Why independence and confidence is the best thing you can do for your marriage
In a long-term study of 130 newlywed couples, Dr. John Gottman discovered that men who allow their wives to influence them have happier marriages and are less likely to divorce.
His research also shows there is an 81% chance that a marriage will self-implode when a man is unwilling to share power.
It would make sense to conclude that marriages would be well served if husbands just learned how to create an environment in which their wives felt valued, appreciated and respected in the marriage.
It’s not surprising those are the exact same words my male clients use when describing the dissatisfaction they feel in their marriage. We all want pretty much the same things…just not exactly in the same way.
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But in a struggling marriage, a simultaneous, mutual effort to meet each other’s needs is not in the cards.
I teach men how to initiate the effort and to learn healthy ways of accepting her influence and sharing power. It’s not that we need to put our needs in second place – we just need to discover that a choice to “go first” can come from a place of personal power and self-reliance.
When we do this from a place of strength, without conditions or agendas, it also happens to be immensely attractive.
While creating attraction is important, it just can’t happen in a marriage lacking appreciation and respect. And those are most easily created from a place of strength, confidence and emotional independence.
How Insecurity Breeds Resistance
The resistance men build against a woman’s influence builds over time…quietly.
Most of us are extremely flexible and accepting in the early stages of the relationship. Cooperation, collaboration, admiration, adoration and sex are easy. There is no power struggle because there is no competition.
Both of us are getting our needs met. Both of us feel valued, appreciated and respected.
But here’s where things can start to sour.
What if we don’t already feel confident and worthy in our own value and respectability?
What if that emotional “bucket” quickly runs dry when she doesn’t constantly fill it to affirm our value?
A man who is insecure about his own value must create secret systems to provide for his need for validation.
When he is missing the critical ability to self-validate he learns to create hidden contracts.
These are “give to get” deals he’s made in secret.
He goes through many stealthy maneuvers and tactics to get her to provide the validation he wants. He will perform favors, make concessions, cooperate and compliment her all in an effort to get more validation.
And the moment she realizes what is going on, she shuts down the validation factory.
She senses his insecurity and loses trust. His love and respect appear to have conditions. She simply cannot try to meet his needs if this is the “deal” he’s making.
This is when his resistance to her begins.
It happens when he begins to feel like he’s competing for his own validation and he becomes defensive toward her every move. He feels a loss of influence and power.
At this point – and for perhaps the next two decades – he resists her influence.
In his mind, her complaints and bids for connection feel like criticism. He thinks her ideas are all stupid and her requests are all illogical.
During his efforts to defend himself and preserve a sense of power she may begin to feel emotionally disconnected, frustrated and angry.
And he is unyielding in his defense against her attempts to address the issues and their relationship spirals downward.
The Only Way Out of the Downward Spiral
The only way this man can lead himself and his marriage out of this is to understand the truth.
He isn’t yet emotionally prepared to properly value, appreciate and respect his wife.
His reliance on her for validation and approval has put him in direct competition with her. He isn’t empathetic toward her emotions because he’s not secure enough in his own. He feels like a second-class citizen. His sense of worthiness and well-being lie squarely – and unfairly – in her hands.
Just making an effort to listen better or share power isn’t enough to overcome his insecure emotions of defensiveness and competitiveness. Only the self-reliant man can choose to accept her influence and share power from a calm, confident place of love and respect.
When a man does the work to achieve true emotional independence he is ready to participate in a truly inter-dependent relationship – one where they both consciously share the role in creating an environment in which both can feel valued, appreciated and respected.
He can give his time, attention, love and respect from a healthy place – free of manipulation. This new energy can allow them to re-build the trust, respect and attraction needed reverse the downward spiral of competition and negativity.
Many men make the mistake of allowing their wife to act as their therapist or coach in building his independence. Even if it’s a role she accepts, it’s a recipe for disaster.
She will resent him for the additional responsibility. And he will resent her for never being satisfied. He will complain of “moving targets” and “landmines”. The best solution for him and his marriage is to seek the help of a professional experienced with men’s work and men’s issues.
What About Her Accountability?
A common objection from men regarding my “Go First” teachings is this.
“When are you ever going to hold women accountable for their part of the problem?”
It goes without saying that women have the same responsibility for achieving emotional health and independence. They are equally accountable for doing personal growth work which will allow them to co-create a healthy marriage. If only one person is trying, there is little hope for the long term health of the marriage.
One of the more common issues wives have when dealing with a man’s decision to make serious changes is a lack of trust. They feel scared and hurt and don’t want to take a chance at being hurt again. Their sense of emotional – and sometimes physical – safety is rocked to the core.
But this doesn’t exempt them from doing the work needed to regain their confidence and personal power in the relationship. Women are just as accountable as their husbands for being strong and intentional with their thoughts, words and actions.
A healthy, inter-dependent relationship is possible only with two healthy people who consciously create a partnership that supports their personal and relationship values.
My new book Straight Talk Tools for the Desperate Husband will help you to lead yourself and your relationship back to good health. Understand why your partner acts the way she does toward you and learn how to lead your life in the direction you want it to go. You CAN have the relationship you want, fulfilling all your desires while maintaining love and respect.
I wrote a free e-book to help men learn how to lose their fear and be more bold in their marriage to create the love and connection they want. Get The Hard to Swallow Truth About Saving Your Marriage HERE
If you want to learn more about how to take a bigger step toward being a clear-headed, confident man of action, then find out more here. I would be thrilled to help you get there – our first discovery call is always free and always gives you a BIG boost of confidence.
You WILL become a clearer, stronger, more confident man only through other men. Your woman cannot take you there – and she doesn’t WANT to…trust me on that.
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