What You’ll Learn Today:

  1. Why a concept called “Answering Bids” is one of the top 10 keys to a happy marriage
  2. How to make and answer bids

Top Take-A-Ways

Answering bids is one of the most important things you can do to create a connected, happy and fulfilling relationship. Answering bids means that any time your partner makes an attempt at connection you need to move towards them in some way and bond. Marriage researcher John Gottman calls these attempts to connect “bids.”).

At different times in a given day, partners make various requests to connect and when this “bid” isn’t met, the relationship suffers. When your partner makes a bid, they’re not simply commenting on what they’re looking at or asking you a question. They’re looking for your interest or support, hoping to connect with you about whatever it is they’re bringing up. If your partner thinks politics, your children, what’s for dinner or cats are important enough to bring up, then you need to recognize and respect that.

Turning away from a bid could look like a lot of things, such as:

  • Dismissing or ignoring
  • Continuing whatever you were doing without stopping (like not looking up from your computer)
  • Allowing your attention to be diverted easily, such as hearing the ding on your phone and checking your text messages while your partner is talking (note to self: unless you’re due for emergency surgery, you can wait five minutes to check your phone)
  • Interrupting or changing the subject
  • Simply saying “no” as your automatic response

Gottman says: “These bidding interactions had profound effects on marital well-being. Couples who had divorced after a six-year follow up had ‘turn-toward bids’ only 33% of the time.” In other words, only three out of every ten bids for emotional connection were met with support, interaction and intimacy. The couples who were still together after six years had “turn-toward bids” 87% of the time. In other words, these couples were getting their emotional needs met nine times out of every ten bid attempts.

Action Tips:

1) You’ll notice that staying in the here and now, and not allowing yourself to get distracted is the best way to ensure that you’re aware when bids are made so you can turn toward them instead of turning away. So practice self awareness as much as possible

2) Another tip is to make a commitment to say “yes” to whatever your partner asks for the next week. You’ll notice more intimacy and connection right away.


Resources and Links:

Link to earlier podcast on self-awareness:
John Gottman’s work on bids: Turn Toward Instead of Away and An Introduction to Emotional Bids and Trust 

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