Bids are attempts at connection between partners. When they don’t go as planned, it’s frustrating for both people. If your partner keeps missing your bids, there’s a chance your bids are not as clear as you think.
In “The Relationship Cure,” Dr. John Gottman explains that partners who make subtle bids or “dance around issues” are likely trying to avoid emotional risk. After all, “openly bidding for connection can make us feel vulnerable,” he says. “Our hearts and egos are on the line.”
This “fuzzy bidding,” as he calls it, can look like being purposely ambiguous (“I’m fine with either”), negative framing (“Well, if you’d wash a dish once in a while, I wouldn’t be so cranky”), or not saying what you want at all.
Your partner is not a mindreader and most likely does not respond well to criticism veiled as expressing a need. While you may think you’re avoiding confrontation or rejection by making fuzzy bids, such interactions can increase the odds of both of you feeling hurt and misunderstood.
Make a commitment to be an emotional risk-taker when it comes to bids. Think about how you ask your partner for their attention and consider ways that are more direct (such as “I’d rather us stay home tonight” or “I’m really tired. I need time with you and some help around the house”). It’s vulnerable to put yourself out there. However, the safety of a healthy partnership is the perfect place to start.
As you implement all the levels of the Sound Relationship House, remember that together, trust and commitment support the structure. They are the weight-bearing walls that keep your relationship from falling apart. Although they seem like a no-brainer, Dr. John Gottman found them essential for guarding against the storms of life.
How much you trust each other and how committed you both are to your relationship makes all the difference. Your faith in one another is not only built from responding to bids and learning your Love Maps, but it strengthens your ability to stay together. The more you act on your trust and commitment, the more it will secure your relationship and give you space to keep doing the work of staying in love.
Give your relationship the gift it really needs this season. You’ll find trust and commitment go together to uphold the tenets of your partnership and give you both the shelter and security that will keep you warm all year long.
Based on decades of research, the Gottmans developed the Sound Relationship House Theory—seven “levels” or areas of focus couples nurture to create lasting love. With a strong structure, built on the foundations of trust and commitment, you will also find shelter.
Does the house of your relationship feel like a safe haven? Can you rely on each other and look to each other for reassurance, strength, and comfort?
Building a strong relationship is hard work, and it takes dedication, but continually reinforcing the structure by making repairs, turning towards bids, and showing loving kindness creates a shelter from stormier days.
Changes in the seasons mean a host of new ways to turn towards your partner.
Trusting that you and your partner will turn towards one another in emotional moments, as well as in everyday conversation, is truly what good relationships are all about. Becoming attuned to the ways in which the two of you interact, and making Turning Towards an intentional act is vital to reducing stress and creating an atmosphere of trust. Try these 15 ideas to turn towards one another or come up with your own. Revisit this list when you both feel like you need to bring more opportunities to connect into your relationship.