Basically what Mr. Covey tells us here is that we have the choice to allow the world to change us from the outside in, or, we can allow our belief in a higher power to assist us in changing from the inside out. He also explains that between stimulus and response there really is a gap. In this gap we are free to choose how we want to react to the stimulus. We are free to act and do not have to just let automatic responses take over unless we choose to.
He tells a story here about how, while he was writing a book for a year in Hawaii, he spent about two hours a day with his wife and small children. During this time (while the kids were somewhat preoccupied) he and his wife would talk about things that were going on, along with those things that had happened to them in the past. They were clearly, from the way he tells the story, seeking to understand each other at a deeper level through empathic listening.
Stephen writes in so many words that he felt that over the year the relationship he had with his wife had grown in a good way and that they certainly had a better feel for each other’s view point. Not only that but he indicates that they were able to see things differently because of the differences each of them had. He indicates that these differences between himself and his wife opened the eyes of both of them about things they could stand to change about themselves which would make them better people!