Author and renowned therapist Dr John Gottman says, in his book “7 Principles for Making Marriage Work” that we all make bids for attention and that when we make those bods for attention, that it’s important to turn towards each other for that attention.
Turn Toward Your Spouse
What does it mean to turn toward your spouse? Here is a quick video that helps to explain this concept well.
Can you see how turning towards one’s spouse just means to pay attention and be kind to each other? It means making my husband a priority in giving him attention and in asking for attention myself. In this video it is clear to see how easy it can be to turn towards those bids for attention and how it is also easy to miss those bids for attention. Sometimes they are so small and could be mistaken as rather insignificant, but for myself, it is often the small things that make me feel seen and heard by someone I love, especially my spouse.
In my marriage, I have noticed how it’s difficult to ask for bids of attention from my husband and sometimes I would just hope he just knows what I want or need. On the flip side, I have also noticed I am sometimes stingy in honoring my husband’s bids for attention. It has taken me some in depth looking at myself and becoming stronger in both areas where I am able to turn towards my husband and allow myself to be seen fully and then also becoming better at expressing my thoughts and feelings so I can ask for bids of attention myself.
There is also another side of these bids for attention that do not require using words, and that is through non-verbal communication. Some of those bids could look like just sitting next to my husband or him to me, and either of us be able to put our phones down and re-connect after the day’s activities. No words need to be spoken to alert my husband that I would like to talk, sometimes its just me sitting next to him. I would add a caveat, and that is that the non-verbal cues should not be the norm, we need to be able to speak our needs, especially in the beginning.
Dear reader, turning towards your spouse (or any loved one!) for attention and thinking about their needs helps to build connection and can make your marriage stronger. It helps to bind you together as you navigate life’s storms. And remember, your spouse is not perfect, they will make mistakes, but if both of you are willing to change, you can both find a sweetness in the act of turning towards each other. Nothing else can replace this feeling, because this is real connection, and our souls crave this kind of intimacy.
John Gottman. “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work”. Copyright 1999, 2015.