I don’t hear the word “bid” much anymore. I feel like I hear it a lot more when growing up. It seems to have fallen into disuse. Today I’m going to use it, because I don’t know a better word to use.
A bid is a request. Often we use it when talking about a “bid for attention”. A bid for attention is then a request for attention. We see bids constantly from children. They want to know where paying attention, that we saw the cool thing that they did, or that we still love them.
The same thing happens in marriage. Spouses make small bids for love all the time. They could be as simple as asking “How does this look?” which is a clear bid for attention. “Can you get me a drink” is a bid for service. “What are you thinking about?” is a bid for connection.
Every day our spouse bids something from us, or at least hopefully they do, because a bud means they are interested in affirming the relationship. Because relationships tend to drift apart. No one ever drifted together. We feel these drifts and instinctively make small bids of our spouse in attempts to move closer to them.
Unfortunately we often miss these bids. When we do, it has often the same, or worse effect than if we had outright rejected the bid.
For example, if your spouse asks you to hand you something and you say “I can’t right now honey, my hands are full.” That’s a rejection, though an understandable one. However if you ignore the request and don’t respond, that’s even worse.
So, what do we do with this information?
Recognize the bids your spouse is making
Now you know what they can look like and be aware of them. This means you can acknowledge them more often instead of ignoring them. It also means that when you do need to reject a bid, you can still do it in a loving and non-destructive way.
Each bid is an opportunity to either draw closer to your spouse, or to let the relationship drift. According to the Gottman institute, couples who stay together use these opportunities to draw closer together 86% of the time, whereas couples that divorce only average about 33% of the time. It seems that turning towards your spouse during these bids is one of the keys to staying married.
Recognize your own bids
Learn to recognize when you are making a bid as well, and when it goes unanswered, realize that it’s probably not intentional, but rather that your spouse merely missed it.
At times like that, you can speak up and say “That was a bid for attention, and I’m feeling even more in need of some attention since you ignored it.”. Then you can have an adult conversation about your feelings instead of sulking about them. Doesn’t that sound more productive?
So, now you know about bids. What are you going to do about it?