She mostly dished kindness, but here and there, something spat sideways from her beautiful offering bowl. A dollop of derision, for instance, placed perfectly atop the morning porridge. A sprinkle of disgust mixed with the crystal clear sugar. Disdain, just a touch, floating in the pretty peaches and cream.
This surprised me — every time — until I clarified my thought-butter.
Does scorn hide in the covered corners of my pantry? Does my upper lip curl (even slightly) upon detecting (fear parading as) prejudice, hate in others?
It turns out that whether or not a couple will stay together and be happy is jaw-droppingly predictable.
Researcher, John Gottman dedicates his life to studying couples. In a 1990 study, he set up a love laboratory to learn how partners either create a culture of love and intimacy, or squash it.
Gottman designed a lab on the University of Washington campus to look like a beautiful bed and breakfast retreat. He invited 130 newlywed couples to spend the day at this retreat and watched couples do what they do on vacation: eat, chat, hang out, cook, clean, and listen to music.
Making A Bid For Connection
Throughout the day, partners made requests or “bids” for connection. For instance, a wife might ask a question, make a comment, or start a conversation, hoping her husband will join in and show signs of interest and support.
Now her husband has a choice. He can “turn toward” the bid or “turn away.” If he turns toward her, he engages, and shows interest and support. When he comments back, smiles, or asks a question, he encourages intimacy and connection.
If he turns away, he keeps doing what he’s doing (watching TV, reading, checking his smartphone or iPad). He makes little or no eye contact, and responds minimally or brushes her off. He ignores, downplays, opposes, refuses or mumbles “uh huh.” He might even say or imply, “Stop interrupting me, can’t you see I’m watching the game?”
Take A Look At These Impressive Follow Up Stats
Here’s what John Gottman found.
Couples from his study who had broken up six years later had “turn-towards” responses 33 percent of the time. Only 3 out of 10 bids for emotional connection were met with intimacy.
The couples who were still together after six years had “turn-towards” moments 87 percent of the time, or 9 out of 10 times.
Quite a difference!
Gottman’s findings, by the way, apply whether a person is straight or gay, rich or poor, or has children or no children.
Gottman says successful couples are consistently looking to build a culture of respect and connection. He says these couples are on the look out for what to appreciate and say thank you for. On the other hand, couples who don’t stay together (or are chronically unhappy) are looking for their partners’ mistakes.Contempt, according to Gottman, is the number one thing that tears couples apart. And get this — when partners are focused on criticizing, they miss a whopping 50% of the positive things their spouse is doing, and see negativity when it’s not even there.
(Been there. Done that.)
Kindness on the other hand, is good glue, and bonds a couple together. It’s good to think of kindness as a muscle you can develop. That way, the longer you live together, the more kindness you create in your relationship.
And kindness tends to create more kindness, which is a very good thing in relationships!
About Terri Crosby — I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains with Eric, my partner of 15 years, two cats and a dog, and as many flowers and vegetables as I can plant. I love really good food, good friends, and great relationships!
You’re broken down and tired Of living life on a merry go round And you can’t find the fighter But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out And move mountains We gonna walk it out And move mountains
And I’ll rise up I’ll rise like the day I’ll rise up I’ll rise unafraid I’ll rise up And I’ll do it a thousand times again And I’ll rise up High like the waves I’ll rise up In spite of the ache I’ll rise up And I’ll do it a thousand times again
For you For you For you For you
When the silence isn’t quiet And it feels like it’s getting hard to breathe And I know you feel like dying But I promise we’ll take the world to its feet And move mountains Bring it to its feet And move mountains
And I’ll rise up I’ll rise like the day I’ll rise up I’ll rise unafraid I’ll rise up And I’ll do it a thousand times again
For you For you For you For you
All we need, all we need is hope And for that we have each other And for that we have each other And we will rise We will rise We’ll rise, oh, oh We’ll rise
I’ll rise up Rise like the day I’ll rise up In spite of the ache I will rise a thousand times again And we’ll rise up High like the waves We’ll rise up In spite of the ache We’ll rise up And we’ll do it a thousand times again
During this strange time in history, I noticed y’all were tackling all sorts of interesting projects. I decided I needed one, too—something positive to remember the pandemic of 2020 by.
I decided to pay attention to something I had abandoned…
Nope, I’m not cleaning my garage. I am not organizing one single thing. I’m not planting a garden or cleaning up my yard.
Instead, I decided to take care of myself better. This, folks, has made all the difference for me.
With relatively little time and effort on my part, I feel so much better than I did a month ago.
On March 30, I got on the exercise bike and the yoga mat for the first time in a long time, and did 30 minutes each. I liked it so much that I decided to do it every day. But I fell short of that, and changed my commitment to every other day, which felt more manageable, reasonable, and doable.
I also get off the bike after every song, take a couple of sips of water, shake out my legs and arms for a few seconds, and get back on. This makes the bike project a reasonable proposition, too.
Daily walks of any length—by myself, or with my little guy, Jackson—are a fresh air bonus.
My recumbent exercise bike has pulleys to work my upper body while I pedal, which gets my heart rate up fast, and also helps my whole-body strength. It feels good to get up from writing, or doing a consulting session with a client, to do something physically challenging while listening to good music.
After only a month, I feel a sheet of muscles on the front of me I haven’t felt for a very, very long time. Goodness gracious. Who knew they were there. I’ll be posting rippling ab photos soon, I’m sure.
I have no idea what the scales have to say about my bike/yoga project—I don’t care. Paying attention to scales tends to send me sideways, and therefore, I’m ignoring them completely.
But—I LOVE the way I feel! Hang in there, everyone.
Sometimes we ask intimate partners to do for us what is actually ours to do.
We ask our partner to give us the reassurance, love or appreciation we feel is missing in ourselves, with the hope that they will give us what we’re asking for—and then we’ll feel better. They’ll take care of our problem.
But when they do give us what we’re asking for, it can never be enough, because we have insufficient context for what they’ve given. We haven’t build the inner foundation to receive it, hear it, welcome it, believe it. They try to help, but their love for us falls into our void, our black hole, our love bucket with no bottom.
As always, there’s hope. Check out the video below.