Most couples do not break up because of significant events like infidelity. It’s the erosion of trust and build-up of resentment over time that turns love into disaster.
So what can you do to keep your relationship headed in the right direction? Let’s look at one piece of research that came out of world-renowned couple therapists Drs. John & Julie Gottman’s lifelong work which they termed “Turning Towards & Away”.
Now picture your partner letting out an exasperate ‘sigh’ and in that fleeting moment you have a choice, go about your day, or ask what’s on their mind? These small daily crossroads may seem insignificant but the choices you make whilst interacting with your partner could over time make or break your relationship.
The ‘sigh’ is what Drs John & Julie Gottman calls ‘A Bid for Connection’. Bids can be small or big, verbal or non-verbal and in these moments, we can turn towards our partner, or we can turn away from them and ignore their bids.
The Gottmans have spent the last four decades studying couples and their relationships to find out what separates the relationship masters from relationship disasters? They found a critical difference in how each type of couple response to bids for connection. In these moments, masters turn towards each other 86% of the time and disasters turn towards each other only 33% of the time.
This is really important research to keep in mind because your ability and willingness to turn towards your partner forms the foundation of trust, emotional connection, passion and play. When couples break up, it’s often not because of conflict or issues with infidelity. More often it’s the result of resentment and distance that build up over time when partners continue to turn away from bids for connection.
So, here is what you can do next time.
Notice when you partner is making a bid, show interest, ask questions, nod, listen and put away your screens. Chose to turn towards your partner.