In every relationship, couples periodically make what Dr. Gottman calls “bids” for each other’s attention, affection, or support. Bids can be as insignificant as “please turn down the heat” to as significant as helping a partner care for a sick child.
In these moments, we have a choice to turn toward our partner or away from them. If we turn toward, we build trust and emotional connection.
Turning toward your partner in these seemingly unimportant moments is the foundation of trust, emotional connection, and passionate sex. Dr. Gottman often jokes that “everything positive you do in your relationship is foreplay.” Foreplay happens in the grocery store when your partner asks, “Do we have milk?” and you respond, “I’m not sure. I’ll grab some,” rather than shrugging your shoulders apathetically.
In a six-year study of newlyweds, Dr. Gottman found that couples who remained married had turned toward their partner’s bids 86% of the time in his lab, while those who divorced turned towards each other only 33% of the time.
The number one thing couples fight about is not money or in-laws or sex. According to Dr. Gottman, most arguments in relationships are about a failure to connect emotionally.
The brief quiz below has been designed to assess the current state of connection in your relationship.
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