As much as I would love to, I cannot take credit for this great metaphor. Hats off to Andy Greendorfer, a brilliant clinician in Seattle who said:
‘Repair’ is the duct tape of relationship – it’s versatile, it’s strong and a little bit can go a long way. Effective repair is like hitting the reset button.
It gets communication back on track.
So true, so completely true.
The concept of Repair is another gem from John Gottman’s research on the “Masters of marriage”” Repair are those expressions – verbal and nonverbal – used during or after conflict to soothe, to invite softness or to maintain connection with one’s partner.
John’s research shows that the masters of marriage stumble as much as the rest of us. What they do differently is they are consistently gentle with one another; they are kind and they right their boat quickly by ‘repairing.’
Examples of relational repairs:
- Accepting, and acknowledging, responsibility
- Offering an apology or a touch
- Stepping up and making a gesture in your partner’s love language
- Taking a step toward one’s partner’s point of view is a very potent form of repair:
- “I didn’t think of it that way. What you’re saying makes a ton a sense.”
- “You’re right. I really was defensive.”
Repair early and repair often.