I hope everyone is staying safe and warm in this snow!
Last week I talked about friendship extinguishes fights. I also gave you some homework….do you remember what you were tasked to do???
I wanted you to think of something thoughtful to do for your spouse that you don’t normally do. Well, how did it go?? Was it difficult for you to choose something?? Did they notice or better yet acknowledge your kind gesture?
Well, I told you we would continue discussing communication and today I want to introduce you to a term called “turning toward” your spouse. When your spouse offers subtle pats on the back, supportive gestures, or simply shows interest in the things that are important to you, it is called “turning toward” your spouse.
Dr. John Gottman and Nan Silver, co-authored a book called, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert. In the book they “coin” the phrase, “Turning Toward” and discuss the significance of connecting and making conscious efforts to attune to one another.
The two also talk about the fact that we make “bids” for our spouse’s attention, affection, humor and even support all the time. These bids can be large or small and go from one extreme to the next. Perhaps you need your spouse’s attention in caring for an aging or ill parent or maybe for something much smaller such as giving the kids a bath. Either way, in that moment, when you need something from your spouse and they don’t respond in a supportive manner they are “turning away”.
This “turning away” results in a feeling of rejection that if not dealt with can exacerbate into many other issues. Regardless the severity of the situation, we expect or at least hope for a response that shows that our spouse cares about what is important to us. “Turning toward” means that you are acknowledging the need that your spouse has in that moment, even if in your mind you don’t understand or feel deep down that it is unwarranted. It really just boils down to making the choice to care about what is essential to your spouse.
According to Gottman and Silver, couples who “turn toward” one another build mutual respect and emotional connection. The two conducted a 6-year follow-up of newlywed couples and found that the ones who remained married had “turned toward” their spouse’s bids on average 86% of the time, while those who ended up divorced had averaged only 33%. Wowwww!!! Those stats are staggering and shows the magnitude of “paying attention” to your spouse’s needs!!
So, while you are snowed in the house, I want you to consciously “turn toward” your spouse the rest of this week. While you are laying there snuggled up in your blanket and your spouse quietly mutters, “I’m thirsty”, instead of acting as if you did not hear them why not say, “Honey, I’m getting ready to get up, what can I get you”? Trust me, this goes a long way as romance begins well before bedtime! If your spouse asks you a question, don’t just apathetically shrug your shoulders in response but take time to think about the request and answer the question. Don’t “turn away”!!
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Until Next Time!
Your Marriage Coach