SGR 008 | What Men Do That Leads to an 81% Chance of Divorce
Any idea what factor could contribute to divorce at such a high rate?
You may be surprised: it’s accepting influence.
Research shows that men are more likely to resist influence from their female partners - and not accepting influence contributes to divorce or relationship dissolution at a rate of 81 percent.
Men are not the only guilty party here. All relationships are impacted if one or both partners are not accepting influence.
It’s much easier to notice when our partner isn’t taking our point of view into consideration, than when we’re not allowing our partner to influence us. Different experiences can contribute to not accepting influence. It can be due to things that live outside our relationship, such as social influence, gender roles, and our family history that can color what we feel is “best” or “right.” We can get preemptively defensive when our partner is trying to influence us and we feel like our thoughts, feeling, values, and needs are not being heard and honored.
This week we’re talking about how to accept influence in your relationship without feeling like you are “giving in” or “losing.” We’ll be covering:
How it feels when your partner accepts/doesn’t accept influence from you
What makes it hard to accept influence
Strategies for accepting influence on a consistent basis
How to integrate open communication and compromise into your relationship
Short on time? Here’s a list of today’s topics and when to listen:
- How it feels when your partner is accepting influence from you - 2:27
- How it feels when your partner is not accepting influence from you - 3:20
- What message do you want to send to your partner? - 4:47
- What makes it hard to accept influence? - 5:42
- How you were raised affects how you accept influence - 9:14
- Expectations around decision- making - 10:37
- How it looks when your partner is not accepting influence - 13:04
- Accepting influence does not always mean agreeing - 14:03
- Tips for accepting influence - 14:47
- Meredith + Marina’s Takeaways - 18:17
Meredith: Hey there! And welcome to episode eight of the Simply Great Relationships podcast. We’re so glad you could join us today. I’m Meredith Silversmith, and this is Marina Voron. And today’s episode is a good one. It’s about, “What Is The Thing That Men Do That Leads To An 81% Chance of Divorce." Do you know what this thing is?
Marina: I do.
Meredith: You do. Yeah! We’ll tell you.
Marina: I do. I don’t know if everybody else knows. But they’re gonna learn today.
Meredith: You’re gonna know. So make sure you stay with us til’ the end because we got a great bonus for you. And we’re gonna let you know how to get it.
Marina: So, research shows that men are more likely to resist influence from their partners and that the not-accepting influence contributes to a divorce rate at 81% which is huge.
Meredith: Significant. Very significant number and both genders do this, so it’s not an all-men thing but, again, the research shows that men are more likely to do this than women. And it also applies in same-sex relationships but at a lower rate. So, we felt that it is really crucial to talk about this today because it’s so strong when it happens.
Marina: Mhmm. And this is something that I’m sure both of us, I know, I see it all the time with couples. I’m sure you see it all the time. I used to be a real guilty party of this.
Meredith: Yup. Same, same.
Marina: And just making small shifts really helped me personally, really helped me in my relationship. So, accepting influence, it’s a big deal, and it’s not something that I think a lot of people are always able to name. But we all know how it feels when it’s happening to us when our partner is not accepting influence. From us, and we generally also know how it feels when we’re digging our heels and not accepting influence.
Meredith: Absolutely. So, you know, I think part of the way you can identify it is to share, we wanna share with you, how does it feel when your partner is accepting influence from you? So you’re giving a suggestion, or you’re making a request, or you’re giving advice and your partner responds in a way that shows that they’re accepting that influence, how do you feel?
Marina: Well, I know for me personally when I’m making a suggestion or a requesting or something, and that and George is listening to it, and I can see that he is really attuned and internalizing the value from it, I feel really heard, I feel really validated, I feel really valued, I feel really important, I feel like I’m able to contribute to his life. There’s so much reward that I internalize from it and that I feel like our relationship internalizes from it. It’s a really good feeling.
Meredith: Yeah! Definitely. You feel super connected.
Meredith: So then, if your partner is not accepting influence from you, so if you’re making a suggestion or if you’re giving advice and if your partner is responding in a way that communicates “I am not gonna take any of this into account”, I know that would kind of leave me feeling unimportant, not heard, not valued, my partner doesn’t take me seriously. A lot of negativity comes from that even in a small moment. That can really hit pretty deeply.
Marina: Yeah. A word I’ve heard, you know, I hate to gender stuff, but I’ve heard a lot of women use, is, like, “It made me feel stupid.”
Meredith: Yeah. I’ve heard that as well.
Marina: And that is such a negative and consequence-bearing feeling to hold in a relationship.
Meredith: Mhmm. Yeah, that’s painful.
Marina: Again, it’s taking this hierarchy and shifting it to this and, you know, good communication is made from this. We touched on this on episode one, about communication. We touched on this in episode four about Four Horsemen. You always wanna stay partners so not accepting influence really makes people think a feel a little belittled.
Meredith: Mhmm. Yeah. And you have to consider as we talk about this today, what message do you wanna send to your partners. So take yourself out of the moment, out of that topic, out of that conversation. What message do you wanna send your partner? I know I want Tom to feel important and valued and heard and understood. I want him to feel all the good feelings.
Meredith: So that would be motivation enough for me to work on this piece if I was having trouble accepting influence.
Marina: Yeah, exactly. And I want George to feel the same, and I want George to always feel like he’s a priority in my life and whatever he brings to the table has value. Even if I may not agree with it, it still has value because whatever he says, does in the context of our relationship has value to me.
Marina: And rejecting influence is sending the complete opposite message.
Meredith: Yup, absolutely.
Marina: What makes it hard to accept influence?
Meredith: Many things make it difficult. I know for us, being an only child. Again, not to categorize any only children out there, but let me put it a little more specifically. Being an only child, growing up without siblings, you are not having the daily interaction with peers where you are required to give and take. You are required to negotiate. You are required to accept influence. And then offer influence. And have that reciprocal relationship. You just don’t have it in the same capacity that some of those who grows up with siblings has.
Marina: Yeah. And you’re really used to accepting influence from someone in a position of power or at the top of a hierarchy. I almost feel like that. At least for me, it made me a little oppositional to accepting influence, because, in previous relationships or in the beginning of my relationship, when George felt like accepting influence is like “ giving in .“
Meredith: Yeah. Absolutely. If I’m accepting influence, then I’m relinquishing something that I want or my expectation of how things should be. And that didn’t feel good.
Marina: Yeah. It’s a feeling of disempowerment. Which none of us like to live with. Especially us, only children. I’d see another thing that makes it really hard is when your relationship has had an issue of accepting influence. When there’s been a lot of head butting and a lot of putting things out and having them being rejected, you start to develop that as a pattern. You develop a history of feeling unheard, feeling unvalued, feeling dismissed. And you almost preemptively want to reject influence. You almost preemptively wanna shut your partner down because you're like, well, “ you never accept my influence, so I won’t accept yours.” Doesn’t matter what it is. It’s a really convoluted way of asking for empathy, right? It’s saying, “ I want you to know what it feels like to be me” . But not in a nice way that allows your partner to be emphatic. And to make an adjustment. But in a way that, “ I’m hurt, let me hurt you, so you know what it’s like.”
Meredith: Yeah. And what’s tough about that dynamic is once you go there, It doesn’t leave a lot of room for improvement. One person or both of you could start trying to do it better or do it differently, but because you’ve got that built in reaction, it’s almost you are not giving the opportunity to show you that they are doing it differently.
Marina: Yeah. And I see this a lot where partners really start to waive the white flag, start to make repair attempts and the is just so used to a negative relationship pattern that it’s hard for them to internalize and accept it. And it’s very sad when that happens. And it’s almost like; you have to call it out and say “Hey, this person is really trying. And you are preemptively defensive here."
Meredith: Yeah. That’s a super important piece. I think the other thing that plays in is, how we were parented. Right? If you think about it as you said before, “ accepting influence, often comes from someone in the position of authority. Someone above you in some way”. So, if you’re parented in a way where you had no influence. I know I see a lot of clients where, I just get the feeling based on how they interact with their partner and things they’d say to me that, I just know. And then it's validated when I ask them growing up; they grew up in a house where you had no influences as a child. You were to be seen and not heard, if you express a feeling, that’s contrary to what your parents feel. You’re either punished or ignored or dismissed.
Marina: Or labeled oppositional.
Meredith: Or labeled oppositional. You know, it’s got a very negative response. And you grow up having these really strong limits around you that you’re not allowed to assert your influence. In that situation, as an adult, you can either maintain that path of not asserting yourself and not asserting influence even though it doesn’t feel good to do that. Or you might go the exact opposite and say, “ That’s it. I’m free. I’m gonna assert all my influence everywhere because I never got to”. Typically, it goes to one extreme or the other, but that’s really important to be aware of.
Marina: The other one is, expectations around the decision-making in a relationship. Did you grow in a household where Dad was the breadwinner? So, that meant, the dad makes all the decisions and picks all the vacations and all the restaurants. And mom’s just the caretaker and homemaker. What if you’re the daughter? What does that tell you about influence? It plays a lot into what dynamic you were exposed to and how you feel about that dynamic.
Meredith: Right. You may push against it. Or you may try to carry that with you. Depending on how you feel about it. This is a big piece, to look back in your own history and evaluate, “ How did you grow up? What did you experience? And how did you feel about it?” And then, what way do you feel you’re bringing that into your relationship today?” I know something that I’ve seen is partner, like one partner, is, really passive. Whether that’s their natural temperament or reflective of how they grew up. They’re just really passive. They don’t observe a lot of influence. And they feel okay about that. But it’s still damaging, right? So even though they’re not taking that step to put it out there, that doesn’t mean they don’t think about what they would like to see. Or would prefer or need but doesn’t get verbalized. Not having that impact on their partner, is still damaging. That is something I’ve been working on with a couple of my couples is to really empower a really passive person to share what’s on their mind, then share with their feeling and share what they need.
Marina: How I see this a lot is when a couple comes in, and it’s like, “ Well, he never has an opinion. It’s always up to me to make”, and you know you have that one partner who “bears” the decision burden being the martyr and the passive partner is just kind of like, “Well, if I had a bit more of a voice and my influence was accepted a little more, maybe you wouldn’t have to be the martyr as much”.
Meredith: Right. So that definitely, we see that a lot.
Meredith: You know, we talked about the Four Horsemen, as you said in episode four. When someone isn’t accepting influence, it typically looks like one of the four horsemen.
Marina: Yeah. There’s no room for dialogue; there’s no room for compromise, there’s no room for any type of authentic communication. It’s like the shutdown. I always imagine it like you’re spotting a fly. It’s the criticism, the defensiveness, the contempt that comes in right away and is like, “Nope!”.
Meredith: Mhmm. Yeah, squashed. Done.
Meredith: Ugh! It’s so dismissive. You just imagine that feeling like the person that you love the most, the person that you wanna feel the closest to and the most important to and it’s like a door being slammed in your face.
Marina: Yeah, and that’s when I look at it as, really, and I think this is where it’s important to make a distinction. Accepting influence is not always agreeing.
Marina: Accepting… a huge part, I’d say the biggest part of accepting influence is getting your partner the platform to lay out whatever they wanna lay out and tell them that their opinion's valuable.
Marina: If you are able to do that, that’s already the biggest part of it, but when you’re just not giving them that platform at all, that is extremely rejecting and essentially saying “I don’t care about what you have to say.”
Meredith: Mhmm. Yeah.
Marina: Not only “I’m not gonna do it.”
Meredith: Right! “But, I don’t care.”
Meredith: So, you know, let’s get into some practical tips that we could use right away to make a change in this area. What I think, the first one that makes the most sense is you have to set the intention to be open to accepting influence. You have to decide, “Okay, I hear that accepting influence is important and I’m gonna do it, and I’m not gonna be defensive if my partner offers a suggestion. I’m not going to shut the door in their face. I’m going to try to be open and listen and flexible and receptive”.
Marina: Yeah. I think that’s huge. Just going in with that mindset of “Me accepting influence is I’m not gonna get defeated” is huge. To follow up with that, how you do that is, episode one, use those communication strategies to make sure that when your partner’s communicating to you, you’re not being critical, you’re not being defensive, you’re not getting preemptively defensive. And when you’re trying to bring something to your partner that you’re softening that start up, that you’re not talking from your pedestal, that you’re really using your “I” statements, you’re being lovingly curious, you’re putting it out there in a way that’s really conducive to it being heard.
Meredith: Yeah, definitely. And again, it’s not about winning. This is not about winning. It’s not about who’s right and who’s wrong and who had the better idea. It’s not what it’s about. It’s about what message do you want your partner to receive? How do you want your partner to feel you feel about them? That’s the bigger picture here, and it goes back to episode six, “Compromise with me like I’m someone you love.”
Marina: Mhmm. And I think, going back to episode six, using that compromise, those strategies, again, it doesn’t mean you have to say, “Well here’s your influence, here’s your suggestion, let me take it with every detail and be subservient.” It’s, “I love that you express this to me and I totally think that’d be great! Let’s compromise somehow; we execute that. Let’s see what we have in common”.
Meredith: Yeah, absolutely! And you know, if you haven’t listened to it, obviously, listen to episode six, but also go back and get the compromise cheat sheet because that’s gonna make it way easier. It gives you a process and step-by-step guide for how to navigate that, which is really important.
Marina: Yeah and getting clearer on your negotiables, non-negotiables. Just getting to say, “Hey, what you’re bringing forth is valuable to me,” but also saying, “Hey, let’s both win in this situation in terms of how we execute it on or what that looks like in our relationship.”
Meredith: Yeah, for sure! And I mean look, we don’t want you to just listen to this. As alway, we want you to integrate it into your relationship today, so we’ve put together a worksheet on breaking down the barriers to accepting influence for you. This is something you’re gonna do as an individual, on your own, to help you be a better partner and to help you get better in accepting influence. You can get it on our website at www.simplygreatrelationships.com/008download.
Marina: Let’s talk about takeaways.
Meredith: Let’s talk about ‘em.
Marina: What’s your big takeaway from today? What resonated with you?
Meredith: I think for me, as this is something that I’ve struggled with over time, probably the underlying message that it sends to your partner. Trying to keep the big picture in mind, right? Because in that moment, when you’re resisting your partner’s influence, it’s not because you’re being malicious or you don’t care, or you wanna hurt them necessarily. It could just be because something about that communicates an underlying message to you. You know, that you’re not important or your information or thoughts aren’t valued so I think the importance of stepping back out of that moment and saying “Ok, what do I want my partner to take away from this?” and make a decision about how you’re responding and what you’re saying based on that answer rather than just you’re feeling in the moment.
Marina: I have to say, my takeaway is that same concept of always having your bigger picture really clear in terms of “How do you want your partner to feel and how do you want your relationship to feel? Is it ever your intention to make your partner feel like rejected, to make them feel unheard, to make them feel devalued? It’s never my intention so are my actions congruent with that? Is what I’m communication congruent with that? Am I giving my partner the platform to express what they want to express? And am I doing my best to tell them that no matter what they express to me, that it is valuable and regardless of it if I agree with it or not, there’s a dialogue in a compromise there."
Meredith: Yeah, definitely. Super important. So look, that’s all for today. We hope that you take these tips and you start using them right away. Be sure to download the “Breaking Down Barriers to Accepting Influence” worksheet so you can do your own work on that. And we’d also love for you to join us in our Facebook group. Continue the conversation. We’re gonna be giving you tips and tricks and exclusive live streams just for our group members. You can join us at www.facebook.com/groups/simplygreatrelationships, or, you can just go to our website, www.simplygreatrelationships.com and click the link there, but definitely join us because there are some good stuff going on.
Marina: Definitely. And hit us up with your questions! On this topic or any other topics pertaining to relationships because we’re here to help!
Meredith: We sure are! So, we hope you took away a lot today. We will see you next week. Have a good one!