In a long-term study of 130 newlywed couples, Dr. John Gottman discovered that men who allow their wives to influence them have happier marriages and are less likely to divorce.

This critical skill is not limited to heterosexual couples. It’s essential in same-sex relationships as well, but the research shows that gay and lesbian couples are notably better at it than straight couples. See The 12 Year Study for more on this.

I want you to meet Lauren and Steven.* While Steven believes an equal partnership is the key to a happy and lasting marriage, his actions speak differently.

Steven: “The guys and I are going fishing this weekend. We are leaving later tonight.”
Lauren: “But my girlfriends are staying with us on Friday, and I need help cleaning the house tonight. We talked about this. How could you forget? Can you leave tomorrow morning?”
Steven: “How did you forget I have my guys trip? I can’t change our departure schedule. We are leaving in a few hours.”

Lauren’s anger boils. She calls him a “selfish asshole” and storms out of the kitchen.

Feeling overwhelmed, Steven pours himself a glass of whiskey and turns on the football game.

When Lauren walks back into the room to talk, he stonewalls her. She starts to cry. He announces he needs to work on his truck and leaves the room.

Arguments like these are full of accusations, making it difficult to determine the underlying cause. What is clear is Steven’s unwillingness to accept Lauren’s influence.

Rejecting Influence

It’s not that marriage can’t survive moments of anger, complaints, or criticism. They can. Couples get in trouble when they match negativity with negativity instead of making repairs to de-escalate conflict. Dr. Gottman explains in The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work that 65% of men increase negativity during an argument.

Steven’s response doesn’t show that he hears Lauren’s complaint. Instead, he responds with defensiveness and sends a complaint right back: Why didn’t she remember his plans?

The Four Horsemen – criticism, defensiveness, contempt, stonewalling – are telltale signs that a man is resisting his wife’s influence.

My point is not to insult men. It takes two to make a marriage work and it is just as important for wives to treat their husbands with honor and respect. But Dr. Gottman’s research indicates that a majority of wives – even in unhappy marriages – already do this.

This doesn’t mean women don’t get angry and even contemptuous of their husbands. It just means that they let their husbands influence their decision making by taking their opinions and feelings into account. Data suggests that men do not return the favor.

Statistically speaking, Dr. Gottman’s research shows there is an 81% chance that a marriage will self-implode when a man is unwilling to share power.

What Men Can Learn From Women

There are books that say men are from Mars and women are from Venus. While this isn’t literally true, men and women often do feel alien to each other.

This starts in childhood. When boys play games, their focus is on winning, not their emotions or the others playing. If one of the boys get hurt, he gets ignored. After all, “the game must go on.”

With girls, feelings are often the first priority. When a tearful girl says, “we’re not friends anymore,” the game stops and only starts again if the girls make up. In The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, Dr. Gottman explains, “the truth is that ‘girlish’ games offer far better preparation for marriage and family life because they focus on relationships.”

There are plenty of women who are unaware of these social nuisances and men who are deeply sensitive to others. In Dr. Gottman’s research, however, only 35% of the men were emotionally intelligent.

Two Roads Diverged

…and I took the relationship-focused one.

The husband who lacks emotional intelligence rejects his wife’s influence because he fears a loss of power. And because he is unwilling to accept influence, he will not be influential.

The emotionally intelligent husband is interested in his wife’s emotions because he honors and respects her. While this man may not express his emotions in the same way his wife does, he will learn how to better connect with her.

When she needs to talk, he’ll turn off the football game and listen. He will pick “we” over “me.” He will understand his wife’s inner world, continue to admire her, and communicate this respect by turning towards her. His relationship, sex life, and overall joy will be far greater than the man who lacks emotional intelligence.

The emotionally intelligent husband will also be a better father because he is not afraid of feelings. He will teach his children to respect their emotions and themselves. Dr. Gottman calls this Emotion Coaching.

Because this man is deeply connected to his wife, she will go to him when she is stressed, upset, and overjoyed. She’ll even go to him when she is aroused.

How to Accept Influence

Dr. Gottman suspects men who resist their wives influence do so without realizing it. Accepting influence is both a mindset and a skill cultivated by paying attention to your spouse every day. This means building your Love Maps, expressing your fondness and admiration, and accepting bids for connection.

And when conflict happens, the key is to understand your partner’s point of view and be willing to compromise. Do this by identifying your inflexible areas and searching for something both of you can agree to.

For example: Steven understands that Lauren is stressed about having company when the house is a mess. While he may not be able to delay his trip until the next morning, he can push it back to later that evening so he can help her around the house first. Maybe instead of Steven vacuuming and wiping down the counters (typically his task), Lauren could wipe them down in the morning before her friends arrive so Steven could leave a little earlier with his buddies.

Accepting your partner’s influence is a great strategy for gaining more respect, power, and influence. Want to have a happy and stable marriage? Make your commitment to your partner stronger than your commitment to winning. If you do that, your marriage wins.


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*Author’s Note: In the example provided, Lauren’s negativity is realistic (and understandable) because her needs are not being met. There tends to be criticism and frustration from both partners in these relationships. With that said, if Lauren had softened her start-up, Steven may have received it better and accepted her influence.

In all marital conflicts, both parties have responsibilities as a speaker and a listener. The listener’s role is to listen non-defensively for the emotional bid for connection, even if the tone used is harsh, while the speaker’s role is to use a soft start-up by complaining without blame.

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Kyle Benson

Kyle Benson is a nationally recognized couple’s mindset coach providing practical, research-based tools to build long-lasting relationships. Kyle is best known for his compassion and non-judgemental style and his capacity to see the root problem. Download the Intimacy 5 Challenge to learn where you and your partner can improve your emotional connection and build lasting intimacy. Connect with Kyle on Twitter and Facebook. For more tools visit kylebenson.net.

  • Steve

    I think the overall message is spot on, but I have some issues with the example given. I object to suggestion that the Steven character is the one who amped up the negativity in their disagreement. Lauren opened with “…I can’t believe you forgot about my friends coming…” when apparently they BOTH had made an error when they scheduled their plans. She was equally at fault but she ignores her own culpability, blames him, and demands he make changes in his plans so her plans can go interrupted. I don’t think you can get more self centered than that. Furthermore unless they discussed him helping out cleaning up before her friends came into town she has effectively become angry with him and demanded he change his plans because she made her own plans and she had committed him to work as part of these plans without his consent. That is crazy. Maybe she should consider his feelings in the matter and not lead with “how could you forget about my plans…” Or with demands that he delay/ruin his own plans while she makes zero concessesions of her own in the matter….

    • Yahhhmon

      And the assumption that “most wives do this” is assumption.

      Yes, there are some wonderful women who are skilled at deescalation just as there men who do that too.

      This article seems overly gender biased, which is no surprise.

      However, saying that, yes, men should be influenced by their wives more and some women could choose to be a little more too (not all are even if many are).

      • Bender Rodriguez

        Most women DO do that. You just don’t notice because those times went smoothly.

        • Yahhhmon

          If the theory is most men don’t and most women don’t we can choose to believe it.

          Reality is many men don’t, many women don’t. There are a lot of broken people in the world or ones with psychogical problems.

          The women and men whom who show E.I. traits, and there are many who do, stand out. I’ve been blessed to know some.

    • PsychDr

      Steve,
      An error in thinking I see all the time with my couples/husbands in therapy is the assumption you just made which is of course the housework is HER responsibility. It’s not “helping out” which assumes her job, it’s sharing the load. That right there is not sharing influence as running a household is really the job of both adults even when one person is staying at home with small children. Note that the husband in this article “goes back to watching football”. Imagine what might have happened if he just started doing some of the work needing done before both people had their plans begin. When men share the load they find that not only do their relationships run smoother but they also end up with more and better sex. Just a thought.

      • Thank you for this

      • Steve

        I had interpreted the anecdote in a different way – that because there was company coming over the woman wanted the house in “company” form so to speak. I would whole heartedly agree that housework in general is both of their responsibility, but this seems to fall into a different category in my mind. What I mean by this is that there is kind of a “regular” steady state that a household will oscillate around from a neatness standpoint and presumably both parties contribute equally to maintaining such a state – however when friends or company come over maybe one or both parties changes what their threshold is for an acceptable level of neatness – maybe the woman in this instance is embarrassed by any amount of untidiness, but maybe the gentleman is OK with there being a little grout in the bathroom. Presuming that the house is at its “baseline” tidiness level and not a complete wreck, I would suggest that it’s an appropriate expectation that the responsibility for any tidying above and beyond a baseline cleanliness falls on her. I know that if I wanted to have a social get together I certainly wouldn’t expect my significant other to have to do extra tidying because I wanted to have guests and I was self conscious about the state of the household. Now if the house was a mess because people were behind on chores, etc., then yes, I agree her certainly has a responsibility to make his fair share of contributions.

        In reality, I think he should want to help out regardless of the state of the house because it’s a nice thing to do and people who care about each other should be happy doing nice things for each other.

        Lets think about this the other way around though and I think there are some other biases that may emerge. Let us suppose that she had agreed to help clean up the house because a group of his friends were coming into town. Coincidentally she already had a girls trip planned for that weekend which both partners were aware of. Then she comes home and says oh shoot, I forgot that I was supposed to leave tonight, I won’t be able to help clean up anymore.

        If I were in that situation, never in a million years would I get angry at my partner… It was a oversight plain and simple – and in this case the oversight was made by both parties because both knew about both scheduled activities when they had this discussion about cleaning. I think the reasonable response in that situation would be – “oh you know what, I totally forgot you had this event too when we discussed cleaning up. We probably should have made plans to clean the house yesterday so there wouldn’t have been this conflict.” Furthermore, I think I would almost certainly WANT my partner to go on their trip on time – maybe it’s extra work for me but so what, we both made an oversight (and even if only she made the oversight – who the heck cares – *unless of course this was some sort of pattern of behavior.) Regardless, I think I would be happy to do some extra cleaning just so my partner would not miss out on a big weekend trip planned with close friends! Why wouldn’t I want my partner to be happy?? I certainly know I wouldn’t want them to miss important time spent with close friends that may not come around too frequently.

        This incident was really just a function of an unfortunate oversight by both parties – that when they discussed cleaning the house up that nobody realized there was this scheduling conflict. Both parties had all the information – and regardless, even if he just made a mistake so be it. Mistakes happen! Clearly there was no ill will on his part… Given all that, me it seems incredibly unreasonable and downright selfish to ask somebody to miss out on part an important trip with close friends because she doesn’t want to have to do some extra work cleaning up. Really, to me it’s an overreaction from the very beginning when she complains, “how could you forget?” – incinuating that he should be blamed for this mistake, Then to have an expectation that he leave the next morning? That’s crazy in my mind. Wouldn’t it have been more appropriate to say, oh shoot we both forgot that our schedules clashed, can we figure out a way to problem solve this? Can we do as much cleaning as possible right now? Maybe I can push our ETD back a few hours so I can help clean, etc. That seems like a reasonable response and problem solving effort from both parties where no blame is placed – as opposed to this scenario where the woman is quite eager to blame her partner and has extremely little regard for how important this trip may be for him. In fact, instead of being willing to do some extra cleaning herself or instead of taking the chance of suffering a little social embarrassment (BTW if these are her good friends, they probably shouldn’t care if her house was a mess anyways) she would rather have her partner miss out on his important weekend (about half of it) so he can contribute an equal amount to a task which debatably he isn’t even responsible for in the first place. To me, this kind of expectation typifies the sense of entitlement that some (not all) women unfortunately have – that the world revolves around them.

        • PsychDr

          A lot of assumptions are being made. I believe the point within the Gottman framework is that the husband’s immediate response was defensive. Defensiveness sends the message of “that’s not my problem, you are on your own”. I’m not saying that it was ok to call him a selfish asshole but that is how the dance can get started. I’ve found in my practice that people are often very unaware of the myriad ways defensiveness shows up. The reaction to defensiveness is very often anger. The other point is that when the other partner’s feelings aren’t counting for anything…which clearly they weren’t for the husband when he pours a whiskey instead of trying to problem solve or help in any way in the time he does have…..that’s when resentments build. In general (and there are always more within group differences in things than between group differences) I’ve found that women more automatically tend to allow influence and respond to their partner’s feelings than do men who often only *think* they do. Gottman’s research kind of bears this out when the effect of allowing influence is not bi-directional but only occurs related to whether *men* allow influence. His research data show women already generally allow influence at such high levels that there is what’s called a ceiling effect….no difference in the explanation factor. Further, I would just challenge you to see that you are not seeing entitlement in the husband’s behavior where if I were to see it at all (vs just conflict and feelings), it would be in BOTH not just the wife. Food for thought.

          • Steve

            Fair enough, interesting discussion regardless.

          • MackeyDIngo

            Perhaps because the woman’s immediate response was accusatory? I know this is an example, and I think the ultimate solution is a good one, but the fault here is being put on the guy for his response to her accusation.

            And let’s be honest, unless she specifically said I need you to help me clean up before my friends come over, he did nothing outside of what they talked about, and was therefore attacked due to her failure to communicate.

          • Bender Rodriguez

            “Perhaps because the woman’s immediate response was accusatory?”

            No, it wasn’t. It was normal human interaction stuff you even see in regular friendships. To wit…

            Roommate Pal: “Work guys and I are going fishing this weekend. We are leaving later tonight.”

            Buddy: “But my girlfriends is staying with me on Friday, and I need help changing my brakes so I can pick her up. We talked about this. DUDE! How could you forget? Can you leave tomorrow morning?”

            Pal: “Ohhhh I forgot!”

            Buddy: “Yeah!”

            Pal: “Alright. If we start now well get the hard parts done, then you can do the rest… put the wheels back on and whatnot.”

            Buddy: “OK. I got it all in the garage. Lets knock it out…”

            See? It’s very easy to cast women as histrionic villains when they are not. Its because of the biased lense you evaluate them with, one that tells you to interpret everything she says as menstrual.

            Her: “Can you pass the salt? … [nothing]… Excuse me… [nothing]… excuse me, hi! … Hi, can you pass the salt?”

            Anyone and everyone: “Alright already!”

            Another way…

            Jim: Pass the salt… yo… hey man… hey man… pass the salt.

            Steven: Sorry… Didn’t hear ya…. Crunching in my jaw [points to chewing jaw] There ya go.

            *It’s like magic!*

        • Bender Rodriguez

          “Then she comes home and says oh shoot, I forgot that I was supposed to leave tonight, I won’t be able to help clean up anymore.

          “If I were in that situation, never in a million years would I get angry at my partner..”

          DING DING DING DING!

          That’s just it… she was not in that situation. Do you see how you manipulated the situation to being a respectful acknowledgement of one’s own culpability and then loftily said you’d be ok with it, thereby casting her as a shrew (for not being magnanimous like you) in the actual situation? The actual situation is NOT a respectful admission of culpability. The actual situation is him turning tables and trying to make HER the guilty party (like your own instinct is to do) to avoid admitting letting down… THAT is why she is upset. She’s ultimately not the most upset at the hiccup in plans. She’s mostly upset at his letting her down and instead of finding a way to repair the damage, he then shoves a prybar into the rift torn into her trust for him to make it worse.

    • Bender Rodriguez

      You’re making stuff up. It’s a made up scenario that does not allow what you’re saying. If he had a guys trip that was leaving before he could help, then why did he agree to help? It doesn’t make sense that she forgot because he would have reminded her before he agreed to help her. The more likely scenario is that he (like you) is making up her culpability to defend the indefensible. That was an escalation of negativity and it perfectly explains her feelings of betrayal and his guilty
      stonewalling.

    • Caroline Snider

      With my husband nothing is forgotton or forgiven for 28 years of blackmail, coercion and armed force trying to get him in line with the needs of others, both in the community and on his job. For myself and everyone else time passed so much differentlythan it did for him from 1982 to 2009 when he let himself get so depressed over thevway we wanted him to be he let his immune system quit, and he developed MRSA in a abscess in his spine.

      When he went into surgery that October 24th 2009. He had spent most of the last 9 years hating me, his father and the community for the way he had been forced to pay attention to everyone else’s needs before his own. he had not had but six days off from may 28th 1985. and all of them had been after another surgery, a brain tumor removal off the top of his brain stem.

      He was supposed to have sixty days off for his recovery but his surgery came right in the middle of vacation plans. even though he broke a keyboard over one mans face none of the five that came to take him to work that day did not come out of his room not bleeding. He was yelling at me to call federal authoraties to report his abduction. They were just taking him back to his job after six days. I felt that what he wanted was harsh against my friends and his father.

      I did not consider that the things he had in store for us was very harsh the next 8 years.latter that fall we did not know how bad he could cause pain. When he would not discuss the problems he would create when he used his seniority to take a job bid. It was a job wanted by four men that stood higher in the communities social structure, he did not care in the least when he used his knowledge of combat hand to hand. on four of them. leaving them dying on our porch for daring to lay a hand on him. They just wanted him to back off the job bid. I had spent the day before on my knees begging him to back off and promising him ifhe did that everything from vacations, to sex that he had wanted the last 16 years would be his. I remembered his actions for having him arrested on December the 23 1999, and how he had embarrassed me and his family. When we returned from Bavaria on his birthday January the fifth 2000. All because we got him to work the time over the millinial holidays he gave me a box of dog excrement for my Christmas gift.

      His parents got a wagon wheel set in their yard with rawhide wrist ties and a bull whip and sign telling the community they wereinvitewd to come beat the uppity slave on his 45th birthday. He made me and his family look like slavers fotr getting him to do what was right for everyone. We bame nack with a peace offering, Christmas gift, and birthday fift of a clock that changed background scenes of all the worlds celebrations on the millinial and it could be programed with his music watching it. We were going to suggest he take the next 11 days off and do any as the replacement for the time off and let him choose a time latter that spring to go any where he wanted with his four weeks vacation thing he wanted was on the table as long as he did not mention what we had done to him the last 15 years. We wanted a peace with him but he wanted total war with us.

      the next 9 years it was force and counter force ending with the orient express vacation in 2009 when he dislocated my shoulder, and tried to strangle his father to death over that trip, We had canceled his reservations and taken his passport. Yo fet him to stay and work in place of a man with 32 years less seniority so he could gave a honey moon then. We had started the arrangement for a vacation for him starting on January the second 2010, it was just 210 days away or seven months. The vacation was five weeks in St Croix, and we could get him another month with personal time.

      That orient express trip was the final straw with him after 28 years. He became ill. then 3 years latter he came home from rehab with no intention to even try to talk things over. He told me the evening he came home with that cane that he was the final and only judge and arbiter, in what he was allowed under his roof and the rest of us could go to hell if we thought we had a dam thing to say. We were going to try and take him for a nice dinner that Saturday so everyone could find a way to make amends for the 28 years of abuse, work him into social and home situations in baby steps. He was sent home three days before expected on an evening there were other plans made.

      I was going with his father, mother and his fathers best friend to a invitation only fund raising dinner.. When I steped out of the bedroom after hetting ready to fo I was instantly on the defensive running into my husbands chest. A man that was supposed to be in a wheel chair. since the surgery in 2001 it was easy to tell when my husband was angry. His eye color changed from hazzle to steel gray, usually ending in somebody hurt very badly.

      I started crying before the first words were out. He was being sarcastic, He said good I was ready to go out. that he had not even been to a movie in 31 years, where were WE going to celebrate his homecoming. I was reaching into my purse for a 100.00. I said I had promised the evening for a dinner event to his father, It was to late to change plans for that evening . I had promised his father. He knew I was not ready to go out with him and he shot the plans for the evening to pieces the next 45 minutes. He sais that how many promises were kept to him over the last 31 years, he counted, out of hundreds, that he was promised the score stood as me wiyj many and him with none. I was crying just pick a place to meet me in four hours, I would het there with his mother father and his fathers best friend and call other people that had things to say in their defense.

      He said he did not care about what any one wanted to say even me. He said if I went through the door with his faher I was staying with them and never setting foot in our house again. my things would be on the deck to collect ands I had less than one minute to get out, or he would consider it my tacit permission to do as he pleased, and he would consider that I was going to start being a wife. Mot just the person that helped steal his life.

      I was crying still telling him that the time before MRSA was not meant it was just the only way to secure his cooperation, I said we had offered many times a way to have time off, just not when he wanted, the only thing I had when he came home from the navy to ge his cooperation was to promise a sex life, He just would never willingly cooperate, So I kept having to make the same promise, just to get him to be nice about things. I said the last 11 years there had not been one time he was nice, he hurt people over interference.

      I said it was not a rational thing to hurt people over rights. He said then he was bot rational and cared less about any thing I wanted, I was not going out to a dinner that evening. I was staying home and being the wife I had promised to be 31 years before. I was crying even harder by this point, I said I was 48 and we could start living in just peace and grow old as we should from that point, just live in peace now.

      I could see he was not buying the goods I was selling.. He was in front of the phones so I took off for the door to yell for help. He shredded my dress and backed me into the living room yelling he was my husband and I was going to be a wife with my mouth shut. I was five minutes past the time. Therefore I was his to do as he pleased, I was begging that evening did not have ro be this way we could work things out with some discussion. He threw me the phone told me that I was to call 911, don’t clean up for the kit, sont pick up for scene photos and lets see who walked out of court with there head high.

      He was not continuing taking it in the teeth just to keep the peace. his fathers friend threatened him to let him talk to me, he ended up in the ER..

      I had a little boy 9 months six days latter my husband invites himself to every family function, In 2014 2 were very bad, first memorial day when he refused to go away for the cookout on our porch. I was just going for drinks, but my husband felt that he was the only one that had the tight to escort me. He would not let me go with his fathers friend chasing him from the cookout and taking the reservation ticket with me away from him, His own father was angry that my husband would overife the traditions of 302 years and invite himself as my escort. I also felt the way my husband forcedthe issue was in bad taste, maybe it was not my right to go for drinks with someone else but my husband was forcing change to his way again. So his father slapped him in our kitchen for being rude, my husband backhanded his father breaking his jaw.

      He shoved all the gurstrs out andf locked the house and took me to the club.. his father had somone call ahead and offer the doorman 100 to keep my husband out. He played a cripple to the hilt letting the doorman push him into the street before he reacted I felt so sorry for the people and the doorman when my husband tool him down.

      Over the fourths cookout somebody slipped several ketamine into my husbands coffee I thought he had gone to lay down when suddenly seveal deputies and the state police walked in two hours latter and searched my guests, They found two with the ketamine, Ny husband was at the hospital getting cleaned out of an overdose. He had been taken from the cookout and dropped 30 miles away on the side of a country road. He had stumbled up to a farm house and asked for help.

      The police said that according to the ER doctors it was lucky they had not given more. Instead of abduction it could have been murder. The men that dropped him said it was just a joke we were going out to get him in another hour. Even after his mother, father and others begged him to drop charges my husband said he was tired of people, deciding he was not to be accorded the same decency we enjoyed. We had moved to Wyoming the year before we were just back to complete the move and sell the house. His father was at the end of his patience and so was my husband.

      I was asked to go to a breakfast to discuss the next tri year vacation to cancun in the spring of 2015, They needed to think of a way to get my husband to not go, To have our conference without my husbands input they held him at pistol pount to let me go without him, That just succeded in my husband hunting us down and he ripped the faces of the two men open with his cane in front of a horrified restraunt full of people. After that it was impossible to keep things low key. .Since 2013 my husbands war ruined many traditions. Where he worked the contract rules not needs. people in social positions are not given any better consideration. I feel that even with the political and good old bot system that was used to keep my husband from having time off, and my own blackmail ir was not needed to get violent over such things as sex, vacations, holidays, weekends, shift and job choice, We could have somehow sat down and hammered a way everyone got their needs met. We might not have liked giving up but we had to any way.

      • DC

        if any of this is true, you are married to a psychopathic superhero in a wheelchair.
        if this is fiction, then i suggest getting an editor.

  • elliefrost

    Or the wife always gets her way because the husband doesn’t want to suffer the consequences if he disagrees with anything.

    • Bender Rodriguez

      So he’s not an adult and is not responsible for himself and she’s not in his team? I know your goal is to put down women to score points from men. But the whole “Yes dear” weak male cliche is a huge insult on men, though many UNWITTINGLY enjoy using it as excuses and jokes about the wives.

      • elliefrost

        I have no interest in currying favor with men. I know a few of these couples and yes, I consider the men weak and the women overbearing. Neither are emotionally intelligent. I do however know more couples who have healthy relationships.

      • elliefrost

        No reply huh? Because there’s egg on your face. You come here making all kinds of assumptions and criticize people for what? An ego boost?

  • Marisa Ulrich

    Wow. As a wife, I would never be as demanding or selfish as the one in the example. Sheesh. While I see a point or two in this, I am getting rather weary of the blame being laid almost solely on the man. I have known many a woman who runs roughshod over men’s and even fellow women’s feelings and many a man who is kind and compassionate. Of course, it all depends on your definition. For some women I have known, kind and compassionate really means bending over backwards.

    • Eve Salazar

      Being disappointed your husband is about to back out of previously agreed-upon plans in order to facilitate his own plans is not selfish, it’s acknowledging a dilemma. Did she express that disappointment in the best possible way? No. However. One of the other commenters made a good point: then why didn’t he get off his butt and offer to help THAT NIGHT, seeing her in a jam? I liked this article because both parties ARE responsible to each other but the escalation occurred due to his reactions and unwillingness to participate in resolution. So, is HE being an active and emotionally intelligent partner willing to find a resolution quickly and kindly? Or is the onus on being the emotionally intelligent partner always laid at the feet of us “selfish” women who need to simply figure it out, swallow our needs, and avoid bitching about it in the process? Me thinks the latter.

      • Marisa Ulrich

        It’s been so long since I read this, I had to reread to refresh my memory. Thanks for your thoughts but my view of the matter pretty much still stands. They both have a lot to learn about emotional maturity, no doubt, but she had a moment to react with patience in the very beginning and did not. I think, in this case, where I might be disappointed, I would not demand he change his plans to suit me or call him an “asshole”. I would just clean the house myself for my friends and go on with life. But, that’s just me. I don’t sweat this kind of stuff. Life’s too short. God bless. 🙂

        • Bender Rodriguez

          You do sweat it. You’re lying. How do I know? Without second thought, your emotions cast her as a villain because of OTHER women. (Women she is not responsible for).

          She didn’t DEMAND anything. She began a negotiation so that he could keep his word. And you call that demanding and selfish? “Can you leave tomorrow morning?” is a fair opening to respectful negotiations.

          You ARE bothered, but your bother is on the opposite side of things. You merely mask it with a holier than thou facade.

          I can speculate why. I surmise it’s because you’re one of those competitive women who needs to see other women in the presence of men as faulty, thereby making you alpha female.

          • Bender Rodriguez

            Exciting! “One other person is typing…”

          • Madame Butterfly

            It has been so long I no longer even had an account and had to make a new one. Totally forgot about this discussion. You used the word
            ” speculate”. Perfect. Because that is all it is. You don’t know me or my experiences. I am sorry if I offended but was merely offering my perspective as I saw it. Yes…you saw one person typing. Likely me, who was trying to decide whether it was worth engaging in foolishness, particularly on a day of celebration. I chose to shut off at that point to focus my heart where it ought to be-my Lord and Savior. And I intend to shut off now no matter what you come back at me with. Internet wars are time wasters at best, and, at worst, can stir unnecessary ugliness. God bless-and, yes, I mean that. We all need Him.-

            Marisa

          • Bender Rodriguez

            Oh stop it. You’re not sorry.

            You called a person DEMANDING AND SELFISH. The scenario as depicted does not illustrate either. The scenario is hypothetical, yes, but AS DEPICTED, it does not allow for your nasty leap of insult and holier than thou self-congratulations.

            I don’t know you, but for some reason, you find it PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE to judge others (even the real ones).

            You, madam, are FOS and you know it, hence your posting and then running away doing internet equivalent of “lalalala I can’t hear you lalalala”

          • Bender Rodriguez

            ps. What a big fat theistic style slight of hand LIE to say you saw my post right away (it had to have been on your Ulrich account to see it minutes after I posted it on a 3mo comment), start typing, Discus recognize you were typing… But you had to start a new account to finally reply 5 hours later?

            I see through you like a freshly washed plate glass window.

            God bless.

        • Bender Rodriguez

          Nevermind. Really you should have disclaimed that you have Aspbergers. You’re not on the same psychological playing field as those with normal social interactions. Before you protest that, let me remind you that you are using a psychological designation that necessarily says that.

          And really, how dare you shame normal women for normal social behavior? You cant even identify with them on a valid level, but you say bigoted things like “selfish and demanding”?

          I’m apt to believe you don’t really have aspbergers, but like to say so because it makes you special.

        • Bender Rodriguez

          Psst… I replied.

  • Gilgamesh

    Get a shared calendar.

  • netreality

    She started with a complaint, but he responded with another one. That’s called escalating the negativity, rather than looking for at least a partial solution. He could have phrased it better, such as “Oh, no, I forgot, and can’t change my trip right now. What would be helpful in the hour that I have left?”.

    Then later she returned to the room to talk, which is making an effort, but he refused to talk to her. That’s twice that he made it worse. She made errors too, obviously.

    This article is trying to explain that couples should aim to de-escalate issues, and look for commonality, show some empathy, rather than heaping on criticism. It would be helpful to give a good example.

  • Vanessa Keitha

    Typo: There are plenty of women who are unaware of these social ‘nuisances’ and men who are deeply sensitive to others.

    I think u mean ‘nuances’… 🙂

    Great article, Thanks.
    V

  • Kamis Dewey

    I think it’s weird he committed to help her clean up before her girls’ night (Friday) and forgot *his own schedule*, then blames her for it without apologizing for his mistake of overcommitment. It sounds like this conversation takes place on Thursday (since her girls’ night is Friday and she asks if he can leave “tomorrow morning” and it wouldn’t make sense for her to ask him to be around for her girls’ night). I don’t think it’s necessarily reasonable for assume that saying, “I’m going on a weekend trip” means the other will know “That means I’m leaving Thursday night.”

    In a healthy relationship, people need to have room to express dismay when their needs are forgotten, without the other partner 1. blaming them and 2. shutting down. That kind of behavior leads to emotional abuse and gaslighting.

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  • disqus_GB8lUuziuG

    I think from the examples given here the couple is simply best to divorce. Any wife who would be so selfish, disrespectful and controlling has no business being in a relationship. She attacked her husband, now when he needs time to sort it out and deal he is now the “bad guy”… Same old Feminist hate mongering as always.

  • Max

    The point of the article is, understanding your partner’s point of view and being willing to compromise.

    Being right or wrong is irrelevant, because the goal is a strong emotional bond, not justice. One partner can be completely wrong and the other partner can respond with empathy. The goal should be to meet your partners needs, not to be “right” — because we want love, not justice.

    By the way, since we do not know the circumstances about their agreement, i.e., who agreed to what when, we cannot not know definitively who is right/wrong. And like I said, it does not even matter.

  • Deborah West

    WOW. This article is very negative towards the wife. But yet it was clearly stated that by the wife that they had ALREADY talked about her plans BEFORE he made his plans. It appears he just simply ‘forgot’ that he had already committed to helping his wife and instead made plans of his own. Something better came along for him so he jumped on it. This is called ranking. The husband ranked his wife and his commitment to her as LESS important than having his own fun. He could have easily told his friends that he couldn’t be there that night because he had already made promises but that he would join them later. Period. Men need to stand by their word. Period. That’s what caused the escalation.

    • Bender Rodriguez

      Hey! I’ll have you know men take great pride in their name, their handshakes, and their word!

      [Fine print. Read fast: Between themselves only. Women not included. Exceptions to these terms is not an agreement to expand such exceptions so as to make the exceptions the norm.]

  • Desiree Mulligan

    Not sure about the example given. I assume that Steven and Lauren had made this agreement and that Steven simply forgot about it. Lauren attacking Steven could indicate two things….that she is emotionally immature also, or that she is exasperated because this is not the first time and won’t be a last. Could he be ‘forgetting’ a little too often for her liking?

    I do agree with the overall theme of the article but suggest that part of ’emotional intelligence’ is to understand and make allowances for those around us who are not as emotionally intelligent, through no fault of their of their own. Although this could get tiresome as it’s usually the women who are making allowances and nurturing their partners AND their children as well.

    I think that the whole concept of Dr Grey’s Mars and Venus, has merit and that both partners need to understand and make allowances for the other, given their differences.

  • TrueLoveIsSelfLove

    You can’t save a marriage with a mind-blind spouse, via Asperger’s….Emotional intelligence is a concept they don’t even understand for themselves.

    • Marisa Ulrich

      Not to be rude, but as an Aspie married to an Aspie raising Aspies, your assessment is rather dismissive and unkind, honestly. We are most capable of emotional intelligence. It’s a matter of how we are approached. It takes time to get to know us and understand what is inside.

      • TrueLoveIsSelfLove

        I think Aspies are perfect for each other. You say it takes time to get to know us and understand what is inside, yet the same is not done for us neurotypicals…That’s been my experience….And if I sound rude, you should hear the Aspie I’m living with.

      • Marisa Ulrich

        I understand it can be a struggle. And I’m so sorry it is for you. I should say just as with neurotypicals, there are Aspies who are kinder than others. I just didn’t want us all painted with the same brush. It’s hard trying to be understood as more than what the world seems to see. We do have hearts and feelings-sometimes very intense ones. The tough part for many of us is in how to express them in a world that can be rather frightening to us. Perhaps Aspies are indeed well-suited to one another. Everyone needs someone to understand. I hope things work out for you. I didn’t mean to come down hard. God bless.

  • cherie

    I appreciate the overall message in this article; defensiveness. We could all go on and on about the semantics. Bottom line though, defensiveness is the main culprit. And also to note, using semantics in a heated emotional discussion, is a type of defensiveness. Perhaps the definition of “a defensive remark” needs more clarification. Research, not opinion, has shown the destructive nature of always being on the defense. It’s no bueno and has no right to be justified, especially with a semantic argument.

  • Stephanie Showers

    Rejection of influence. I like it. Makes sense to me. I think rejection of any kind makes women change the way they interact or accept the interaction with their partner. It changes the approach, it changes the interactions, and then it changes the resolution of the negative interactions. I think women began not trusting when to much rejection in the relationship begins. It starts with the rejection of influence and then before you know it distance and indifference permeates the interactions..

  • Tim Golden

    There is so much garbage in this post that I cannot adequately discuss it in this comment. I will blog about this poison and will comment again with the link to my blog. Meanwhile, don’t believe everything you read. And please, whatever you do, don’t believe the nonsense in this post.

  • Really

    It is important for both parties to be told this when they go to counseling before a marriage. Many are blind sided and have no clue on how to handle the situation successfully. Thanks for sharing.

  • Well, that’s all good and well. But what is a wife to do when hubby is not interested in her emotional responses? How does the wife keep from becoming an angry, bitter person?

    • Renske de jonge

      Focus on Jesus. Forgive and bless my mom always said. My dad could treat her like crap, it did not influence her mood and she’d happily do what he told her to, ’til he saw that was quite egocentric and he helped her clean. Now he says: You go sit! Cleaning up the kitchen is my task. Amazing, I couldn’t do it. I just stay alone. The more of this stuff I read the more I’m like: nooooooooo!!!! never again! Why on earth do people get married if it’s not going absolutely swell anyway?

  • Caroline Snider

    It happened again today: I was throwing a cookout and because my husband stressed so many of my friends out I asked him to go any where else, I would save him a dinner in the warmer for when I called him home> HE flipped me off and stayed any way. Many of my friends came and decided to leave because my husband would not. I don’t know how to have my friends when my husband is just so set on his way now.

  • Tammy Sprague

    Have trouble finding out what your spouse or children are up to with their phones because devices are secured with a password?or you constantly suspect foul play in your relationship?i have been through this as well until i met Pete,hacked all my patner’s social network and let me know where i belong,you can try as well,tell him its from Tammy,mail him at realcyberclone@gmail.com or text 940-247-0650,thank me later,ciao…..

  • JJ Thomp

    Also displays a stereo type male and female roles. I guess most couples fall into these roles still.

  • Jason Stone

    I sense a strong bias in this article. How can you insinuate that husband should accept wife’s influence and also speak about equality in the same breath. It’s hypocritical. Who would not like to get their influence asserted upon and be accepted with out question – be it man or woman. You should replace Steven with Spouse A and Lauren with Spouse B and then judge. You will soon realize how skewed this article is.

    A marriage is like a car, it’s wise for one to be at the steering wheel at one point of time. If both of them grab the wheel and steer it according their “influence” then the car is surely headed for a wreck. It’s exactly this acceptance of influence that borderlines on being treated or feeling like a doormat.

    Although I agree in the previous ages, it was hard on women, the trend now is male bashing than trying to find the middle ground.

  • Geneva Maynard

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  • A single incident cannot tell you enough about the people and their relationship. Oftentimes, how a person responds to a situation or even an accusation is a result of several emotions that may have built up over a period of time. These emotions, left unrecognized and unaddressed, can create anxiety, which can manifest itself in anger, defensiveness or even avoidance.

  • Squidday

    99% of arguments can be prevented by de-escalating and also being willing to compromise. When both you and your partner start thinking about each others needs (instead of caring about who’s right or wrong) good things start to happen.

    The only thing I disagree with is the title of this article. I don’t think a lasting marriage is solely reliant on one spouse. I believe a lasting marriage is a team effort which ultimately comes down to good communication. It’s really worth giving Brad Browning’s marriage guide a read. His techniques are different, but really help create an amazing bond with your partner. You can find it at:
    http://www.savingyourmarriage.info

    There needs to be a healthy balance in any worthwhile relationship.

  • Denny_Lilly1

    Okay..

  • baines_harry

    I agree with the overall message of this article. It’s about learning to de-escalate situations and also be willing to compromise.

    However, I’m not so sure I agree with the title. I don’t think either spouse is solely reliable for a lasting marriage. As cliche as it sounds, it’s about team work and good communication. I’d recommend giving Brad Browning’s ‘Mend The Marriage’ guide a read. His techniques are all about strengthening the bond between you and your partner. He has a section called the 3 marriage murdering mistakes which is particularly useful. You can find it at: http://savingyourmarriage.info