Want A Better Marriage? Let’s Start The Bidding

Gray's Field auctioneer
Creative Commons License photo credit: redjar

Editor’s Note: This post is by Simple Marriage contributor Mary Ann Crossno.

What happened between you and your spouse in the first ten minutes of your day today?

Did you turn toward your partner, away from your partner or against your partner?

Bids are the glue that keeps us connected to people we love. Our response to bids is either a lubricant, an irritant, or a bomb.

Turning toward your partner’s bid is the lubrication that makes our connections seem effortless, smooth, and dynamic. Turning away from your partner’s bids is like hair going down the drain – you hardly notice until they pile up and clog the drain. Turning against your partner’s bids is like dropping rocks in the drain – things will back up and overflow quickly.

How do you interact with your spouse in the mundane moments of life? If you’re a happy couple, you can be making bids for connection at the rate of 100 times in ten minutes. Did you catch that? 100 times in ten minutes!

Here’s a few exchanges that may have occurred:

Good morning, sweetheart. Did you sleep well?

I always sleep well next to you.
I get tired of you asking me that question every morning.
How can I sleep well with you snoring like a freight train and sweating like a pig?

What’s your day like today?

I’m booked all day.
[No answer.]
Why do you want to know?

Can I get you some more coffee?

Thanks, I’m good right now.
I’ll get it myself.
Every time you get me coffee, you make a mess.

I’m going to the gym.

See you in a bit. Don’t work too hard.
That’s a waste of time.
You’ve been going for years and you still look fat to me.

Honey, come and look at the colors in the sky this morning.

Let me grab my coffee first.
[Walks in the other room.]
Don’t you have something better to do than look at the sky?

My flowers are in full bloom.

You worked so hard to get those planted this year.
My car needs oil.
We could have spent that money on something that lasts.

How we relate to one another determines how well our lives function – both externally and internally. More and more science points to the quality of relationships as a major player in health and longevity.
Connecting bids are so subtle you may not even notice them. They come in all sizes and shapes – verbal, non-verbal, physical, intellectual, sexual or non-sexual.

Turning toward our partners can be a nod, a smile, , a touch, or a one word answer – these are all ways of acknowledging a bid, of saying, “You matter and I hear you.” We can be more responsive by offering our opinion, stating our thoughts, or expressing our feelings. High energy responses might be full of enthusiasm, empathy.

Turning away from our partners happens when we ignore, disregard, and interrupt  – these are all ways of avoiding bids, of saying “I don’t want to connect with you.”

Turning against our partners comes out in the form of contempt, belligerence, contradictions, domineering, critical, and defensive reactivity. Turning against is the four horsemen of the apocalypse in full force – over time turning against will kill your marriage.

Take a minute to mentally review your morning with your spouse.

If the direction you turned is not the direction you want your marriage to go, do something different, right now. Make amends – use the five steps to a genuine apology. Make a bid of your own.

Don’t try – Do or Don’t Do!

You can take Dr. Gottman’s brief quiz to assess your style of bidding.

*Gottman, J. M. (2001). The Relationship Cure. NY: Three Rivers Press

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