Relationship Advice: “Look at the Bird”

Apparently, there’s a psychologist named John Gottman who can predict whether or not a couple will stay together with about 94% accuracy (he’s the star of this Atlantic article). There’s some debate over whether or not his theory is valid, but I really like the foundation of study:

“The couples who told their stories in a more withdrawn, negative manner were more likely to have split three years later, while couples who told their stories in a more expressive, open way tended to stick it out. All couples face hard times, it’s true, but the couples who were more likely to stay together spoke about those tough moments with more fondness and nostalgia than the couples who eventually parted ways.”

“Throughout the day, partners would make requests for connection, what 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. Partners who were still together after six years were far more likely than those who broke up to “turn toward” each other in response to these bids — when their spouses asked them to look at the bird, in essence, they looked.

I really like this idea of “turning toward” one another. I’m not married, and I have no idea what it’s like, but I imagine this sort of thing is really important. Note to self to always look at the bird!

See the full article here.

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