Remember when your relationship was new, fresh, fun, exciting?

If you don’t,  you have probably rewritten the narrative of your past in a negative light which is completely common to do when contempt has set in the present.  I bet if you married this guy you enjoyed him at some point.

When you were first  building your relationship, there were essentially 3 things happening. The Gottman Institute observed couples for decades, and here is what they discovered was at the foundation:

Love Maps

Fondness and Admiration

Turning Toward (vs. Turning Away).

Love Maps are the information we have of our partner’s world.  It is knowing and being known.  Think about how curious you were about your man when you first met. He was like a gift you wanted to open and discover.  You asked questions. You paid attention.  You wanted to know.

After years of marriage, you feel like you know him. Maybe you find him boring or predictable.  Yet, think about all that goes on in your inner world in a day?  Like you, there are thoughts and feelings guiding the things your man does and doesn’t do,  There are dreams he has, even if those dreams have moved into dormancy.  

Hit refresh. Be curious. Update your map.

Fondness and Admiration refers to just that.  It is liking, adoring, admiring. 

Building your relationship, you probably thought this guy was pretty awesome. Maybe you giggled at things he did.  You appreciated certain attributes about him.  You described him to your family and friends as (fill in the blank).

The relationship became a sort of mirror to show each other your best. You each reflected all the admirable and praiseworthy attributes of the other.  He was awesome. You were awesome. “Falling in love” felt good.

Continue to look for ways he is lovable. Like searching for Waldo, keep your eyes open for all the ways your husband is praiseworthy.

Turning Toward vs. Turning Away is sharing in all the little things (and the big things).  When your husband says, “Did you hear about the Rams?”  or he shares a headline from his news feed, he is making a bid to connect.

When we are turning toward, we are answering those bids to connect. It may be in watching a show together, pulling weeds, sharing  a meal, or simply acknowledging and engaging when our man shares.

Look for the most mundane ways to connect.  The alternate is “I will deal with this on my own,” which leads to a cascade of distance, loneliness and isolation.  It is always better to turn toward than to turn away.

We can’t decide how our man shows up.  But we can show up because that is who we are.  We are the wife who hits refresh, intentionally finds reasons to admire our man, and turns toward rather than away.  We do it regardless of the reciprocity and we find meaning in being the partner we are proud of.