Importance of ‘turning toward’


Psychologist John Gottman has been researching couples for over 40 years, trying to identify what makes relationships work. In one study, he designed a lab to look like a beautiful retreat and invited 130 newlyweds to spend a day there. Gottman observed partners making something he calls "bids".

"For example, let's say that the husband is a bird enthusiast and notices a goldfinch fly across the yard. He might say to his wife, 'Look at that beautiful bird outside!'"

The husband's comment is a bid, a request for connection. The wife's reaction to it is the key to making or breaking their relationship.

"She can either respond by 'turning toward' or 'turning away.'" In other words, she can engage with her husband or dismiss the comment as unimportant.

Gottman observed how couples made and responded to bids while on the retreat; then, six years later, he caught up with the participants. He found that the couples who only had "turn-toward bids" 33% of the time were divorced. The couples still together had "turn-toward bids" 87% of the time.

Because of these findings, Gottman says he can predict with up to 94% certainty whether or not a couple will stay together — solely based on their turn-toward habits.

Whether you're married or single, we all have relationships in our lives that matter to us. Are you someone who turns toward the people in your life? This simple habit could make all the difference.

As Stephen Covey, author of Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families says: "Little kindnesses and courtesies are so important. In relationships, the little things are the big things."

Make a point to 'turn toward' others today.