Turning Towards

Know all the theories. Master all the techniques. But as you touch a human soul be just another human soul.” – Carl Jung

“Guess what?” Miss O says to me and when I reply, she says, “I love you.” It’s a little call and response that I started with her when she was about 4 years-old. But I stopped doing it. She asked me why the other day and I don’t know. Was it because Mr D got older and I didn’t want to leave him out? Or was it because she started to know what I was going to say every time?

These little bids for connection matter according to Drs John and Julie Gottman of the Gottman Institute. They are our ways of turning towards our loved ones and even though the Gottmans primarily focus on partner love relationships, I think it applies to children as well.

On a recent Unlocking Us podcast with Brené Brown, they were talking about their latest book, The Love Prescription: Seven Days to More Intimacy, Connection and Joy, and what caught my attention was how grounded in research their advice is. Not surprisingly since these are the psychologists and researchers who proved their ability to tell if relationships would last and be happy from just 15 minutes of observation with a 90% degree of accuracy.

They made the distinction between turning toward a bid of attention (responding or engaging when your partner says something like “look at that blue jay out the window”), turning away (ignoring) and turning against (responding with something like “why are you interrupting me?”).

In happy relationships, people turn toward their partner’s bids for attention 86% of the time, couples who were not successful only turn toward each other 33% of the time. John Gottman explained the result, “Couples who increase their turning toward wind up having more of a sense of humor about themselves when they are disagreeing with one another, when they are in conflict.

As Brené Brown summarized “Turning toward gives us a sense of confidence about our togetherness.”

“Love is a practice. It’s more than a feeling. It’s an action. It’s something you do and not something that just happens to you and you need to give and get a daily dose to maintain a healthy and thriving relationship.”

The Love Prescription: Seven Days to More Intimacy, Connection and Joy by John Gottman and Julie Gottman

The funny thing about when Miss O does the call and response with me lately is that she gets me almost every time. She says “Guess what?” and my busy head doesn’t anticipate the next part. It’s the surprise that breaks through the momentum of the day.

I can’t remember why I stopped this particular ritual but now that I’ve been reminded, I am delighted to start doing it again. Because what relationship doesn’t need to be grounded in connection and fun?

36 thoughts on “Turning Towards

    1. Oh my goodness – you got me, Ally. On my own post and just minutes after I wrote it! Funny!

      You’re right – there’s something to be gained – even with people we just tolerate. Thanks for turning toward me with this comment!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. What a great reminder that our relationships grow and evolve. It’s great to remember little call backs that make our relationships special. When my daughter was little, I used to call her Princess before her name. We grew out of it, but I hugged her recently and called her by her old name. It was neat to see her face light up. Some things never change. Thanks for sharing Wynne.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Love this, Wynne. It’s something I’m working on with my hubby. I get wayyy too caught up in my own head. 😆 Thank you for another reminder, along with the heartwarming part from Miss O, and science to back up why it’s so important!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Funny that you say that because John Gottman said that he does something very similar. Julie will say something and then he doesn’t respond because he’s thinking or because it doesn’t require a response. So even the good Dr’s are working on it! Happy Monday, Kendra!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You had me with the Jung quote…a favorite…just be a good soul with another good soul…and I love the Gottman’s “turning toward” research…also a fave. Thanks, Wynne…love it. 😉❤😉

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I think it’s important to think about the message we send with our actions regarding Leaning In per se. Remember the other person is watching. Do we stop right away what we are doing, or it difficult to turn away. If we are holding our phone. Do we hold it in our hand or do we put down or even better; away. I am amazed what a strong signal it sends if we put a device out of sight and instead focus on the person.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The little daily things add up and the cumulative sum ends up being the thing that matters the most.

    A good lesson Wynne about making time to turn to our loved ones even if the moments seem inconsequential. Thanks for the reminder and glad you got the reminder yourself.

    Enjoy your week!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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