|Ever see a couple that’s obviously in love and been together a while and wonder “what’s the secret to being so happy and in love”? |
The answer may be in how well they answer each other’s call to connection. Throughout each day, we bid for our partner’s connection in one way or another. It can be subtle or obvious, spoken or not but either way, the call is there.
Whether or not that call is answered makes all the difference in whether we feel fulfilled or depleted at the end of the day.
Calls for connection can look like:
reaching for your partner’s hand to hold
asking for help in the kitchen after dinner
sighing because of a heavy heart, stress or exhaustion
saying something like “hey, check this out”
asking your partner a question
making a nonchalant statement of all you have to do/get done or something you wish you could do instead
In instances like these, our partner has three choices. 1) To turn towards us by answering the call 2) To turn away from us by missing the call or 3) To turn against us by rejecting the call by being rude, picking a fight or making a remark that is belligerent or argumentative.
Here’s where the research gets interesting! Happy couples answer the call and turn towards each other TWENTY times more than those who are stressed out or unhappy, provided this is in a neutral, non-confrontational circumstance. Additionally, in the study done by Dr. John Gottman in his marriage lab at Washington University, couples who had gotten married and stayed married 6 years after answered their partner’s call 86% of the time while in the lab. Couples who were divorced shortly after getting married only answered the call 33% of the time.
What’s this tell us? Simply put that every time you bid for your partner’s connection and they turn towards you, the message is sent that you are:
interesting to your partner
accepted for who you are (even if your behavior isn’t always desired)
WOW! Isn’t the the whole point of marriage in the first place? You marry someone to love, cherish, desire, want, help, find interesting, hear, understand and be a team with?
Yet somehow, missing or rejecting those calls happens more and more frequently if we aren’t careful, intentional and mindful of our partner over the years. This causes the rejected partner to criticize more, build more anger and resentment toward their partner and feel ignored. Their emotional bank account is depleted so when small things happen, usually a fight ensues.
When you are actively tuned into the small things with your partner, big deposits are made into your emotional bank accounts. Drops are put into that bucket of trust. So when something happens, a larger life event that would normally overdraft that bank account or dump that bucket out, it’s not as big of a loss. It doesn’t break your marriage but rather allows your partner to show more empathy, compassion, and understanding.
These small habits create a feeling that you’re in control and actively making a difference in your marriage.
Practice answering the call by actively listening to your partner, asking open ended questions, responding with reflection and interest.
Also, check out my new monthly subscription! 40 open ended questions/conversation starters to help you and your partner build better communication, deepen the connection in your marriage, and have conversations that are more than just “how was your day, the kids are fine, here’s what’s for dinner”. There are also two previously recorded coaching videos included on the 1st and 15th as part of the subscription! If you’re ready to strengthen your marriage, get to know your spouse again and feel like a united team again, Connected is your answer!
P.S- Did you catch this week’s episode of the podcast? I interviewed LCMFT Holly Smith! She is such a wealth of information! We talked all about attachment styles and how they play out in childhood and shape our relationships! We talk about how to use those attachment styles to become healthier individuals in marriage and how to understand our partners more. It’s truly a fantastic episode! Search for Recognizing Potential Podcast anywhere you get your favorite podcasts.