The Positive Perspective, also known as influencing your partner, is the fourth principle in the Gottman Method. What exactly does Gottman mean by influencing your partner? It means that when you are facing a personal problem or your relationship encounters a problem, you honor and respect your partner’s opinions and feelings about the manner. You allow your partner’s perspective to influence your decision making and you respect your partner’s voice to be heard.
Based on Gottman’s research, partners who allowed their significant other’s influence were less likely to divorce and reported being happier in their relationship. Those who were not willing to share power and influence had an 81% more likely chance that their relationship did not make it. Additionally, it also led to more negative conflict in the relationship.
Consider this: When problems arise in your relationship, do you actively search for common ground or do you tend to insist on getting your way? Sharing the power in your partnership is key to not putting your relationship at risk.
Whether or not you agree with your partner, emotionally intelligent partners communicate respect regardless of personal opinion. This means that even if you disagree with your partner and conflict ensues, your partner is not left feeling disrespected or invalidated. Accepting influence from your partner doesn’t mean that disagreements won’t occur or that you are not allowed to express negative emotions such as anger or disappointment. Healthy conflict includes expressing all emotions. Instead, accepting influence during problems or conflict supports open communication, strengthens your friendship with your partner, and minimizes power struggles.
But what if you or your partner aren’t accepting influence in your relationship? What if instead there are power struggles present? Or your conflict takes a turn and you are engaging in negative conflict cycles? Stay tuned as my next post will focus on negative cycles (known as the four horsemen) that can appear in conflict and if frequently present, are the main predictors of divorce.
Alison Bellows Cearlock is a Graduate Student Intern with the Mindly Group studying Mental Health Counseling.