Moving Toward Your Spouse

In every interaction with your spouse, you will move toward, move away or move against.

The choice you make in how your interaction with your spouse is a critical key indicator to the success of your marriage.  John Gottman’s research indicates that divorced spouses reported that they ignored, or turned away from, their spouse’s attempts to connect between 50 and 82 percent of attempts, while couples who made it ignored their spouse’s attempts to connect only between 14 and 19 percent of the time.

Three Choices of Interaction With Your Spouse

  • Moving Toward – This is any positive action you take to respond to your spouse’s attempt to connect.  Couples who move toward each other develop stable, long-lasting relationships.  Actions include humor, affection, and interest and care for each other during conflict.
  • Moving Away – This is any action that ignores or avoids your spouse’s attempt to connect with you.  A pattern of turning away from your spouse results in your spouse’s defensiveness and usually leads to disconnection and divorce.
  • Moving Against – This is any negative action to you to respond to your spouse’s attempt to connect.  This includes being argumentative, critical and sarcastic.  This pattern of interaction eventually leads to divorce in the majority of cases.
‘Finally, all of you, be like-minded and show sympathy, love, compassion, and humility to and for each other— not paying back evil with evil or insult with insult, but repaying the bad with a blessing. It was this you were called to do, so that you might inherit a blessing. ‘ I Peter 3:8-9 (VOICE)

Why It Is Important

The smallest of interactions, over time, create a pattern of interaction that can lead to you having the marriage you want or lead to the disconnection and dissolution of your marriage.  Every interaction matters.  When you turn toward your spouse, you are communicating in one way or another that you hear, see, understand and love your spouse.   Turning toward your spouse over time builds the relational resilience your marriage needs to get through the stressful moments of life.

How To Turn Toward Your Spouse

  • Show physical affection – Reach for your spouse’s hand.  Pat your spouse’s back. Find something that you agree with your spouse about and express it. Give your spouse a loving look.  Send a warm text.  Express your love.
  • Show empathy – When your spouse expresses what is going on with them, let them know you are feeling for and with them.  Respond with, “That must be really difficult for you to go through and I’m here with you.” Or respond with, “I’m sad (angry, scared) with you, Babe, and I want you to know you have got me on your side.”
  • Show interest – When your spouse expresses something, take advantage of the opportunity to show interest in what is important to them.  Ask curious questions to share your support.  It might not be something you enjoy, but showing your interest because it is important to your spouse is important.

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 © 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


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