R is for Repair

R IS FOR REPAIR

Zach Brittle

Repair is easily my favorite concept in the entire Gottman encyclopedia. Typically, we think of repair in terms of what we have to do to a car or a washing machine or a botched haircut. As in, it’s broken, it needs repair. But in relational terms, repair is less about fixing what is broken and more about getting back on track.

What is a repair attempt?

Masters of relationships 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 reason I love the concept so much is because of that word “any.” It 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.

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A is for Arguments

A IS FOR ARGUMENTS

Zach Brittle

Just for kicks, I decided to ask Google for help finding marriage and relationship words that started with “A.” I got a lot of help with my Scrabble game, but not too much else. I did find one site dedicated to “marriage vocabulary.” The list of “A” words included: Acceptance, Admiration, Affection, Affinity, Allegiance, Appreciation, Approval, and Attentive.

All of those words are relevant and essential to healthy relationship. They’re good words. And I think that you should accept and admire and all those other things with your partner, but I also think you should argue. Maybe it’s just me, but I think if you’re not arguing, you’re probably not committed.

When engaged couples come into my office for pre-marital counseling, one of my first questions is, “Could you tell me about when/how/why you argue?”

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