What to Do When Your Wife Doesn’t Respect You

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Basics of respect

Oh no. You feel disrespected by your wife. This is definitely bad for your marriage and a poor example for any children you might have.

You’ve done the best possible thing you could have in this situation, and I hope you’ll choose to feel good about it. You’ve asked great questions: Why doesn’t my wife respect me? What do I do about it?

But it’s possible you’ve missed one: Are my feelings about my wife’s respect level for me accurate?

One of the biggest problems EVERYONE contends with in life is our inclination to believe everything we think. Just maybe she DOES respect you. That would save you a lot of time, energy, and frustration if that were the case. And for some of you, that will be true.

But for the sake of this exercise, let’s just say that your wife legitimately lacks respect for you. If your brain and/or heart are telling you that this condition is bad for your marriage and that you don’t want to be part of a marriage that lacks basic respect, I applaud you and totally agree. A marriage without respect is a marriage in name only.

I used to be married to a woman who didn’t respect me. It feels really bad, and if that’s where you are right now, I’m so sorry. Eventually, my wife chose to not be my wife anymore. I cried and vomited and felt sorry for myself and blamed everything on her.

I thought she was ungrateful. Cruel. A promise-breaker. Selfish.

And then, over the following six years I asked myself a thousand uncomfortable questions, I wrote about many of the realizations I’d made about how I was showing up in my marriage (spoiler alert: like a piece-of-shit husband), and today, despite being a divorced single guy, people pay me actual money to coach them about relationship stuff.

I know. It’s crazy.

Let’s talk about:

  • Whether your wife respects you; and
  • How you can earn her respect.

Does Your Wife Respect You?

The most important job you have any time you’re faced with a decision or encounter conflict with someone else, is to be damn sure you’re not accidentally being the bigger asshole without realizing it.

This is hard, because we spend the vast majority of our lives making snap judgments about everything, and mostly being right. If we have friends and jobs and are reasonably educated and have mostly avoided things like prison and Darwin Award-worthy near-death experiences, then—mathematically speaking—we have a pretty good track record with our gut reactions.

Recent example from my life: Because I am frequently calling strangers that I meet on the internet for coaching work, I toggle my phone’s Caller ID setting off so that my number shows up ‘Restricted’ or ‘Private’ on people’s phones when I call them.

A few weeks ago, when I was trying to call my dad on his birthday, my calls kept getting rejected. The first couple of times, I didn’t think much of it. But after six or seven tries over the course of many hours, I was feeling shitty. My dad’s too busy to talk to me. He’d rather do whatever he’s doing right now than talk to his son.

On Mother’s Day, the same thing was happening with my mom, though I realized my mistake much faster that time. You’ve no doubt already solved the mystery. I had forgotten to toggle my phone settings to “Show Caller ID,” which resulted in my parents doing EXACTLY what I would do in the same situation—ignore the phone call from an unrecognized number.

Stuff like this happens all of the time in our human relationships—particularly in our marriages.

We FEEL certain negative emotions when an event happens (someone else says or does something) that we would not have felt had we known one simple, but critical, piece of information to put the situation in its most proper and accurate context.

Powerful Questions That Can Help You Make Difficult Decisions (Including How to Feel)

The world’s thought leader on the subject of question-asking once sent me an email asking whether he could interview me for a book he was writing. (I said yes, because duh. Life highlight.) Bestselling author Warren Berger’s The Book of Beautiful Questions is one of my go-to resources for the questions I need to ask—or that my coaching clients might need to be asking—to arrive at answers that can help us achieve clarity about what we believe and why, and which can help us find answers to life’s most difficult problems.

The section of the book that includes things I said about human connection isn’t necessarily where I found the most value. It was the section on better decision-making—about anything. And because ‘anything’ includes our relationships, I hope you’ll take the following exercise seriously. It might help you.

From Berger’s The Book of Beautiful Questions:

Ask These 4 Questions to Check Your Biases and Beliefs

  • What am I inclined to believe on this particular issue? Start by trying to articulate your beliefs/biases.
  • Why do I believe what I believe? The “jugular question,” per Nobel Prize-winning physicist Arno Penzias, forces you to consider the basis of those beliefs.
  • What would I like to be true? A “desirability bias” may lead you to think something is true because you want it to be true.
  • What if the opposite is true? This question is inspired by ‘debiasing’ experts and Seinfeld’s George Costanza.

That last question is my favorite.

I’d ask you to think about it like a mock courtroom trial. There’s what you believe—The Defense Attorney. And then there’s what the other person believes—The Prosecuting Attorney.

I’ve never been to law school, but I’m pretty sure part of the process involves mock trials where law students (not unlike practicing lawyers) are sometimes required to prepare legal arguments for one side of a case they don’t necessarily believe or agree with.

I’m asking you to do the same thing. Give your best effort to argue the opposite of what you believe. It takes guts. I know you can do it. What evidence is there—what reasonable explanations exist—for how the opposite of what you believe could be true?

What happens afterward is several positive possibilities: 1. You get to be totally sure you believe what you believe, or 2. You get to abandon an incorrect or poorly conceived belief, and replace it with a better one, or 3. You get to, at the very least, come to understand how someone else could come to the conclusions that they did. And maybe when we fully understand The Why behind their actions, we can see that they were never trying to be assholes after all, and we get to feel all that wonderful lovey-dovey stuff again for a few minutes until the dopamine wears off.

‘Oh Shit. My Wife Really Doesn’t Respect Me’

That’s bad.

There’s no reasonable way to offer useful ‘advice,’ because it’s totally possible that the healthiest thing you could do is tell your meanie wife to piss off and file for divorce. But maybe you don’t want to do that because you have three kids together, and you calculate that the most loving fatherly thing you can do is stay married on their behalf.

I get it.

I get it because I’m pretty sure my wife stayed with me for a few more years than she wanted to for that exact same reason.

My wife stopped loving me and wanted to leave our marriage because I didn’t demonstrate the type of respect a wife deserves in a healthy marriage. While it was all pissing and moaning and whining at the beginning of my divorce, once I started asking myself a bunch of difficult questions and figuring out that I was actually a tremendously intolerable asshole throughout the majority of our marriage, I was able to empathize with my wife.

When you discover that you inflicted a bunch of bullshit on someone you care about that they didn’t deserve, and you view their behavior and decision-making through THAT prism, then the mystery of what happened, and the unjustified victimhood you were experiencing disappears.

When you’re a victim, life is happening to you. You’re just there, and a bunch of crap affects your life and there’s nothing you can do about it.

When you accept responsibility for your actions, and realize that what’s happening—or what has happened—are the consequence of your own actions, then it gives you a bunch of control of the situation that you couldn’t otherwise have. It’s powerlessness that’s most terrifying.

I don’t get to go back in time and fix my past mistakes. But I DO get to not feel anger now. I get to not enter future relationships blind to the things that destroys them. I get to make decisions armed with a bunch of critical information I didn’t have before. I like the confidence that gives me.

Just maybe, you execute the skills and duties of a husband at an incredibly high level. You’re a good husband, but you’re still not respected by your spouse. Ugh. Sorry. This won’t do.

Question (an uncomfortable and unpleasant one): Do you respect yourself?

I’m not a psychologist. But. A bunch of bad shit happens to us throughout our entire lives, starting in childhood. And all of that bad shit helps to shape our beliefs about ourselves, which affects what we feel—and how intensely we feel both positive and negative things throughout the rest of our lives.

Just maybe, YOU don’t believe you’re worthy of being respected (even though you might wear a metaphorical mask like I used to, and probably still sometimes do in order to convince others that we’re self-confident).

Do you ever say and do things around your wife one way, say and do things around your guy friends a different way, and say and do things around your coworkers yet a different way?

A component of that is social awareness and politeness, which is totally cool. But another portion of that might be that you adjust your behavior to fit into whatever environment you’re in, because you want to be accepted and/or liked by the people around you.

I totally do this sometimes. It’s lame. I want to be liked. It feels so much better than not being liked.

Self-confident people say and do the things that are true for them regardless of whether someone might not like them afterward. They give no phucks. None. Because they already respect themselves and don’t require others’ approval to know they are a person with inherent value.

They love and accept themselves. (Side note: Narcissists ALSO love and accept themselves and do all of these things, but struggle with gaining respect, because they rarely offer it themselves.)

How You Earn Your Wife’s Respect

  1. Respect yourself. Don’t you dare say that you do until you know it’s true. It’s okay to admit that you don’t. I do not always respect myself or act in my own healthy best interests. You’re not the only one.
  2. Respect your wife. You might be thinking: “But Matt! I do respect my wife! I married her and have children with her and love her more than anyone! I trust her with our finances, and for raising our children, and to not murder me in my sleep! What more could I possibly do?”

Great question.

While you humbly acknowledge to your wife that you’re actively working on learning how to behave with self-respect in order to grow into the best version of yourself you can possibly be because you, and your marriage, and your family deserve that, you also ask your wife what could change within your relationship so that she felt more respected.

You might be surprised by her answers, because there’s a better-than-average chance it will involve things you’ve heard before like housework, how you speak to her in the company of friends and family, and maybe some things you’ve never considered—like her desire to see you let your guard down by being uncomfortably real and honest with her about what goes on in your head and heart. By being vulnerable instead of pretending you’re the toughest guy she knows, she may feel both closer to you and more accepted by you because maybe she’s also sometimes insecure about what goes on in her head and heart.

Have the courage to expose your greatest flaws, weaknesses, and scars. Lovingly accept her greatest flaws, weaknesses, and scars. Regularly demonstrate that the shit that matters to her matters to you—simply because you respect the things that affect her, and you value her wellbeing.

That’s what you could possibly do.

That’s how you might earn back your wife’s respect.

“Being heroic is the ability to conjure hope where there is none.” – Mark Manson, author of Everything is F*cked: A Book About Hope.

Go be the best of us.

Go be a hero.

154 thoughts on “What to Do When Your Wife Doesn’t Respect You”

  1. Respect yourself – Don’t get married
    Respect your wife – respect her enough to not marry her in the first place

    You’ll never have these problems gents if you don’t fall into the marriage trap to begin with!


    1. Wanna,

      I don’t know your story that led you to MGTOW. You were married and regret it?

      Regardless, I agree with a lot of the gist of your top two statements.

      I think it is VERY smart for people to know what being married really is like and to choose very consciously and with romantic idealism.

      There are usually a lot of changes and sacrifices that are required to be in a successful partnership from both people.

      I respect people who choose to not marry.

      I respect people who choose to get married and then work to be successful.

      I respect people who are married and have done their work but they get divorced because of an abusive situation or a partner who is unwilling to do their work.

      1. I was married for 6 years my first marriage. She left me for dead in a hospital bed for someone who worked for me. I remarried 4 years after she and I divorced. My new wife is a “woman of God” so I expected things to be better. What I should have expected was for things to be DIFFERENT, not BETTER. We’ve been married 16 years and divorce isn’t an option for us. She states that she would not marry a divorcee with kids from a prior if she had it to do all over again. If I had it to do all over again, I just wouldn’t do it at all.I tell any young man who will listen to not do it….it’s just not worth it. It’s the real life equivalent of cashing out your net worth for chips at a Vegas casino and going all in on red or black at the first craps table you see. You have at best a 50% chance of making it in marriage. If you lose and you have a penis, you lose EVERYTHING.

        1. I’m not unsympathetic to what you’ve shared here. It sounds painful.

          So I hope you won’t take this as me hyperfocusing on you, specifically. But I’m curious…

          What causes you to believe that a thoughtful, conscientious man who asked good questions, who possessed the requisite amount of discernment, and who appeared capable of delivering his end of the relationship promise they were making to one another would only have a 50-50 chance to not experience infidelity or a loss of assets by an evil money-grabber?

          If I may, the logical conclusion to what you’ve said here is:

          A. Men have zero control over the quality of their marriage, and

          B. Women fundamentally can’t be trusted to behave with integrity, honesty, transparency, trustworthiness, etc (Else a really wise and smart man could easily avoid the ones who weren’t trustworthy.)

          And, sir. That’s pretty bleak. And from my perspective, doesn’t hold up to honest scrutiny.

          1. I don’t mind you hyperfocusing on me at all.

            Your analysis of what I said is correct….men DO NOT have any control over the quality of their marriages. Why and how do you think the MGTOW movement got started to begin with? A bunch of guys just decided to protest like little children channeling their inner Alyssa Milano? NO…..Watch “The Red Pill Movie”….all of the reasons for it and answers are there for both A and B. Women simply cannot be trusted because we have a corrupt family court system that sides with them 99% of the time…..it’s not even remotely even handed. That is covered very well in the documentary “Divorce Corp”…..I suggest you watch that as well. The women they show in that movie that actually got the shaft by the court system are so pathetic, it’s actually hilarious when you consider the amount of men that lose their homes, their livelihoods and everything else simply because a woman decided she wanted out of the marriage.

            At the end of the day, MGTOW is an effort by MEN to protect other MEN…..something we need to be doing to the death for each other. Women are VERY good at this, men not so much. If you’re depending on a woman to defend you, you’re a clown….it’s not going to happen. It IS pretty bleak but it’s fact. To ignore the reality is to side with the other gender so I would ask you to educate yourself.

          2. I interpret what you’ve said here as having a problem with the divorce court system. That judges and lawyers are screwing husbands and fathers left and right.

            MAYBE. Not the conversation I was having.

            I operate in a world where contentious divorce is NOT inevitable. My divorce was not contentious. It was quite agreeable and our son’s (and really, one another’s) best interest was ALWAYS at the forefront.

            My childhood best friend represented BOTH of us. He’s our son’s godfather. My ex and I are one of his daughters godparents.

            But again. I am NOT talking about the merits of the legal system.

            I’m talking about how we show up in our relationships.

            I propose we, us human beings, treat one another better in our dating relationships and marriages and learn how to actually love effectively, and then we can just avoid that whole shitty and unfair divorce process altogether.

            Maybe divorce court does fuck men over.


            But the conversation I’m trying to have is for men to be their best selves WAY before a contentious divorce ever comes into play. And I feel as if people trying their best to treat one another well, will mostly reduce all of those Fuck-You Divorces that are happening out there.

            I just want to make sure you and I are talking about the same thing. I don’t believe we are.

          3. You had a loving divorce, that’s fantastic. Good for you. While I agree with your premise that ALL people should treat each other better, you didn’t examine ANY of the evidence I presented……the 2 documentaries spell out clearly how men are being jacked over by the court system. It’s not even debatable…..it’s not “maybe”…..it IS happening.

          4. Wanna,

            I think there are some very legitimate issues that the manosphere brings up. Custody to mother defaults for example. Not enough support for men who are victims of domestic violence etc.

            And I think you are right that it’s a good thing for men to support each other. Absolutely!

            I think it matters greatly HOW you frame legitimate issues and HOW you support each other.

            Framing men as having no control over the quality of their marriage is puzzling to me. How is it even *possible* for a person to have no control over what happens in an interacting system? No control based on what they do and say in response to their spouse?

            Framing it as “women cannot be trusted” is imho the wrong HOW too considering the billions of women in the world. Quite a lot of trustworthiness variation there. Some can’t be trusted, some can.

            The trick it seems to me is to figure out which women (and men) to trust and which not to trust. And how to get skilled at knowing the difference and how to respond to each type in a mature way.

        2. Wow! I cannot imagine leaving my spouse in the hospital for another person! There is unbelievable cruelty and suffering in the world sometimes.

          It is to your credit you risked falling in love and getting married again. That take a lot of guts and courage.

          I can imagine how discouraging it would be for your second marriage to be disappointing too. Second marriages with step kids increase the difficulty level even more than first marriages.

          I know you said divorce isn’t an option so the commitment level is high which is a huge plus to working things out if both people are willing to make changes.

          Can you see a way you might improve things so your marriage in the future could be better? Was there anything in Matt’s post that particularly resonated with you?

          1. Actually yes, what resonates with me is this facade that we as men have that we can earn our wive’s respect. WE CANNOT. Just like anything else in life, they have to make a choice to respect us just as much as we have to make a choice to respect them. Have you ever noticed that you don’t see women running around saying “my husband doesn’t respect me……what do I need to do to earn his respect?”…..you don’t see that at all. They just demand it from us and when we don’t give it, everything goes to hell in a hand basket…..they make your life absolutely miserable. You cannot earn it through acts either. I wash dishes…..my dirty laundry NEVER sits anywhere but the dirty clothes hamper…..I make the bed……I wash the clothes……etc etc etc…..I have been railed against before because I find house cleaning theraputic. I can clean circles around her and she hates it. There are few things I cannot do….I don’t cook well and I really don’t handle money all that well so I generally leave those things to her to do but I do try to get in the kitchen and learn and I do meet with her about finances periodically so she’s not completely alone in it. Bottom line is that I could cure cancer…..it’s not going to earn her respect until she makes a choice to render it. Love is an action…..a verb……much more than it is ever a feeling. In order for marriage to be successful I have to get up every morning and choose to love my wife…..easier said than done on some days. I have no doubt the days she hates me are far more than those that she doesn’t…..but I keep trying…..she keeps trying. As long as we choose to keep trying, we’ll stay together.

          2. Wanna,

            You said: Love is an action…..a verb……much more than it is ever a feeling.

            In order for marriage to be successful I have to get up every morning and choose to love my wife…..easier said than done on some days. I have no doubt the days she hates me are far more than those that she doesn’t…..but I keep trying…..she keeps trying. As long as we choose to keep trying, we’ll stay together.

            As discouraged as you are, it is really beautiful how MUCH you love each other to keep trying to reach each other even when the positive feelings aren’t there.

            It seems like you both can’t quite figure out how to find a *way* to reach each other?

            You work very hard to do a lot of things to show your love. Would you say your love language is “acts of service”? Do you know if there is a disconnect between your wife’s love language and yours? I wonder if that is part of the frustration. (Just guessing obviously).

            I don’t think we can necessarily “earn” people’s respect like a paycheck. But as I was saying in other comments people have underlying “dreams” or needs that aren’t being understood and when we provide those they feel respected or give respect.

            It is imho a choice but also action based on understanding what our spouse is longing for. That combo is what keeps you married over inevitable ups and downs.


          3. Actually, my love language is words of affirmation…..the one thing I couldn’t pay her to get. Hers is physical touch and yes, there has always been a huge disconnect between the 2 languages. She’s an angry person…..one of the inherited sins of the 7 generations passed down from her father. We’ve been to counseling…..I thought she was going to lose her mind because I am so incredibly comfortable talking to or in front of a counselor because I’ve spent so many hours in counseling after my divorce. She feels tripped up there because I will say thing or talk about issues in front of the counselor that we don’t talk about at home. She doesn’t seem to understand that if she made it a safe place to bring the shit up, I would. I specifically enjoy having the counselor because the counselor makes it a safe place. She’s an expert at the blame game…..no matter what happened, it’s never her fault. The counselor tends to call her out on that stuff and she just doesn’t do well with it. Counselor recommended some medications for her to take because she’s already an angry person so when Aunt Flow comes around, she’s just out of control……she tried them for about a week….I don’t think she’s touched them since.

            Its unfortunate but I am eons better at putting my thoughts on paper than I am out of my mouth. I believe it’s mostly because my life is one great big rejection so when I am verbalizing it, I am always waiting for the rejection of it that is sure to come. I do tend to do much better when I am just verbalizing facts….whether they be about myself or about something I know a lot about….there is a confidence that I can carry with those words that I don’t otherwise have when I get into the touchy-feely ocean of shit women want to dive into all the time.I have always lived by Leadership 101 principle that states “its not my responsibility to understand you, its your responsibility to make yourself understood”……since I don’t possess great skill in making myself understood on touchy-feely shit, I tend to just leave it alone.

            I appreciate the back and forth with you without insults…..I feel like we can at least agree to disagree if we needed to.

          4. Wanna,

            You said:

            I appreciate the back and forth with you without insults…..I feel like we can at least agree to disagree if we needed to.

            Well, that is excellent feedback! I appreciate that you are willing to share your story and thoughts. I think everyone who comments here has had painful relationship(s), past or present. And that leaves damage.

            Because of that it is imho especially important to be kind to each other here. Curiosity and kindness go a long way even when people disagree. ?

            As I said in a comment to Jeff, I think so much of how “safe” people feel with us is based on our choice of wording and non -verbals. I am NOT naturally good at that which is partly why I co-created a shitty marriage.

            But I am learning new habits. And it has been fascinating to see what a radically different effect changing small conversational/conflict habits can have. I found I have more control than I thought previously over the general relationship arc if not a certainty of outcome.

            Changing the emotional safety changes so much especially when there is hurt, anger and big disagreements.

            Have you noticed that too?

          5. Wanna,

            You shared a lot of important things. Let me see if I understand.

            1. There is a big disconnect in your love languages. Yours is Word of Affirmation and hers is Physical Touch.

            You long to hear her say she appreciates and respects and loves you and you “couldn’t pay her” to give that to you.

            That makes it very hard to feel emotionally safe when the thing you most want is not only not provided but you get ANGER and blame from her instead. It makes sense that you feel so unloved and disrespected.

            2. She longs for physical touch as her primary love language but you said there was a big disconnect so I assume it is hard for you to give her what makes her feel loved and respected when you feel all that anger and blame from her. Which makes her respond with anger and blame.

            It’s usually a painful endless feedback loop.

            3. You are comfortable in therapy partly because it is a familiar process because you received a lot of therapy after your divorce and partly because the therapist makes it feel safe for you to bring up issues you don’t feel safe to do at home.

            4. Your wife doesn’t feel safe at the counselor office. She feels “tripped up” when you bring up issues there you don’t at home.

            She responds to feeling unsafe by playing defense-the “blame game.”

            5. Her anger has generational historical roots more recently from her father. From your perspective, her period exacerbates the anger so she is “out of control” during that time.

            6. The counselor calls her out on her habit of angry blaming and recommended medication for x diagnosed condition of which anger is the primary symptom (depression?, anxiety?, ADHD? Bipolar? PMDD? Something else?)

            7. Your wife took the medication for a week but you think she quit after that.

            8. You are significantly better at writing your thoughts that verbally expressing them. Something about verbal expression triggers a fear of the rejection that you have come to expect based on your life experiences.

            You are better at verbalizing facts about yourself or a subject you are knowledgeable of because you are confident in “facts” and they don’t trigger the fear of rejection that emotional content does.

            9. The rules of communicating facts are more easily understood by you rather than the “touchy-feely ocean of shit women want to dive into all the time.”

            That emotional language is hard for you to understand what she wants or to make what you want clear. Because it feels like a foreign language with unknown rules you “tend to just leave it alone” and communicate based in a factually based style as best you can.

            You feel that it is your responsibility to make yourself understood and so chose facts rather than emotional language because you are more fluent in facts language so you feel it has a better shot at communicating your perspective.

            Did I get some of that wrong?

          6. wannabemgtow,

            I agree with much of what you have said. Don’t be surprised if many here express their disagreement.

            I very much agree that one chooses to respect others and one chooses to love others (even our children). It is much easier to make those choices when the other’s behavior is generally appropriate. However, I think it is ridiculous that some (many?) spouses seem to think a few small failures are sufficient reason to justify lack of respect and even, far too often, divorce.

          7. jeffmustbeleast


            I think I understand what you are saying when you say a husband can’t earn a wife’s respect. I believe a husband can earn his wife’s respect, but he can’t make her respect him.

            I do agree that a wife has to choose to respect her husband. I’m not sure how accurate my following statement is, and I admit that this is speaking about husbands and wives in a general sense. Every person is unique, so it is dangerous to assume that each husband and wife has the same traits as the “typical” husband or wife. However, I have heard over and over that men naturally give respect, but men have a harder time showing love. For a husband, he is more likely to have to choose to love when the marriage is in trouble. That isn’t to say that a husband can’t lose respect for his wife and has to choose to respect her, but for a husband, respect typically comes more naturally and isn’t as much a choice. The opposite is true of the wife. Love comes more naturally, and she has to work to show respect (choose to respect) more than she would have to with love.

            Again, the above statement is just a general statement that I’ve heard a lot during my marriage. Obviously, nobody’s marriage is cookie-cutter, so take it with a grain of salt. I think there is some truth to it based on how most men and women are wired, but just my opinion.

            Having said all of that, I still believe that a husband or wife that is constantly “choosing” to demonstrate love and respect will naturally encourage a similar response from their spouse. I don’t think anybody can do this perfectly, and I don’t believe every spouse will respond favorably to it. Particularly if one spouse has been hurt so badly that he/she already wants out of the marriage and isn’t willing to forgive their spouse.

            I strongly agree with you on love and respect being choices. I think too many people decide that because they don’t feel love or respect, the marriage is dead. The lack of feelings definitely signals an issue, but you can choose to love/respect even when you don’t feel it; and I agree that choosing to act in love and respect is key to a healthy marriage. I might be wrong, but I believe that if a marriage is struggling; as long as both the husband and wife choose to act in love and respect toward their spouse (and choose to love and respect themselves in a healthy way), the marriage will move toward a healthy place. It is tough when one spouse is choosing to love and respect and the other has given up. However, in that case, I still believe that the spouse choosing to love and respect can influence the other spouse in many cases. I have heard plenty of marriages where at least one spouse gave up and was on the verge of divorce before having a change of heart. In many of these cases, the other spouse continued to choose to show love and respect, and their spouse eventually responded. Unfortunately, their are plenty of cases where this didn’t happen, but I wouldn’t agree that you can’t influence (or earn) somebody’s respect. You can’t make somebody respect you however. Does that make sense?

          8. Jeff,

            I really appreciate (and respect?) the way you present your comments.

            You are always careful to add qualifiers like “this is just my opinion” “I could be wrong” “does that make sense?”

            Often it is those conversational habits that can create a sense of safety. I am trying to learn to do a better job in that online and in real life so I try and notice the emotional effects of how things are worded when I read comments.

            Is this something you are consciously learning and practicing or is this “natural” for you? I would appreciate any help you can provide.

          9. jeffmustbeleast


            I don’t think it is natural for me to talk that way. I think naturally I can be a bit of a jerk that always thinks my assessments/assumptions are right. Matt has mentioned quite a bit in the past how assuming you are always right can make you a jerk, and I can identify with that. In the past year or so, I think I have started to realize that not only was I wrong on quite a bit, but many times I misunderstand what someone is trying to say. When having a conversation with my wife, I can often hone in on one thing that she says that I feel hurt by, and I don’t hear everything else she is saying. It can be difficult for me to sit back and hear what she is really saying at times because of this. This weakness on my end has become pretty evident to me lately.

            It is much easier for me to respond well online since I have time to re-read someone’s comment and check myself before responding. I’m trying to do this in “real time” also, but I find it much more difficult. I’m afraid I haven’t mastered this at all. Still a work in process.

          10. Jeff,

            In the past year or so, I think I have started to realize that not only was I wrong on quite a bit, but many times I misunderstand what someone is trying to say.

            When having a conversation with my wife, I can often hone in on one thing that she says that I feel hurt by, and I don’t hear everything else she is saying.

            It can be difficult for me to sit back and hear what she is really saying at times because of this. This weakness on my end has become pretty evident to me lately.

            I am impressed that you can

            1. acknowledge that you need to change

            2. and you are actively working to change

            The fact that you can do it well online is a big strength. You possess the skill that many people don’t.

            I can understand how hard it is to do it in “real time”. I am working on this too.

            I wonder if time to check before responding is a key factor to think about since you mentioned that was helpful online.

            My hubby and I used to text each other about conflict when things were hard to discuss in real time for the reasons you mentioned. I have a friend who exchanged written letters and emails. Is that an approach you have tried or considered?

            Another thing has helped me is to notice in my body when I am getting “flooded” and when it reaches a 5 out of 10 to literally take a time out.

            Tell the other person I need a little time to respond well and leave for a bit. Then I calm myself with deep breaths or watching funny videos on YouTube until I can think straight again without the fight or flight response. Then I go back or set a time to talk. It does make a difference for me. Maybe you have tried something similar?

            It’s almost impossible to work to learn new habits when the body is overwhelmed with stress hormones as I’m sure you know. Changing that makes a big difference.

            Your hard work is evident online. I am impressed that you are working hard to change in real life. ?

          11. Im thinking maybe YOU could have a blog. Thats no knock on Matt, btw…but this site is ALWAYS about the usual ‘shitty husband’ stuff, and is just FLOODED with sycophantic women who will stop at nothing to keep that the dominant narrative. And a shitton of men just hop right on board that train cuz they arent even aware there are tracks headed in a different direction. Not opposite…different. HTF do we think the court systems are so skewed against men & Fathers? Sure, its a financial racket. Thats nothing compared to the cultural damage that has occurred, is occurring, and will continue until our collective heads are out of our collective asses. And THAT WILL NOT HAPPEN unless women are held accountable for their shitty behavior, and even shittier actions. The most valuable thing said here is this: Men CANNOT earn the respect of their wives…it MUST be an ACTION that they alone are responsible for. Nail…meet head.

    2. Absolutely ?. Until family law is more equitable, men should not get married. If women didn’t get rewarded for bad behavior in divorce court, then they wouldn’t consider cheating as an option and imploding their vows. Once family law makes divorce an unpleasant option for women AND men, the divorce rate would drop significantly.
      If a women knew she would only get 10 percent total of her husband’s salary or even nothing in a divorce ( bc she made a great salary of 100k a year at her own job)she wouldnt be as quick to initiate said divorce and would put more effort into her marriage. Its all about incentives…

  2. Excellent post Matt!

    Another helpful thing is to ask yourself and your spouse: WHO do you respect and why?

    That tells you a lot about what we each mean with the word “respect”. We tend to think others assign the same meaning to words and there can often be big differences. So you end up fighting over two different things.

    One may say I respect my mom because family always came first to her. She sacrificed a career to take care of the house and whoever needed help.

    Or my mom who didn’t sacrifice a career put up with sexist shit and made everyone clean the bathroom and pick up after themselves.

    Or I respect my dad because he didn’t say much but I always knew he loved me because he worked two jobs to take care of the family.

    Or my grandparents who stayed married for 50 years through good and bad.

    Or my grandparents who got divorced when it wasn’t common and who were better for it.

    That tells you a LOT about what people are fighting about. It works in reverse too. Who do you NOT respect and why?

    Also can use tv/movie or literary characters which is one of my favorites. Tell me who your favorite characters and villains are and that tells me about YOU.

    1. Such an important point. Emotionally, we respond to words based on what they mean to us.

      Undoubtedly, people use language when they speak to others that is emotionally benign to them, but those words are for various reasons affecting other people differently.

      That’s a regular theme in everyone’s relationship conversations that too often evolve into conflict and each person wanting to stab one another.

      1. Gottman has this intervention called “Dreams within Conflict”

        If a wife doesn’t “respect” her husband there is something important she is looking for and not getting. (Vice versa for husband).

        What is the thing? Usually it is informed by our family or culture in some way.

        “I saw my mom pick up after my dad like a maid and I swore I would marry a man who would treat me with respect and we will be a team.” Respect means not being expected to do others grunt work. The missing dream is *interdependence.*

        “I grew up watching a bunch of “yes dear” husbands who did what they were told and I am not going to be emasculated like that.”

        Respect means not being told what to do. The missing dream is *independence.*

        So you can see that the dreams underlying the fight are in conflict. One person longs for *interdependence* and the other *independence* when they say they want to be respected.

        So that’s why you fight over random surface stuff as you both declare you want respect and you don’t think the other person respects you in the way you define it. You are talking past each other.

  3. Where have I seen something like this in the past? Oh, that’s right. It was here.







    1. Where have I seen a comment like this is the past? Oh, that’s right it was in the comment section?

      I am being sort of snarky but I seriously am curious about you.

      What motivates you to spend part of your limited time available to read Matt’s blog? To comment on Matt’s blog? When it seems to not be in accordance with your views.

      There must be something of value in the process that keeps you engaged. What is it? And I am serious I am not being sarcastic if it’s not clear.

      1. Im thinking maybe YOU could have a blog. Thats no knock on Matt, btw…but this site is ALWAYS about the usual ‘shitty husband’ stuff, and is just FLOODED with sycophantic women who will stop at nothing to keep that the dominant narrative. And a shitton of men just hop right on board that train cuz they arent even aware there are tracks headed in a different direction. Not opposite…different. HTF do we think the court systems are so skewed against men & Fathers? Sure, its a financial racket. Thats nothing compared to the cultural damage that has occurred, is occurring, and will continue until our collective heads are out of our collective asses. And THAT WILL NOT HAPPEN unless women are held accountable for their shitty behavior, and even shittier actions. The most valuable thing said here is this: Men CANNOT earn the respect of their wives…it MUST be an ACTION that they alone are responsible for. Nail…meet head.

  4. Love is all about respect, understanding and trust…
    Once your wife doesn’t respect you,it simply means their is no love anymore..
    Its better you pack your things and walk away and hope for the best

    1. Hello Hungay!

      I agree with you “Love is all about respect, understanding and trust…”

      I wonder if you think it is *always* impossible to rebuild a marriage after feelings of love and respect are not there anymore? Can you get it to come back?

      1. Hello gotmanfan?
        Honestly speaking i won’t let it come back to my life once the bond of respect,love and trust is over because allowing it back in your life is a matter of causing trouble to your future…

        Once you find the relationship is over,walk away with clean heart,pray,bare with the hard times and hope for the best,simply because the future is promising and life will bring someone who will heel the past wound in your heart…

  5. Here is a sample of the questions and format of the Dreams Within Conflict exercise for anyone interested.

    I like it because it gives a structured way to get to the root of the issue for each person. And it gives sample questions and a list of possible values/dreams etc to choose from.

    This helps a lot imho because if you ask an open ended question it can sometimes draw a big blank, especially for those who aren’t used to identifying and labeling their emotions and values.

    I always like multiple choice quizzes over open ended questions anyway.?


  6. I think a key issue present in this post and in the comments is the question of whether respect comes just because it is due, or whether respect is something that is armed. Piggybacking on Gottman Fans’ comment about families of origin, we grow up with different ideas about respect. My daughter often points out that in other families kids call their parents (and other adults) ma’am or sir, which is quite different from in our house. I consider that behavior a mark of a family in which it is assumed (and taught) that parents get respect simply because there are parents. Growing up in a more “progressive” household, a person is more likely to absorb the lesson that respect for any person, regardless of their position, is something that is earned. I think when people bring these ideas into a marriage without discussing or questioning them, it can set the stage for conflict. Because we absorb these lessons at such a young and impressionable age, if we hook up with someone who believes (for example) They are owed our respect because they are the husband dammit, rather than because they demonstrate respectable attitudes and behavior, conflict is likely to ensue. And changing expectations, for either party, is very difficult.

    1. Dr. T.

      This book may exist, but did you just say someone needs to make a book covering all of these blind spot conversations to be read as a prep guide for marriage?

      I think you did. And liked it.

    2. My view is that you respect the position and thus default to respecting the person, until that person shows they do not deserve that respect.

      In other words, respect is not earned but can be rescinded (unearned?) due to their behavior.

      1. OKRickety might not like this, but I’m in 100% agreement.

        I’m not “fighting” for that position. I’m saying simply that this is how I think about the concept of respecting others.

        I default to treating people respectfully. Which is probably a factor in why my polite and thoughtful treatment of others would wear on my wife and upset her because she couldn’t get me to see how I wasn’t giving her that same courtesy.

        1. Matt,

          I think I always like it when people completely agree with me. 🙂

          I expect you treated your wife respectfully when you first met. Perhaps you stopped doing that over time because of her behavior. It is said that “familiarity breeds contempt”, that is, greater knowledge of someone leads to a loss of respect for them.

          1. You could certainly be right here too.

            But in this case, it shifts blame/fault/responsibility.

            I’m sure she did and said things in ways that she “shouldn’t have” for us to treat one another with the maximum amount of love and respect. We were young and human.

            But one of my strongest beliefs is that we are literally blind to the emotional experiences of others.

            I wasn’t MINDFULLY or INTENTIONALLY disrespectful to my wife, and I have no reason to believe she was mindfully or intentionally disrespectful to me.

            We were just two people handling marriage conflict poorly. Most people do that.

            My central premise for almost everything I write is this:

            HAD I not been blind to my wife’s very real experiences (they were true for her whether me or you or anyone else acknowledges them), then I would have had the opportunity to adjust how I said and did things. I would have been able to make different choices that might not have motivated my wife to end our marriage. At minimum, she would have been married to someone who actively showed that he respected and cared enough about her to listen and adjust—to actively love and sacrifice for his marriage, and for the person he vowed to love and honor for life.

            My “issue” with your take sometimes is that alleviates me (or husbands who behave as I did) of all personal responsibility.

            Your take posits that my wife would have done the EXACT SAME THING no matter how I behaved.

            And I’m saying—whether or not you believe me to be truthful or correct—that I believe strongly that HAD I KNOWN, had I not been blind to the things I write about, the common experiences reported by wives in dysfunctional marriages… I believe I would have adjusted my behavior to NOT inflict pain. I would NOT have chosen the path to divorce had I recognized it.

            And I believe a bunch of other men agree with me.

            So I’m simply trying to give them a heads-up before they find themselves where I did.

            It’s not for everyone. Nothing can be. It’s just for them. The people who still have time to avoid my mistakes.

            I want their families to benefit from what I discovered the hard way. ??‍♂️

    3. I was recently reading about research of parenting styles that also I think can be generally applied to other types of attitudes about relationships.

      Three basic styles:

      1. Authoritarian-based on inherent positions of hierarchical authority to tell people what to do. The classic “because I said so, end of discussion.” This style is marriage is where one person calls all the shots. Can be in different styles it can be soft “yes dear” styles of compliance as much as military “yes sir!” style.

      Demands “respect”in terms of to be obedience/compliance as part of their role of authority. Respect is not considered earned.

      2. Permissive This style is anything goes. Conflict avoidant, no boundaries. Taking the short term “easy” choice over the long term. Respect is not earned or given in a healthy sense. It’s more about avoidance of the steps to balance differences with respect for yourself and your spouse.

      3. Authoritative This style is the Goldilocks style.

      It balances “demandingness” and “responsiveness.” Research shows this style produces the best parenting results in Western cultures.

      You respect yourself and the other person at the same time. You recognize the special privileges and responsibilities of your role as parent or spouse but you ALSO are flexible to accommodate and listen to the other person and (dare I say it?) “accept influence” from them.

      So I say all this to suggest that respect is both

      1. “Earned” by your ability to respect yourself and the other person at the same time. If you can do this, respect is usually a natural outcome.

      2. And also not earned but assumed to be inherent in each person. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and not humiliated or controlled.

      3. But the basic respect you give to strangers is not the level of respect you give people you are in a relationship with. Each ring of intimacy increases the level of respect to be responsive (accept influence) to their perspective and needs while also making sure your healthy boundaries are in place.

      4. The level of respect I need to have for my spouse is in some
      hardest level of difficulty. We have to level up far more than “easier” relationships of friends and people whose lives don’t interact 24/7.

      Comment is too long as usual. As Mark Twain said I didn’t have time to make it shorter. ?

      1. If u want love from your wife u have to show love to her, so if u want respect u have to show respect it’s call give and take also u have to learn to contain her and maintain
        a her because she is a weaker person according to the good book so u got to work it out my brother God bless you thanks.

  7. Matt,

    But in this case, it shifts blame/fault/responsibility.

    My “issue” with your take sometimes is that alleviates me (or husbands who behave as I did) of all personal responsibility.

    I think you misunderstand me. I also think you misunderstand the fundamentals of responsibility. I suspect the latter misunderstanding is responsible for part of the former.

    Every individual is 100% responsible for their own behavior (no one makes you do anything). In a two-person relationship, that means there is 200% (yes, 200%) responsibility for problems (and good things, too), not 100% split between the two. (Note: Fault is different, and blame is related but entirely different. I wish I could explain it well but I’ve yet to find a good explanation.)

    In other words, recognizing and acknowledging your wife’s responsibility for her own behavior does not change your own responsibility for your own behavior. That is, it does not shift responsibility or fault. Your choice to avoid your wife’s responsibility and possible fault may be the greatest problem I have with what you write on this blog. As I see it, you ignore it as if it is irrelevant (I think because you certainly can’t control her behavior).

    I, however, see it as extremely relevant, because true love chooses to do the right thing even though you know your spouse has behaved wrongly. Since we are all imperfect, doing the right thing anyway is extremely important to the success of marriages.

    Your take posits that my wife would have done the EXACT SAME THING no matter how I behaved.

    I don’t know what you base that on. No matter how you behaved, I don’t know what she would have done and neither do you! Nor does any expert. Nor do you know that it would have been an improvement. I know many experts believe that if one changes behavior, then the response will change. While I think that is likely true, I’m reasonably certain they don’t claim to know what the actual response will be. Since they don’t, I think it could be the exact same thing, or it might even be worse.

    Digressing a little, I think the relationship experts suppose that improved behavior would result in an improved response. While that may be true for those who follow some version of the Golden Rule, I think human experience suggests that many will instead take the opportunity to further their own interests.

    1. jeffmustbeleast


      I never actually thought of the 200% responsibility idea, but that makes sense. I think you are right on when you say doing the right thing even when you feel your spouse hasn’t is extremely important to the success of a marriage. I read an article not long ago by a pastor where he stated that he realized early in the marriage that the hardest thing to do in marriage was respond graciously when he felt his spouse had wronged him. I agree with him. I think trying to continue to love and respect your spouse when you feel that they aren’t loving and respecting you is extremely hard. It goes against human nature.

      I am a little confused by your statements at the end of your post however. You stated that human experience suggests that many will instead take the opportunity to further their own interests. I don’t disagree with this, but I think this statement actually undercuts your argument. I believe most divorces happen because at least one spouse feels unloved/unrespected and believes that staying in the marriage is just going to continue to expose them to pain from their spouse. However, if their spouse consistently showed love and respect, it would naturally make the marriage feel like a safe environment. Therefore, staying in the marriage would further their own interests.

      I’m not saying there aren’t people out there that are marrying for money or are looking for a younger spouse. If that is what you are talking about, then we aren’t talking about the same things. However, I think most marriages don’t break up for those reasons. Even in situations where a spouse does leave a marriage for a richer or younger person, it is possible that their former spouse didn’t make them feel loved/respected and that is the reason they left. Maybe I’m a romantic, but I believe almost everyone who gets married intends to stay married to their spouse for life and genuinely believes that they will have a good, healthy marriage with that person. I would argue that the marriages that start off with a spouse “settling” for the best they could get at the time and always looking for better options are extremely rare.

      All that being said, showing your spouse love and respect even if you don’t feel they deserve it helps create a safe environment that encourages them to stay in the marriage with you. If Matt could go back and change his behavior in his marriage where he didn’t cause his wife pain (or at least not consistently caused the same pain, nobody can perfectly respond all the time), it is very likely that the outcome would be different based on your statement that some are looking to further their own interests. I believe every wife wants a marriage where they feel loved and respected, just like I believe every husband wants a marriage where they feel loved and respected. Staying in this type of marriage does “further their interests”. Does that make sense?

      Also, I would wager that Matt understands his wife pretty well as he was married to her for a significant amount of time. I’m guessing Matt probably has a pretty good handle on what he did that hurt her at this point, and it would be pretty safe to assume that changing those would have changed the outcome. I highly doubt Matt married a wife that was never committed to the marriage or Matt wouldn’t have spent so much time soul-searching.

      1. jeffmustbeleast,

        Doing the right thing when your spouse doesn’t is difficult. I think it’s unusual today, because commitment to marriage is not that common in recent marriages.

        Outside of religious beliefs, I don’t think there is a strong argument for doing the right thing. My statement about people furthering their own interests was given to show that there is a logic problem with the assumptions made by those arguing that good behavior will likely get a good or improved response.

        I would argue that the marriages that start off with a spouse “settling” for the best they could get at the time and always looking for better options are extremely rare.

        I disagree. Primarily, I think they don’t know that they are settling, although the multiple instances of “where have all the good men gone?” suggests they should. I also doubt that they are consciously looking for better options initially, but I think many get to the point they think they could remarry to someone better. Both the failure to remarry and the lower success rate of second marriages suggests they are wrong.

        I believe every wife wants a marriage where they feel loved and respected, just like I believe every husband wants a marriage where they feel loved and respected. Staying in this type of marriage does “further their interests”. Does that make sense?

        It could further their interests but I think few are willing to make the effort and take the risk once they feel unloved or disrespected.

  8. So what to do when one has sent so, so many of your articles to ones spouse, asking one to READ THE ARTICLE?

    This after nearly breaking up after 45 years together??

    If your spouse doesn’t care enough to even look at the article, much less discuss it?

    I only stayed as he was diagnosed with a brain tumor last year. Then, even in the middle of his 30 days of radiation treatments, I walked in on him watching porn on his work phone. I took the phone and realized he’d accessed porn going back 3 years ON HIS COMPANY PHONE (this was a recurring issue causing problems as he has time to do that but no time to read your articles I’ve sent?!?! And on his WORK PHONE?!)
    Ha! He just this second asked me to proofread something he wrote as a favor for a former female employee looking for a reference. Bad fucking timing.
    Please do not publish my private info- name etc

  9. Here is another take on RESPECT in marriage, defined as seeing and helping each other fulfill our “dreams” (goals/values/aspirations etc imho)


    Why do some couples cope so gracefully with these sorts of issues while others get bogged down? The difference is that the happy couple understands that helping each other realize their dreams is one of the goals of marriage.

    In happy marriages partners incorporate each other’s goals into their concept of what their marriage is about.

    These goals can be as concrete as wanting to live in a certain kind of house or to get a certain academic degree. But they can also be intangible, such as wanting to feel safe or wanting to view life as a grand adventure.

    In a happy marriage neither spouse insists or attempts to manipulate the other into giving up their dream. They work it out as a team. They fully take into account each other’s wishes and desires.

    Maybe practicality demands that one or both of their dreams be put on hold for a while. Whatever they decide to do isn’t really the issue. The point is that their concept of their marriage incorporates supporting both of these dreams.

    The way they go about making such decisions — with mutual respect for and acknowledgment of each other’s aspirations — is part of what makes their marriage meaningful to them.

    When either spouse doesn’t fully appreciate the importance of supporting his or her partner’s dreams, gridlock is almost inevitable.”

  10. Part 2

    If you’ve reached gridlock on any issue in your marriage, big or small, the first step is to identify which dream or dreams are fueling the conflict.

    One good indicator that you’re wrestling with a hidden dream is that you see your spouse as being the sole source of the marital problem.

    If you find yourself saying, for example, that the problem is simply that he is a slob or she is just irresponsible or overly demanding, that’s a sign of a hidden dream.

    It may indicate that you don’t see your part in creating the conflict because it has been hidden from view.

    Uncovering a hidden dream is a challenge. The dream is unlikely to emerge until you feel that your marriage is a safe place to talk about it. It’s important to begin by working on Gottman’s first three principles in order to strengthen your friendship with your mate.

    Keep working on your unresolvable conflicts. Couples who are demanding of their marriage are more likely to have deeply satisfying unions than those who lower their expectations.

    You may find that when you first begin to recognize and acknowledge your dreams, the problem between you and your spouse seems to get worse rather than better. Be patient. Acknowledging and advocating for your dreams in a marriage is not easy.

    The very nature of gridlock means that your dream and your spouse’s appear to be in opposition, so you’ve both become deeply entrenched in your positions and fear accepting each other’s influence and yielding

    Note: Similar to the parenting research in another comment — a good marriage is a combination of:

    1) responsiveness and
    2) demandingness (not just avoiding issues).

  11. Dan Seigel’s work, or at least what I’ve taken from it, is really about becoming attuned with ourselves while also attuning to others.
    I read the following last night and really felt like it applied to a lot of the conversations here…
    “… the feeling of trust is a receptive state. A “yes” mode, in which we welcome input from others and may even acknowledge our own needs for connection. Being open is a state of being that is receptive rather than reactive. To achieve alliance, empathy, and goal consensus and collaboration, trust is essential.
    Yet most of us have had some experiences in our pasts, whether in childhood, adolescence or adulthood in which being vulnerable was not a sacred state respected by others. In this situation we may have adapted by becoming reactive rather than remaining receptive. Such an adaptive state can involve the classic defensive strategies of denying our own feelings, cutting ourselves off from bodily sensations that fuel those feelings, rationalizing why what happened didn’t matter, or withdrawing from others with the stance that we don’t need to depend on others for our own wellbeing. With repeated occurrences, violations in our trust in another can lead to adaptations that become woven into out flexible repertoire of responses, or even become more inflexible aspects of our personality traits. “
    He asks the questions:
    “What were the patterns that you adopted to deal with betrayals of trust? How did you respond to being ignored, intruded upon or terrified? In what ways did your development since childhood become influenced by times when others let you down? What role does vulnerability play in your life now?”…
    …”Modifying our old patterns enables us to be attuned to others in a more open and contingent way…(stuff about creating your own inner peace) ….this inner attunement is an invitation to initiate presence, to be brave in the face of your own vulnerability, and opens the door for (others) to be present in relationship as well. “

    1. PIP,

      Thanks for adding the quotes from Dan Siegel.

      Let me see if I get the main ideas of the first part.

      1. The goal is to become attuned with ourself while also attuning to others. (Stay in a 2 person system not 1)

      So that we can achieve alliance, empathy, and goal consensus and collaboration. “Play nicely with others?”

      2. In order to do that we have to have a feeling of trust—be in a “receptive” state open to input from other as well as acknowledging our connection needs.

      3. But most of us have past experiences where vulnerability was not respected and trust was violated.

      4. We adapted to those experiences by becoming “reactive” to protect and defend ourselves.

      Common defense adaptations are

      A denying our feelings,

      B disassociating from our bodily emotional sensations

      C cognitively rationalizing that it was no big deal or

      D withdrawing from others
      and learning to depend only on ourselves

      5. The more damaging to trust experiences we have the more we adapt to a “reactive” rather than “receptive” default.

      6. As we experience the world increasingly unsafe and people untrustworthy, we become more rigid in our defense stance and it may become a intrinsic part of our personality and “who” we are.

      Does that agree with your take?

  12. He then also talks about the loving kindness meditation…an activity that he believes (But is yet not proven) to activate the social and self engagement systems.
    “When we harness the social circuits of compassion and kind ness we create a state of other directed and self compassion that, with practice can become a readily accessible internal stance and trait in our lives”
    The meditation is as follows:
    “May (I/he/she) be happy and live with a joyful heart.
    May (I/He/She) be healthy and have a body that gives (me/he/she) energy.
    May (I/he/she) be safe and protected from harm
    May (I/He/She) live with the ease that comes from well being.
    Offer first to self, for mentor, for friend, for acquaintance, and for someone you have conflict with.
    *Loving kindness phrases can evoke internal states of clarity, compassion, and likely integration as they facilitate the neural firing of our resonance circuits, which enable us to be attuned to others and ourselves.
    With practice, these intentionally created states of kindness can become long term traits of compassion and caring concern.

    He also states “our present state of scientific knowledge suggests that we can solidly affirm that kindness and compassion are to the brain what the breath is to life.”

    1. Second part

      1. Siegel recommends “loving kindness meditation” because he believes it activates both self compassion and compassion for others.

      2. Loving kindness phrases can evoke an internal state of clarity, compassion and integration of neural resonance circuits.

      3. It can help to reset our defensive adaptations so they we default with less “reactivity” and more “responsiveness”. It resets the trust level to a better default which we need to stay attuned to both ourself and the other person so we can play nicely and get things done in collaboration.

      4. Our current scientific knowledge suggests that kindness and compassion are *very* important to have a healthy brain. As important as breath is to life.

      1. Gottmanfan,
        Yes I think you got the gist of what he was saying.
        He seems to be saying that creating feelings of kindness and compassion, by the meditation in his example, activates those kindness and compassion circuits- making it easy to call up in times of need.
        And yes, he made an affirmation that kindness and compassion are essential in a healthy (and he believes whole) brain.
        I make the assumption that this reduced stress, creates positive connections and increases meaning in our lives.
        But, OMG- it is so far away from how most of us live. Because, yes- we learn vulnerability isn’t safe.
        Ultimately we get to choose between the pain of risked vulnerability or the pain of our armory.
        Of course, giving kindness and compassion, to yourself first, and then to others pain and defensiveness could become less common.

        1. PIP,

          I recently did a project on the positive effects of laughter. There was a surprising amount of research of the positive effects both mentally and physically.

          Just watching funny videos shows marked change in physiological markers of stress, better immune function, better memory, less depression. And the effects are enhanced when you are with another person. Laughter is a safety cue for the brain.

          I say all that to say that meditating is just ONE way in. It’s easier for me to watch and laugh at Impractical Jokers to calm my brain than to do a loving kindness meditation.

          Laughter is another way to increase social trust and calm the brain.

          1. I think of it like when I go to shop at Target. I can enter through the doors painted green or the doors painted red. They both get you into Target ?

            I think similarly there are different ways to calm the brain. Meditating might be the green doors to the brain, laugher (or something else) are the red doors to the brain.

          2. Most helpful to know lots of ways to calm the brain and pick and choose and modify to what works best for a particular day, situation, or mood.

          3. GF,
            Laughing with others can create bonds, absolutely.
            A project/presentation I did a few years ago was about the benefits of play and laughter- so yes, watching funny videos, movies, ect. Can relieve stress.
            I think what he is aiming at here, though is the ability to attune to another. To be present and be open to their experience.
            To be willing and able to meet them in our own vulnerability- and in theirs.
            I should note, this book is aimed at counselor/ therapists- so the need to be present for the other is essential.

          4. Laughter is ALSO about attunement as much as meditating.

            Laughter creates a social safety cue in the BRAIN so we can attune better with ourselves and others.

          5. I agree laughter is awesome. Except when you have to be the funny one and your insides implode…(but that may just be me..;) Lol.)
            I can be amusing, when I’m not thinking about it- but everything goes blank when I realize I need to serve up some comic relief on the spot.
            But I do try to find the humor in most things.

          6. We may be talking about two different things. Not sure ?

            I am talking about the brain and body benefits of “mirthful” laugher as a practice like meditation. Choosing exercises that provoke laugher specifically for health benefits.

            You are thinking about the negative aspects of laughter because of feeling pressure to make jokes and be funny?

            Not sure I understand.

            Though to just run with the point I think you are making I agree that feeling pressure to be funny can be difficult. A form of social anxiety.

          7. Gottmanfan,
            I was thinking 2 people laughing together. It would be a lot less stressful If one of them was not responsible for making the laughs.

            If it’s just watching something funny, I think that is beneficial but I don’t know for sure (thinking maybe it doesn’t ?) have pro-social benefits outside of stress reduction.
            It’s not firing off empathy and feeling of warmth and kindness to others, is it?
            I honestly don’t know.

          8. I did research on that subject. Imho you can create pro-social benefits several ways with laugher.

            Laughter is not just stress reduction it is a pro-social cue in and of itself to the brain. That is why laugher is contagious. (There are auditory neural circuits that get triggered.)

            It’s not usually about “making” the other person laugh in formal jokes. Most social laughter, research says, is not in response to formal jokes but laughter from visual facial cues or other social bonding in jokes.

            Laughter was shown to have pro-social brain benefits for those who had “mirthful” laugher. Less depression, less loneliness, more optimism, etc.

            You can create more pro-social benefits by laughing with others. You can imagine others are with you even if you are alone—the brain experiences it as if it is real. I do that.

            So in short, imho yes it can fire off empathy and feeling of warmth and kindness. It is a safety cue to the brain. Safety is foundational to feelings of warmth, kindness, and empathy imho.

            Not all laughter is pro social of course. Mocking others in contempt or fake polite laugher etc

            I don’t think laugher is an exact substitute for something like the loving kindness exercise. Imho it’s just a different way to calm the brain to feel safety and warmth towards yourself and others.

            That is my take on it anyway.

          9. Yes, I can see how the safety cue can increase trust. (Even primitively, I’m sure laughter wasn’t on the scene when we were running from tigers, but was present around the camp fire after a successful hunt. …Content, wellbeing, community. Ah! The good ole days..lol.)

          10. Just read a hypothesis about laughter being a “social lubricant”, promoting a feeling of belonging in a group and increasing endorphins.

            If I ever go back to school again I’d really love to do psychological research.
            I really love this stuff.

          11. Also, meditation doesn’t necessarily have to be eyes closed, deep breathing (though deep breathing is good to create calm) …it’s kust being able to get in touch with present emotions and intentionally promote good feelings about others in your/our lives.

  13. PIP,

    The one thing I wish people who present the “loving kindness” exercises would do more of is to generalize it to things more people could relate to.

    I find so much of “mindfulness” is framed in Buddhist language.

    And the same concepts can be applied to other religious framing like Christian prayers and meditation or many other religions. There is research on those too as helpful as I remember. Or non-religion framing is super helpful to imho.

    I don’t think researchers are aware of the blocks they create or missed opportunities by the way they frame it in Buddhist language. It’s one of my pet peeves because there is research that includes other forms not just Buddhist language.

    I took this class once where the teacher wanted us to do the “loving kindness” exercise and it was just so weirdly phrased to me. It just seems too “woo woo” for me. Just a style thing.

    I did my Loving kindness exercise with “may you live long and prosper” Spock style?. Works just as well imho.

    1. Lol ?. I’d expect nothing less than “live long and prosper” , Spock ;).
      I get the terminology can be a little off putting.
      It felt syrupy.
      However, this is an academic. He is not a Buddhist. (Though UCLA, the school where he researches and teaches also has ongoing research on eastern philosophy/ religion’s practices and the effects on health.)..
      I think he is taking risks with using these words, and I do think they are accurate descriptions of what they are trying to evoke.
      Perhaps we have reactions to these words (myself included) because they are too soft, and can feel like tender topics.
      I also tend to think , that we think, that if we start using words like that we would look like some gushing , sugary flower child that never has logical thoughts or anger- which feels fake! Or at least out of touch. – and completely worthy of disrespect.
      But what if these words evokes different images and meanings?
      What if words “loving kindness” felt like open-ness, trust, security…what if it felt like the responsible thing to do?
      Just thinking out loud…

      1. No, I understand he is an academic.

        What I am trying to say is they often use BUDDHIST framing and language. And it is not helpful imho to limit it to that. It is not good presentation of the **research** to do that. It is imho harmful because it carries the message that other forms are not equally valuable and accessible to others.

        And they DO NOT make that point obvious.

        The only exception I am aware of is Marsha Linehan who developed DBT. Perhaps because of her experience in Christian religious orders where religious meditating was used (can’t remember what they are called).

        1. I understand what your saying. I thinking he is trying to make it accessible because he is coming from an academic environment and doesn’t want to make it too stuffy.
          (This is just conjecture of course.)
          He may not be taking into account those whose love language is research ;).

          1. It is my experience from reading and talking to many therapists that the overwhelming approach is to use Buddhist language.

            Few are actually Buddhist.

            It is imho to do with a rejection of western, particularly Christian,
            religious framing.

            I have had therapists TELL me that directly. I think most are blind to the effects.

            I have no desire to promote religious framing to be clear. But it is STUPID imho to exclusively use Buddhist language as is commonly done for mindfulness.

          2. I would recommend a variety of meditation options.

            It could be recitation of certain scriptures or prayers, it could be reflecting on gratitude, or singing reflective songs, or inspirational speeches etc.

            It’s not about calling it certain things it’s about seeing that MANY options are available.

          3. I am sure there are many ways to meditate, but what I believe what is useful, in this example, is that it evokes the social/empathetic circuits.
            The point is to create good feelings (targeting particular circuits in the brain) that allows for more empathetic and accepting thoughts/ feelings.
            Perhaps some prayers, songs that bring back memories ect. Could do this.
            But I think consciously thinking about the person and allowing yourself for feel positive feelings towards them (or just other people in general) it creates patterns in firing.
            It may be true that there are other ways to do this, but this is the way they have any evidence of it happening at all.

          4. What I am trying to say, probably not coherently enough, is there are OTHER things that are also backed by research to evoke the social/empathetic circuits.

            It is not just loving kindness exercises that are effective to do this.

          5. I will have to explore this! I really like that we are able to promote things in our brain.
            It gives us so much more power and control over our own lives.

          6. Oh yes!

            There are many Target doors to the brain.

            If you are interested in the laugher door, I did 15 minutes of “mirthful” laugher daily for 2 months. Frankly, I was shocked how much better my brain felt. More “safe” “social” and “optimistic.”

            I think it’s combining lots of different things that makes the most sense.

          7. Another idea is that the Atkinson ebook is all about practicing “mindfulness” about you and the other person.

            His version are recording you can listen to regularly about how you can love the other person and approach things.

            Another idea in terms of relationships that I do is to consciously “meditate” on remembering a positive experience in a very detailed way.

            If I am angry with my hubhy for example, I “meditate” on a particular time when I my dad was in the hospital and my hubby was so kind and supportive. I remember how that FELT and how much love and gratitude I feel. Your body and brain can experience these as real and it makes a difference. It is a practice. A habit to do this.

            It is all too easy to ruminate on the bad experiences and not the good. And the brain has a negativity bias so it is VERY important.

      2. I personally don’t respond to the language because I am afraid of not having logical thoughts or anger. Both of which are forever with me I am confident?

        I don’t go around talking in Shakespearean or King James Bible style language either.

        “I shalt meditate now and thou wilt be blessed because I loveth thee ?”

        The loving kindness language is to me similarly stilted and unnatural.

        Of course, others may find it natural and helpful. Just explaining why I don’t find it helpful.

  14. Also, the practice IS rooted in the Buddhist tradition…
    So, we could call it something else to make others comfortable, and we likely will if the practices are adopted wisely enough.
    But we could also acknowledge the benefits of it and state where it comes from, perhaps widening our acceptance level?

    1. No, meditation is not solely rooted in Buddhism.

      I assume you are aware that every major religion has meditation practices and rituals that are “mindful”.

      There are other non religious ways to be mindful. Like Japanese concepts of how to perform tasks mindfully to create calm.

      Concepts of “flow” to create mindful states etc etc.

      Buddism is just one. Why Western academics prefer that is another interesting topic.

      1. You may be right. And I remember reading “The practice of presence” written by a Christian -His name escapes me :/. Which is basically “mindfulness”…
        Do you think “Mindfulness” has a Buddhist flavor?
        Do you have thoughts on why Western academics choose this?

        1. Yes, I have a lot of thoughts as usual. ?

          Imho it is multifaceted. Part of which has to do with many academics antipathy towards traditional religion. Buddhism is a non-religious religion.

          Also, this stuff follows trends as much as fashion. “Mindfulness” as a concept has been around since humans have.

          But traditional religious framing is out of style as much as “mom” jeans are. Buddhist framing is cooler.

          Also, it has to do with research of Buddhist monks’ brains that got a lot of attention. And Jon Cabot Zion who became influential in therapy models a while ago.

          Most “mindfulness” is like yoga. It has been stripped of its religious origins even as it retains the language. I don’t see anything at all wrong with that as an option.

          My pet peeve is not expanding the options to include all kinds of forms that would be helpful and not exclusively using Buddhist language.

          Honestly it is so surprising how fundamentalist therapists I have encountered can be about insisting Buddhist framing is the ONLY or best way. It is simply not accurate to say that. And imho does a disservice to many to say that.

      2. I apologize for being cranky. You can see this topic bugs me ha ha

        I am not irritated with YOU but my experience with others on the topic. I am sorry for not being more careful in how I worded my responses to reflect that.

        I appreciate the Dan Siegel stuff you have been presenting. I think his work has a lot of helpful things to add.

        1. No problem, Lisa.
          I know your experiences have been frustrating.
          I know I’m way on the feeler side of things and you’re far on the thinking side, I know it’s different.
          I don’t take it personal, even if it is a little ;).
          I applaud the work you’ve been doing over the last few years, and see the evidence of it often.
          You’re doing good things!
          Keep it up.

          1. I know your wording is not meant to be personal any more than mine is but I take it a little personally too I admit. 😉

            I often feel like I can’t seem to convey what I think is my main point. And that I don’t quite understand what your main point is.

            I think I mentioned I have a deficit in understanding certain styles. It is not the other person’s fault it is difficult for me. I just need to practice habits that are less “reactive” even when I am frustrated at the process of communication.

          2. Nodding my head in that I am finding that I am often unclear in my point at times.
            In this case, I wanted to share about the vulnerability, both confronting our own and being a safe place for others- from a credible source.

            Others times…well, sometimes I just want to share what I am thinking/seeing. I think there is a ton of value in approaching a conversation without already knowing the answer. That way you can learn more.
            Other times, and this is something I’m just really beginning to address as something that has effected me – the traumas I experienced.
            And it’s not always an in the moment emotional reaction that causes me problems.
            It’s the distractibility that it causes. (OMG- my auto correct wrote “It’s the distracted kitty it causes”! ?- which you know, can wreak all kinds of havoc!) )
            Anyway…Guess what?- “ it’s hard to explain”..
            I’m thinking of many instances in the past when even though I had a lot of desire and motivation to do something that requires sitting down and doing it, I couldn’t. Partially there were emotional responses, partially I just didn’t know how to apply what I was thinking to whatever the project was.
            That happens with communication for me, a lot.
            Maybe it’s just I don’t have a set pattern or set format to put my thoughts in, so they come out like a side of mashed potatoes.
            And I think that is where the style difference lies. I’m mashed potatoes, you are intricately laced hash browns. Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside.
            …anyone else hungry? (Lol ;).)

          3. I think your style is perfectly fine.? I am not trying to criticize just explain my own weaknesses.

            I had a recent experience with a series of lectures. I have no idea what it was about the speakers style but I honestly could NOT figure out what he was talking about. I mean it’s not an exaggeration, I could not figure out the instructions. He bounced around in talking and I couldn’t follow his train of thought.

            And I would ask for clarification and he would get annoyed at MY style when I asked for more specificity and accuracy.

            Other people seemed to be able to understand his lectures better than I could if not perfectly.

            Bottom line is I find it difficult to understand when things are not presented in a linear type of way. It’s a weakness honestly I am trying to improve. It’s why in my comments I often summarize with numerical paragraphs so I can understand what people are saying.

            Emotional “feeler” stuff I can understand fine. It’s not the expression of emotions but more a certain type of presentation style I have trouble with. I have to try and translate it. Sort of like reverse ADHD? I have to create structure when there isn’t one I can discern.

            Don’t know if that makes sense or not. ?

          4. It does make a lot of sense.
            Sorry to hear about the lecturer you didn’t understand. Was the topic a new concept to you?
            Do you think there was background information that was needed?

            I think I am also lazy in my word use- above I almost wrote “it” instead of “the topic”- and that can through people off, …the lack of precision.

          5. I think a lot of communication errors also happen with assumptions. We use comfortable language that other people may not read or hear the same way.
            I think that is why your contributions are so valuable-because you do put it in precise, and practical terms- …with flow charts, even!

          6. Yeah, language is very easily
            misunderstood. It’s frustrating!

            Often I can’t think of the “right” word to capture what I am trying to say.

            One of the reasons I write so many comments is it helps me to understand more-find better language.

            But even then other people often assign different meanings than I do to whatever words are chosen.

            I am amazed at how “accepting influence” is so often interpreted as doing what the other person wants.

            To me, the word “influence” doesn’t convey that meaning but it shows people bring different things to words.

          7. As with most things what we interpret from language says a lot about where we are and where we came from.
            To me, when people see accepting influence as “doing what the other person wants”, I think it does show that lens of heirarchy and aggression. “Someone has to be on top- it’s either them or me.”
            Or it’s defensiveness just out of hurt.
            But the good thing about language being so subject to interpretation is that when it is clarified you can understand how the person you are talking to views things a little better, and you get to strengthen your understanding of the word, or can alter your understanding somewhat.

          8. Yes, people definitely use their frame of reference.

            And certainly I agree many men use the hierarchy frame in interpreting “accepting influence” as implying being dominated.

            I think partly because they perceive that is what Matt’s message is: do what she wants to make her happy

            Because he is solely focusing on his side of what he did wrong it can be misinterpreted as not a systemic message but only husbands should change.

          9. Even though, from what I understand, he is simply trying to highlight common areas where husbands err.
            (I’m just sort of completing your thought/ that last sentence with this statement.)

          10. Appreciate the parenthesis to clarify that helps!?

            I agree that is not an accurate assessment but I can understand why men perceive it that way. Does it make sense to you too?

            One of the areas I disagree with Matt’s premise is that women are relationally “better”. So I think sometimes that informs the perceptions too. Increases natural defensive inclinations.

          11. (Semantics, though. I don’t think women, by virtue of being women, are better. I think, mathematically speaking as a sample of the population, women with greater frequency demonstrate the requisite emotional intelligence, empathy, vulnerability, and healthy communication methods that enhance emotional connection, and have a positive impact on relationships.)

            I’m not sure whether I’m not wording it correctly when I write it, or whether I am, and you still disagree with that take.

          12. Hey!

            I thought you might disagree ?

            I think it’s a mixture of both but I think we do disagree. I think women don’t have certain key relationship habits. And THOSE matter as much as the ones the husbands tend to not have.

            I will use myself as an example. I tend, despite my my bad comments here, to be able to get along pretty well with most people.

            But when my hubby and I got into the pursue/withdraw pattern I did not have the required relationship skills to get out (or prevent getting in).

            Instead, like many women, I criticized and escalated. Kept talking and asking rather than knowing at that point I had to do boundaries. I had a sense of entitlement that I was right and he was wrong.

            This is a very common scenario.

            Another one is women who have TOO much empathy in an unhealthy way. They put up with way too much shit for too long and still blame themselves.

            Anyway, lots of different ways women are terrible at relationships as much as men imho?

            I think they tend to have DIFFERENT ways of being terrible.

          13. Fair. I was thinking about it too narrowly, I think.

            Your’s is more accurately all-encompassing. Agree strongly with everything you said here.

            I really need to consider using more care and precision when I type things.

          14. Maybe it’s because of all the dysfunctional female dynamics I observe it puzzles me that women are perceived as better at relationships. I mean “mean girls” is a thing for a reason. Family dynamics are crazy sometimes because of **female** relationship stuff.

            I think the “rules” are often different. So it can seem like it is better when imho below the surface there are a lot of weird unhealthy dynamics going on.

            But certainly healthy mature women are good at relationships and are culturally are encouraged to be more vulnerable.

            I can appreciate healthy males relationship styles as we were talking about recently with the playful aggressiveness but still
            supportive of each other.

            The different healthy styles have pros and cons for their respective benefits.

            Unhealthy men are a huge problem too in relationships obviously.

          15. GF-
            I value much of what Matt puts out there. And It has always been clear to me that he is identifying men’s issues, not saying men are to blame. But, I’m not a man and so I don’t have to take on the responsibility of what that would mean for me. (Though I do note there are issues that have been brought up that does place some burden of responsibility on me personally.)
            I don’t think much about the “women are better at relationships” issue.
            I don’t think it has much bearing on the overall point. But I may just Ben blond and ignorant.
            However, I will say that his idea of “women being better” is somewhat backed up by the Gottman research.
            You’d really have to specify what qualities that are crucial for relations and that women excel at, while men don’t.

          16. Oh girl, you know I love me some Gottman! ?

            The accepting influence part is better in females. That is ONE side of the relationship teeter totter.

            Women fail more at setting boundaries per Gottman’s research. That is the other side of the teeter totter. You need to balance both to keep things going otherwise you end up stuck.

            If my hubby doesn’t accept influence and I end up stuck in a one down position I need to know how to push gently to get it in balance again.

            You need BOTH of those things. It is not enough to just accept influence, women need to know how to respond correctly when the other person *doesn’t* accept influence.

            Not complain and criticize and blame the other person or lower expectations or blame yourself. Those responses lead to unhealthy relationships per Gottman.

            Men are better at certain parts, worse at others. Do I think it is always 50/50? No, but I don’t think that means women are better at relationships.

            Does that make sense to you?

          17. Yes, I can see how that makes sense.
            The context of Matt’s blog, so far, has been the lessons he has learned from being a “shitty husband”.
            I don’t think the exclusion was intentional, he just started writing about what he was learning/ figuring out. And he gained more information along the way.
            If he were to broaden that into lessons from “a shitty marriage” then yes, these things would need to be addressed.
            And I think he has brought the boundary thing up many times. But it hasn’t been central to the whole message.

          18. gottmanfan,

            I am amazed at how “accepting influence” is so often interpreted as doing what the other person wants.

            I’m not surprised. Influence is defined as “the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself”. I see that as clearly meaning that “accepting influence” is allowing another’s influence to affect my behavior in the direction the other person wants.

            If you’re correct that “accepting influence” is not intended to be doing what the other person wants, then I would argue that the desired meaning for “accepting influence” would be better expressed as “accepting input” and maybe even better by “hearing the other’s input”.

            This reminds me of people complaining “They won’t listen to me” when their real complaint is “They won’t do what I want”.

          19. “I see that as clearly meaning that “accepting influence” is allowing another’s influence to affect my behavior in the direction the other person want.”

            Influence is not “control” was my intended point. The concept is about each spouse defaults to OPENNESS to change without adjudicating the specific merits that may not make personal sense but with focus on the effect on the other person and relationship.

            It’s not about control but openness to change. Influence by the definition you cite is about the capacity to have an effect not control or dictating what to do. Capacity to have an effect is a pretty good gist of Gottman’s concept imho.

            Those who are sensitive to being controlled tend to read that meaning into words. We all have our lenses that affect how we interpret things.

            “Input” implies to me that the openness to change for the relationship is *not* the default.

            I ask for input from those who do not have the power to make the decision. “Hearing the other’s input” implies to me that I am the decision maker like a judge or boss who hears arguments and decides what they think best.

            Language is difficult. The concept is to default to mutual change that benefits each other. Collaboration.

            As I have said, before the exact words matter less to me than that the concept is understood.

          20. To be clear, I am not against the phrases you said you prefer.

            My meanings may be different for “accepting input” but as far as I am concerned whatever conveys the concept summarized in the other comment is fine with me.

          21. gottmanfan,

            As I have said, before the exact words matter less to me than that the concept is understood.

            The problem with the phrase “accepting influence” (and this applies to other similar phrases) is that exact words do matter. As I did (and I think you know it’s common enough), some people read the words “accepting influence” differently from what is intended. If the intended meaning has to be explained for it to be understood, then I think the phrase is a failure in general use and it should be replaced with something that does not require specialized knowledge.

          22. I mean they don’t matter to ME. I don’t care if someone calls x thing y because that carries the intended meaning better.

            I am not arguing that precise language isn’t important in certain contexts. Of course it is.

            I am not arguing that it’s not important to consider how certain audiences will give meaning to words. Of course it is.

            I read a lot of relationships stuff. It is not common imho that readers struggle to understand “accepting influence” in the way Gottman intended it.

            It is common on THIS blog’s comment section by certain readers which is what motivated my comment to PIP.

          23. Here is a quick summary of the general idea.

            ”When partners accept influence from each other, it means that each partner allows the other to have an effect on them.

            This may entail seeking out your partner for their advice or opinions, relying on them for help in certain areas of life, working with them to come to decisions which affect either or both of you, and responding to them when they make what Gottman calls ‘bids for connection.’

            Examples of such bids include making a thoughtful comment, a joke or a nonverbal gesture of affection.

            The essence of why accepting influence matters so much to a relationship is that when it is happening, each partner feels “I must matter to him/her because I’m having an effect on him/her.”.

          24. Okrickety,

            This reminds me of people complaining “They won’t listen to me” when their real complaint is “They won’t do what I want”.

            I am curious about your perspective on this. What are the contexts that you see this most often?

          25. It was ironically about communication. He is an expert ha ha. Not making that up. ?

            It wasn’t the topic that was the problem. It was his style of bouncing around from point to point and telling random stories about himself that I couldn’t see how they illustrated the points. Some of the stories seemed to me to contradict the factual information so that confused me even more.

            When I would ask him if the story contradicted the facts he would get irritated and say it was just a funny story. Uh ok.

            I like a good story but I don’t know how to deal when the story you are using to illustrate a point does not agree with the point. It makes my head explode. ?

          26. He was likely just using his platform to tell a story. Or was trying to be engaging (but kind of missed the mark).
            Maybe shows that he doesn’t use what he is teaching?

          27. Here we may be missing each other in communicating again.
            I know what he was trying to do. Did it seem like I didn’t? ?

            His style is to tell a series of personal stories in a attempt to be funny and make it easy to remember the concept illustrated.

            The problem was that he didn’t always choose illustrations that were accurate to the point. In fact the one I overtly asked him about was the opposite of his point he was supposedly illustrating which he acknowledged. He just got annoyed that I pointed it out because I annoyed him in general.

            There are people you get along with and others you don’t.

            His persona was the sorta woke older Alpha who would use mildly sexist and racist illustrations as he proclaims he is not sexist or racist.?

            Lots of stories about his being an alpha male in a “hey I drink a lot with my buddies and I am their leader aren’t I great” way?

            I don’t naturally enjoy people who feel the need to continually **tell you** how Alpha they are and, strangely enough, they don’t seem to enjoy me much either.?

            The main problem I had was he spoke very quickly in a disjointed style. He would say something and then say something unrelated and then tell a personal story that was not an accurate illustration of either thing he just said. It was an attempt to illustrate but because it wasn’t accurate it confused me more.

            It’s a style. I talked to other people who had less of a problem with it though some also found it confusing. Didn’t care about the Alpha framing. Probably some who liked it and thought it was great.

            The style was made harder for me because of the inaccuracies and sexist/racist shit and lack of organization and my general dislike of the guy’s personality.

            I was polite don’t get me wrong. I asked polite questions about accuracy so that I could understand not to argue. After a while though I quit doing that and just ignored his shit as best I could because it was clear he was inflexible.

            PS One funny thing is he was talking in that style about stereotypes and later I asked him a clarifying question and he proceeded to stereotype ME for why I couldn’t understand his point ha ha. Can’t make this stuff up. ?

            Bottom line is people have default styles. Some default styles mesh better than others. Some values mesh better than others. I didn’t like some of the values this guy seemed to espouse. Others may like it just fine.

            To use this blog as an illustration, many people LOVE it, many like it but find points where they may not relate or prefer another style and some HATE it. Some things are a better natural fit than others for a variety of reasons.

          28. “Here we may be missing each other in communicating again.
            I know what he was trying to do. Did it seem like I didn’t? “
            No, I was trying to affirm what you were saying.

            I think the goals of communication also need to be taken into account.
            I believe you communicate to get information and knowledge (thinker!)
            I communicate, most often, in order to relate.
            My statements weren’t to offer you more information, they were to affirm you by understanding and making a statement in my own words that expressed my understanding.

            He sounds like he is very comfortable with himself and that his work doesn’t require him to embody the content, just repeat it.
            Unfortunately that is very, very common.
            Most people are really just interested in getting their own needs met- (and if this is what he is doing for work, and he gets paid and he’s quite comfortable, then his needs are met. He has no reason to truly espouse the concepts he is teaching.)

          29. There is clearly a disconnect in our styles but I don’t think it’s because I communicate to get information and knowledge and you communicate to relate.

            Help me understand what you are saying. How is that statement an effort to relate?

          30. For me, I was identifying a possible rationale for his behavior. It was nothing profound, but by identifying it and communicating it, I was trying to #1.) demonstrate my understanding of the situation and #2.) commensurate with the common experience.
            We’re either of those things evident in what I said?
            To clarify: the interpretation was that I was giving you an explanation that you likely hadn’t thought of?

            I do think that if not the whole, at least in part, each persons goal of communication should be accounted for in understanding the interpretation.

            If what i understand as your interpretation of my response was, then your expectation (which is aligned with your goal) was that I was giving you (new) information about the situation.

            You don’t think communication goals is part of it? I see it as central.
            Can you explain?

          31. I think it is likely that you are I have conflicting styles because:

            1. We both default to an anxious attachment style so we crave affirmation and are sensitive to rejection of our value.

            2. Because we have a natural disconnect in our style presentation it can trigger sensitivity to feeling negativity about our value when that may not have been intended.

            3. I, for example, don’t like being framed as not being **relational** because I am a “thinker”. That imho is not at ALL accurate about who I am
            and the sacrifices I have made to be relational. My goals are very relational however badly I may sometimes execute them.

            Knowing you, I doubt very much that you intend to be insulting but that is how I “hear” it.

            4. It seems likely to me that I have a similar effect on you in how I present things. I am guessing the framing of you as relational is to defend against perceptions of criticism from me about you in some way. That I am suggesting you are not good enough. (Which is not my intention)

            5. We then are “on guard” emotionally because we don’t feel safe to each other. Defensive reactions which makes more miscues likely.

            6. This is all from my perception of course. You may have a completely different experience and interpretation?

            Imho relationships between females are full of the same basic shit than heterosexual ones. True for males too. Gender differences just add another layer to the same stuff.

          32. Hey. :).
            I don’t ever mean to say it’s exclusively one or the other. I apologize if it felt like I was putting you in a box.
            I don’t really think you’re a Vulcan- not at all, even if you joke about that.
            I know you are a deeply passionate person, not only in areas of justice but also in your relationships.
            There are countless people I interact with daily who don’t make the effort to make things better in their relationships, but you have set your mind and your effort toward that end. You wouldn’t do that if you didn’t care (or weren’t relational.) You have also demonstrated remarkable relational skills here, to which I greatly admire and attempt to employ myself. – (bit by bit.)
            However, I do think our style differences do tend to come from what areas of our brain we most heavily rely on.
            Would you say information is more comfortable and less triggering for you?
            That organizing your thoughts and sorting out ideas is a skill you have developed in order to function in the world, and in many ways is an anchor to keep you grounded and a compass to point you in the right direction?
            I don’t mean to say you don’t value relationship, or relating, but it has seemed as though information and facts are the primary focus. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

            And at the same time, because I don’t have so much confidence in recalling facts and it’s harder for me to articulate ideas at times (or how they apply to the topic at hand.) I rely a lot on my interests in people and what is going on with them. It by no means, means I am not interested, or don’t understand what is being discussed. I just rely more on that area of my brain. It’s comfortable for me. I continue to read here because the amount of exceptional insight and information I find here. But I may communicate my presence in a more casual way, and not focus on facts (because of what I explained above.)

            So, I’m really not trying to categorize you and just make it super simple. (My student, who I greatly appreciate, frequently assess me by my Myers Briggs personality type. To which I want to make a strong pushback. Because yes- it’s true I have these tendencies, but no, every element of personality is not determined by this category.) I don’t think everything you do or say comes from an “ah- she’s a thinker” (and therefore not a feeler) category at all.

            It’s just a tendency, our natural strengths. And they are strengths! Not deficiencies.
            The only deficiency is when we assume the negated other part. And I don’t. I don’t assume or believe that you don’t have feelings.

            But would you think it is valuable in interactions to note what strengths the person has?

          33. To me I have NO problem as long as people assert what is a reasonably accurate assessment of my strengths and weaknesses.

            I will wholeheartedly agree with every one of my weaknesses. Doesn’t really bother me because a correct diagnosis is critical to get better.

            Where it bothers me is when people assume/insist WRONG things.

            It is not primarily style differences that trigger me. It is how “safe” people emotionally feel that triggers me. (style differences can make communication harder).

            I can debate factual things with people who disagree because there is no pretense of emotional safety. I try and create emotional safety with the words I choose and I appreciate when they respond in kind.

            Where it bothers me is when people who **say** they are relational or couples therapists who incorrectly assess that I am afraid to be vulnerable create emotional unsafety by ironically telling me I am not relational somehow.

            I find it strange that there is a sort of one up positioning, sometimes conscious sometimes not, that a certain style is relationally better. Has more relationality as a goal. And my style is not emotional or relational somehow. It’s just so weird to me.

            Like saying tea is just a more relational beverage than coffee. Ok I can see that certain cultures see tea or coffee as more relational but it is not true that one is inherently more relational.

            But I do relate to how many men feel when they are told their style is lesser. Their style is implied inferior to “female” emotional styles. (It makes me more empathetic to their common experiences and defenses, more relational ironically).

            It is partly why I don’t like the, incorrect in my view, framing of women as “better” at relationships. They are generally better at certain types and parts of relationships. The real issue is being able to function well with differences and not feeling morally superior and there I think most people suck.

          34. Bottom line it is one of my many weaknesses to not be able to respond well to people who assess they are relational and I am not.

            I get easily flooded biologically and emotionally disregulated in that setup and suck at choosing nonverbal, words and responses that create mutual emotional safety.

            I get stuck on the teeter totter crying for mommy “it’s not fair mommy!” I’m working on it. ?

            I have to laugh at how ridiculous it all is sometimes which is why I like to picture myself on a teeter totter. ?

          35. I think I understand, but I just want to make clear I never considered one framing over the other more superior.
            I can get how when trying to seek help counselors have told you you are not x and you need to be more x.
            That wasn’t what I was saying, nor how I feel about it.
            You are more than y or x, you are a conglomeration of several different components of your personality.
            But we do have strengths, and common ways of viewing things. To me, the preference for feeling over facts / facts over feelings seemed reasonable.
            But I wasn’t saying you are poor at one or the other. Or that one encompasses you completely over the other.
            But I do understand how people can feel morally superior over being any specific thing.
            And let’s face it, where we are currently in history, I do think being emotionally aware, and relational, just mental health needs ect. Is being accepted more broadly.
            (There’s a Cigna commercial that talks about talking to your dr about how you feel, There are lots of speakers and “influencers” (like Brene Brown) that are making real/significant cultural impacts. So I think we are becoming a more emotionally/relationally aware society (which I am very grateful for), but along with that does come peoples feelings of superiority around it.
            Which shows that people aren’t as aware as they think they are ;).

          36. I didn’t specifically mean *you* were feeling morally superior so I am sorry my words were chosen poorly to communicate what I was saying on the general topic.

            I still don’t agree with the “preferences for feeling over facts/facts over feelings”

            My preference is to have emotional connection/feeling over facts. I agree with Sue Johnson that *everyone* has a preference for that at their core. INTJ’s too.

            I talk about emotions and feelings in a factual way via research to try and communicate ideas/concepts. I am not a good storyteller like Matt so I use what I can access. I would say Matt is also communicating factually even though feelings can be evoked. Feelings can be evoked via “facts” too. They are just cars.

            I use a lot of feeler/emotional language in other situations.

            But it’s always ok to agree to disagree.?

          37. GF,
            I think I missed this yesterday.
            I didnt mean to continue to say you prefer facts over feelings.
            I did believe that you preferred facts. Thank you for correcting me.

          38. PIP,

            You said: “But would you think it is valuable in interactions to note what strengths the person has?”

            YES! I think it matters that you have an accurate understanding of what their strengths are and HOW they use it.

            I think of it like a car. My Seligman test number 1 strength is “love of learning” (I bet you are high in that too)

            I USE my top strength as a car to get to whatever goal I am trying to accomplish. Learning isn’t usually my
            primary goal. It’s just the fastest car I have. If I use other strengths it’s like riding a bicycle. If I try and use my weaknesses it’s like pulling a sled with weights.

            It irritates the hell out of me when people say that car is my goal or a defense. No, it’s just a VEHICLE to get somewhere— to drive from point a to point b.

            Other people have other strengths that they use. I don’t see those are inherently better or worse they are all just cars with better or worse applications to a particular situation. Like a 4 wheel
            drive Jeep would operate better off road than a sports car but lose to the sports car on a race track. Some have better gas mileage, some break down more often etc. I often wish I had a DIFFERENT strength but you use the car you own. (Sometimes I rent a different car to practice but it costs a lot of energy).

            I would tell you that my primary by far goal in life is ALL about relationships. I use my learning and knowledge car to drive there. The learning is neither a defense or an end goal.

            One of my learning short term goals is to not freak out when there is a lot of crazy traffic and rudeness on the road from all those other cars of people trying to go to their goals.

            It can easily turn into bumper cars ? ?

          39. Hehe- good analogy. It’s completely embarrassing, but when I saw your little car emojis I heard a little “beep-beep” in my mind :).
            Ok, this explains a lot. It’s that I assumed the end goal was information and not relationships, and your saying facts are a means to the end, not the end themselves.
            I can get that!
            I apologize if I short changed you with that.
            And I suppose our goals for communication change with the each person we interact with, and even with each particular interaction.

          40. PIP,

            You said:

            “And I suppose our goals for communication change with the each person we interact with, and even with each particular interaction.”

            Yes, that’s a very important point! ?

          41. Well I am happy to hear that. It just shows you that guesses are often wrong.

            Look girl I am a mess half the time. ? (full of errors and sensitivities, hard to self-regulate etc)

            As pretty much everyone commenting here can attest being in various shitty relationships takes a big toll on your sanity and self esteem.

            The only thing I think is reasonable to ask of you is to not frame things as if I am not relational as a primary goal. The information and knowledge is just a style/tool to try and BE relational. I can understand it is not everyone’s taste or choice.

            Other than that it’s all my own shit to deal with?

            But I appreciate your caring.❤️

            We are an island of broken hearted toys in some ways.

    2. I agree that stating that “loving kindness” practices are rooted in Buddhist tradition is helpful. To anchor it and give perspective on the specific exercise.

  15. Thank you Matt. I truly could relive my life experiences through your words. I just wanted to say thank you

  16. Im thinking maybe YOU could have a blog. Thats no knock on Matt, btw…but this site is ALWAYS about the usual ‘shitty husband’ stuff, and is just FLOODED with sycophantic women who will stop at nothing to keep that the dominant narrative. And a shitton of men just hop right on board that train cuz they arent even aware there are tracks headed in a different direction. Not opposite…different. HTF do we think the court systems are so skewed against men & Fathers? Sure, its a financial racket. Thats nothing compared to the cultural damage that has occurred, is occurring, and will continue until our collective heads are out of our collective asses. And THAT WILL NOT HAPPEN unless women are held accountable for their shitty behavior, and even shittier actions. The most valuable thing said here is this: Men CANNOT earn the respect of their wives…it MUST be an ACTION that they alone are responsible for. Nail…meet head.

  17. Absolutely ?. Until family law is more equitable, men should not get married. If women didn’t get rewarded for bad behavior in divorce court, then they wouldn’t consider cheating as an option and imploding their vows. Once family law makes divorce an unpleasant option for women AND men, the divorce rate would drop significantly.
    If a women knew she would only get 10 percent total of her husband’s salary or even nothing in a divorce ( bc she made a great salary of 100k a year at her own job)she wouldnt be as quick to initiate said divorce and would put more effort into her marriage. Its all about incentives…

  18. This is well-written and evokes a sense of poignancy more than many of the vague “how-to’s” than I’ve seen recently. Thank you for being concise, empathetic, and honest. I wish you my best.

  19. I am currently married and the topic of respect has come up a lot recently. I feel like I respect my wife and myself, but I feel like I never receive it from my wife. She gets very defensive when I bring this up and acts like it is just “my” problem. I am trying to talk through it with her without just playing the blame game or sounding whiny. Thoughts?

  20. gritting.my.teeth

    Gentlemen – Firstly, I have read so many of your comments and have learned a great deal. Thank you all for that.
    Secondly, I am also struggling with what’s left of my marriage. I’ll spare you all the details, but I can summarize that respect has been a 1 way street as of late. Neither wife or kid respects or listens to me. I could speak to my chair in a foreign language and have the same results as when I ask either of them to do a simple task.
    I can handle being the bad cop all the time… but I feel I’ve become the bad guy for a while now. My thoughts and actions have not been acknowledged in a positive or even a productive sense since before the pandemic hit. It is almost at a point that if she took everything and left me penniless, I might feel that it would be a release.
    If I could speak to my former self, I would tell him to get a vasectomy and a prenuptial, in that order.

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