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!
Today, I’m sharing a story about how I accidentally accomplished something on my bucket list. I ran through an exit gate while looking the other way. The hood of my car is scratched up, and one windshield wiper is a mess, but let’s have a good laugh about how we never expect what “getting what we want” includes!
It seems to be a growing fad these days to call someone a narcissist, or declare they are toxic.
Political name-calling is similar—we assign politicians and voters to categories, and brush them off as if they are unintelligent, inferior, or even worthless.
By labeling others, we miss their humanity. We gloss over their struggle, their best effort at dealing with life. We dismiss them.
We do to them what we believe they are doing to others.
Look past a label, and in the soft light of day, there stands a person like you or like me, coping as best they can. At the end of the day, no friend, parent, or lover making conscious choices intends to be mean, or to ignore, or to embellish. There is always more to the story.
If we label others, then for sure we label ourselves. We trap ourselves into believing we are less than. Or not enough. Or we don’t give ourselves the time and forgiveness to work through our “stuff.” Maybe, if we stopped accusing others of narcissism, we could forgive ourselves for those moments when we were narrow-minded, inconsiderate, or afraid.
When it comes to labels, nobody wins.
So, my dear people, I suggest we peer a little deeper into ourselves to investigate a need to separate ourselves from others by tacking them with a label filled with disdain or scorn.
It is my wish that you view this video and take it to heart.