Here are some examples of "bids" in relationship:
-"I really want to take a vacation this year, maybe somewhere tropical, what do you think?"
-"Ugh! It felt like such a long day at work, I just want to lay on the couch and do nothing tonight!"
-"Did you notice my new haircut?"
-"What are you working on?"
-"The bathroom is so dirty right now! When is the last time you cleaned it?"
-"My friend Dave said him and his wife went to a great restaurant downtown the other night, he highly recommends it!"
-"Do you have to work late AGAIN!?"
-"Do you think I'd make a good psychologist or should I try out Interior Design?"
These might look like random sentences but in fact, these are all bids for emotional connection and attention. Responding well to these bids creates trust in a relationship. Even the negative comments are bids for connection. When a wife nags her husband about a dirty bathroom she is really saying, "I would feel so much more comfortable and at ease in our home if it were regularly cleaned and it hurts me that you don't see that!" Or when a couple brings up a vacation or restaurant idea they are asking the other person to get romantic with them by traveling or going on a date. If the other partner doesn't respond to these ideas or shoots them down then they will feel neglected. When a partner asks for an opinion on something they are saying, "I trust your opinion, you know me and can give me another angle on this." If you don't respond to it or respond negatively then you will chip away at that trust your partner is handing to you. Negatively responding to a bid with sarcasm or criticism is another possible outcome that destroys trust.
Most bids, on a basic level, are saying,
"I want to connect with you."
Healthy Relationships=More/Positive response to bids
Struggling Relationships=Less/Negative response to bids
Putting it into practice:
Begin reading between the lines when your partner says something, asks something or demands something.
The best way to shock and confuse your partner is by responding positively to a bid offered as a negative. This is how relationship repair and trust building can begin. So next time your partner nags you, asks you something or makes a statement about how they feel/how their day was, try and see what might be behind the statement. What are they asking for at the core? Connection with you? This is an opportunity to respond to what they are truly asking, not the surface request.
"The bathroom is so dirty right now! When is the last time you cleaned it?" "Ah! I'm sorry babe. I really should be better about doing that, I know its disgusting and that sucks. I'm going to go get started on it while you're making dinner." "You've said that before, how do I know you're actually going to make a habit of it?" "I'm going to make a habit of cleaning it once a week." "I'll believe it when I see it."
That last part is another example of what I call "testing". Partners are going to "test" each other, especially in new territory. The bathroom cleaning will have to happen regularly before the partner will trust the other. But once that bid is responded to positively and re-enforced by repetitious action, trust will be built. This is just one example, you have hundreds of opportunities every single day to serve and listen to one another. At first one of the partners might be bitchy or full of anger about certain bids that have commonly been neglected. It's a process and someone has to "go first".
The more bids you respond to positively and re-enforce the stronger your relationship and the better equipped you'll be to handle the big things that come your way.
Ah...relationships. A complex merging of two different people who adore one another at one point in time. Everyone will tell you that life-partnership is work, but what does that work entail?
It is our opinion that the work required to love someone "till death do us part" is a combination of reflecting on your past, understanding your triggers and hidden parts of yourself-the parts you have disowned, realizing your partner will have positive and negative traits of the people who raised you and that a relationship with them could bring up old wounds and at it's best it can heal those old wounds. The work requires creativity, playfulness and understanding. It means meeting the other persons needs in the way that they desire, not in the way that you think is best. It means responding to your partners bids for love and attention, even when those bids look negative or confusing. It's about communicating instead of trying to manipulate. It's about understanding your partners "positive intent" behind their actions. It's about being spontaneous, constantly growing, being aware of life-stages and how we change as individuals.
It's not a "one size fits all". Your relationship is a unique ecosystem. The challenges that come with marriage require commitment and trust between partners. If you want to have a great life-partner then you have to be a great life-partner.
Marriage, for us, has been a mixture of conflicts, hardships, misunderstandings, in-explainable joy, admiration, growth, wake up calls, reconciliation....
and ultimately a challenge beyond comprehension. A challenge that the human spirit can grow and deepen from. Rise to the occasion and become a Relationship Master with us.