Imagine you hear your partner let out an exasperated sigh. In that fleeting moment, you have a choice: keep going about your day OR – ask what’s on their mind. These small, daily crossroads may seem insignificant, but the choices you make while interacting with your partner could, over time, make or break your relationship. The sigh is what relationship researchers Drs. John and Julie Gottman would call a BID for connection.
Bids can be small or big, verbal or nonverbal. We can choose to TURN TOWARDS our partners in these moments and accept their bids. Or TURN AWAY from them and ignore their bids. The Gottmans have spent 4 decades studying thousands of couples to answer the question: What separates the relationship Masters from the relationship Disasters? They found a critical difference in how each type of couple responds to bids for connection. In these moments, Masters turn towards each other 86% of the time. Disasters turn towards each other only 33% of the time. A tendency to turn towards your partner forms the basis of trust, emotional connection, passion, and a satisfying sex life. When couples break up, it’s usually not because of big issues like conflict or infidelity. More often, it’s a result of the resentment and distance that build up over time when partners continually turn away from bids for connection.
So take a page from the relationship Masters’ playbook. Notice when your partner makes a bid. Show interest, ask questions, nod, listen, and put away your screens. Choose to turn towards your partner..