All couples argue but successful couples repair
When you think about it, every couple in every relationship is set up for failure.
It’s impossible to be emotionally available to your partner 100% of the time.
Marriages are fertile grounds for misunderstandings. The chances that either person in a relationship is attentive and emotionally available at any given time are statistically about the same as those of flipping a coin and getting heads instead of tails.
But failure is not the problem. Even a parent that failed to be responsive and available 50% of the time, can raise a child to be a happy adult with healthy relationships.
The difference between good and bad parenting is not the commission or non-commission of errors, but what they do with them.
How a child copes with everyday failures and fluctuations is directly related to the degree in which their parent creates an environment for a secure attachment bond and how that parent repairs their errors.
This is no different in our marriages. The difference between happy and unhappy couples is not that happy couples don’t make mistakes. We all do.
All couples argue but successful couples repair. And it’s how couples repair that separates happy from unhappy marriages.
What it means
Repair is any statement or action that attempts to prevent negativity from escalating out of control.
All couples naturally make many attempts to repair their interaction when it goes negative.
In happier relationships, this repair work is done before the interaction becomes negative as a way of keeping things on track emotionally.
No matter how careful you are, you will inevitably rupture the bond in your relationship.
Even in a good marriage, couples have ugly screaming matches sometimes; say mean things to each other from time to time; get critical and defensive at times; and engage in stonewalling every now and then.
They do all the same things unhealthy couples do, but at some point they have a conversation where they recover from it.
The difference between the “masters” and the “disasters” of relationships is the former repair their interactions effectively.
These couples are willing to admit responsibility for their part in the conflict so they can begin the process of healing their bond.
They realise their relationship is more important than the problem and even themselves as individuals.
The goal of repair is to understand what went wrong and how to make your next conversation more constructive.
Put on the breaks
In relationship interaction, making repair attempts is a great skill. One aspect of repair is learning how to put on the brakes when you and your partner are in a negative cycle.
Understand the source of the problem
If you don’t truly understand what’s causing the fracture or detachment, you don’t have a good chance of changing it.
And this might seem obvious, but it’s much harder than it appears, as the majority of what’s causing us to behave unbecomingly, argumentative, needy, passive-aggressive, clingy and so on resides in our subconscious mind.
We may ask a therapist for a help, our friends and family or do the soul-searching on our own, but we must be honest about the source of the problem.
Regardless of the roots of your discontent and discord, one thing that suffers in any problematic relationship is the connection, the closeness, the very thing that made you want to spend the rest of your lives together.
Working on reconnecting with your partner, both physically and emotionally, is a universal remedy that works for any type of marriage problem.
Whether it will be reintroducing touch to your interaction like hugs, holding hands, kisses and sexual intimacy, engaging in new activities together, asking questions and getting to know each other all over again, all those steps will open roads to a new, repaired relationship.
Come in peace
How you start a conflict conversation impacts the way it ends. How you choose to approach your partner in the process of repairing your fractured marriage will determine how they receive you and whether the relationship will be repaired altogether.
It is not only important that repair attempts be made, but that they are received and that they are effective.
The success or failure of your repair attempts is one of the primary factors in whether your marriage is likely to flourish or flounder.
What will determine the success of your repair attempts is your approach and attitude, whether or not you’ve come to mend or prove how right you are.
Build a friendship
The real difference between couples who repair successfully and those who don’t is the emotional climate between the partners.
In other words, your repair attempt is only going to work well if you have really been a good friend to them, especially lately.
It’s the quality of the friendship that matters most in repairing the relationship when things go wrong.
When you have a strong friendship you naturally become experts at sending each other repair attempts and at correctly reading those sent your way.
But you are caught in an overwhelmingly negative view of your partner and your marriage, even an apology may have a low success rate.
Therefore, if you are having difficulty making an effective repair, don’t just practise the words, but work on your friendship.
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