Saturday, February 24, 2018

Turn Towards that Bid

 He grumbled something as I hurriedly handed off the diaper for our toddler, and then there was more grumbling under his breath. We were both in the middle of something, he was feeding the kids, I was trying to get an assignment for school in on time. As the comment came out of his mouth my first thought was to fight back, but then I remembered this statement I had read only moments before, "Before you reply defensively to your partner, pause for a moment and search for a bid underneath your partner's harsh words. Then focus on the bid, not the delivery." John Gottman goes on to say, "If you find it difficult not to react defensively, first take five really deep breaths, counting slowly from one to six as you inhale and then slowly from seven to fifteen as you exhale. Then say to your partner, 'I want to respond to you positively, so can you please tell me what you need right now from me? I really want to know.'" (Gottman, p. 92). So I did. I only needed on deep breath to calm down. When I tried to repeat the sentence I tripped up and started laughing at myself, then I grabbed the diaper and changed the bum. No harm done. Good mood returned.
Most of our conversations don't go like this, Bill rarely grumbles, but this time I'm happy it happened in a moment of stress because it allowed me to practice new skills. This week I've actually been more in love with him than ever. I've been secretly trying something new. It's called "turning towards". I try to recognize bids for attention and fill those bids with love and service. John Gottman says, "In marriage, couples are always making what I call "bids" for each other's attention, affection, humor, or support. Bids can be as minor as asking for a backrub or as significant as seeking help in carrying the burden when an aging parent is ill" (Gottman, 2015). Here's the amazing thing. I thought that I was already awesome at this. I genuinely want my husband to be happy. I actually thought I was better at this than anyone in the family. My secret experiment has proven me wrong!
Play Date

It turns out that my husband is WAY better at this than me! He has been holding my hand all week, physically and emotionally. We went to a movie, and I let him pick as a way to "turn toward" his wants and needs. But, on the way there he read my (super boring) text book to me, helped me figure out the hard to understand parts, and bought me clothes! What husband likes to sit around while his wife tries on shirt after shirt!? Today my husband asked if I was interested in seeing the budget he was working on, of course I was. Later he returned the favor by helping me plan out my next semester and my future career goals! Tonight I turned towards him by putting my text book down to help him make dinner, but he was the one who picked the meal and instigated dinner. My love tank has never been more full, and I'm the one trying to fill his tank!

These principles really work! I am more in love with my husband today than I was yesterday. The love just grows and grows. President Howard W. Hunger is quoted in Dr. Goddard's book, he says, "Whatever Jesus lays his hands upon lives. If Jesus lays his hands upon a marriage, it lives. If he is allowed to lay his hands on the family, it lives." I believe that turning towards our spouses is a way of fostering the love that Jesus is trying to push into our marriages. If you want to learn more pick up Dr. Gottman's book on Amazon!

Goddard, H. (2009). “Drawing Heaven into Your Marriage: Eternal Doctrines that Change Relationships”. Joymap Publishing. 3933 W. 9850 N Ceder Hills, Utah, USA.

Gottman, J., and Silver, N. (1995, 2015). The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert. Harmony Books Penguin Random House Company, New York.

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