According to John Gottman, a marriage researcher, a bid for connection is any attempt to receive:Attention, Affirmation or Affection from our partner(s).
In subtle ways (and sometimes obvious ways), we are asking our partner to really listen to us, to see/notice us, to understand us, and to comfort us.
BIDS AS QUESTIONS:
“Do you like
my outfit?” “Did you hear
about…?” “Would you grab me some water?”
“Will you help me put this together?” “When do you think I should go see my friend?
“Is it OK if I’m feeling too stressed to go? I’m scared/sad/mad, can I take a minute?”
“Do you wanna watch a movie together on the couch?” “Are you willing to rub my back?”
-NOT ALL BIDS ARE VERBAL-
There are just as many of non-verbal
bids, such as moving
closer to your partner on the couch, coming home with a new haircut, a smile, and
Many bids may be hard to miss, so constantly be on the
lookout for them.
“The traffic on the way home was terrible!” It may be easy to just shrug this
off and not think much of it. But what your partner may be asking you is some
attention, understanding, empathy, and perhaps some comforting.
TRY NOT TO MISS THE BIDS!
a John Gottman study of newlywed couples, the couples who were still together
after six years were those who TURNED TOWARDS each other on an average
of 86% of the time. Those who were
divorced after six years only turned towards one another 33% of the time.
TURNING TOWARDS=NOTICING AND RESPONDING TO BIDS
In order to give your relationship it’s best shot, give your partner(s) that attention, affirmation, and affection that we all desire. Remember, humans are hard-wired for connection. Let’s turn towards our significant other(s) and create a long-lasting, meaningful relationship.
Although everyone may have a slightly different interpretation, to be vulnerable is to be exposed, to move forward without certainty, to show our flaws, to admit when we are wrong, to face judgment, to love without reciprocation or reassurance, and to live and act as our authentic-selves; even when that means we may get hurt.
A Common misconception is that vulnerability=weakness
Brené Brown, vulnerability has these three characteristics:
characteristics make vulnerability appear to be more of an act of courage and bravery, not of weakness.
Question 1: How can you view vulnerability as courage, rather than
Why do we avoid vulnerability? Because it can be:
painful, unsafe, embarrassing, uncertain, disappointing, and a WHOLE LOT MORE!
Question 2: Can you remember times when you stopped
yourself from being vulnerable? What were the circumstances? What were you
afraid would happen?
create all types of defenses to protect themselves from potential emotional
What defenses have you created?
SO WHY BE
us. It shows humility. It fosters growth. It makes life more meaningful. It
helps us reach self-actualization. It builds trust & respect. It’s a necessary
part of love
Question 4: Can you think of positive,
meaningful moments or experiences that resulted from vulnerability? If so, take
a moment to reflect on them.
*Note of caution- some people and situations are not deserving of your vulnerability. If you have good reason to believe that your vulnerability will be used or abused for personal gain and power, it is reasonable to protect yourself.
Seriously? Treat my partner like a child? Yes. And here’s why.
How do we communicate with children without fighting?
When we are being the best parent we can be, how do we treat our children? With unconditional love? Patience? Acceptance? Understanding? With TONS of hugs and kisses?
Somehow when it comes to our romantic relationships, we tend to lose some of this. Our love can become conditional when we are hurt or angry. Our patience is short. We stop accepting them for who they are, and instead expect them to change aspects of themselves that we don’t like. We no longer seek to understand what is really going on for them, rather, we mind-read and make assumptions. And when are relationship has surpassed infatuation, we certainly do not give as many hugs and kisses!
Now, if you still DO treat your partner in this loving way, GREAT. However, you may still benefit from reading on. Or, if your partner is abusive in any way shape or form, please, don’t feel like you need to love them unconditionally or accept them the way they are. Either get out, seek support to get out, or seriously strengthen your boundaries, protect yourself and don’t forget about self-care!
So how exactly can I communicate with my spouse without fighting?
Ok, so I am going to give you a scenario that relates to how we can communicate with our spouse as if they were a child. Here’s the scene:
Let’s say your five-year-old daughter starts crying for NO APPARENT REASON. She was happy two minutes ago, and now she is red in the face, has tears in her eyes, and is on the verge of what looks like a panic attack.
You run over to ask her “what’s the matter?” Your daughter crosses her arms and pouts, “nothing…” You press the issue and continue to ask her what’s wrong, only to get the cold shoulder. Looking across the room you realize that little Johnny has stolen a toy of hers that she doesn’t even like. Your automatic first thought may be that you think that this is ridiculous so you say, “Really? You’re upset about that dumb toy that you don’t even like? Who cares if Johnny plays with it. Look, you have your favorite toy right here!”
Does that help? Absolutely not. Why? Because it was invalidating. And why didn’t she just tell you to begin with when you asked what was wrong? Because she was scared of your invalidation! She, even at five years of age, knows that she is already in a vulnerable position, and the last thing she needs is to have to defend herself for having feelings about something that you find ridiculous. Of course, she probably won’t be able to articulate this, and will instead just cry harder.
Now to the important part: Validating your spouse’s feelings
What should you have done instead? Notice how she’s feeling, make your best guess as to why she’s feeling that way, and then VALIDATE VALIDATE VALIDATE! Instead of asking her what is wrong, try saying something like this: “I notice that you are feeling very sad and overwhelmed. I’m going to guess that it is because little Johnny took one of your toys, is that right?” She may then give a little pouty nod-still not fully trusting in where this is going-but much more open now that you’ve identified her struggle.
So you continue to validation by saying something like “Yeah, I can see why you’d be upset. It can be sad and frustrating when someone takes something of ours. And when they don’t even ask for permission, it can make us very angry as well. I totally understand how you are feeling. I get it. You have every right to feel the way you’re feeling.”
And this, is the SAME WAY we should talk to our partners. This type of scenario signals to our loved ones that we see them, we care, and we understand. We are not jumping the gun and trying to fix their problem, nor are we minimizing it, dismissing it, rolling our eyes at it, or ignoring it. We aren’t “staying out of it” and waiting for them to come to us with the thought of, “if they want my help/support, they should just tell me what’s wrong and ask for it”. When we are in an emotional state, we don’t always have that level of maturity to both identify and ask for our needs to be met. We may also fear a potentially bad response, which could just exacerbate the issue. What most of us really want, is for our loved ones to see our pain (even if you can’t comprehend it), and show that you care.
So please, everyone, try treating your spouse a little more like a child. A child for whom you adore, cherish, have patience for, want to understand, and accept for the wacky, emotional, funny-face makin’ little creatures that they are. If you can do this, you may start to see your relationship really blossom. Just don’t, however, try to tell your spouse when their bedtime is.
First of all, thank you for taking the time to consider therapy and remember, “Life Begins at the end of Your Comfort Zone” -Neale Donald Walsch
Starting psychotherapy is a big step, which may cause you to wonder, “do I really NEED therapy?”
The decision to start therapy is scary. No doubt about it. How will I be perceived by my therapist? Does it mean I am broken or crazy if I need therapy? Does it make me appear weak and unable to solve my own problems? Can they really tell me something I don’t already know?
These all may be questions you ask yourself
My response? A good therapist will put all these fears at ease. Therapy is a very normal part of self-care. It’s about taking one hour out of your week to really focus on yourself and your surroundings. To think things through out loud. To get support. To evaluate your goals, process your struggles, and work towards inner peace and harmony.
We need therapy like we need exercise
Think of a therapist like a personal trainer
As a society, we place so much emphasis on physical health. From the newest exercise science to the next fad diet, we are very obsessed with what is on the outside. Mental health, however, has been historically stigmatized but yet, is as important if not more, than physical health. Therapy is the foundation for keeping your mental health in check.
So when considering therapy, remember this: YOU ARE NOT CRAZY, AND NOTHING IS “WRONG” WITH YOU. Yes, you are definitely capable of “solving your own issues” and only you are the expert of your own life. Good therapy, however, can help make the process of “figuring it all out” more enjoyable, fulfilling and enlightening.
Push through the discomfort. Book your first session today.