Does the relationship with your spouse feel more like roommates instead of soul mates? Are you two caught in the day-to-day grind, just communicating the necessities? Are you trying to initiate a closer bond, but feel pushed away or ignored? Time to up your bid.
A “bid” is a fundamental unit of emotional communication and connection in a relationship. Dr. John Gottman found that these attempts are basic verbal/nonverbal interactions that bond people together and cement relationships. In last week’s post, How Close Relationships Eventually Fail, we learned that people respond to one another’s bid for connection in one of three ways:
- Turning towards – a positive response to a bid; giving attention and presence. The wife commented that she once dreamed of being a Broadway dancer. “I bet you would have been the best one out there!” responds a supportive husband.
- Turning against – a negative response to a bid; being belligerent or argumentative. “A Broadway dancer, with your thighs?” is a crushing response.
- Turning away – a neutral response to a bid; ignoring or staying preoccupied. “Um-hum” is the only response, bringing discouragement.
Sadly, Gottman has found that the turning away response is the most destructive to a relationship. When bids are ignored, the bidder stops bidding, the connection grows weak, and distance enters into the relationship – sound familiar? Fortunately, things do not have to stay this way!
To connect with those you love – be present. Engage fully in what is being shared with you in the moment – pay attention to the thoughts, feelings, and actions you communicate. Think about it. In our busy lives, how much are we truly present with each other? Are we listening carefully or on the fly or while multitasking? The secrets to bids can be learned by anyone – there is nothing magical about them. Giving bids is a skill that can be learned, practiced, and mastered.
Things you can do for your partner: Fix the coffee, bring in the paper, put a love note in the briefcase, call or text during the day, share a joke, ask about his or her day, reminisce, ask about your partner’s current stresses, dreams, and goals and then, really listen!
Things you can do together: Kiss when leaving and returning, hug, hold hands, meet for lunch during the workday, cook together, do chores together, volunteer together, go on weekly dates, plan a romantic getaway – basically, make room in your life for your partner!
The main point is to be aware of the offering and receiving of bids and make an effort to turn toward your partner. Take the time to nourish your relationship to see it flourish.
“Love is being present.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
At Power of Two Counseling we know a great marriage isn’t a great mystery! Let us show you how it’s done.