This post describes how a man can demand more consideration and respect from a woman, and in doing so, receive positive, constructive responses from her.
Targeted Readership: Men in LTR’s
In a previous post, Introduction to Game Theory 101 (February 11, 2018), I covered some findings from the research of Dr. John Gottman, which involved making ‘bids’. Bids cover any kind of statement or action which imply a request for the other person’s consideration, time, attention, or some other investment.
To illustrate an example of making a bid, I could ask my wife, “Which tie should I wear today? The green one with the floral pattern, or the red, ‘power’ tie?”. In this statement, I am making a bid for her thoughts and attention. Her response says a lot about the health of our relationship. She could ignore me (bad), or she could simply say, “Red today” (mediocre), or… she could hold one of the ties up on me, and then the other, look me in the eye, smile, and say, “I think the red tie makes you look more handsome!”, and then give me a kiss (an awesome response).
In short, my question is not about getting her opinion, per se, but rather, it is an open invitation to her loving response.
The essential goal of making a bid is to get the other person to express an acknowledgment of your persona, and to interact with you in a way that expresses love and affirmation. If you can get the other person to do more for you, then it has the psychological and emotional effect of making them justify their actions mentally, and thereby grow to feel more emotionally in tune with you. Basically, the more they do for you, the more they will love you. So the larger goal of making bids and playing games, is to drive up your ‘bidding price’, which entails them making ever larger emotional investments in you and your relationship.
In another post, I covered a study of Conflict Structure and Marital Satisfaction (November 15, 2017). The word ‘demand’ in the study, does not mean to dictate hot, angry commands. It merely describes the conflict structure, in which the person who brings up an issue and asks for a change is labeled as the one who demands. The other person, according to the structure, is required to respond somehow. In other words, one person is the initiator of the conflict, and the other person is the respondent.
One of the conclusions was that a husband should always be making more ‘demands’ on a wife, than the other way around, because when the husband does the majority of the demanding, it tends to result in a more positive and enjoyable relationship, over time. This effect was shown by Gottman to be true, and when I applied this technique to my own marriage, it had a similar, positive effect. My own experiment with this technique is covered in the post, Disciplined, Submissive, Happy Wives (February 15, 2018).
Recently, I put these two concepts together (making and responding to ‘bids’, and making ‘demands’), and got the idea that I, as the husband, should ‘demand’ more positive and loving responses to my ‘bids’.
Identification of the Problem
I noticed that I would frequently make a bid to my wife in the form of a statement or question, and my wife would often give me a very low key response. This typically took the form of her blithely going on about what she was doing at the time I made the statement, or making an unrelated comment out of her own mind, or changing the subject entirely.
She was not being overtly rude to me in doing so, but I did notice that she did not respond to my bid in the most positive, constructive, and loving way that I could imagine.
From my end, I have made a habit of responding positively to her bids on a regular, ongoing basis, because I know this is important to the health of our relationship, but I also knew that if I could push her to be more proactive in her responses to my own bids, then I could improve our relationship even further.
Putting together the two concepts described in the introduction (i.e. ‘bids’ and ‘demands’), I realized that I could ‘demand’ her to offer better responses to my ‘bids’. (I call this game play, “pushing the line”.)
The first thing I did was to explain to her that whenever I said something to her, I wanted her to first say something to me that showed that she had recognized and comprehended what I had just said. Then after she addressed my statement or question, and only then, could she continue with her own thoughts.
Perhaps it is important to note that I had this discussion with her when she was relaxed and in a very good mood.
I made this new ‘rule’ a central part of our interaction for a couple weeks to drive home the point that her responsiveness, and the quality of our communication, are both important to me.
After that, whenever I made a bid that received a lackluster response from her, I would point out that she had ignored what I said, or was not really paying attention to me, or had not really thought about my question. Then I asked her for a statement of acknowledgment before she continued. I never got angry or raised my voice. I simply stayed calm and politely asked her for a response.
Occasionally, I had to remind her that I had asked her not to ignore me. I very casually pointed out to her that it is rude for her not to respond to my statements, and I smiled and touched her tenderly whenever I brought this up.
I had a backup plan in case she ever became angry, indignant or arrogant after I requested her attention. To my wife’s credit, I’ve only had to use it once (so far). The backup plan involved the application of the following three Game techniques.
- Mirroring her expressions and behaviors, including the arrogance and irritation. This tends to create humility through mutual identification, and ironically, it also appeals to her need for emotional closeness, also because of the identification.
- Agree and Amplify, with the purpose of making her immaturity and self-centeredness apparent to her.
- Inserting sarcastic, but eloquent names in the discussion, such as “Alright, Princess…”, “My Fair Lady…”, etc.
The last two techniques, when played together, formulate a very subtle, but effective, shame tactic. This pushes her awareness of the obvious incongruency between her disrespectful behavior and the proper feminine etiquette that would be a more appropriate response to the Chivalry she desires. This awareness motivates her to behave more like a mature lady.
Moreover, if she wishes to resort to the heavy-handed power moves of anger, rudeness and interruptions, then the backup plan demonstrates the following to her.
- I can play that game too, but I can be more cold, rude, stonewalling, and heavy-handed than she can. Hence, I win the power play, so don’t go there with me.
- It becomes apparent that her self-defense mechanisms and her self-protective behaviors only move the relationship towards destruction, rather than the improvement thereof. Her becoming conscious of this fact motivates her to change her behavior, largely because of her emotional needs for security.
- The unpleasantness of it all is an operant conditioning (i.e. positive punishment) which teaches her that rude behavior is met by negative consequences.
I am happy to report that with the continued use of this approach (demanding better responses to my bids, AKA “pushing the line”), over time, she really became more thoughtful and understanding of me. She also became more relaxed and more positive in her discussions with me.
I think she got the idea that I honestly respected her thoughts, that I sincerely listened to her whenever she spoke, and that I was merely asking her to do the same for me. She was happy to do so, and I believe she took this as a progressive move, or a constructive change within our interactions.
My wife once got angry and responded negatively when I asked her to respond to my statements in a thoughtful and considerate manner. I am sure this is because she was already in a bad mood that day, and my request merely served as a trigger for her emotional outburst. Nevertheless, requiring her consideration in good times and bad, made the point that her sweet and kindhearted behavior is always expected of her, without failure, even when, and especially when, she is having a bad day.
By my setting down a hard boundary on this, she has become more comfortable, more emotionally secure, more happy, and less likely to resort to power games or shit tests. In fact, I have to say that expressly demanding positive responses to my bids has done the most towards correcting her bad attitude.
I learned that by asking her to overtly respond to my statements, or ‘bids’, I was drawing a healthy boundary between her thoughts and my own. This distinction tended to raise her awareness of my opinions, and increase her regard for my psychological needs. In turn, and over time, this also led to an improvement in the quality of her responses to my bids, as well as her general state of contentment and emotional security.
This agrees with a word of advice my father once told me,
“You have a responsibility to teach others how you want to be treated.”
In this experiment, I soon realized that I was not only requesting her to be more responsive to my bids, but I was also demonstrating my own self esteem, and demanding her respect. I also believe that she truly felt more respect for me when I did so. A previous post, The Love a Wife Desires, the Respect a Husband Needs (December 18, 2017), outlines the gravity and importance of the wife’s respect for her husband in a marriage. Namely, the more a wife respects her husband, the easier it is for the husband to show love to the wife, and the happier the relationship becomes.
Because I have put my foot down on establishing a more civilized interaction between us, she has come to feel more loved, cherished, and respected. So I have also come to believe that this technique of making demands for better bids is one very effective way that a husband can express love to his wife, as well as attract more respect and appreciation for himself.
In other words, it improved the Love and Respect dynamic between us. I also expect that, as I continue these habits, her general level of maturity will advance.
It’s all good!
[Eds. note (October 28, 2018): The title of this post was changed from “Pushing the Line”.]