Okay, why is turning towards so important? Over time, these daily "micro-connections" demonstrate to your spouse that you care. When you turn towards in the moment to moment exchanges, it lets your partner know that you are paying attention. And why is that so important? What about grander gestures like bringing home flowers, filling up the car with gas without being asked, or being swept away on a romantic vacation for two? Yes, those things are certainly very nice, but they are special, and by definition special things don't happen very often. You can harness some real power in transforming your relationship by paying attention to how you respond in the day to day "ordinary-ness" of life.
So the good news is that ordinary is powerful! When you think about it, we actually have dozens of opportunities for moments of 'turning towards' every day. So leveraging these moments has the potential for making a big difference in your closeness and connection over time. How you respond to 'bids' from your spouse forms the background of the general emotional tone between the two of you.
What is a bid? A 'bid' for connection can be as simple as your partner looking up from reading news on line and saying, "Wow, looks like the team is really on a roll." Instead of saying nothing (turning away) or rolling your eyes and saying "Don't you ever think about anything but sports?" (turning against), you can say "Yep, sure looks that way, are you going to watch the game later?" (turning towards). It's that simple. Choose to respond with a neutral-to-positive comment.
Yes, it's that simple and it's that hard. I know that if you are already in a negative cycle with your spouse, this kind of neutral-to-positive response may seem very difficult and feel 'fake' - at least at first. But work on gearing your response away from silence or sarcasm/criticism. Practice creating a more positive emotional tone in how you respond. When you do that, you are taking responsibility for what you put into the interaction between the two of you - and that's a powerful choice.
"Turning towards is the basis of emotional connection,
romance, passion, and a good sex life."
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work -- John Gottman, Ph.D.
So here's a challenge: This week make the vast majority of your responses to your partner's bids neutral to positive. Let me know how it goes!
Dr. Beth Schmit
Licensed Psychologist &
Gottman 7 Principles Program Educator
P.S. The next 1-day condensed format Gottman 7 Principles Program Workshop is scheduled for Sat. April 12th, 9 am-4 pm - All materials included! Space is limited, so register soon to take advantage of the special early registration rate of $245 for both of you. I look forward to seeing you there!
Sneak peek - Our next topic is Principle #4 - Accepting Influence!