“In our long-term study of 130 newlywed couples, now in its eighth year, we found that, even in the first few months of marriage, men who allow their wives to influence them have happier marriages and are less likely to divorce than men who resist their wives’ influence. Statistically speaking, when a man is not willing to share power with his partner, there is an 81 percent chance that his marriage will self-destruct.”
“Obviously it takes two to make or break a marriage, so we’re not singling men out here. The point of this chapter is not to scold, bash, or insult men. It’s certainly just as important for wives to treat their husbands with honor and respect. But my date indicates that the vast majority of wives – even in unstable marriages- already do that. This doesn’t mean that they 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. But too often men do not return the favor.”
This chapter does a great job pointing out the the happiest and most stable marriages are those in which the husband “treated his wife with respect and did not resist power sharing and decision making with her.” Their research found that when a man expressed anger, his wife would either match the intensity of anger or try to tone it down. However, when a woman expressed anger, 65 percent of the men actually escalated their wives’ negativity by being critical, contemptuous, defensive or stonewalling. By doing this, the husband essentially ignored his wife, and demolished her point of view.
When we convey honor and respect to one another, we set the stage for a happy marriage (and also, Carrie is here to add – stable, happy and respectful children!) It provides a firm place for compromise, also a valuable skill to model for children. It demonstrates the “us” of a couple and of a family over “me.” It is not that happy marriages never see arguments, criticism or defensiveness – but that honor and respect do outweigh the negatives.
“Research shows a husband who can accept influence from his wife also tends to be an outstanding father. He is familiar with his children’s world and knows all about their friends and their fears. Because he is not afraid of emotions, he teaches his children to respect their own feelings – and themselves.”
There is an several exercises at the back of this chapter geared toward being able to compromise, yield, and hear the other person. One of the exercises is directed toward husbands and one is an exercise of compromise for spouses to do together.