D&C 64:33 – “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.”

If you come to any of my ballet classes, I can cliparti1_ballet-clipart_09almost guarantee you will hear me call out “TURN OUT!” several times. Turning out has to do with your hip rotation, and how your legs are set. It seems like just one small thing, but it changes everything else, the entire look of a ballerina.

Simply “turning in” in ballet is bad, it looks gross and throws the entire product off. However, “turning in” in a relationship is one small and simple, but vital pattern.

“Turning towards each other” is Dr. Gottman’s third marriage principle in his book Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. He describes how spouses make “bids” for each other’s attention and affection, and we either turn toward those bids or away. He says that turning towards each other in a marriage is the “basis of emotional connection, romance, and passion.”

Examine the two different scenarios.

Scenario One:

Jim walks in from work.

Sally: How was your day?

Jim: Work was awful today. My boss called me out in a meeting, right in front of everyone, on part of the project that wasn’t even mine. (Bid for support, affection)

Sally: You always take the role of victim with your boss. (Criticizing) I’m sure he was valid in his concern over what was wrong. He wouldn’t just make that up. (Taking bosses side)

Jim: Sal, it was in front of everyone. And it was Fred’s job on the project, not mine. My Boss even threatened to fire me, and wouldn’t hear me out when I tried to tell him that I had a different assignment on this project. (Another bid for support and understanding)

Sally: Here you go again, trying to blame someone else for your mistakes. I wish you’d take more ownership for what you do wrong. (More criticism, not striving to understand)

Scenerio Two:

Jim walks in from work.

Sally: How was your day?

Jim: Work was awful today. My boss called me out in a meeting, right in front of everyone, on part of the project that wasn’t even mine. (Bid for support, affection)

Sally: Oh babe, what did he say? (Showing genuine interest) In front of everyone?! That’s ridiculous. (Taking spouse’s side and communicating understanding)

Jim: He talked about the new complex we just built. Said the tile and wood flooring was a joke. “Looks like someone just slabbed it together”. I didn’t even do the flooring on this complex! That was Fred. I was in charge of counters and cabinets. I tried to explain that to him, but he wouldn’t listen. He even threatened to fire me!

Sally: Are you kidding me? I can understand why you feel so mad. (Validating emotions) Here, we are going to make a plan to explain what’s going on to your boss. (“We against others” attitude)

alma-37-memeThe above scenario is such a simple example, because turning towards each other is such a simple thing. We turn towards someone when we show honest interest in what they share with us and communicate our own understanding of what they’ve shared. We take their “bids” and run with them. It shows that we care about them, and about what they are saying to us. We show love by expressing that the things important to them are also important to us.

Turning in is so simple. Here’s some ideas from Gottman:

  • Make a list and go grocery shopping together.
  • Do the dishes together
  • Eat breakfast together during the week
  • Play a board game together after the kids go to bed
  • Attend a sporting event
  • ***Reunite at the end of the day and talk about how it went. (He says this is the most effective way to build your “emotional bank account” and gives a whole section on it.)1d615ccca8cbca3d8a600d7632f47e9c

Gottman says that the secret to romance is not a candlelit dinner at a beach getaway, the secret to romance is “turning to each other in little ways every day.” Responding to bids of attention and love is what keeps us emotionally connected; it nurtures that friendship and love for each other.  It helps us feel like we matter, someone supports and understands us and we are being heard.

This can apply to the strengthening of any relationship, not only marriage. When you take the time to turn in, and really show that you care and value someone, the relationship will grow and be stronger.

Just like in ballet, “turning in” is such a small thing, but turning in to our spouse, friend, etc. can make a world of difference in our relationships.