What is the #1 communication skill that helped my own marriage?
This term was coined by John Gottman, PhD. A repair attempt is when you and your partner are in the middle of an argument and tension is in the air, and one of you says or does something to ease the tension. That is a repair attempt. It can be reaching out to hold your partner’s hand while arguing, it can be calling them by a pet name, it can be referring to an inside joke that the makes you both smile.
Repair attempts are not avoidance of conflict. It is an attempt to ease the tension by reminding you both that you are on the same team, and you still love each other even if you are disagreeing right now.
Repair attempts do not mean that the conflict is all of a sudden resolved. You can still continue to argue. But a repair attempt calms the tension and prevents it from escalating.
Healthy couples give and receive repair attempts.
You receive a repair attempt by laughing or smiling at the inside joke or squeezing your partners hand back. As much as you can, please do not reject their repair attempt. After many rejections, people are less likely to give those repair attempts.
Giving and receiving repair attempts are equally important. It has helped my own marriage to be aware of those repair attempts during conflicts. And yes, every relationship will have conflict. It is how you handle those conflicts that matters most. Try and be aware of repair attempts the next time you and your partner are getting into a disagreement. Notice how you respond.
Repair attempts are an easy communication skill that can significantly improve your relationship. Hope this helps. Take care of yourself, and take care of your relationship.