Passive Aggressive Husband

Fotolia_4417712_SDo you see me? do you love the things I love?

We do all the time little requests for connection from/to each other. The usual "how do you do?" is an opening for a conversation that even when it does not happen, has the possibility installed there. And it is beneficial the same: we tell each other: "You are important to me...I see you!"

When I'm getting to know someone new, my mental image is"here we are discovering each others' lives..." and assuming an egalitarian interchange: we both will be telling something about ourselves and asking/listening to the other person's story.

When we are in a relationship, we expect the same interconnection: I say something and you respond/act, show me a signal that you are focusing on the same issue...John Gottman has discovered time ago that when we are responsive to our partner's bid for attention, relationships are nurtured and they grow...we all need for someone chosen by us, to be responsive to our little calls for attention. It can be a message, a short bit that are you? a chat...multiple other ways.

If you respond, it means for me that you care about me....such a simple concept! It addresses our need for connection with each other; it confirms that we are bonded and connected with each other. We are a "secure base" for each more a newcomer but a solid, familiar connection. We all humans need this secure bond, created in the first place by the mother who raised us...We can go along our lives without checking if we have a secure connection, only for some time. When there is a crisis, we better have and use the support of this bond to get back on our feet.

Sometimes we are conscious of this need. I have a dear friend who stopped going to church because people would sometimes answer her "good morning" greeting, but nobody really looked at her eyes. She concluded: "If they don't see me, how am I going to believe that we are a community?" Isn't that sad?

It is sad, but the worst form of this hurtful disconnection appears in a marriage. If we read John Gottman, when he describes his research about love and intimacy, he can tell you that he can predict if a couple will divorce in the next five years, measuring the degree of responsiveness to each other.

 Here I'm quoting "Masters of Love":

"Throughout the day, partners would make requests for connection, what John Gottman calls “bids.” For example, 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!” He’s not just commenting on the bird here: he’s requesting a response from his wife—a sign of interest or support—hoping they’ll connect, however momentarily, over the bird.

The wife now has a choice. She can respond by either “turning toward” or “turning away” from her husband, as Gottman puts it. Though the bird-bid might seem minor and silly, it can actually reveal a lot about the health of the relationship. The husband thought the bird was important enough to bring it up in conversation and the question is whether his wife recognizes and respects that interest because is his interest.

People who turned toward their partners in the study responded by engaging the bidder, showing interest and support in the bid. Those who didn’t—those who turned away—would not respond or respond minimally and continue doing whatever they were doing, like watching TV or reading the paper. Sometimes they would respond with overt hostility, saying something like, “Stop interrupting me, I’m reading.”

According to John Gottman, "These bidding interactions had profound effects on marital well-being. Couples who had divorced after a six-year follow-up had “turn-toward bids” 33 percent of the time. Only three in ten of their bids for emotional connection were met with intimacy. The couples who were still together after six years had “turn-toward bids” 87 percent of the time. Nine times out of ten, they were meeting their partner’s emotional needs."

See? we are here back to one of my central points: to know, accept, and feed each other's human needs is the center of love.  The loved person's interests (children, work, friends, vocation, etc ) are focal points where one has to be supportive because only when he/she see us caring for his interest as ours, can feel our love. We are each other's secure base, where we can connect and be sure of being listened to and understood. Now that you know this, where is your own relationship placed in the attention to each other's issue? Let me know!


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