The marriage counseling group called The Gottman Institute informs us that one of the vital building blocks to a strong marriage, and I think all relationships, is the “Bid for Connection.”
They describe these bids as “the fundamental unit of emotional connection.” They can be small or big, verbal or non-verbal, and fun or serious. They are our attempts to connect with another person in a deeper and more meaningful way.
These bids can be a question like, “Tell me about how your day went?” or a statement like, “You will never believe what I saw today.” Those are open invitations to connect. They can also be as simple as a long hug or holding your hand. This can occur in thousands of ways, depending on the person and the situation. If you open your senses to searching for these bids for connection, you will be amazed at how often people, especially your spouse, invite you into a meaningful conversation.
There are three ways we respond to these bids. First, we can “turn toward” the person and acknowledge the bid. We can also “turn away” from the bid and ignore what was said or done. Finally, we can “turn against” the person by becoming angry and argumentative.
Quite often, what destroys or builds a relationship is not some big event but rather a series of rejections to bids to connect. Trust, friendship, and compassion are grown through the moments of connection we give to someone else.
If you want a strong marriage and stronger relationships in general, open your eyes and ears to the bids around you. Taking time to connect when someone wants to open up will do more for you than you can imagine.