrong direction.

              Listen, I am FAR from a black belt in how I do it but I try and speak up against misogyny and *misandry* in real life conversations, groups, meetings, churches, etc. and online in comments with individuals and groups.

              Imho it is important to do this. It is a responsibility to do this. It puzzles me when people don’t do this most especially to
              hurting people to point them TOWARDS health not away from it.

              Do you see it similarly? That we have a responsibilityto speak up when people say misgynistic or misandrist things?

              In addition to justice and health it helps imho to reduce the polarization and “fast thinking” towards seeing things with more complexity.

              Like

              • OKRickety says:

                gottmanfan,

                “So his blog sounds quite different now that it’s original form? Do you have a sense for why it shifted to the current state? He is married so I assume he isn’t dealing with it from a place of an unwanted and/or unfair divorce.”

                I have no idea how much Dalrock’s blog shifted or why. I perceive the main focus today to be presenting examples of misandrist behavior or stupid behavior, with an emphasis on instances involving churchians (people who claim to be Christian but really aren’t).

                ‘My issue is the people who are guiding and influencing the people who are in the initial stages.
                My problem is when the “leaders” (informal in terms of blog/Reddit influencers) don’t point towards the goal of health. How do you respond when you are suffering? When you have been mistreated? When you are discriminated against systematically?
                And then the extra layer of Dalrock’s blog. How do you respond when are a Christian? Those “leaders” and long time commenters can move things in responding towards a goal of health or farther away.
                From what I can see, the influence is in the wrong direction.

                I don’t think that helping marriages improve is or ever has been a primary goal for Dalrock. However, I do believe he has made general attempts, but they have primarily been along the lines of “you should avoid the advice of these people and groups if you want your marriage to improve”. One of those groups is church pastors and church leaders, especially the older ones (because they don’t know what it’s like today). I basically agree, as I think their “influence is in the wrong direction”.

                The other group I would avoid, for much the same reasons, are “Christian” marriage counselors. [I just remembered that one of the counselors we used actually said, as well as I can remember, “What difference does it make who she has had sex with? Sex is just a _____ in a ________”. As I find those statements extremely contrary to Christian teaching as well as a pathetic understanding of the importance of sex generally, I don’t think we used his services after that.]

                ‘Do you see it similarly? That we have a responsibilityto speak up when people say misgynistic or misandrist things?’

                I would agree that we should speak up about misogyny and misandry (although I don’t think most people would recognize misandry even in its most egregious forms), but I usually don’t bother because I would not expect a positive outcome (it’s not the politically correct thing to do).

                Like

                • gottmanfan says:

                  Okrickety,

                  You said:

                  “I don’t think that helping marriages improve is or ever has been a primary goal for Dalrock. However, I do believe he has made general attempts, but they have primarily been along the lines of “you should avoid the advice of these people and groups if you want your marriage to improve”. One of those groups is church pastors and church leaders, especially the older ones (because they don’t know what it’s like today). I basically agree, as I think their “influence is in the wrong direction”.”

                  I didn’t phrase my meaning well in the original comment.

                  I wasn’t thinking of improving marriages. I was thinking of pointing people towards more general healthy attitudes. Not focusing on tribalism with the other sex as the enemy.

                  If a man or woman has been mistreated, instead of having lots of posts and comments that say “women are fill in the blank misogynist thing” or “men are fill in the blank misogynist thing”

                  The blog writer and long term commenters would chime in and say “hey I know you have been mistreated but women are really a b or c realistic thing” not x misogynist thing and vice versa for men.

                  It doesn’t discount the bad stuff but also doesn’t turn it into an unhealthy way of thinking or behavior.

                  It’s like someone who has been robbed and beaten up by a person of a different race. It is easy to then to channel that hurt and anger and fear into generalizations that are guided towards racism or towards a realistic view of the situation that doesn’t include racism.

                  That’s what I see in Dalrock. It has been channeled towards misogynist views. I agree with some of the points that there are legitimate grievances and injustices but the misogyny is wrong.

                  And the blogger and comments who enable it and or don’t guide it away from misogyny are hurting the overall effort towards change to a healthier way of healing for everyone who reads it.

                  (And I feel the same way about blogs and comments that say misandrist stuff too.)

                  Like

                  • OKRickety says:

                    gottmanfan,

                    ‘That’s what I see in Dalrock. It has been channeled towards misogynist views. ‘

                    While I would agree that a few of the regular commenters there are clearly misogynist, I don’t think Dalrock is, nor do I think most of the commenters are, either. Sure, they often express their unhappiness about how women behave and the negative impact they experience personally or see in the news.

                    I wonder if our definitions of misogynistic differ here. A definition of misogynistic is “strongly prejudiced against women.” and prejudice is defined as a “preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.”

                    Let’s look at a hypothetical example of a man who has experienced mistreatment from women generally and then expresses an expectation that women will mistreat him (and other men like him) in the future.

                    Logically, I understand the above definitions to mean that this man is not expressing a misogynistic view because it is based on his own actual experience. Now you, on the other hand, may consider it misogynistic because you have not had that experience and, supposing you believe no woman would ever behave that way, consider his position to be unreasonable.

                    In other words, misogyny is relative to our own experience and what we believe to be true about others’ experiences. Do you agree?

                    If you agree, then I wonder if you would reconsider your position about misogyny on Dalrock’s blog.

                    Like

                    • gottmanfan says:

                      Okrickety,

                      You said:

                      “In other words, misogyny is relative to our own experience and what we believe to be true about others’ experiences. Do you agree?”

                      I think all communication is filtered through the experiences and meaning applied by both the sender and receiver (often very different which creates the difficulties).

                      However, it is our responsibility imho to know that those filters exist. And that there are often facts and complexities that are left out of our subjective interpretations. What we think and feel through the filter of our particular experiences is not the “Truth”.

                      In fact, they are incomplete and often distorted, even as we are convinced they are undeniably true and other’s are incomplete or distorted.

                      One of my favorite imaginary- friend experts is Behavioral Economist Daniel Kahneman whose fascinating book Thinking Fast and Slow details all the many ways our brain doesn’t operate for reliable “truth.” Our subjective filters are full of short cuts, conscious and unconscious biases etc. The stories we weave about our experiences are similarly unreliable for “truth.”

                      That is one of many reasons I don’t agree that the definitions of “misogyny” or lots of other things should be anchored on subjective experiences.

                      With the caveat, that opinion is a result of my filters .😜

                      Like

                    • gottmanfan says:

                      Okrickety,

                      You said:

                      “If you agree, then I wonder if you would reconsider your position about misogyny on Dalrock’s blog.”

                      I forgot to add in my last comment that I certainly would reconsider my take on his blog. I did not spend a lot of time reading it since, as you have acknowledged, there were definitely some blatant comments of contempt and hostility towards women.

                      To be clear, it is not Dalrock’s hierarchical view of male leadership and female submission in marriage that is the misogyny imho. I certainly do not agree with this point of view nor think that thoughtful exegesis of the Bible lead to that as the best interpretation.

                      But I respect that many, many people hold that religious view and are not misogynist in holding it. (Though there is a spectrum that can be at the extreme end.)

                      The practice of that belief however, can often be misogynist in my experience and reading but that’s another thing.

                      Like

                    • gottmanfan says:

                      Okrickety,

                      You said:

                      “Now you, on the other hand, may consider it misogynistic because you have not had that experience and, supposing you believe no woman would ever behave that way, consider his position to be unreasonable.”

                      This is what I meant about subjectivity not being a good measure of definitions since our personal experiences are so limited of what billions of other people are doing in the world.

                      I don’t consider people’s positions unreasonable because I have not experienced them directly.

                      That is the thinking error that Matt’s main thesis is about.

                      You often describe misandrist treatment you have experienced in churches and therapy. I did not personally see the same things you did but I do not think that means what you are saying is “wrong.”

                      I have my own experiences in churches and therapy that were imho equally misogynistic in approach as you describe your misandrist treatment. But those experiences do not negate opposite experiences.

                      Imho the key is to push against generalizing on personal experiences that usually are part of a larger, complex picture that includes very different stories than our own.

                      That is how we can hear people’s experiences and not negate them but try to incorporate them with our experiences to include them for a better understanding of how things really are.

                      Like

        • gottmanfan says:

          “But, if I remember correctly, he very much ignores the woman’s behavior until after he has pounded on the man first. I don’t think that one-sided approach is going to work well with men generally (and I think he recognizes that but does it anyway).”

          I have read a lot of Terry Real. I have taken training for his stuff. Imho doesn’t “pound” on people in a one sided way.

          He is VERY direct which is why he appeals to my direct style. He tells the client what he sees needs to change. He does this for both sides. He does TAKE sides which is different than the usual oh let’s just play nice and say it’s all 50/50.

          If it is the man that is the primary problem he says that. If it is the woman he says that. If it is both he says that.

          Where he does usually side with the typical female’s relationship goals is in more emotional connection and intimacy in marriage. That’s where all the patriarchy stuff comes in. That boys and men are culturally trained to not deal with emotions. They are expected to be “stoic” and not show weakness.

          This works well in many situations. But as I said with the Gottman stuff we all have to learn different skills in intimate relationships like parenting and marriage.

          And he addresses that too with calling out women for not asking for intimacy in a respectful productive way. And also for not setting boundaries correctly.

          Usually there are issues on both sides there need to be addressed. That was true for my marriage.

          Like

  8. gottmanfan says:

    Okrickety,

    Here is a recent Gottman blog article you may be interested in about domestic abuse and the Duluth model.

    https://www.gottman.com/blog/a-review-of-the-research-on-domestic-violence/

    Like

    • OKRickety says:

      gottmanfan,

      Thanks for the link. I see there are multiple comments from Dr. Strauss of New Hampshire University providing a great deal more information about domestic violence.

      All in all, I perceive the Duluth model to be a textbook example of how we get invalid teaching, training, and beliefs into place in our society today.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Matt, I don’t know which I enjoy more on this one, your article or the comments following it. You are correct though, relationships have little difference from business relationships in learning how to communicate our needs. Each one is different yet the same on so many levels.

    Liked by 1 person

Join the Conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: