This is the last post in our Gottman series. Today, we are looking at repair attempts. Inevitably, we are going to screw it up from time to time with our partner. We need of good way of repairing when we do so. Dr. Gottman’s scientific studies involving thousands of couples have revealed the usefulness making and receiving repair attempts. Repair is less about fixing what is broken and more about getting back on positive track. Masters of Relationship repair early and often. And they have lots of strategies for how to repair. Gottman describes a repair attempt as “any statement or action – silly or otherwise – that prevents negativity from escalating out of control.” The word “any” leaves a ton of room for creativity. And because every relationship is different, finding the repair strategies that work for you can actually be a unique game that belongs to just the two of you.
The Gottman library of interventions includes a Repair Checklist. It’s a list of phrases clustered into different categories including I FEEL, SORRY, GET TO YES and STOP ACTION. The idea is that as conversations escalate, you can turn to the list and identify which phrases will and won’t work.
You can also think of repair attempts as little interludes in your conversations that turn things around from a negative downward spiral to a lighter, more positive space. Saying something like “oh my gosh, we are doing that thing again . . .”, or “I just took that to the next level of ridiculousness . . .”, or “here we go again, acting just like our parents . . . ” Obviously, this needs to be done with a lack of contempt and sarcasm, and with a spirit of togetherness. These are short hand ways that are unique to you and your partner that can save the day when things are heading south.
I hope you have found this series informative and useful. If you want more of Gottman, he has quite a few books in publication for the lay public. Do yourself a favor and get one. It will not be money wasted.
Until next time, peace.