Baby, It’s cold outside.
And for the most part, temperatures are “burrr” in our part of the country. It’s usually this time of year that we begin to wish for warm, sunny days when the grass is green, and the flowers are in bloom. We anticipate warm weather and the benefits that come with it, but that doesn’t mean you are expecting warmer times in your marriage.
Doug and I had the privilege of snuggling because our furnace was out for a few days when the outdoor temp was below 20°. It was a tad stressful, not to mention cold, but we didn’t miss a bid and enjoyed the cuddles.
I can imagine some of you groaning at the thought of having to be together with your spouse for an extended period in a cold house. But I’m here to tell you; it can be as enjoyable as summer weather. Here are three ways to keep your marriage toasty warm.
Here are some steps to ensure some warm connections on these cold days.
Don’t miss a bid for connection.
Both husbands and wives place bids for affection with one another. In “What Makes Love Last,” Dr. John Gottman states, “In a committed relationship, partners constantly ask each other in words and deeds for support and understanding.” That gesture is called a bid, and it signals that your partner needs to connect with you.
What does that look like?
Bids take the form of both verbal and nonverbal actions. A verbal bid is easier to recognize; “Let’s go do something together.” “What’s on your mind?” “Have you seen this? It’s so funny.”
Nonverbal bids may take some practice at recognizing, but they are just as important as verbal ones. Even more so because there are ideas, feelings, and beliefs that underlie our actions subconsciously. Here are some nonverbal bids as Dr. Gottman breaks them down:
Affection (a kiss, hug, or shoulder rub)
Facial expressions (a smile or glance)
Playful touching (a light tickling or gentle bump)
Affiliating gestures (opening a door or handing something over)
Vocalizing (laughing, sighing, groaning, etc.)
Be on the lookout for these and reciprocate when possible.
Can you reciprocate a nonverbal bid with a verbal response and visa versa? Yes. Just connect! Don’t miss a bid.
Spend time together.
One of the best ways to become a master at not missing a bid for connection is to spend time together. This allows you to become aware of how your spouse bids for connection. Some of us have had a lot of time together with our spouse due to Covid, or more recently due to snow. But unless you’re attentive, you may miss bids for attention. Couples that turn toward each other following a bid are much less likely to grow apart when hard times (or even little things) come. And couples that turn toward each other following a bid report a higher trust level than couples who don’t (1).
Don’t just sleep in the bedroom. Let the sparks fly.
Sexual intimacy is one of the cornerstones of a healthy relationship. The point is to connect passionately. But it doesn’t have to be a big production with intercourse and orgasms. The key is passion. Redefine intimacy. It doesn’t have to be textbook sex. Touching, massaging, kissing, and cuddling may be the key to igniting passion.
Take the time to feel sexy, and don’t miss a bid to reinforce when your spouse wants to feel sexy. Make an effort if your spouse makes a sexual bid. Express your needs, but make the effort to stay connected. Most reasons to not connect sexually can be overcome by working together.
Chris Kraft, Ph.D. John Hopkins Medicine says it this way, “The main thing is to make having an intimate connection with your partner a priority. Think about what makes you feel close and what you enjoy sexually. And then ask yourself how you can create that with your partner.” (2)
Many scripture verses attest to the truth of loving one another, being kind, courteous, and humble toward your spouse. Notice a bid, and use the promises we have in scripture to build a relationship that glorifies our Lord’s relationship with his bride.
(1) Logan Ury. The Gottman Institue blog Want To Improve Your Relationship? Start Paying More Attention To Bids. Want to Improve Your Relationship? Start Paying More Attention to Bids (gottman.com)