The Mindful Walk
Love demands the reassurance of touch. Most fights are really protests over emotional disconnection. Underneath the distress, partners are desperate to know: Are you there for me? – Sue Johnson “Hold Me Tight”
Make time for a calm walk in the fresh air, kindly hold hands and don’t talk for 10+ minutes. Lightly carry these intentions and mind sets below. Try for 3 walks in a week. Holding hands in silence is a bid for connection. It will require the inner work of love.
The pre-requisite for changing the demon dance (Johnson), soothing the four horsemen (Gottman), is responding well to your partner even when they disappoint us. Responding well calls on friendship, mindfulness and clear boundaries. These are the inside and outside work of love.
It is a myth that lasting love is easy, and that you shouldn’t have to work at it. Much of the inner work is invisible to our partners – especially when we respond well to a felt disappointment or hurt.
Happily married couples aren’t smarter, richer, or more psychologically astute than others. They have simply hit upon a dynamic that keeps their negative thoughts and feelings about each other (which all couples have) from overwhelming their positive ones. John Gottman
Friendship, emotional safety and responsiveness are key. Good connections precede better communication – not the other way round. Too often we put the cart before the horse and hammer the communication problem – fretting about the symptoms rather than the underlying cause.
- Are you there for me?
- Will you respond to me?
- Will you engage with me emotionally?
When the answers are resoundingly yes, you are in a healthy relationship built on trust!
Distress accumulates in everyday small disconnects like an absence of eye contact; turning away from each other rather than toward; forgetting chores or bills to pay. And in hurtful times, like rolling the eyes; painful withdrawal; in harsh criticism or rejection.
Husbands in Gottman’s longitudinal research of couples, who eventually were divorced ignored the bids for connection from their wives 82% of the time compared to 19% for men in stable marriages. Women who later divorced ignored their husband’s bids 50% of the time while those who remained married only disregarded 14% of their husband’s bids.
A bid is any attempt from one partner to another for attention, affirmation, affection, or any other positive connection. Bids show up in simple ways, a smile or wink, and more complex ways, like a request for advice or help. Aim to turn toward your partner’s bids for connection 8 times out of 10. Here are some examples of bids for connection CLICK HERE