Do unto others…
I’m fishing for ideas and examples…and here’s the premise: We know we can’t control others (with the exception of imprisonments or abuse, which we agree is to be avoided), but we can however choose our own actions with the purpose of producing predictable reactions from others. We do it all the time. Sometimes with good reasons, sometimes with bad. But we do it. Also, we tend to strive to meet the expectations put toward us by those we love or look up to. The parent/child or teacher/student relationships are the easiest to see this played out for good or bad. This also impacts the marriage relationship I believe.
So here’s my questions – in what ways do you try to illicit a predictable positive response from your spouse? This can be a sexual response or just relational in general. We’ve heard axioms like “be the change” before. The golden rule is similar. Expecting the most from someone is also applicable. How has this played out in your marriage- good or bad?
We’ve read the questions, some very recently, about what would you like to change about your spouse in one word….etc. My questions is how do you propose to elicit said change?
I’ll have follow-up thoughts after some responses. Thanks –
Modeling, encouraging, complimenting, rewarding, and offering positive reinforcement for things that one has communicated as desired change and the person does that.
Again, depending on the change, some of this definitely starts with communication and conversations about desires, feelings, etc. about the topic and/or desired change. It can even include what an individual is dreaming about, learning, or area they are experiencing growing in.
As most humans are often unpredictable or do not give out the same output even if you “push the same buttons”, I’m not sure I’m good at eliciting a predictable, positive response. I’m actually better at eliciting a predictable, negative response! Isn’t that what most of us husbands are good at?!
I think your suggestion about the golden rule is good. But, I believe it holds whether it elicits a positive response or not. Isn’t that what makes God’s kind of love, which He seeks to pour into our hearts and lives, different from our own meager love?
Here is what I try to do. Not only do I seek to love my DW more fully and better, I try to make myself easier to love!
Many years ago, when I first discovered Paul Byerly’s Generous Husband blog, I resolved to be as generous as possible to DW. Not for the sake of any particular outcome, other than to love her the way I should. I don’t expect anything in return from her, I just strive to be the most loving husband that I can be.
I was thinking about this one again and got to thinking about how people live up or down to expectations. A long time ago I noticed I had been doing the office ecosystem thing where all us girls complained about our hubbies together. I noticed our relationship suffering and made a vow to speak positively about him to others as much as possible. (Allowing for the occasional actual heart-to-heart with ONE other female when needed.) I found our relationship improved exponentially and MY VIEW OF HIM improved exponentially. He became what I expected to see. It’s a thought.
@Duchess – this is part of the research & findings of THE KINDNESS CHALLENGE by Shaunti Feldhahn. If we can only speak positively and about someone in that manner our attitude changes and shifts.
On top of that, we get what we look for and what we promote. I am a better, stronger man because of what my wife sees in me, which I don’t even see…or even believe. I also know there are times when my wife has said the same thing to me. I try on occasion to just lay in bed in the morning sometimes and speak into her her inner beauty, the character I see in her and why I am so attracted to her because of it. (Apparently, talking about her inner beauty and building her up and talking about the inner character qualities inspires her and communicates my love and attraction to her a lot more than a boob grab. Who’d have thunk it? 😀 Yeah, I still have that Jr. High boy in me that’s mesmerized with hers.) I guess doing so calls out the best in her…apparently like it does me.
“my wife is just stubborn, independent and fights vulnerability at every turn”
Reading new answers I came across this again and had another thought–Be careful not to permanently file her under these labels. While adjectives can help you understand another person, they can also pigeon-hole them in your mind and not allow them to grow and change, even if they try. (This is something I’ve been thinking about in response to a book I’ve been reading which I will share more about in a separate post.) Maybe she *is* “stubborn, independent and fights vulnerability at every turn” but if you leave off the JUST, you might find that she is less stubborn about some things than others or less stubborn now than she used to be or only stubborn when certain circumstances apply, etc. Perhaps you can help her feel more comfortable being vulnerable by proving (yes, over and over and over) that you are absolutely trustworthy AND she can completely trust you, which are two different things, you know. In the end, it doesn’t count that you ARE a safe haven for her; she also has to FEEL you are a safe haven for her. Sometimes we women are funny that way; at least I am. I can know something to be true, but my feelings still play a powerful part in whether I can accept that truth or not. If her insecurities are buried that deep, she may well need professional help digging them out and managing them, but you can do a lot to help by–and here I begin to overlap with what has been said before, but it’s still true–building her up with TRUTHFUL observations about her good qualities. Let her know, often, repeatedly, thoroughly, and sincerely WHY you fell in love with her, WHAT you love about her, WHO her best self is and how she is becoming that best self (the woman God has designed her to be) WITHOUT implying she is only acceptable as she changes into that person. Do this all WITHOUT attempting to MANIPULATE (which is the answer to “What does ‘elicit a predictable positive response’ mean, Alex?”) Be absolutely truthful and sincere in EVERYTHING you say to her, but seek to point out everything that is good about her and you will have a MUCH better chance that she will allow that hard candy shell to crack and leave her chocolaty center vulnerable. I KNOW this because I myself deal with a LOT of insecurities! The behavior I described, coming from my DH, makes me feel comfortable and safe to be vulnerable and open with him.
P.S I think this whole, control, manipulate, ‘elicit a predictable positive response’ bit MIGHT be a matter of semantics. Are you a very scientific and mathematical person? This seems like an approach a scientist would use on a problem. The thing is, you wife is not a problem, she is a person and you can’t address her in a scientific way. Her behavior might be a problem for you, but the truth is, no one can truly control another person’s behavior. All we can do is control our own and use our own behavior to create relationship. (I’m starting to sound preachy, and I don’t mean to!! Please forgive me! It’s that book again!)
@newwifenewlife – Excellent!
This is getting at what I’m trying to describe. I’ve heard and seen the principle of “you’ll find what you are looking for” often. But there is a balance, perhaps, between seeking the worst in someone and a “cult of personality” complex. We should always seek the best in our spouses (because we hope they seek the best in us), but there should also be a measure of realistic judgement of character. I see it as dual manipulation. Mainly we are manipulating ourselves, but we also influence how they respond.
If I treated my wife consistently like she was a selfish misanthrope, then it wouldn’t be long until she became one in self defense. Why not, if I’m gonna treat her like one? However, if I strive to bring out in praise and accolades any and all unselfish thing she did, even over-emphasize the smallest resemblance of it, then it should encourage her to do more of that – unless she were a sociopath.
However, there is some serious truth to the concept of the carrot and the whip. Making the right thing easy means little unless the wrong thing is hard, or at least uncomfortable. The evidence is clear what a generation of participation trophies and time-outs gets you. Positive reinforcement only goes so far. Heaven would mean little with no Hell to counter it. Accentuate the positive is only productive when we eliminate the negative at the same time.
There is also a saying I’ve heard all my life: It takes ten “atta-boys” to make up for one “oh 🤬!” That is speaking to the receiver specifically, but I think it affects the giver just as much. If the most you do is criticize, then that person becomes your criticisms first in YOUR mind, then eventually in theirs. So the opposite is true, even if it may evolve slower. Criticism takes hold in both much faster IMO and is therefore very dangerous. I see this in my own marriage when I think about my wife being stubborn, which she is. That is usually a negative criticism in my mind. However, I try to counter that with the truth that she is the most loyal, dependable and consistent person I know. Those are great qualities that I appreciate. They only occasionally manifest as irritating stubbornness.
One such negative outcome is the “nice guy” complex. If the husband who suppose to be the “driver” consistently hand the wife the reins, she will eventually take them and drive the wagon where and how she likes. Not necessarily because she wants to, but because he refused to and she sees no option but take control lest they both run off into the ditch. But once that happens, he has little room to complain about her driving! HE GAVE her the reins! Using the same analogy, counter that with the constant berating of the husband by the wife. Eventually the driver loses all motivation to drive at all or even care where they are going.
Does all of this translate to the bedroom? Absolutely! In every way described. It applies to all human relations, and sex is the most fully integrated of all. It affects all the others, and all the others affect it. In my opinion, since sex is what separates marriage from every other human relationship, if we don’t get sex somewhat right, no marriage will ever be truly successful or fulfilling for either party. I think the published causes of divorce prove that out. Along with the stories we hear from former gatekeepers where they admit they were not really happy withholding sex, but it was often a form of self-defense. Albeit self destructive.
LBD – while sex can be a tension in the house and listed at parting, studies have that show great sex doesn’t make a marriage great and little sex can be a huge source of tension. I think there’s a lot of truth in what you said about men giving up, I’ll use the word, “leading” their marriage and wife. When problems come they don’t address it in themselves, their spouse or in their marriage. They just resolve to being roommates for life or maybe just until the kids are older. A women will not respect a man who won’t lead and who won’t serve and he won’t do that, she’s gonna have a hard time serving her husband and opening her body to his advances and penis.
On the other hand, two people wholely given to sex is a relatively small part of a great marriage BUT can make a good marriage a great one because of the emotional commitment and engagement of the couple with each other. The more I can lead and serve my wife, the more emotionally we’re engaged, the more we’re challenging and encouraging each other because we feel safe, the deeper the connection, and the deeper the connection, the greater the devotion, the greater the devotion, the greater the sexual union. The greater the sexual union created by all those things, the greater the chance to start the cycle over.
Yes, there is a cycle that has to be started and fed. It will either be a “crazy”cycle or a “sacrificial” love cycle. Starting is easy if both start. If not, as a Christian man, I have to lead with love…and when there’s a problem in life, including my marriage or spouse, I have to humbly and prayerfully address it with God and ask for His wisdom and leadership. Sometimes God has said, I got this and He works in a more effective and received way than I can. Other times, it means that I have to pray up and humbly speak up with some questions from Him at a moment of His prompting.
I don’t know where this fits in, but I’ll leave it here, anyway.
Sometimes, I have asked my DH if he wants me to treat him how he treats me, or if he wants to be treated how I would like him to treat me. Lol, sometimes the two are so vastly different that I can’t figure out which way to go about it.
I don’t try to illicit a predictable positive response. I simply try to treat her well, with love, patience, and kindness. She knows if I ask her for something that she should do her best to do it and she does. It takes away any trading or bargaining or one side thinking they are getting a raw deal and so on. I am free to be sweet to her without it having to be connected to some unilateral choice she could make. I go out of my way for her because she is special to me and I love her. If there is an opportunity for me to bless her I try not to miss it!