John M. Gottman, Ph.D. has given me fantastic advise this semester. Every chapter in The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work has introduced me to a marriage concept that I know I can improve on. This weeks topic was turning toward my spouse. I learned that I can do this by watching for bids from my husband. “In marriage, couples are always making what I call “bids” for each other’s attention, affection humor, or support. Bids can be as minor as asking for a back rub or as significant as seeking help in carrying the burden when an aging parent is ill. The partner responds to each bid either by turning toward the spouse or turning away. A tendency to turn toward your partner is the basis of trust, emotional connection, passion, and satisfying sex life.” Gottman pg. 88 I know that my marriage could improve in all of these areas. But, how exactly do I do it?
“The first step in turning towards each other is simply to be aware of how crucial these mini-moments are, not only to your marriage’s trust level but to its ongoing sense of romance. For many couples, just realizing that they shouldn’t take their everyday interactions for granted makes an enormous difference in their relationships. Remind yourself that being helpful to each other will do far more for the strength and passion of your marriage than a two-week Bahamas getaway.”Gottman pg. 89 It sounds so easy! So I decided to put it to the test. This week I watched for bids from my husband and made an effort to turn toward him instead of away.
The week wasn’t as simple as I thought it would be. I came to realize that my husband is a better person than I am. He is great at reading me and turning toward me when he sees my bids. I had a harder time recognizing his. There are two main obstacles that block us from turning toward each other the first is missing a bid because it is wrapped in anger or other negative emotion and the second is being distracted by technology.
I think one of my weaknesses is technology. I get addicted to games on my phone or tv shows. I have had my husband ask me to put my phone away and felt attacked because “at night after the boys are in bed is finally my chance to relax and take a minute to “de-stress” for the day”. Right? But what I am really doing is turning away from my husband. I could use these precious moments to make my marriage better, but I am to worried about beating my friends to the next level on Jelly Splash.
So, through out your day, watch for bids from your partner, find ways to help them, and watch for their needs. These little every day things will make a big difference for any relationship.