Skip to content

Your Inbox Intensive

By Couples Therapy Inc.

Module 6 – Turning Towards

Keep your momentum going at home after the intensive with this exclusive program for Couples Therapy Inc’s retreat couples. Start with a self-assessment, review an important lesson for relationship health and finally, determine what your next steps should be.


The Inbox Intensive relapse check-in

This Relapse Check-in can help couples assess and prevent relapse and understand how to seek additional intervention if relapse occurs. Please give your frank evaluation of the following items by selecting either “doing fine” or “a problem now” for each item.

Start The Check-In

Start the check-in

Please give your frank evaluation by selecting either “doing fine” or “it’s a problem now” for each statement below.

Communicating regularly


Turning towards

Turning towards

You hear a knock on the door. You open it and find your dearest friend making a surprise visit. Do you offer a “gleam beam”? Do you enthusiastically welcome them in? Does the fact that they gave you no notice or you had to stop a project you were working on fade in importance?

Now imagine someone you dislike is behind that door. What are your emotional reactions?  Notice how all your resentments at the disturbance and lack of notice come to the fore.

Every day we decide whether to welcome intrusions or feel hostile toward them when it comes to our intimate partners. Imagine that you’re driving and your partner notices an interesting landscape detail and points it out.

You will either welcome it (“That is cool!”) or snarl at the disruption. (“Can’t you see I’m driving! I can’t take my eyes off the road to look at every little thing!”)

Gottman calls your partner’s efforts to engage you “bids for attention” and your response to these bids will lead over time to either an emotionally satisfying marriage or a lonely one.

You have three choices with every attempt your partner makes to engage you:

  • Say nothing and Gottman refers to it as “turning away.”
  • Snarl angrily and Gottman calls that “turning against.”
  • Comment positively and Gottman calls that “turning toward.”

Not every effort to engage your partner is likely to be successful. Sometimes your spouse won’t even realize you were trying to connect.  Or maybe they were too engrossed in what they were doing or too stressed to respond.

But when most bids for connection are “turning toward” bids, you’re more likely to report feeling happy and satisfied in your relationship. When it becomes impossible to get a friendly smile when you walk into a room or make a casual comment, these failed bids, whether turning away or turning against, lead to much bigger problems.

You may notice how your disappointments and resentments are underlying your bad attitudes toward your partner’s efforts to engage you. Go back to Module Two and focus on making effective complaints using Soften Start-ups. 

You may also notice how little energy you have to either respond to your partner’s efforts or to offer spontaneous efforts on your own. This is a negative downward spiral you’ll have to break together. The less you respond to each other, the lonelier and more disconnected. The more disconnected, the less likely you are to respond to each other’s efforts to connect.

Learning how to manage the inevitable “failed bids” is an important skill to master. If you haven’t focused on this particular skill during your intensive, this may be the time to perfect it.

Lesson at a glance:

  • Every day you have repeated opportunities to pay attention and emotionally connect or not. These moments have the power to connect or disconnect. It’s your choice.
  • These are small, daily interactions that add up.
  • Sometimes bids are verbal (“Hey, what do you think about the meal?”) and sometimes non-verbal. We can either tune bids in or tune them out.
  • If you are hostile or ignore when your partner tries to engage, you are “turning against” or “turning away” and eventually they’ll stop trying to connect. That will end up in loneliness for both of you.
  • Sexual initiation is a powerful bid. The way it’s responded to (regardless of whether you connect sexually) is impactful, and oft-times repeated event.
  • No one can meet their partner’s bids successfully 100% of the time. It takes learning new social skills to talk about your hurt feelings when your bid was poorly received.

Downloadable Resource

Try it at home

Each of you can take a turn describing what you were feeling during a disagreement or
discussion you had this week. You may either choose from the list on this guide or come up
with your own description.


Is it time to schedule a follow up session?

If you haven’t already scheduled follow up sessions, our staff can help you to plan your next appointment.

Don’t forget:

Schedule some quality time

Do you and your partner have some time on the calendar for each other? Make sure you have a date night planned.


Turning toward

Notice your partner’s bids and follow up on any failed bids that you are aware of.


We’re here to help

Have a question about this exercise? Looking for more information about follow up sessions? Send us a message, we’d be happy to help.

The next module – 
Responding to Failed Bids

Our next module will look at responding to failed bids. We will send the link to your email on your next scheduled check-in or if you want to get started now, you can click the button below.

Previous modules