[Re-Post] Turning Towards

Back at it, enjoy.

You know what I love about The Sound Relationship House?

It makes sense. I see it in my relationship every day. I see it in my friends’ relationships. There will always be those intangibles that make one relationship different than another, one relationship more sparkly, one relationship more compatible.

However, no matter how compatible you are, without the pieces of The Sound Relationship House, a relationship will not last (happily) for the long haul. This is a recipe for a delicious relationship cake. Oooh, if only it was named The Sound Relationship Cake. Darn.

I love when my bids for attention are seen by my partner. Granted, I can be really obvious sometimes, but I know he knows my cues and he’s eager to respond to my requests for attention and company. It’s fun when a partner chooses to engage with you, because it shows he wants to hang out with me. It’s fun when your partner thinks you’re fun!

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I figured as I sit here in my Gottman Level 1 training, I would follow-up on The Sound Relationship House. So, where were we? We’ve already covered our Love Maps and discussed Fondness and Admiration. So what’s next?

Oh yes, Turning Towards. So what is Turning Towards?

It’s exactly what it sounds like – stop watching the TV, stop looking out the window, stop waiting for your turn to speak and hear what your partner is saying and accept their bid for attention.

What does a bid look like? Well, generally it’s like, “Oh hey, look at that _____ over there!” or “Man, today was tough.” or “Did you hear that?” or “I think something is in my uterus.”

Basically, any opportunity to pay attention to your partner and engage in a dialogue. Even a small, “Mmmhmmm,” or a “Oh man! I totally see what you’re looking at, that’s crazy!” or “Holy Moly, we made a baby!”

Why is this so important? Well, just think about how crappy you feel when you’re out and you think your boyfriend/girlfriend/mom/dad/friend is standing behind you and you start speaking to them. You get about four sentences into a story about how you’ve been gassy all morning since eating those new multigrain muffins you bought at Target and then you realize that boyfriend/girlfriend/mom/dad/friend has actually moved three aisles over to look at color swatches for their new blender. How do you feel when you realize you’ve been speaking about your flatulence to no one, or worse, someone, for a full five to ten minutes?

That’s what happens when you don’t turn towards your partner’s bids for attention. Eventually, they stop trusting you and stop making attempts to connect with you because they end up feeling like Jennifer Aniston after she found out Brad was leaving her for Angelina. So in essence, really freaking terrible, you guys.

When you do turn towards, this builds up your emotional bank account. Those little bids become like Monopoly money for your relationship.

So how much is a bid worth? Well, John Gottman found that all good relationships have a positive to negative bid ratio of 5:1. So for every yucky interaction, there are 5 good ones in healthy, happy relationships. In ailing relationships, it’s a .08:1 ratio. Bleh.

 

So a bid is $5 for your account. A bad bid is like a -$25 withdrawal from your emotional bank account. In toxic relationships, you get into the red real fast. For every negative thing said or done (or even perceived) to your partner, you get $25 taken from your account.

  1. You look nice today. +$5
  2. You did a really great job with the kids this morning. +$5
  3. You remembered to pick up a thing of milk because you used the last of it. +$5
  4. Doing the dishes before you’re asked. +$5
  5. Saying you don’t understand why she/he doesn’t want you to do the dishes? -$25

Now, you’re at -$5. Not pretty considering you got milk, did the dishes, and said two nice things.

Relationships are daily work, people. It takes effort, it takes time, it takes using your noggin for all that space about your partner’s likes and dislikes.

They are so rewarding when they work though.

[Re-Post] Share Fondness and Admiration

I’m republishing Dr. John Gottman‘s Sound Relationship House series because of this post. Join the fun!

We all like compliments. We like when our partners tell us we look nice or that we look good in black. What we really love is the stuff that’s a little deeper. We love when our partners say, “You are an amazing parent,” or “You are a wonderful person and I’m proud to be with you.”

That stuff is deep. We need to share that stuff. We need to remind ourselves and our partners why we’re doing this whole crazy relationship thing in the first place.

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Ok, so now that we’ve checked our Love Maps, we’re headed to the next stop on the love train.

Share Fondness and Admiration.

 

Couples who come to therapy have normally waited SIX YEARS since first beginning to have problems. So, it’s usually a crisis situation by the time they come in… like “I will throw her overboard the next time we’re on a boat” type thing.

OK, so not that bad hopefully, but still. If Goldie and Kurt can make it through Overboard and live happily ever after then we all can.

 

 

What were we talking about? Oh yes, Fondness. Admiration. Such simple words, so hard to do. Especially when there’s SIX (1…2…3…4…5…6) years of misery, contempt, boredom, irritation, loneliness, etc. all bubbling under the surface.

 

 

Is this your relationship? A tar pit of doom and despair?

Fondness and Admiration means expressing what you like about your partner. Sure, maybe it’s not so great now, but what did you like in the beginning? Do you remember when everything was unicorns with rainbow ice cream cones and hot cherry air balloons? Close your eyes and think about it. Do you see it? No? OK, well you get the point. It’s that bright and shiny feeling.

What did you like about him/her?

 

 

Stop thinking about Brad Pitt. Focus.

Were they nice to little old ladies crossing the street? Did they say “Please” and “Thank you” when you got them a napkin at McDonalds? Did they like Kung Fu movies and Chinese food, too?

OMG, I love King Fu. You do?

 

 

Think about it. Now tell that person.

As the prophet Kanye West once said, “If you love a person you should go ahead and tell ’em/ People never get their flowers while they can still smell ’em”.

Wise, wise words.

So yes, share these things with the person you love. Shout it from a mountain, hold a radio over your head, write it on a side walk, or just walk right up to them and say “Hey, I really like you in that blue shirt. Totally brings out your ab muscles.”

Think about how these things make you feel when you hear them from others, especially the people you respect and love the most. Now, give that gift to someone who you thought was bright and shiny at one point. Take that silver polish out and give them a good rub down and look at them and see your reflection gleaming right back at you. That’s love, my pretties. That’s love.

Love Maps [Re-Post]

As promised, I’m sharing the joy of The Sound Relationship House all over again.

Love Maps are the foundation of any relationship and they require consistent nurture throughout the lifetime of a relationship. I constantly work to update my Love Maps, asking Jesse weird questions like, “If you could be any constellation, which would you be?” to simple ones like, “What was the best part of your week?”

Each of these questions allows me to know him a little bit better and it’s fun to see why your partner feels the way they feel. I’m always interested in seeing why Jesse rationalizes something over something else as his favorite or preferred thing. I get to understand his values, his preferences, and that intangible stuff that you have to inherently understand in your partner to truly get them.

Building Love Maps is one of the simplest things you can do that will have some of the most profound effects on your relationship.

Without further ado, here’s my original post on Love Maps in The Sound Relationship House.

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This semester I’m enrolled in couples counseling. After being in this program for a year, I will definitely say couples are one of my favorite populations to learn about and hopefully work with one day in my own practice.

From the first class, we were introduced to the relationship guru John Gottman, a psychologist who has been doing research on couples and families for over 35 years. He and his wife, Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman, founded the Gottman Relationship Institute based out of Seattle. They are by far the most authoritative group on relationship therapies that work (based on research outcomes). A corner stone of their therapeutic teaching tools is The Sound Relationship House.

Now, I am no contractor, architect, or any building master. I am however, a mind-master-in-training. Also known as an MMIT or a brain ninja. That’s what my diploma will hopefully say anyway. This gives me no authority to talk about houses, but I know enough about a good foundation. In 99.99999% of healthy relationships (that’s an approximation), Gottman says we “Build Love Maps”. What is a Love Map, you ask?

A “Love Map” is the cognitive room you have for your partner. Their likes and dislikes. Their favorite type of food. What things happened to them when they were 7 years old. What was their favorite pet? Where would they go for their dream vacation? The types of things you would expect the person you are with to know about you.

How do you build your Love Map for your partner?

Ask them an open question.

What’s an open question?

A question they cannot answer with a yes or a no. You have to be curious about the person you’re with. You have to want to know things about them.

Question of the Day (if you are someone other than my mother who may be reading this):

What’s been the best question you ever asked your partner?

To view the original post, click here.