By · @IzumiTherapy  ·  · 28 Shares

What helps when your relationship is on the rocks? Would you believe “talking about the weather”?

A common fix is to plan date nights and romantic trips to reconnect. While your intentions may be good, this strategy can actually make a bad situation worse—when you and your partner are not connecting in the important ways a date night can turn simmering resentment into all out conflict.

Relationship and Having an Emotional ConnectionRelationships are formed and maintained through everyday interactions, what I call “micro moments” of connection. The best way to restore emotional connection and save your relationship really may be to talk about the weather.

A great relationship is about two unique personalities responding to each other’s emotional needs moment-to-moment. There are many small interactions each day where we turn towards our partner, and they to us. Cumulatively, successful micro moments create deep emotional connection and trust.

Observing couples in his love-lab, relationship researcher John Gottman found that these bids for connection are what determines whether a relationship will succeed or fail. It is not the depth of conversation either; passing comments about the everyday can do more to keep love strong than deep, moving discussions. However, awareness of bids and positive responses are absolutely necessary.

Relationships are about connection, knowing that your partner will be there for you. Trust, caring, and affection are built in the small moments when your partner turns to you, and you notice and respond positively (and vice versa). Inwardly, we are confirmed: “Yes, my partner has my back.” The topic isn’t as important as the act of emotionally connecting, being there.

An emotional connection can look like this:

A: Looks like rain

B: Uh huh, I think you’re right; what do you want to do today.

A successful connection fills your emotional tank and creates a sense of goodwill, secure connection, and even playfulness in (a sure sign of a good relationship). A positive response to your partner’s bids goes a long way in dealing with life’s stresses.

When your tank is full you can get through conflict more easily, even seeing it as opportunity to learn more about each other’s needs; and you become less sensitive to perceived slights. By the way, the benefits of positive response to bids also apply to children, coworkers, and friends.

3 Steps to Successful Emotional Connection:

Relationship and Proper Communication1. Be Available

You need only about 10% of your awareness to respond to micro bids. You can train yourself to do this, developing relationship-mindfulness—constantly scanning for your partner’s attempts to connect. You don’t need to catch every moment; just as many as possible.

2. Be Interested

You don’t need to have the same likes; being interested means you know that what your partner is talking about is interesting to them. It’s about the connection more than the topic. Good “connection radar” works both ways, so your partner knows not to subject you to an hour long dialog on cumulonimbus clouds when you respond to a comment about rain.

3. Respond Positively

There are three kinds of responses to bids for connection. A negative response is deflating: “I’m busy with my book” or “So, who cares.” No response, silence, eventually results in giving up, emotionally withdrawing. A positive response creates trust and increases the likelihood that your needs too will be responded to: “Golf on Saturday huh; looks like sunshine,” and then returning to your book. Responses need not be earth-shattering events, but they do confirm you are showing-up for the relationship.

When you attune to your partner’s bids for connection, you return your relationship to solid ground. By fine-tuning your micro-moment radar, other good things happen—you naturally fit in date nights and romantic getaways as a way of celebrating your connection. Don’t sweat the big stuff; just be there for each other in the every-day moments.

References: Gottman, J. (2001). The Relationship Cure: A Five-Step Guide for Building Better Connections with Family, Friends, and Lovers. New York: Crown

John Taylor

John has been a respected relationship therapist for over 15 years, specializing in helping couples at their breaking point find deep connection again. Based on beautiful Vancouver Island, Canada, he helps couples around the world master the arts of connecting, communication, and building love. He gets couples the skills and tools they need to become experts at creating a deep, passionate, mutually satisfying relationship.

 

He practices good relationship skills in his own life and is happily, enjoying his second decade of marriage with his wife, 3 children, and Labrador Hikari (“sunshine”).

You can read John’s relationship advice on his blog at: http://izumitherapy.com/Nanaimo-Counsellor-Blog. Information on therapy programs, including intensive couples counseling retreats can be found on his website at www.izumitherapy.com

What Do You Think?

7 Comments | Join the discussion

  • Ellen Mar 15, 2015 at 12:43 am

    This article goes into more detail about Gottman’s research:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/06/happily-ever-after/372573/

    Reply
  • teresamaranise@gmail.com Mar 14, 2015 at 5:23 am

    Thanks for this article! Lovely reminder of the value of positive soft-talk. Teresa

    Reply
  • Leila Mar 13, 2015 at 3:54 am

    I enjoyed reading this article. It’s true that it’s amazing how sustaining this kind of regular, but not necessarily heavy-duty, attention can be. The quality of a relationship could probably be measured by the quality of it’s micro-engagements.

    Reply
  • Cary Mar 11, 2015 at 9:06 am

    I like the idea of sitting with a cup of coffee like in the picture. How can I get my husband to make time to do just chat?

    Reply

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