Let Your Partner Influence You

Whose opinion do you value most highly? Perhaps it’s a trusted mentor, a close family member, or a long-time friend. If you’re like most married couples, your partner may have been at the top of that list—a long time ago! 

Indeed, when we’re just dating, it’s easy to care so much about what our partner thinks, likes, and wants. You probably remember being so caught up in wanting to choose the restaurant she likes best, or wear the outfit he complimented so much the last time you met. But as the years go on, it’s easy to fall into the habit of despising what our spouse thinks. 

It’s a very sad reality, and something that we can work on to improve. For example, for Joy and me, I have the tendency to think I’m always right. I also have mostly “influencing” themes in my CliftonStrengths. This means I have a need to feel that I’m influencing someone. When I can’t influence her into my way of thinking, it makes me feel frustrated and helpless.

Benefits of Letting Our Spouse Influence Us

According to Dr. John Gottman, one of the most important principles for a strong marriage is to let our partner influence us. Why is it important? Here are some benefits that come about when we let our spouse have a say in our decisions: 

It makes them feel heard and acknowledged. 

One common reason why we don’t take our spouse’s opinions seriously may be because we think we’re always right. When we listen to their suggestions, and even use some of their advice, it can communicate to them that we have heard them and acknowledge their ideas. 

While we may not always follow everything they say, acknowledging their thoughts regularly by walking them out can mean we get to “deposit” into their love bank!  

As the years go on, it’s easy to fall into the habit of despising what our spouse thinks. It’s a very sad reality, and something that we can work on to improve.  
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It makes them feel valued. 

Feeling heard can easily translate to feeling valued. We want our partner to know we value them, and one way of doing this is by showing them we esteem their opinion highly. This includes actually asking for their opinion as well as following through on what they may suggest. 

It creates a sense of teamwork. 

Admit it, marriage is a team sport. One spouse can’t do everything himself. When we regularly let our spouse influence us, it helps cultivate a culture of partnership and working towards a common goal together. 

Examples of Letting My Spouse Influence Me 

Remember I said that we want to be the more “influential” in our marriage? The most memorable time for us was when we were paying down on our house. We took a mortgage from the government to buy our apartment, but this whole thing about being debt-free was never in my radar. Out of nowhere, Joy comes up to me and says, “We should pay down on our mortgage, that way we reduce the interest and be debt-free younger.” I automatically dismissed her, saying, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” 

After a while, I got around to thinking, maybe there’s some truth in what Joy is saying. When we went to make a payment, which was larger than our due amount, my eyes just bulged out as I saw the term of repayment get shortened by 10 years! Suddenly, I caught a vision of being debt free by 50! Being in debt is a burden, you need to keep working because of debt. Since then, we worked hard at paying off our home mortgage early, so now we celebrate being debt free because I let Joy influence me in that area. 

Another area where Joy has influenced me is on children. My family background was that my parents weren’t really involved or engaged with us as kids, but Joy influenced me in the way she would like the family to look like and feel like. I’ve had to put aside my own baggage and experience, when it comes to my own parents, and to allow myself to explore a different kind of parenting. Now I’m doing better, but it surely wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t listen to her thoughts and ideas. 

Practical Ways to Let Your Partner Influence You

So how do we walk this out? Here are some practical steps you can take to be more intentional at letting your spouse influence you: 

1. Reject the lie that you know best in everything. 

One of the biggest hindrances to letting our spouse have a say in things is the belief that we know best—in other words, pride. The first step in being able to let our partner influence us is to reject this belief. Recognise pride and reject it. Believe that even the best of us have blind spots and it can take someone else close to us to shed light on many things in our lives. 

2. Start small.

Sometimes, we struggle at listening to other people’s (especially our spouse’s) opinion because we are already set in our ways. The strategy is to ease into it: you don’t force yourself to follow your spouse’s suggestion in something that you’re holding onto very tightly. Instead, find areas in life that you are less adamant about. Which parts of daily life do you find it easier to adjust in? It could start with a choice of a movie for movie night, or a choice of take-away food or coffee.

3. Practice asking for your spouse’s opinion. 

If you’re like most couples who have fallen into a rut of never minding each other’s opinions, it may have reached a point where your spouse doesn’t express his or her thoughts anymore either. You can change the trajectory by intentionally asking for his or her insights. Again, you can start in highly negotiable areas, and work your way up. 

4. Share good results from following your partner’s suggestions.

Once you’ve followed your spouse’s suggestion, be sure to report back any good results you’ve found. This will help your partner see that you are serious about letting him or her influence you. The good result will also be an affirmation to him or her.

5. Refrain from blaming in case of not-so-favourable results. 

Of course, we admit that not all of our spouse’s suggestions can yield good results. In case it doesn’t, we enourage you to focus on the positive and avoid shifting blame. Remember, when you chose to let him influence you, you were still taking responsibility for the final decision. 

Also, don’t take it as a sign never to take his or her advice again. Recognise that the idea may not have worked, but find other areas where you can still choose to value your spouse’s opinion. 

Letting Your Spouse Influence You 

Letting your spouse influence you is a lifelong journey of growth and connection. If you have to start small, don’t worry. That’s the best place to start especially as you’re starting to break the habit of not listening to your partner. 

We also encourage you to learn about the other principles of a healthy marriage, and practice them regularly to grow a strong and lifelong relationship that blesses you and the people around you. 

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