We have been impressed with the incredible research that has come out of the Gottman Institute about relationships. We buy into one of his key theories: The health of the relationship can be determined by the small and larger interactions between spouses as one “bids” for the connection of the other and the other responds by either moving toward, away or against.
No Attempts To Connect
During the course of the relationship, there are many daily attempts to connect made by each spouse. The absence of attempts to connect usually means the relationship is in an unhealthy state.
- No or low emotional connection – You do not feel like you know what is happening in the heart and mind of your spouse and believe that your spouse does not know what is happening in your heart or mind.
- No or low passion – Your sex life is non-existent or limited to short, infrequent encounters where one of you is satisfied at the expense of the other.
- Weakened Commitment – You are unsure about the future of your marriage and whether your marriage could weather a storm.
- Affair prone – You or your spouse have frequent thoughts about looking outside of your marriage for emotional and physical connection.
When we first begin dating, each spouse makes frequent bids in every interaction for connection. Many times the challenges of living under the same roof, being financially responsible, divvying up chores, taking care of newborns, and handling the day-to-day take precedence over our relationship. Over time, we make fewer intentional attempts to connect.
Small and Frequent Attempts to Connect
- Attempt for Attention – “I nailed the sale/presentation today at work.”
- Attempt for Interest – “Isn’t that the cutest dog you have ever seen?”
- Attempt for Enthusiasm – “Let’s take a day trip next weekend!”
- Attempt for Conversation – “Have you heard how Hallie’s surgery went?”
- Attempt for Play – Any attempt to tickle, wrestle, or trick.
- Attempt for Humor – “I saw the funniest thing today…”
- Attempt for Affection – Any attempt to hold hands, kiss, hug, etc.
- Attempt for Emotional Support – “I’m frustrated about my new work assignment.”
- Attempt for Self Disclosure – “How was your day today?”
Importance of Attempting to Connect
The more you attempt to connect, the better the chance is that you will connect with your spouse. The more you attempt and your spouse responds by turning toward you, the healthier your marriage. One study found that marriages that make it have interactions where when one spouse attempts to connect and the other spouse responds positively on average 86% of the time.
The bottom line, when you attempt to connect with your spouse, you give your marriage a stronger chance of standing the test of time.
Ways to Attempt To Connect
- Show Full Body Attention – Put down your phone or device, pause the TV, and turn toward your spouse. Look them in the eyes and make connection as they attempt to communicate to you.
- Smile – Use your facial expressions to communicate your interest in your spouse. A smile, warm smile goes a long way toward connection.
- Touch – Use touch liberally. Hold hands, pat your spouse’s back (or a little further down), hug or kiss. Enjoy connecting with affection.
- Reflect – Tell your spouse what you are hearing them say. By reflecting what they are saying you make them feel seen and heard.
- Curiously Engage – Ask questions to invite your spouse to tell them about their day, what is going on in their world and how they are feeling about things in their life.
What do you have to say?
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This article was written by Roy and Devra Wooten, authors of “The Secret to a Lifetime Love”. Learn more at www.LifeTogetherForever.com © Roy and Devra Wooten 2017. All Rights Reserved. You may replicate this article as long as it is provided free to recipients and includes appropriate attribution. Written permission for other use may be obtained at Secret@LifeTogetherForever.com.