Over the last few weeks we have been exploring how to fight better. We discussed the soft start-up, repair attempts and compromise. This week let’s take a look at how we allow our spouse to influence us.
Recently I was sharing with some friends that when I was much younger I got a little depressed about my work situation and joined the Air Force without discussing it with Patty. In essence, I made a life-changing decision that took a newly married young woman away from her family of origin without allowing her to influence my decision. I didn’t even ask her opinion. I returned home and advised that within 3-5 days I would be in a uniform being yelled at by a training instructor and within a few months we would be moving. Destination – Unknown. Looking back I am surprised I didn’t show up to basic training with hand prints on my throat.
In the end, it worked out. Looking back I am surprised it did.
When couples fight one of the things that they are often trying to do is influence their spouse. According to research, couples who resist influence are much more likely to divorce. When a man is not willing to share power with their wife the couple is 81% more likely to end up in divorce court. A marriage is a commitment to allow the other person input into those issues that effect them. Couples who share power, who allow their partner to influence them during an argument, feel like they are part of a unified marriage.
Common sense should tell you that you need to allow your spouse to influence you. Patty sees things from such a different perspective than I do. Wisdom would dictate that I not only take her insight into consideration, but that I seek it out regularly. She is more relational where I am task oriented. In our ministry both are needed and her strength offsets my weakness. She was made a helpmate for me, and I am blessed to have her and blessed when she “weighs in” on issues.
However, when emotions are running high and a fight ensues we often withdraw and refuse to listen. We feel we have the right viewpoint and then work hard, sometimes too hard, to defend it. When that happens people feel disrespected and unappreciated. Then it is on like donkey-kong.
Before the crazy cycle starts take a moment and ask yourself if you are resisting influence and if so, why. Are you embarrassed over a decision you have made and now feel the need to defend yourself? Do you really feel that your spouse has no valid viewpoint on the situation? Are you really so filled with pride that you feel you don’t need input from your spouse? Beware, you are crossing into dangerous territory.
Strong couples value the opinion of their spouse and seek influence often. They may not always choose to take the advice when provided, but they seek the advice and consider it when making a decision.
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. (Proverbs 12:15)