Have you ever had a relationship that started out in a seemingly perfect way? You were both incredibly attracted to each other. You spent hours talking on the phone. You spent much of your day thinking about that person. You could not wait to get together again for your next date. You were falling in love with this person when they started saying things that you disagreed with. At first you ignored some of their comments. However, over time they started to really bother you. The two of you began to argue frequently until you both decided that your relationship had no future.
Everyone has been a part of a relationship story similar to this one. Sometimes these stories play out over a few weeks other times they play out over a few years. No matter how long the relationship lasted, we find ourselves asking the question “How could something that started so good end so badly?” The answer is found in a concept called “Influence Love” based on the four-step “Intelligent Influence” framework on successful human interaction outlined in my book Intelligent Influence: The 4 Steps of Highly Successful Individuals and Organizations.
The concept of Influence Love is rooted in the belief that we are products of our influences. I am known for saying “we do what we do, think the way we think and accomplish what we accomplish because of influence.” Influence determines everything from our favorite foods to our favorite sports teams to our favorite music. I enjoy telling audiences that “I know what the best music in the world is.” When I say that people in the audience look at me as if I am crazy. However, when I tell them that the best music in the world is the music they heard between ages 10 to 20 they start nodding their heads. They realize that this music has a special place in their heart because it helped them through emotional times like their first kiss or first bad break-up.
If our musical tastes are based on influence, then our perspective, behavior and desires in a relationship are also based on our influences. People in a relationship are in synch or in conflict because of their past influences. It is therefore almost impossible to have a happy healthy relationship without understanding our influences and making the necessary influence adjustments to ensure influence compatibility with our significant other. This is the reason that Influence Love is the most important ingredient in a relationship.
What is Influence Love? The word “Love” is defined by Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary as “an intense feeling of deep affection.” I define “Influence Love” as an “intense feeling of deep affection guided by an alignment of influences.” All too frequently, love doesn’t last. People fall in and out of love very quickly these days because their influences are out of alignment. The relationship starts out strong but the influences from our past (when ignored) lead to conflict. Influence Love on the other hand is a key to a lasting relationship because, in addition to the intense feeling of love that brings people together initially, there are common influences that keep people together for a long time.
A Relationship Example
Frequently, people fall in love but the relationship falters because they fail to discuss their influence differences. A simple example of the way influence can destroy a relationship is a situation where the wife came from a family where the dad cheated on her mother and the husband came from a family where his parents were faithful and deeply in love but the Dad traveled frequently. This same couple is experiencing conflict because the husband, who is faithful, is constantly on the road for his job but the wife works close to their house. The wife, because of her family influences, becomes overly jealous and constantly calls and questions the husband about his travels and the women he works with on a regular basis. The husband, who is not interested in any other woman, is constantly on edge because of his wife’s insecurities. Their relationship is doomed if they do not have an Influence Love intervention.
Influence Love Development Process
If ignored, these influences can destroy a marriage. However, if they follow the Influence Love four-step development process they can transform a troubled marriage into an outstanding marriage. The first step in the process is called “Influence Awareness.” In this step, the couple openly and honestly shares the relationship related influences that they bring to the marriage. The second step in the process is called “Influence Impact.” In this step, the couple discusses how these influences help or hurt the relationship. This enables them to identify what influence related differences the couple needs to work on to improve their relationship.
The third step in the process is called “Influence Management.” In this step, the couple develops a plan to overcome their influence related differences. The fourth and final step in the process is called “Influence Maximization.” In this step, the couple implements the plan developed in step 3 in an effort to align their influences in a way that increases the chance of their relationship being successful for a long period of time. This process can be done by the couple alone or with the help of a counselor. Regardless of how they do it, every couple needs to go through the Influence Love Development Process.
The table below provides more information about this important process.
The increasing social stress on relationships makes the Influence Love Development Process more important than ever. If you would like more information about enhancing your relationship through this process, please contact Dr. Dale G. Caldwell at (732) 208-9808 or at DrDGCaldwell@gmail.com.