Why date nights aren't enough

27 September 2015

When couples find themselves struggling in their relationship, they are often advised to go on date nights or romantic vacations.  While this is not necessarily bad advice, what some people don’t know is that it is actually the every day interactions between two people that can make or break a relationship.  If these every day interactions aren’t solid then all the date nights and vacations in the world aren’t going to help.  This is actually good news, because while not all couples are able to go on regular date nights or vacations, all couples have these every day interactions!

So what happens during these every day interactions that can help or harm a relationship?  One is whether you turn towards or turn away from your partner when they reach out to you.  Relationship expert John Gottman calls these “bids” and whether you respond to these bids is critical.  Gottman’s research showed that couples who had remained married responded to these bids an average of 86% of the time, whereas those that ended up divorced responded only an average of only 33%. That is a significant difference.  So how can you increase your responses to these bids and help your relationship?  

Bids usually involve reaching out for either emotional connection or even practical help.  A person may come home from work and say “today was a really rough day.” The other partner just shrugs or ignores this.  They have just missed the opportunity to turn toward by asking about their day and being there to listen.  A woman says “I’m really tired today” and her partner steps in and bathes the baby.  He has turned toward her.   You can see how these are not huge romantic gestures. But they are the interactions that add up each day and build the foundation for a relationship.  A relationship in which each person feels supported to and connected to their partner.  And if you’re feeling supported and connected you’re in a better place to handle conflict and other issues you may face as a couple.    

Other ways to turn toward each other include things like grocery shopping together, checking in after one of you has an important work meeting, watching your child play in a sport or music recital, watching TV together, doing home repairs together, exercising together, even gossiping!


Recommend reading:The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman


Bina Bird, MA,. LMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist serving Haslet, TX and the surrounding DFW areas.  Learn more about me at http://hasletcounseling.com or call 817.676.8858 for a free phone consultation.  My specialties include couples, preteens/adolescents, and women's issues-infertility, miscarriage, pregnancy loss, postpartum and other life transitions.  

  Blog  Couples

comments powered by Disqus