The Sound Relationship House is a theory developed by Drs John and Julie Gottman, the world’s leading relationship psychologists.
The Sound Relationship House Theory is the Gottman Method’s foundation, which uses a practical approach to help couples break through barriers to achieve greater understanding, connection, and intimacy in their relationships. The Gottman Couples Method is at the core of Luxdates’ philosophy of a successful relationship.
In a series of articles, we introduce this concept to build a better relationship with your partner.
The article today is about the third floor of the Sound Relationship House: Turn Towards Instead of Away
It’s no secret that the quality of communication has a direct influence on a couple’s degree of happiness.
What if there was a secret formula that guaranteed to turn a relationship from “disaster” to “master”? And what if it wasn’t that secret after all, and not even difficult?
We have all seen the cartoons of husbands hiding behind a newspaper over breakfast, completely ignoring their wives. Or of women, absorbed in shopping or conversations with their girlfriends, ignoring their husbands. All good examples for bad communication and a relationship that doesn’t look happy.
Those cartoons are examples of “turning away”. And “turning away” is easy, too easy unfortunately, especially with today’s ubiquitous use of handhelds. “Turning away” is synonymous with “disaster” in a relationship
And then, every now and then, we observe couples who seem to understand each other effortlessly. They’re so in tune that not a lot of dialogue is needed to express their needs. These couples have practiced a lot of “turn towards”.
“Turning towards” is like putting a deposit into your partner’s emotional bank account (and vice versa). “Turning towards” is synonymous with “master” in a relationship.
But how do you turn towards instead of away? To understand turning, you have to first understand what “bids” are and how they work.
What are Bids?
A bid is any attempt from one partner to another for attention, affirmation, affection, or any other positive connection. Bids can be simple gestures like a smile or wink, or a sigh, and more complex like a request for advice or help. Often they consist of two layers: the text (what is being said), and the subtext (the quest for emotional connection).
In a successful relationship, both partners make bids constantly. In order for this to work, it’s important that the bids are recognized by the other partner, and acted upon. In other words, it’s important to pay attention to the other partner and “read” them. Couples who are masters at their relationship are so in tune with one another that they pick up minuscule hints. Couples who are disasters at their relationship need the proverbial flagpole to recognize a bid, and need to learn reading them.
Bids aren’t exclusively cute, or flirty, or romantic, in nature. Your partner washing the dishes noisily (and angrily) can be a bid, too.
Turning Away? Ignored or Missed
To “miss” a bid is to “turn away”. Turning away from a bid can be devastating to both partners. Rejecting a bid at least provides the opportunity for continued engagement and repair. Missing the bid results in diminished bids, frustration, and in the worst-case scenario making bids for attention, enjoyment, and affection somewhere else.