Effective repairs are the key in resolving incidents when someone does or says something that is regrettable. For those couples who have open, honest and positive relationships these regrettable incidents may easily be overlooked and easily forgiven. Their positive interactions act like “money in the bank” against any long lasting discord. Other couples are challenged on how to make repairs from a regrettable incident or argument. Have you been working with your partner to improve your relationship? It may seem, during the difficult times, that things will never get better. In his book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, well-known relationship expert Dr. John Gottman encourages couples to work at repairing their unions appropriately. Even though it’s hard work, there are many payoffs to making effective repairs that help keep both of you connected.
Effective Repair Result #1: Honesty and Trust
When relationships are in trouble there is less honesty and trust between partners. Neither one of you feels safe to be emotionally vulnerable because you’re afraid your words will be used against you. No wonder these relationships are at risk for disaster! This is often called having a “negative emotional overtone” and couples often look for opportunities to criticize or find fault in one another. However, as you both do the necessary work, feelings of honesty and trust rise. A more “more positive emotional” overtone develops and misunderstandings or regrettable incidents are more easily resolved. It takes time, but it’s possible to get to a point where you can be truthful with your partner and vice versa.
Effective Repair Result #2: Become a Better Listener
Another result from making effective repairs to your relationship is being a better listener. Listening is more than a skill, it’s an art form that can take a lifetime to perfect. Yet, by working with your partner and a counselor you begin to learn the first steps to be a better listener. For example:
- Learn to sit with your partner without becoming reactive
- Absorb all parts of the conversation, not just what you want to hear
- Demonstrate body language that you want to hear what they have to say
- Show your partner that you have heard them and understand
This takes a lot of practice for the both of you. You can begin the process during a therapy session, and continue practicing on your own outside of the office. Remember, you won’t develop mastery of any skill without practice!
When a disagreement or arguments remain unresolved, that energy just festers under the surface, waiting to rise up again. This breeds tension and stress that eats away at a relationship. When couples are able to employ effective repairs in their relationships they are better capable of resolving disagreements quickly and amicably. Thus, you reduce the chances that the situation escalates out of control. This means that you are more focused on being a couple, not on the tension. A component of an effective repair is asking one another, “how can we do this better next time.” By having that discussion if gives each person an opportunity to be accountable for their contribution of incident. This prevents the “attack and defend pattern” and creates a “no victims no villains” culture of a trusting and equal partnership.
Effective Repair Result #4: Being on the Same Page
So, often when couples are disconnected they are just not on the same page regarding a range of issues. For example:
- managing the household
- paying bills
- raising children
- making important decisions together as a couple
When you’re not on the same page you aren’t working as a team. This makes it very hard to get anything done and just adds to the burden of mistrust and resentment that you have for each other.
Effective Repair Result #5: Increased Happiness
When you feel connected to each other you feel happier and content. You are both able to enjoy one another’s company and feel energized by each other. While in the past your relationship was where you felt disgruntled and unsafe, now the opposite is true.
How Can We Make Effective Repairs to Stay Connected?
Begin the process of making effective repairs by seeing a counselor trained in relationship therapy and couples counseling. Together we will work to help each of you express your feelings, learn new communication tools, and heal from damage and hurt.
It won’t be an easy process but it is possible for couples to become more connected through effective repairs to their relationships. You will feel more emotionally safe and honest. You can improve your ability to be on the same page and hear each other out. This means that you will be able to have a future more closely connected bonded versus one in which you are slowly driven apart.
For more information contact me at (813) 651-1221. As a trained Gottman Therapist I can help in learning how to make effective repairs and develop a culture of fondness and admiration in your relationship. To learn more about how counseling can help you improve your connection, visit my Couples Counseling page.