As they drive along together, Jim says, “Oh, look at that fine horse!” His wife’s next move is to match his enthusiasm. “Yes, I like horses that color”, even if she is not a horse enthusiast. Later she says, “I love that dress my friend is wearing.” His move is to notice and respond, even if he doesn’t have an opinion about the dress. “You like that, huh?”
The goal of the game is to be responsive. How do you feel if you are excited, or angry or happy about something and after expressing it to your spouse you get no response at all, or something like, “Don’t be silly.” Do you feel loved? No, you feel deflated, defeated. Not a win for either of you.
Want to feel important, respected by your partner? Practice these moves and you can both feel the love you want in your marriage.
1. You don’t have to agree with your partner’s comments, but you do need to respond even if it is a simple, heartfelt, “Yeah!” meeting a gaze, or an understanding smile.
2. Comments to your partner are bids for his/her attention. Do share your thoughts, feelings, ideas, and observations so your partner can know you better and feel connected.
3. Respond to a touch. If your hand is squeezed, squeeze back. It feels good to have a hug, a kiss responded to. If you aren’t in a place to have it go further, say so gently.
4. Do this for your partner even if he/she does not do it for you. You can set the tone, be the leader in this game both of you can win.
5. Good marriages are not made of dramatic ups and downs. They are a series of plays, back and forth in bids for the attention of the other and appropriate responses.
6. You don’t have to be 100% responsive every time your partner bids for your attention—most of the time can work well if you ask and respond often.
Winning at this game is an important part of creating a harmonious and happy partnership. It won’t solve all the issues you disagree about, which every relationship has, but it will smooth the way along an every-day happy lifetime.