In “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work,” Dr. John Gottman describes a repair attempt as “any statement or action—silly or otherwise—that prevents negativity from escalating out of control.”
Relationship conflict gives couples the opportunity to understand each other better over time. Sometimes these conflicts can get heated, however, and partners can say things they don’t mean.
When you take a driver’s education course, the first thing you’re taught is how to stop the car. Putting on the brakes is an important skill in relationships, too. How do you do this? By using repair attempts.
When Sam complains about having to do all of the housework, Charlie gets defensive and says, “I wiped down the kitchen counters and swept the floors.” Sam doesn’t immediately discount that point and responds, “That’s true, you did.” This is a repair attempt because it de-escalates the tension, allowing Charlie to be more receptive to finding a compromise.
How well do you and your partner make and receive repair attempts in your relationship? Take the brief quiz below to find out.
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