You’re chopping up an onion for dinner while thinking about all the work you have to do later, when you let out an audible sigh. Does your spouse a. Respond with “hey sweetie, is there something wrong?” b. Keep scrolling on their phone or c. Say, “Urgh, what’s the matter now?”
OK, so you probably don’t need to be a relationship expert to know that response A is the ideal answer. What you probably don’t realize is just how important this seemingly small gesture really is, though. In fact, renowned relationship experts John Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman dub this “the biggest predictor of happiness.” Because that sigh was so much more than just a sigh—it was a bid for connection.
In their new book, The Love Prescription, the Gottmans write that a big misconception many of us have is that for connection to be meaningful, you must give hours of time to it. And so, on a busy day when you’re juggling work, kids, chores and everything else, there’s just no time for you and your S.O. to actually sit down and connect. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
“We have opportunities for connection constantly—but we miss them,” the marriage researchers argue. “We don’t know exactly what we’re looking for, and we don’t know how important these seemingly small, fleeting, insignificant moments can be. In the language of the science of love, what we are doing in these quick moments is making what we call ‘bids for connection.’”