Opportunities to Repair in Marriage
There are opportunities to exit from an argument with your partner before it becomes damaging to your relationship. Marital researcher and psychologist Dr. John Gottman has studied the difference between couples who are able to diffuse conflict and re-engage with each other and those who do not. He concludes that couples who have conflict and are able to re-connect in the midst of that conflict are able to navigate through the negativity and stay close. How do these couples do that?
Successful Repair Attempts for Couples
Gottman’s research shows that couples who successfully repair from damaging interactions use some common methods:
- They use kind humor and understanding
- They are able to quickly realize their “negative cycle” and have an awareness that they “don’t want to go there”
- They value being connected over being “right”
- Partners willingly step back from the conflict and say to themselves:
- “Do I really want to have this argument with my partner?”
- “Is it worth it?”
- “Do I want to do what I can do stop this and stay close and connected with my partner?”
Dr. Gottman reports that arguing is not the best indicator of whether couples stay close but rather what they do to “repair” in the midst of an argument. If you can step back from an argument and use self awareness of what you are seeking in that moment (connection/closeness) and what message your language and behaviors are sending, you can realize that you have the opportunity to “repair” rather than to continue in an argument.
So, using humor or self awareness, connecting, and taking a risk to let your partner know that you would rather reconnect than argue, can help you to step back and send a message to each other that the relationship is more important than winning an argument.
Why argue over every day issues that really don’t matter when you can feel so much closer by “repairing”?
Staying connected feels so much better.