Responding To Emotional Bids: The Key To Lasting Relationships?

Starting a relationship with someone can be easy and spontaneous, but the challenge is in keeping that close connection strong and intact throughout the years. With claims that almost 50% of marriages in America end in divorce, you can clearly see that building a meaningful relationship takes hard work and serious commitment.

For this reason, people are usually in awe upon seeing couples who manage to keep their union happy and fulfilling throughout the years. And no one starts a relationship with the intention for it to fail. With guidebooks and numerous studies suggesting various ways on how to have a happy marriage, you can even conclude that our society is obsessed with building and maintaining relationships.

So why do many relationships fail to survive the test of time? What is the reason some marriages or partnerships last while others don’t? An American psychologist, John Gottman attempted to answer this perennial question with the introduction of emotional bids.

What are emotional bids?

The concept of emotional bids is the result of a longitudinal study where Gottman observed newly-married couples and followed up with them six years later to see who among them were able to keep their vows. Gottman claimed that by observing the couples whose status remain unchanged after several years of  marriage, he has unraveling the secret formula to a healthy and rewarding relationship.

According to him, one main difference between a successful and failed marriage is the ability of the couples to recognize and positively respond to each other’s call for connection. Gottman called the signals that people send out to those they want to form a connection with – emotional bids. Apparently, we all send and receive these signals (they can be verbal or nonverbal) in everyday situations to people we interact with. The way we choose to respond to these emotional bids are like steps we take in relationship building. A negative response turns you away from someone, while a positive response leads you towards a person.

How can you use the concept of emotional bids to improve relationships?

In a relationship, both parties constantly make emotional bids to each other in various ways. It happens whenever someone attempts to reach out to his or her partner. An emotional bid is easy to miss because it can be as simple as a wife asking her spouse about his day wherein a husband can either give a short standard reply or enthusiastically narrate the events of the day. In another scenario, the husband may try to suggest to his spouse a new place they can hang out and the wife can either accept or reject the idea.

Whenever we make emotional bids, we are unconsciously conveying a hidden message to one another.  For example, the simple questions above can actually be a plea for your partner’s attention or affection. In the first example, the wife asking her husband a question is actually saying that she cares about her partner’s whereabouts. Meanwhile, the husband suggesting a new place is saying that he wants to spend more time with his wife.

If you know how to detect the hidden meaning to the messages that someone relays through emotional bids, you can discern the proper answer or response that will address the needs of your partner. Consistently hearing or receiving negative responses to emotional bids will weaken, and may ultimately break, the relationship. On the other hand, regular positive responses nurture and strengthen the relationship. If you closely delve into it, the key to lasting relationships is simply choosing to be kinder to your partner. Gottman’s research centers on romantic relationships, but the idea behind emotional bids can be applied in all types of relationships.

The quality of the relationships you have in your life affect your overall happiness and wellbeing. Successful relationships, though, take real effort. If you wish to nurture relationships, be more thoughtful and attentive to fulfill the needs of others. If you fully understand the idea of emotional bids and consciously apply it to your everyday life, you may soon discover that you have found the key to lasting relationships.

Dean and Marcie WhalenResponding To Emotional Bids: The Key To Lasting Relationships?
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Eight Habits of Happily Married Couples To Emulate

Marriage vows promise, “Till death do us part”. In no way is that a light commitment. A lifetime of happiness requires hard work. It is cultivated through consistent effort, effective communication, and a lot of patience and love. But outside of those large foundational cornerstones, marital longevity is built through small daily interactions. In other words, it’s the little things. Here are 8 small steps that make a huge impact on maintaining the bliss in your relationship.

1. Have a Heart of Gratitude

Keep in mind that your partner doesn’t have to do anything; every kind of action is a conscious choice. The way your spouse loves you is a direct result of his/her purposeful intent. Don’t fall into the trap of taking your loved one for granted. Be thankful. Exude gratitude in your words, your actions, and your thoughts.

2. Do at Least One Extraordinary Thing a Day

Extraordinary sounds big, but it doesn’t have to be. Commit to performing small, “outside of the norm” acts that will make your spouse smile. Leave a handwritten love letter in her car, run that errand he’s been too busy to tackle, call her at work just to compliment her – do something thoughtful.

3. Ask “What Can I Do to Make Your Day Better?”

When you live with someone, it’s easy to assume that you know what he/she needs. You cross off all of the daily to-dos, pay the bills, and take care of chores, what more could your spouse need? While you are probably handling the major day-to-day responsibilities, there’s always more that can be done. Asking this simple question shows that you are willing and open to do a little extra to make his/her day easier.

4. Be Polite

Saying please and thank you is a common nicety that we often extend to strangers, acquaintances and coworkers. We hold doors open, quickly apologize for mistakes and maintain friendly body language and tone during communication. If we do all this for the people outside of our houses, why do we suddenly deem them unnecessary inside our homes? Your spouse deserves to be addressed the utmost courtesy. Never let the behavior you display for strangers to outshine the behavior your display with your spouse.

5. Touch Often

Small touches throughout the day are a form of intimacy, bonding, and attachment. At home, in public, in the car – touch your spouse. The goal is to stay connected. Hold hands, hug, sit closely, cuddle, and kiss. Touch is a perfect way to keep the romance alive.

6. Be Spontaneous

Marriage can fall victim to the comfort of routine. Keep things fresh by being spontaneous every now and again. Try a spur of the moment vacation, a date in a different city, or unexpected surprise. Your partner will love that you put thought into doing something new.

7. Find a Common Interest

For long-term couples, time apart is a vital element of a healthy relationship, but you don’t want to create too much separation. Investing time in a common interest is a fun way to stay united. Make a list of all the things you mutually enjoy, then try to find a class, club, or group that is centered around that hobby.

8. Create Traditions

Strengthen bonds by creating family traditions that celebrate the uniqueness of your union. Pick an annual custom that you’ll be able to maintain throughout the years. As your family grows, you’ll be able to share them with your children, who will go on to teach them to their own future generations. If you don’t know where to start, consider holiday traditions, sport rituals, or yearly vacations.

Countless threads of commitment hold happy marriages together. Committing to seek marriage advice, and put it into action, is one way to do your part in strengthening your union. When you make small deliberate choices to put your spouse and your marriage first, you are investing in the success of your future. Start by personalizing these 8 tips to fit the needs of your relationship.

Dean and Marcie WhalenEight Habits of Happily Married Couples To Emulate
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