There's a lot of reasons why you're here today, Vicki. Should a husband listen to his wife?
Vicki: Hmm, let's talk about it.
Paul: This could be a very short article, seriously.
Vicki: Should a husband listen to his wife?
Paul: Duh? Only, only if he wants a better marriage. I had a couple, I kid you not, just this past week. His main complaint was, “She won't listen to me. I am trying to fix her problem and she won't listen to me.” And I'm thinking, “I know what her problem is.”
Vicki: Oh, my goodness.
Paul: I just came back from a conference not too long ago with doctors John and Julie Gottman. I just respect these people so much. Dr. John and Dr. Julie Gottman have done some of the most influential research on couples that I've ever seen. They have made a big impact on the industry. Dr. Gottman points out that one the best thing a husband can do is to accept influence from his wife.
Paul: Now, think about what that means, to accept influence. Vicki, you've been so patient with me over the years. Seriously, this woman is so brilliant, if I would have learned earlier in life to just listen to her we could have avoided half of the learning experiences that we've had in the last 30 years. This accepting influence has to do with being humble.
Vicki: So, talk us through that accepting influence. What do you mean by that? Because that's maybe sounds a little different than listening.
Paul: Yes. And I think it is different in some qualitative ways. You have to listen to be able to accept the influence and to really value what's being said. The reason we get into conflicts as couples is because of differences. But it's differences that make us relevant and interesting to each other.
Paul: We have to be different. If you and I were exactly the same, one of us would be unnecessary.
Vicki: And we know which one it would be. Just kidding.
Paul: At least we are in agreement on that, right? But if we're exactly the same, what difference does it make anyway? So, the difference is actually enhanced. You know what? I heard Brett Harward talking about this. Remember Brett? He's the author of a book called, “The 5 Laws That Determine All Of Life's Outcomes.” Bold title. But he nailed it on many of these principles. And he was sharing a concept with me once about intersecting circles.
If you picture your capabilities and your intelligence as a circle, and let's put a number in it- 100. That's how much I have, and if my wife who clearly isn't as smart as I am… (Hang with me here). Let's just say that I'm assuming that I know more than she does. I think she's only like an 80. And if I assume that her 80 is already a subset of my 100, she has nothing to offer me. But because we are different.
With accepting influence, my wife might have an 80 and I have 100, but her 80 is different from my 100 so accepting her influence brings me up to 180. Even if there is about 20 in overlap, I am up to 160, more than 100. (Now, Vicki is over 5,000).
Paul: Do you see the concept of the intersecting circles? So, I think this goes a long way to answering the question. Should a husband listen to his wife? Absolutely. If he's intelligent. If he wants a better marriage.
Vicki: And if he wants to grow his understanding of many, many topics and relationships, right? Paul: Yes. Don't assume that you know everything somebody else knows. That is never the case. Top CEO’s of companies who are brilliant and powerful would be served well to open their door to whoever is sweeping the floors after hours, because that person has knowledge that the CEO doesn't.
Vicki: They have a different perspective.
Paul: And I can think of many examples of how that is the case. Listen. And not only listen, be open to accepting influence. One more thing before we get into this next part of the topic. Take an extra step.
I'm talking to you husbands for just a minute. Take an extra step to show her that you get it. Don't just bulldoze over whatever she's trying to say and get to what you want to share. That is so prideful and destructive.
Vicki: That's just a good communication skill. To learn how to listen for understanding. So, that's what you're asking.
Paul: And give that feedback. So, for me to say, “Okay. So, you're saying…” And then give it back to you in a way that you recognize it, then you feel validated. You feel like I've been listening. I'm not just trying to talk right over you.
Vicki: Right. Now, the title was should a husband listened to his wife, right? We also want to make sure that you know that what you have to offer is so important. Let's go ahead and build your confidence. You've got something important to say. Now, might want to soften the way that we bring it up. especially if this is kind of a new dynamic for you. You are trying to both kind of navigate a new way of listening, and sharing the information in your relationship.
Go ahead and be confident in what you've got to say. You say that the differences are what attracts us and makes us relevant. That means that 100% I am sure your perspective is different from your husband's.
Paul: Which is good.
Vicki: Yeah, it's good. So, be confident in that. And then maybe soften as you begin the exchange with your husband to show you want to listen.
Paul: Gottman actually call this a softened start up.
Vicki: Yeah. So, tell us a little more about a soften start up.
Paul: That can increase your influence. Now, husband's, you will be served to accept influence from your wife. Wives, you would do well to soften the start up so that it's more palatable, so, that it's received or more likely to be received. An example might be, “You really need to change the way you're doing this or that!” That's going to bring up some defenses. Let's soften that start up. It might be, “Are, you open to some feedback about how that's impacting me?” Now, when you ask somebody, “Are you open to..” whatever, is there any other civil answer to that than, “Well, of course, I'm open to it.” What are they going to say? “No, I'm not open?”
Vicki: We've even used this. I mean, we have a relationship where we're very open with each other.
Vicki: There are times though when he said, “Are you open to feedback?” And in all honesty, I'm like, “Not at the moment, no.”
Vicki: You know, it gives the other person a chance to own that this is where I'm coming from and I'm not quite ready. But yes, I will be in a few minutes, or tomorrow.
Paul: That's an example though of the softened start up. You are not going to try to cram anything down their throat, and that makes it more likely that you can have that influence. Really, you are better together than you are apart, because you are different.
You are better together than you are apart. Hopefully these suggestions or these strategies will help you to connect a little better as a couple. Gee! Vicki, I'm glad we've got all this mastered. Haha, weare still working on it, too. It's a journey and we are happy to be on this journey with you. If there are other ways we can support you, please reach out to us.
We're glad to be on your team and we're glad that you are here.