Ever get an email thread requesting a simple yes or no answer bounced back to you a million times because everyone is hitting “Reply All” on their responses? Irritating, isn’t it? Just respond to the person who sent it, already! My husband has a great trick for this to passive-aggressively hint that we don’t all need to hear your answer. He just replies after a while with one word: Unsubscribe. Do they get the hint? Probably not, but it’s hilarious!
In your most important relationships, you definitely want to “reply all” as much as possible. In this case, what I mean is to reply to all of the attempts to connect that you get from your partner. Much like Fondness & Admiration, Turning Toward fills the Emotional Bank Account. That’s right, that 5:1 ratio of positives to negatives includes how you respond when your partner reaches out, no matter how they reach out.
Each time you respond positively to your partner, you’re building your relationship up. Even if you respond neutrally, it is much better than a negative or absent response. Just as a fun exercise, think of something recent that your partner has brought up to you and how you responded. How do you evaluate your response? Next time, try following these tips:
Have a daily stress-reducing conversation. The Gottman’s research has shown that couples who buffer their relationships from external stress were able to maintain positive changes over time. In other words, your relationship becomes your safe place and when life is a raging tempest; your partner is your shelter in the storm.
- For fifteen to twenty minutes a day, put your devices away, get a moment just for the two of you, and talk about what has been stressing you out, not including your relationship. Each person should take a turn speaking and listening.
- The speaker should
- describe the stress in as much detail as possible.
- express depth of emotion.
- The listener needs to
- watch out for attempting to solve problems before understanding has been expressed and confirmed. Sometimes, no advice is needed or wanted at all, just understanding.
- show affection and comfort when needed.
- display active interest, excitement, joy, support, and empathy as appropriate toward your partner as they share their stresses and accompanying dreams with you. For example, identify their emotion and say, “I can see why you’re feeling irritable, what a tough situation” and just leave it there rather than telling them 3 ways to fix it.
- be an ally and don’t side with “the enemy” by attempting to explain someone else’s behavior, (e.g. “maybe they were just having a bad day…” might be true, but it’s better to show alliance and solidarity).
- ask questions to elicit more understanding like, “What is most upsetting about this to you?” or “What is it that you need from me to support you, if anything?”
- finish up by asking if they feel understood. If not, ask more questions to get more detail. If yes, you may ask if they’re interested in receiving advice or doing problem-solving. Respect the answer they give you.
Hopefully that shows you a little more about how to Turn Towards each other during everyday conversation. Start practicing these tips and watch your relationship grow! Follow me on Instagram and Facebook so you can get notified as well as access to bonus content!