The life of a small business owner can be a challenging, yet rewarding balancing act. Sometimes it seems like there isn’t enough time in the day to ensure that all our business needs are taken care of. Throw in a full time job, and this balance may become even more precarious. So what gets moved aside in order to ensure that you have enough time to finish your business to-do list? Exercise? Time with friends and family?
Some days it may seem easy to brush aside our friends, or our partners, just to finish that one last task because ‘hey, they’re meant to be our support system, right?’ Your partner will totally understand if you don’t join them in bed right away because you just need to finish up a few emails, or a finish the product that you’re working on. Your friend will know how hard you’re working if you can’t take her phone call when she needs to whine again about her crappy boyfriend….
What if they don’t?
Relationship researcher Dr. John Gottman conducted a study on newlyweds, and followed up with them six years after marriage. Many couples had remained married, but many had also divorced in this time period. Those who had stayed together were significantly better at connecting with their partner’s bids for attention. A bid is any attempt from your partner for positive connection or attention. This may come in the form of a question, a statement, a touch. Bids may also have an underlying need to be met, such as affirmation on a job well done, or a chance to de-stress from their day. If we miss a bid, or turn away from our partners it can have a devastating affect. When we regularly miss bids, or reject them outright our partners will bid for our attention less, and may even look for what they need somewhere else.
Let’s look at an example: maybe your partner was never told that they did good work on anything growing up. They always have something to prove in order to know that they are good enough. One night they are building a new piece of Ikea furniture while you work on your side hustle. When they finish they say “TADA!”
If you are noticing and turning towards your partner’s bid, you would admire their work, which would fulfill their underlying need of being told that they did something well. If you are turning away, you might look up, but turn back to what you are doing, and your partner may subconsciously understand that they will not get the affirmation they need from you.
Instead of turning away we need to recognize bids for attention, and try to respond to not only the blatant message of the bid, but the underlying message as well. This will take practice, but if we are attuned to our loved ones it will begin to get easier. This concept may have been developed by studying couples, but it can relate well to friends and other family members. What friend would want to continue calling you to go out for coffee to catch up if you continue to blow them off to get work done?
Think about what balance in your personal relationships might look like for you. Is it a date night once a week? Is it one hour spent reading with your kids before bedtime? Or putting your phone in your bag while you are out with your friends so you can give them your full attention? Consciously thinking about how your work life interacts with your personal life can give you the insight you may need to ensure you are building your relationships up, rather than breaking them down by missing what is important.
If you are interested you can easily read more about the Gottmans work on their blog: https://www.gottman.com/blog/
Kathryn is the boss babe behind Wildflower Wool Goods, making cozy knits for city living or mountain adventuring! She has a Master’s degree in Counselling Psychology and has completed Level 1 and 2 of Gottman Method Couple’s Therapy.
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Cover photo: Elizabeth Tsung via Unsplash