The mutual benefits of accepting influence in relationships

In my Bringing Baby Home workout 15 years ago, I learned, as a new mom, about the importance of accepting influence as one of the Four Steps to Dr. John Gottman. That said, I personally and professionally discovered that Gottman’s advice for “finding out and validating your partner’s subjective reality” may be easier said than done.


  • Insecurities, internalized beliefs, or thought traps such as personalization or an all-or-nothing mentality can make it difficult to stay present without being defensive or arguing your own point of view.
  • Fear of relinquishing power can keep partners locked in power struggles.
  • Resentment and exhaustion over the unequal division of labor. For example, according to a recent Motherly survey, many women in cisgender heterosexual relationships reported feeling the majority of domestic responsibilities. For them, the “invisible burden” still fell directly on their shoulders. Problems expressing what you need or difficulty giving up control or perfectionism can contribute to this resentment and exhaustion.

Fortunately, as I shared in my article on Making Effective Repairs, awareness and self-compassion are important skills that help increase curiosity and make it easier to maintain multiple perspectives. By activating the connected ventral vagal state secure enough, these practices can help you deepen your empathy for yourself and others. It makes it much easier to listen and communicate your understanding of your partner’s feelings and needs.

Therapy can help unleash unhealthy internalized beliefs and move away from pleasing people and perfectionism toward more assertive and respectful communication.


Accepting influence helps partners get out of power struggles. It does not mean that you agree with everything your partner says, but that you are open to seeing things from their perspective. This actually leads to a gain / gain or a shared power.

The Gottmans emphasize that accepting influence, for men in heterosexual relationships, requires being an active partner and father. “Don’t wait for your partner to tell you what to do; Look around and see what needs to be done and do it. ”(BBH Training Manual). .

In fact, as couple therapist Jeff Pincus writes, “When men are able to be influenced by their partner, they take an important step toward advancing their relationship toward greater happiness and satisfaction as they become more mature. and confident in the process. ”


In my own relationship, I have witnessed the mutual benefits of accepting influence at home and in our careers.

My husband’s desire to leave alcohol with me a few years ago has brought us closer. Despite a global pandemic and the added stress of both, we overcame our fears and frustrations as a team. Instead of falling asleep or getting into power struggles, we kept our daily commitment to laughing and talking about our problems.

Especially during the challenges of pandemic parenting, when my husband’s fear and stiffness were triggered by our son’s struggles academically, he gave in to my knowledge from working with young people and reading and training. fact that emphasized the connection. Together we maintained firm but loving boundaries. We have reflected on the positive qualities and potential of our child. We worked with her teachers and made sure you knew that our love was unconditional. All in all, it helped him recover.

I’ve also seen the benefits in our careers of accepting influence. Their leadership and empathy for the diverse experiences of their staff were enhanced by the conversations we had about my internal and external work on my journey of awakening and working with trauma survivors.

Feeling their support and validation has given me the courage to talk about what I believe and pursue my career dreams.

Accepting influence requires hard work. Still, as we prepare to celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary, we would definitely say it’s worth it.

Join Nicole and the special guests Private Facebook group “More than mothers” for a week of dancing, art, singing, writing, education and inspiration. Check out this FREE virtual retreat for moms from May 2nd and the virtual group “Free yourself from perfectionism” program from May 9th.

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