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Decisions

Open To Influence From Your Partner

When we are open to influence from our partner, we validate them in a substantial way. We help them feel loved, valued and important all at the same time. This ability to listen to and accept our partner, especially when we disagree is an important element of lasting, happy relationships.

Open to Influence

Are You Open To Influence From Your Partner? When couples refuse to allow their partner to have a voice in the relationship or to weigh in on decisions the relationship slowly or sometimes quickly deteriorates. As with other harmful relationship habits, awareness is the place to begin rectifying the problem. I have included a short quiz to help you identify your strength or weakness in this area.

Do not think about how you wish you were or how you want people to think you are; carefully consider your actual behavior in the relationship. Be completely honest with yourself and answer the following questions True or False:

  1. I can accept my partner’s opinion; it is okay if we disagree.
  2. My partner is too irrational; I cannot take him/her seriously when discussing issues.
  3. I want to hear and understand my partner opinions.
  4. Even if we disagree, I appreciate my partner’s insights.
  5. I believe there must be a give and take to our discussions.
  6. My partner comes up with good ideas.
  7. If I don’t make major decisions, no one does in this relationship.
  8. My partner is too often overly emotional.
  9. I want my partner to know that his/her opinions are important to me.
  10. Usually I find it easy to agree with at least part of what my partner says.
  11. I get tired of listening to my partner after a while, or I tune my partner out at times.
  12. Usually I can listen and be respectful, even when I disagree with my partner.
  13. I am very convincing and win more than my share of arguments with my partner.
  14. I feel my opinion matters, when we make decisions.
  15. My partner completely lacks common sense.

For questions 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 12, 14, score one point for each true answer.

For questions 2, 7, 8, 11, 13, 15 score one point for each false answer.

If you scored 13 or more, then being open to your partner’s influence is a solid part of your relationship.

If you did not score high, it does not mean that you cannot have a great relationship, but it does mean that you could benefit from working to become more accepting of and open to your partner. Strive to be more respectful of your partner’s thought and opinions. It is possible that you may have to give up the need to be right and practice allowing your partner to enjoy that opportunity now and again.

Step-by-Step Decision-Making

If you have a plan for how to handle major decisions it may save you a lot of time and anxiety, waffling back and forth unsure of how to proceed. The following guidelines can help you find clarity and avoid conflict: Define the problem or conflict. Write down a question or a statement that accurately represents what you need to decide.

Brainstorm for possible solution. Write down everything. At this point make no judgments about the rightness, wrongness or do-ability of any suggestions. Be creative and bold with your suggestions. Write down all you can think of and then take a short break and add two or three more.

Share your feelings. One at a time, share your feelings about the problem. Remember that feelings are not wrong or right, they just are. Just listen to each other and do your best to hear and understand what your partner is sharing until you both feel heard and understood.

Evaluate possible solutions. Separately evaluate the pros and cons for each of the possible solutions and then share your evaluation with your partner. This process helps to clarify your thoughts and helps you to better understand your partner's perspective.

Wait. If at all possible, allow at least a day before making the final decision. This allows for some space to see how the solutions “sit” with you before committing yourself to a final decision.

Discuss and decide. Each describe what you want to happen and share any concerns you may still have. If you both have chosen the same solution, great. If you have not both chosen the same solution, then discuss possible compromises until you come up with a solution that works for both of you. You can repeat any of the above steps if needed.

Commit.Once you have reach an agreement it is important that you both commit to the solution. Smile and proceed with full effort and work as a team to make the best possible resolution.

Choose Wisely

Life is all about choices. The state of our relationship is the result of the choices that we have made to this point. If we want to change our relationship we may need to learn to chose more wisely. Consider the following story:

Jerry was the kind of guy you love to hate. He was always in a good mood and always had something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, "If I were any better, I would be twins!" He was a unique manager because he had several waiters who had followed him around from restaurant to restaurant. The reason the waiters followed Jerry was because of his attitude. He was a natural motivator.

If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation. Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Jerry and asked him, "I don't get it! You can't be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?"

Jerry replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, 'Jerry, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood.' I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life."

"Yeah, right, it's not that easy," I protested.

"Yes, it is," Jerry said. "Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It's your choice how you live life." I reflected on what Jerry said. Soon thereafter, I left the restaurant industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it. Happiness Several years later, I heard that Jerry did something you are never supposed to do in a restaurant business: he left the back door open one morning and was held up at gunpoint by three armed robbers. While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness, slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him. Luckily, Jerry was found relatively quickly and rushed to the local trauma center.

After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body.

I saw Jerry about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied, "If I were any better, I'd be twins. Wanna see my scars?" I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what had gone through his mind as the robbery took place. "The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door," Jerry replied. "Then, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live, or I could choose to die. I chose to live."

"Weren't you scared? Did you lose consciousness?" I asked.

Jerry continued, "The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the emergency room and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read, 'He's a dead man.' I knew I needed to take action."

"What did you do?" I asked.

"Well, there was a big, burly nurse shouting questions at me," said Jerry. "She asked if I was allergic to anything. 'Yes,' I replied. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, 'Bullets!' Over their laughter, I told them, 'I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.'"

Jerry lived thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully. Attitude, after all, is everything.

Take a close look at your relationship. If you are not where you want to be right now, ask yourself, How have my choices brought me to this? Decide right now, this minute, to begin making choices that will take you to where you want to be. Decide to be alive in your relationship. Choose to react with love and acceptance. Choose happiness and peace. Choose to be the best you that you can be.

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

As a counselor, I often hear the question, “How do I know if it is time to leave my relationship?” People are often confused and afraid of making a mistake, either by staying or by leaving. If you are feeling confused about whether you have any remaining desire to stay in your relationship, consider taking a step back from that decision for a while.

If you have even the slightest feeling that perhaps you should try to work things out, then you owe it to yourself to be sure before you end your relationship. Decide to hold on to yourself and deliberately move toward what you want your relationship to be like. Start acting as if you had a strong desire to strengthen and to be in your relationship. Couple by a tree Don’t think of this as pretending. You are not pretending. You are acting as if things were already the way you want them to be. You may be amazed at how your feelings will begin to change and how your relationship grows from simply acting as if you had a strong desire to be in your marriage. Acting as if you are passionately in love may begin to kindle those passionate feelings.

Withholding love has the same result as refusing to water your plants. First they will wilt and eventually they will die. Relationships rarely survive a cold war of withholding and punishing.

As you change your behavior, you may find that you have greater clarity about your relationship. Be aware that “acting as if” will not work if at the same time you are busy keeping score or if you have the attitude that you are entitled to something in return. When you are generous, it is likely that your partner will be generous in return.