How often do you miss out on your partner’s bids to connect with you? Dr. John Gottman refers to such instances as sliding door moments. These are the moments when your significant other reaches out in some way to connect. You have that small moment to turn towards that bid for connection or turn away or against it. Over time in relationships, we tend to take many of the small but impactful moments for granted and this further drives us down the path to seeing our partner through a negative lens. As humans we need connection, we seek connection, we live for connection. Without it we are at greater risk for health issues and mental illnesses. Through our relationship we send out these bids on a day-to-day basis to try to connect to our partner. Sometimes these little nuances go unnoticed because of our busy lives, and sometimes because of the lens through which we view our relationship.
As we move through life, we experience a multitude of transitions, be it getting a new job, moving to a new home, having children, managing teenagers, becoming empty-nesters, retirement, or dealing with death. These are stressful moments in our lives. Add to that the daily stressors of long workdays, caregiving responsibilities, and life’s general frustrations. All of this can keep us from paying attention to the most important relationships in our lives. Family time becomes less and connecting with our partner in a meaningful way diminishes. We forgot to prioritize our relationship and the view from which we perceive our relationship changes as well. We become stuck, hardened, task oriented, overwhelmed and we lose our patience.
The once admired pinch on the arm from your husband is no longer recognized and may even become annoying. Your wife’s story about what happened at work is viewed as “gossip” as opposed to her trying to connect and seek your support or opinion. This is a lonely place to be. What was once held with good intentions no longer exudes the same radiance it once embodied.
A key component to a good relationship is not just about the bids we issue, but to also identify, acknowledge, and accept the bids that are delivered to us. Scan your environment today. In what ways has your partner tried to connect? Recognize the attempt to connect, turn toward your partner and accept what they have to offer. Trust me, these small and simple moments will enhance your relationship in big ways.