Summer is more than outdoor movies and picnics. Take things one step further by actively turning towards each other throughout your outing. What does that look like?
One of the greatest predictors of your relationship’s success is your ability to turn towards each other by reaching out to your partner and accepting their bids. The majority of conflict in relationships is the result of turning away from and against these bids. Turning away and against are related to both suppressed negativity (sadness, self-pity, stonewalling) and being in the attack-defend mode (anger, criticism, contempt, defensiveness, belligerence). Playful bids and enthusiastic efforts to turn towards each other result in heightened levels of positivity during conflict discussions. They also help you to build up your emotional bank account and bring the fire back into your romance.
In his research, Dr. John Gottman discovered that the “masters” of relationships display a way of scanning their environment to find ways of appreciating their partner. In other words, they “catch” their partner doing things right and compliment them on it. Making a conscious effort to turn towards each other’s bids for emotional connection will strengthen the emotional connection felt between the two of you.
Summer activities that help you turn toward each other
Here are some great ways to put this into practice:
- Go camping: Get away from the stress of work and retreat to the wilderness. Sleeping under the stars will remind you of what’s most important—your relationship.
- Go kayaking: Rent or borrow a couple of kayaks and spend the afternoon or early evening exploring local waterways. Moving slowly through the water will reduce your stress level and give you and your partner a chance to ask each other open-ended questions.
- Have a picnic: Pack some food, drink, and a blanket and head to the nearest park. Even if it’s nearby, the change of scenery will be a refreshing variation from your weekly routine.
- Go for a walk/hike: It may sound simple, but a long walk is still one of the best summer dates you can have. Whether it’s a scenic hike to a waterfall or just an evening stroll through the neighborhood, there’s something about walking together that brings you closer. For more turning towards: Bring your Love Map Card Deck and take turns asking each other questions.
- Go for a bike ride: Take advantage of the nice summer weather to tune up your bikes, dust off your helmets, and get back out there. Make a date to do one of your favorite rides. Try something new that promises great scenery and enough challenge to get your blood moving. Pack a lunch and make a day of it!
It is the small things done often that make the most difference in a relationship. Whether you are out on a bike ride or sleeping underneath the stars, make it a priority to turn towards each other’s bids for emotional connection.