Huh … What’d you say? How to Predict a Failed Relationship

There are a few iron clad predictors of lasting relationships according to John Gottman’s forty years of research and one of those predictors is what he calls “turning to” rather than “turning away” from your spouse. Let me explain.

I’m sitting on the couch very quietly minding my own business reading the latest news of those incredible Cubs and how I’m sure they are finally going to break the 108 year old world championship drought … but I digress. So while I’m reading, my sweet, beautiful and extremely talented wife chooses to ask me a question about the menu for the week. Let me say upfront that I am not one of those discriminating fussy eaters. There is almost no food that I do not enjoy and especially anything that Cheri would prepare. So I almost never have any opinion about her meal planning and what’s more, I think she should know this after numerous times of her asking and me responding with; “duh … I dun know”. So do I choose to enter once more into this dead end conversation or do I ignore her question and remain engrossed in fantasying about the Cubs? If I choose to be silent then I am heading right into one of the leading predictors of relational trauma. It is so easy to do and obviously (at least to me) so justifiable. Why respond when I know exactly what the outcome of the conversation will be? Am I not entitled to pick and choose which conversations I engage in and which I leave to parish from neglect?

Marriage can be a beautiful dance of give and take, call and response that binds the two together into an intimate friendship.
— James Tillman

If I am committed to loving my wife and being the husband that I believe God wants me to be then I am also committing to communication even when it is inconvenient, seemingly unnecessary or uninteresting. Yes, I am committing to connecting with my wife whenever and wherever the opportunity arises. Please understand that I am saying there won’t be times when we ask not to be interrupted or we may respond by asking for time since we are in the middle of something. What I am saying is healthy marriages are about a hundred little moments throughout the day when couples share their thoughts, feelings or observations with each other. Marriage can be a beautiful dance of give and take, call and response that binds the two together into an intimate friendship. But let me give you some whys. When we turn toward rather than away from our partner it …

  • Defeats propensity toward selfishness
  • Opens up opportunities for shared encounters
  • Shows respect
  • Improves communication
  • Breaks down barriers
  • Demonstrates loving kindness
  • Sets a great example to our children

If it is such an important part of a healthy marriage why don’t we do it? The bottom line is that we cease making our relationship a priority by making it less important than our comfort, convenience or a particular interest of the moment. That article about the Cubs will still be there in a few minutes but the chance to connect with my wife over something that interests her will not. It doesn’t even need to be a long dialogue. Turning to your partner can be as simple as acknowledging them with a grunt, a laugh or a quick statement of agreement. However, if you want to supersize your “turning to” skills then go out of your way to acknowledge your partners statement with your own thoughts, feelings or observations. For me that would go something like …

Cheri: So baby what would you like for diner this week?

Me: (looking up from my beloved Cubs article) Diner? Let me think. You know I’m not picky, I like everything you make. What would be fun for you to cook this week?

Okay, I’m not that good but you get the message. Turn to not away when your spouse is speaking to you and you will find a friend, companion and someone who you are blessed to share your life with.

We at Total Wellness Resource Center are committed to you becoming all that you were created to be. If ever you need support or encouragement please let us know. You can contact us a connect@totalwellnesscenter.net.