What is a bid? A bid is when you reach out to your partner or your spouse or when they are reaching out to you. Most couples make dozens of bids an hour, whether they are conscious or not. Can you identify when your partner is making a bid towards you?
A bid can be as simple as:
“Good morning. How are you are today?”
You respond with:
“I’m good. You?”
Your spouse says:
“I think I slept funny. My neck hurts. Other than that, I’m okay. Are you busy today?”
See how this conversation goes? The bids are being responded to. If the conversation went like this:
“Good morning. How are you today?”
“Are you busy today?”
That conversation is one where you don’t respond to the bids. You are not leaving room for any give and take. You are shutting your partner down and they are not feeling any response. Now, we don’t respond to every bid that is made. That’s normal. However, when we fail to respond to even the simplest of bids, then our spouses feel that withdrawal. You feel the withdrawal when your spouse does it. So here are some rules of thumb when your partner makes a bid for your attention:
- Take Turns
- Don’t Give Unasked for Advice
- Show Genuine Interest
- Show Your Understanding Through Conversation
- Take Your Partner’s Side
- ‘We’ Attitude
- Demonstrate Affection
- Validate Don’t Judge Emotions
It’s important to take turns. Conversations are about sending and receiving. You need to listen and you need to speak. If your spouse is complaining, sometimes they just need to complain. It’s one of the things that can cause friction between husbands and wives when one or the other feels compelled to ‘fix’ the problem or try to provide an opposing ‘perspective.’ Your spouse may or may not need that. They may just need you to listen to them.
The showing genuine interest is important whether you think the problem is a big one or not. Imagine how troubled you would be if your partner dismissed your issues, when they were really important to you? Express your understanding verbally and physically. Listen to them and respond. For example:
“I’m so tired of my boss. He always seems to take credit for all my successes, but the one time I screw up, he makes sure that everyone knows I’m the one who did it.”
“What a jerk. I’m sorry babe. I wish you didn’t have to deal with him.”
The response of the spouse demonstrates not only are they listening, they are taking their partner’s side and expressing a ‘we’ attitude. Because what ultimately affects your spouse, affects you and you need to demonstrate your affection whether it’s squeezing their hand, giving them a hug, a kiss or just wrapping an arm around their shoulder. Saying ‘I Love You’ is important, but showing that affection is equally important. One of my favorite ways to demonstrate affection when my husband is really busy or overwhelmed with work is to fix him breakfast in the morning. He’s a late riser and when he’s in a rush, half the time he forgets to eat and by lunchtime he’s a real crab and feels sick. If I fix him breakfast, he can eat before he leaves and he’ll feel better.
When I’m stressed or overwhelmed, he shows affection by fixing a dinner or doing the housework or running an errand that I mentioned needing getting done. It’s just another way to show that he listened, he cared and he did something about it.
The last part of this list is probably one of the most important things you will do to maintain your communication and responsiveness to bids. When your spouse expresses displeasure, don’t tell them they are wrong to feel that way. You and your spouse are both entitled to your emotions. You are entitled to feel frustrated when your kids don’t listen or when your sister-in-law just assumes you’d do something that you never said you’d do. Your spouse is entitled to be annoyed when your mother shows up unannounced or plans are changed and they don’t get the quiet night they thought they were going to have.
Don’t judge how someone feels. You don’t have to agree with their feelings, but you do have to not judge. You have to support them, show that you care and have a ‘we’ attitude. Talk to your spouse, be sure they know how you feel and that you know how they feel. Communication is important, but understanding and respect are vital. So listen when they make their bids and respond to them.