What is the secret weapon of strong relationships?

In any relationship, it is inevitable that conflicts and misunderstandings will arise. The interesting question is: What sets successful couples apart from struggling ones?

Research has shown that couples who are skilled at making and accepting repair attempts have more successful and satisfying relationships.

What is a repair attempt?

Before we dive into the specifics of repair, it’s important to understand what a repair attempt is. In essence, a repair attempt is any gesture or statement made by one partner in an attempt to de-escalate a conflict or repair any damage done. The key is that they are genuine attempts to repair the relationship and move forward in a positive direction.  Here are some examples:

Verbal repair attempts:

  • “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.”
  • “Let’s take a break and come back to this later when we’re both calmer.”
  • “I understand where you’re coming from, let me explain my perspective.”

Nonverbal repair attempts:

  • A gentle touch on the arm or hand
  • Eye contact and nodding to show you’re listening
  • A genuine smile to diffuse tension

Physical repair attempts:

  • A hug or kiss to show affection and support
  • Sitting close together to show intimacy and solidarity
  • Holding hands to demonstrate a united front

Humorous repair attempts:

  • Making a joke to break the tension
  • Playfully teasing to lighten the mood
  • Doing something silly to shift the focus away from the conflict

Service repair attempts:

  • Asking your partner if they would like a cup of tea/coffee
  • Doing a chore for your partner

Why are repair attempts important?

Repair attempts are important because they help to prevent conflicts from escalating and becoming more damaging. When a partner makes a repair attempt, it signals to the other partner that they value the relationship and are willing to work through any issues that arise. It also helps to create a sense of safety and trust in the relationship, as both partners know that they can rely on the other to make an effort to repair any damage that is done.

However, not all repair attempts are created equal. Some repair attempts can actually make things worse, if they come across as insincere or dismissive. For example, making a sarcastic remark can make things worse because it can escalate the conflict rather than deescalating it.

So, how can you make effective repair attempts? The key is to be sincere and empathetic. Try to see things from your partner’s perspective and acknowledge their feelings. Use “I” statements to express how you feel and avoid blaming or attacking your partner. And finally, be willing to compromise and find a solution that works for both of you.

In conclusion, by making and accepting repair attempts, you can prevent conflict from escalating and repair any damage done during an argument. Remember to be sincere, empathetic, and willing to compromise to make effective repair attempts.