In every relationship, couples periodically make what Dr. Gottman calls “bids” for each other’s attention, affection, or support. Bids can be as insignificant as “please turn down the heat” to as significant as helping a partner care for a sick child.
In these moments, we have a choice to turn toward our partner or away from them. If we turn toward, we build trust and emotional connection.
Turning toward your partner in these seemingly unimportant moments is the foundation of trust, emotional connection, and passionate sex. Dr. Gottman often jokes that “everything positive you do in your relationship is foreplay.” Foreplay happens in the grocery store when your partner asks, “Do we have milk?” and you respond, “I’m not sure. I’ll grab some,” rather than shrugging your shoulders apathetically.
In a six-year study of newlyweds, Dr. Gottman found that couples who remained married had turned toward their partner’s bids 86% of the time in his lab, while those who divorced turned towards each other only 33% of the time.
The No. 1 thing couples fight about is not money or in-laws or sex. According to Dr. Gottman, most arguments in relationships are about a failure to connect emotionally.
The brief quiz below has been designed to assess the current state of connection in your relationship.
If you’d like to take the full Turning Toward Questionnaire, add your email below and we’ll send it directly to your inbox. Over the next nine weeks we will be offering a variety of quizzes to help you assess the strengths in your relationship and identify areas that may need attention.
Note: These questionnaires are intended to be psychoeducational. If you would like a full evaluation of your relationship, you can ask your therapist to invite you to complete the Gottman Relationship Checkup. If you’re not currently seeing a therapist, you can find one in your area on the Gottman Referral Network.More in The Questionnaires