Which Way Are You Turning?

Evangel – Christmas 2011


Over the course of the past several years I have become increasingly drawn to the fascinating findings in the work of Dr. John Gottman, probably the foremost researcher on marital stability and divorce prediction. One of the factors he has identified has been labeled as Turning. Turning can take three forms: Toward, Away, or Against.

Let me explain with an example. My wife and I are sitting together in the living room. She is reading a book, and I am deeply immersed in the complexities of a Sudoku puzzle. After a time, she looks out the window and observes, “Oh, it looks like the sun is coming out.” I do not lift my head, nor respond in any way, instead continuing to focus on my task.

By saying and doing nothing I have Turned Away from her. I did not intentionally ignore her. If I did, it would be an example of Turning Against. But the research shows that an act of Turning Away — purposefully or not — significantly decreases the likelihood of the other person making another attempt at connecting. Over time, Turning Away causes the marriage to becoming increasingly emotionally disconnected.

The point is that we always have to strive to make the unintentional intentional. I can Turn Toward her by acknowledging she said something, engaging in a conversation, or even suggesting we go for a walk together to enjoy the sunshine. A simple concept? Yes, but how many of us consistently and intentionally Turn Toward each other in these little interactions of daily life?

Taking things a step further. Which way do we Turn when God seeks to speak with us? Do we even notice? Unlike people, God never ceases in His efforts to connect with us. But our Turning Away or Against God will further disconnect us from Him.

Turn Toward on purpose!

David is a Registered Psychologist and Registered Marriage and Family Therapist. He has been in full-time private practice for almost 20 years. He’s been married to Janice for over 26 years and has three kids. He attends Grande Prairie Church of Christ — Highland Park site.