Damage Control: Effective Relationship Repairs to Use Often
Happy couples fight, slam doors, walk off, and put up emotional walls. People do things they shouldn’t do. Partners say things they regret. Relationships get messy.
No matter how many relationship counseling blogs you read, bullet points you memorize, or therapy sessions you schedule, you’re both going to mess things up sometimes.
That’s okay. That’s good to know. You’re two human beings in a relationship where perfection is not the goal.
So, what is the goal?
The ability to recover. Put simply, successful, resilient couples know when damage control is necessary and how to repair things effectively.
As a team, you must do what you can to repair emotional injury with prompt, loving attention. Make sure your missteps and mistakes do not go unaddressed, thereby decreasing the risk that neither of you succumbs to resentment or contempt.
Relationship repair is vital, connection-preserving work.
Attempt to understand where the interaction went wrong, and do what you can to ensure your next conversation is more constructive.
Well, to see your relationship thrive, you need to know what successful couples know. Here’s a helpful list of effective relationship repairs to live and love by:
Take responsibility to promote recovery
When you understand and are willing to admit your role in a conflict, healing and repair quickly get underway.
You essentially send your partner a message of cooperation based on maturity and acknowledgment. You also set a clear priority that he or she can appreciate and agree with. One that says you recognize that your relationship is more precious than scoring points in a contest of wills.
In other words, you are determined that no problem should eclipse your connection.
Stay present to restore respect
When your partner is sharing their thoughts and feelings with you, stay with them, even if what they are saying is hard to hear.
Do everything you can to maintain that baseline of honor and respect. Be aware of your own and your partner’s body language and facial expressions as you remain mentally and physically present.
Letting down your defenses is of key importance here. Repair will be most effective if you can resist the urge to become defensive and be in the mindset that your partner may need to vent and just need you to be present.
Express affection to maintain connection
Touch and admiration reinforce a sense of unity and belonging. Interject a brief statement of gratitude and appreciation for your partner’s desire to talk things through with you. Lightly brush or pat their shoulder, hold their hands, or lean in for a quick embrace.
You needn’t gush or crowd each other during heated moments, just reach out. Soften the hard edge of the conflict between you with loving physical contact.
Demonstrate a willingness to remain connected and vulnerable no matter what.
Become curious to increase clarity
Relationship repair sometimes requires the use of the same communication techniques you might see your relationship counseling therapist use.
Try to tune in more objectively. Often, it’s just a matter of asking questions and refraining from too many assumptions. You can deescalate and repair the rift between you by simply showing interest in your partner’s perspective without an agenda.
A willingness to listen sincerely shows a willingness to acknowledge.
Laugh a little to ease the tension
Quickly become your partner’s friend again with a smile or a little levity. Remind each other that you are still the fun couple you were before things got so intense.
Be genuine and sincere about it and you’ll likely find your partner eager to reconnect this way. Humor connects well without a lot of deep emotional discussion. A simple inside joke or a well- placed self-deprecating quip may do the trick.
Allow each other a mental breather with a smile and a little lighthearted acknowledgment. The tension between you will lessen with the reminder that you’re still the “us” that you love.
Take a break to protect your progress
Sometimes repairing your relationship means giving each other a bit of breathing space.
Just be careful in the execution. It’s important that you clearly state to your partner how important it is to have a clear respectful conversation. Simply share that you need a bit of time away to process the conflict or the points that have been made during your discussion.
Do reassure your partner that you will return soon to work on resolving your conflicts. Then, honor your promise. He or she then can feel good about your ability to disagree, separate, and reunite purposefully.
Propose compromise to achieve mutual satisfaction
Make things right between you by making suggestions for mutual agreement.
Who can resist someone who exhibits a willingness to change with a plan to prove it?
Compromise is a loving way to show each other that you are in an equal, respectful relationship, one that works by putting the partnership first.
Effective relationship repairs emphasize improving the emotional climate between you. Your repair attempts needn’t be elaborate. Just be sure they are sincere, employed often, and full of love-restoring forgiveness.
Feelings can get hurt as conflict between you becomes more intense. Repairing damage before it becomes insurmountable is the path to a successful relationship.
Never withhold loving affection and the foundational friendship that has kept you close this long. Relationship damage is controlled by increased care, ongoing compassion, and continual attempts to reconnect. According to Dr. Lyle Becourtney, anger can often affect and damage a relationship.
About the Author
Dr. Stan Hyman is a licensed psychotherapist and life coach in private practice in Miami, Florida. He works with couples struggling with powerful issues such as infidelity, careers, and intimacy. He also specializes in treating addictions, anger, anxiety, stress, depression and work life balance.