TheConfidante In the Media
Welcome to Part Three of my “Intentional Relationships Series” where you’re getting thought provoking ideas on how to “level it up” for that thriving and dynamic relationship.
It would be true to say the meaning of “turning on” your partner is fairly clear. As it turns out, "turning toward" your partner is a considerably important priority for connection. If you make a conscious effort to consistently turn towards your partner, it's likely you get to enjoy both! In recent weeks, I’ve outlined, Seeking and allowing individuality and then Are you holding back in your relationship? Today, I’m all about turning toward your partner.
In any relationship we seek emotional connection from our partners. These take the form of distinct “bids”, as outlined by scholar, Dr John Gottman. These bids are related to safety derived from attention, conversation, approval, sympathy, and play etc. Consider, “Can you help me find my other sock?”, “Did you notice that Meghan Markle doesn’t wear panty hose?”, “What did you get up to today?” and the quintessential “Does my bum look big in this?”. They present various attempts at making a connection in the form of interest, reassurance and emotional support.
How you respond to this bid can be summarised by one of three ‘turns’.
1. Turn against your partner: When you respond to one of these attempts at connection with hostility. You snap at them and tell them you’re busy or concentrating. You may even tell them to nick off with “Shhhh, Brie Larson is on the tellie!”
2. Turn away from your partner: You ignore or dismiss them! You pretend you haven’t heard, or maybe even give a little shrug to drive your apathy home. This is also a common tactic easily deployed after conflict.
3. Turn toward your partner: Here it is! You actively engage with your partner’s bid for attention. You look at them, respond and ask questions to show interest and empathy. “Yes, your cheesecake is just as good as Sally’s’!” or “Wow, that must have been so embarrassing. What did you do then?”.
All interactions between couples have a mixture of these responses depending on life stressors such as health, work and sleep. Turning away, or even against your partner every now and then isn’t going to destroy a relationship. Couples who consistently turn toward each other; however, fare a lot better.
Gottman’s research involved analysing married couples over the space of six years. They found those still happily together at the six year mark “turned toward” each other 87% of the time. That’s really high, and still allows you some room for the occasional “Uh huh. Very nice.” These couples were called the “Masters”.
By contrast, the couples that had fallen apart — labelled, very bluntly, “Disasters”, only managed to turn towards and connect three times out of 10. Ouch.
How can we strive to “turn toward” our partners more often to given them as much engagement and attention we’re capable of? Watch this space next week!
Joanne Wilson is the weekly columnist for the Sunshine Coast Daily Weekend magazine, weekly radio guest, professional relationship counsellor and certified neuropsychotherapy practitioner of TheConfidante Counselling. She is based on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland - Australia. You can contact her at: www.theconfidantecounselling.com or email HERE.
Joanne will be your Confidante, enabling you to speak freely in complete confidence and serenity. An integrated approach tailored to your specific needs will be utilised.
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Relationship Specialist for Individuals and Couples servicing areas including Caloundra, Noosa, Noosaville, Buderim, Mountain Creek, Gympie.