Turning Towards, Away, or Against: Ways to Respond to Your Partner

Turning Towards, Away, or Against

With every interaction in our relationships with people, whether our significant other, colleague, or friend, we have 3 choices for how we will respond. We can choose to “turn towards” them, responding positively. We can “turn away”, react by ignoring, avoiding, or being too busy, or we can “turn against.”  When we turn against someone we usually respond in a way that is hurtful, critical, blaming, or sarcastic.

This idea was developed and thoroughly researched by Drs. John and Julie Gottman. They broke this relationship phenomenon into simple, tangible parts. First, it is important to understand “bids.” Bids are any attempt that one person tries to connect with another. A bid can be as simple as a nonverbal gesture like a smile or a more complex comment like “I can’t believe how much I have to get done,” which may in fact really mean, “I need some support from you.” Either way, bids are vital to any relationships and how we respond to them can greatly impact the strength and longevity of our relationships.

So let’s put it into perspective with couples in particular. The Gottmans discovered after 6 years of research that couples who turn away from bids had very high divorce rates. Those turning against also had relatively high divorce rates. The reason for this is that after bids are continuously turned away from or rejected, the partner making attempts eventually gives up and stops making bids. The lack of support and connectedness leads to the demise of the marriage.

gottman+method+of+couplesIf you knew that there was a way to prevent divorce would you be interested?

Would you try to learn how to incorporate that method to your relationship?

Would you give it a chance?

Practice identifying and acknowledging bids in your relationships. Put effort into making and turning towards bids. In healthy relationships, partners often make bids and respond positively towards bids.

Here is an example breaking down the 3 optional responses for a couple:

A husband states, “I guess I will take the dog for a walk.”

Turning Away = …silence… ignore him altogether.

Turning Towards = “We can all go for a family walk.”

Turning Against = “I’m not sure why you insist on saying that outloud.”

And here is another example using a couple:
If you are busy completing an important task and your partner asks you if you want to try a new, delicious treat. You can turn towards your partner by saying something like, “Babe, I would love to try the treat, but I really need to finish this, can we have it together later?” This way your partner feels heard and you can honor that time with him/her at a later time.

Above are more great examples from Cindy Norton of AVL Couples Therapy in Asheville, NC.

Have fun strengthening your connections and for more information on your relationship and how to enhance it visit our Resources for Couples page.  If you feel you need further assistance in your relationship and you are ready for couples counseling give me a call at 954.401.9011 or email at  I look forward to helping you transform your relationship!

* This blog was written in collaboration between Katie Lemieux, LMFT and Emlyn Whipple, MA.


The Positive Effects of Couples Counseling

Sometimes making the decision to seek therapy as a couple conjures up all kinds of feelings and doubts, which can get in the way of actually securing the counseling that can help. Take a step towards healing. Get the information that will allow you to confidently make an appointment. See what Louis Laves-Webb, LCSW, LPC-S says to dissolve myths, review actual numbers, and learn a little about a particular therapy model:

Katie Lemieux, LMFT owner of Lemieux Solutions Unlimited is trained in the Gottman Method of Couples Therapy.  Katie has participated in 7 Gottman trainings and 2 Emotionally Focused Therapy trainings.  She loves working with couples and is ready to assist you in your relationship wherever you are.  Give us a call at 954 401 9011 to schedule your 10 minute consultation appointment with you and your partner to decide if Katie’s style is a fit for you and your relationship!



fresh perspective ahead

New Year’s Resolutions Slipping Away Already…????

fresh perspective aheadHere we are in a New Year and most people have proclaimed some sort of New Year’s Resolution.  I like Dr. Brene Brown’s demonstration of New Year’s Resolutions. January 1st = “This is awesome!”, January 5th = “I am awesome.”, January 12th = “This sucks.”, January 22nd = “I suck.”  Where are you right now???

The majority of people focus on losing weight followed by some other resolutions.  What is interesting is that the “resolutions” often focus on a lack of something, a deficit, or not wanting to feel a certain way.  They tend to be a bit negative, as though good things hadn’t happened. So instead of thinking about resolutions, I would like you to take a look back at the year we just finished and do a year in review.

Let’s take some time and acknowledge all of the things that you did accomplish.  I have a weekly business coaching call where I list my accomplishments of the week and share them with my fellow entrepreneurs.  I also have my therapist interns and my assistant, Emlyn, share their weekly accomplishments.  Believe me I am probably just like you, a harsh critic, but in taking time to reflect on the things that I accomplished this past year I realized how impactful it was.  It also really gave me a clear perspective of everything that I did and how far I have come.  Entering a new year is a great time to reflect on the last 12 months of your life. I think of the start of the New Year as a continuation of my goals, dreams, desires and accomplishments.

Let’s start by creating a “Best of ….” list! It provides the opportunity to reminisce and savor fond memories, but also may in fact spark some thought about positivity to bring into this new year and get the juices flowing aga, which is always a plus! Willing to try? Great!  The best way to do this is to just start typing or writing the answers to some simple questions.

Begin by asking yourself the following:

What goals did you meet this past year?

What small changes did you make?

What did other people compliment you on or noticed that you did?

What challenges did you overcome?

What are you most proud of?

What connections did you make?

When did you honor yourself?

Did you happen to purge anything that was not necessarily encouraging you to be the best you?

Did you learn anything new about yourself? Your relationship? The world around you??

Don’t forget to pinpoint feelings, emotions, sensations, and thoughts.

What are some scents that you enjoyed? Tastes? Sounds?

How did they make you feel?

What did you like about them most?

Who was around?

And of course who wouldn’t want to re-experience such a pleasurable experience? Look at it this way… What is better than thinking about what you enjoyed? Actually enjoying it, right? This brings us to the next part… how do you recreate some of your enjoyable moments this year? Can you make it any better? How? When? With who?

Here are some accomplishments I had last year:

  • I started reading books!  I was never a big reader, in fact in all my 6 years of college (undergraduate and graduate) I only read 1 full book, can you believe that!  If my teachers and professors only knew.  I read 9 books this year and the crazy thing is I actually enjoy it!  I now make time for reading and often choose books or TV.
  • I was able to increase both my energy and exercise regimen.
  • I got to go to Europe this year.
  • I learned a lot that has helped both my businesses.
  • I took a major risk that I would have previously never taken.  It took being open-minded, increasing my knowledge and changing my thoughts, beliefs and actions around generating wealth.

As for the New Year, I look forward to deepening relationships in my life.  I am super excited to continue to learn more on how to advance my business.  My goals for this year are a constant work in progress.  I am always looking at them, reviewing them, getting clear on the vision, and breaking them down into actions.

Here my awesome and amazing assistant that helped write this blog shares on her accomplishments.

  • My growth as a wife and mother has been tremendous! I just concluded my first year as a mother, and I feel confident that I have done a very good job evolving with my new ever changing role.
  • As a wife I feel like I have continued to nurture my marriage and maintain my lines of communication with my husband. I have been supportive and have also been able to request support when I needed it.
  • I have slowly transitioned back into the workforce.
  • I have also maintained old relationships and made new connections and friendships.

As for the new year, my goal is to continue with the aforementioned accomplishments and continue to push myself to be a better me, personally and professionally.

My hope is that this was as fun for you as it was for me…When looking through this perspective, last year was actually a pretty good year, do you agree?

Please contact us at or by calling 954.401.9011 if you need support on reflecting on your accomplishments from the past year.  We can also help you create a clear vision on what it is you want and help you to create actions to get there.

Fill out my online form.