Years ago, there was a therapist I worked with named Susan. Susan told me she went to a seminar that a friend of ours named Steve was giving.
Since she thought she may want to do similar seminars in the future about marriage, she wanted to see how Steve presented his thoughts and insight. Susan took her husband Dave along to the seminar.
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During the seminar, Steve made this statement: “What you call your spouse, they will become.” Now, Susan had been married for 20 years, and when she heard this statement she laughed to herself as she leaned over to Dave and said, “Ha, skinny!”
Dave leaned toward her, laughing, and said, “Haha, sexy!” After the seminar was over, she said to me, “Bob, I made it a point to try what Steve suggested, just to see what would happen.”
For 10 years, Dave weighed 215 pounds and hadn’t been able to get rid of more than five pounds at a time. He had finally become discouraged and given up. So, Susan began to call Dave “skinny” and “slim” as the opportunities presented themselves.
After two months, she asked him how he was doing with his weight, and he reported that he had lost over 18 pounds. Susan was amazed.
At the end of the story, I paused and asked her, “Susan, does Dave call you sexy?” She gave me a pained smile and said, “No.” Immediately I thought to myself, “that’s too bad because Dave probably has no idea what he’s missed out on.”
It wasn’t that Susan needed a makeover or that there was anything wrong with her at all.
Dave had missed out on an opportunity to influence his lovely wife into becoming more of what he wanted (sexy) – an opportunity to build Susan’s confidence and make her feel sexy and desired.
On the other hand, notice what happened with Susan? She made it a priority to take the first step to help Dave – to give him subtle encouragement when she called him “skinny” or “slim.” She didn’t wait until she felt like it, or until she saw that Dave was doing it correctly. Instead, she was proactive – she made sure he was embracing his view of himself in a positive way.
Proactive Consistency Equals Results
She made a decision, and after that decision was made, she proactively and consistently pursued it until she saw the results she wanted – helping her husband redefine his own personal outlook, and as a result becoming the slimmer man he wanted to be. What Susan stumbled onto is what I know about men – they want to be influenced by a woman!
Some men are not good at receiving this, or at giving up power, but what most long for is to be married to is a woman understands how men think and can use it to make a man feel like it is his idea to do her bidding.
This type of influence does not feel threatening to a man. Susan was the same. She would have loved for Dave to influence her, to shape her, to reinforce what he thought about her.
Here was a seminar that gave Dave the perfect opportunity, yet he missed the opportunity.