The Happiest Lives Podcast

E13: Making Repair Attempts

July 28, 2023 Jill M. Lillard Season 2023 Episode 13
The Happiest Lives Podcast
E13: Making Repair Attempts
Show Notes Transcript

The Hallmark of happy couples is NOT that they never have disagreements or regrettable incidences. What sets the "masters of marriage" apart from the "disasters of marriage," as Gottman likes to classify them, is Repair Attempts. If you can have a fight but come back together and effectively move forward, learning from your last conversation that didn’t go well, then you are on the right track for a growing relationship. This week I show you how to repair your conversations by tapping the breaks, taking a time out, and coming back together. 

If you are ready to become the woman God says you already are, you have to join me in Clarity+Courage, my cost-effective coaching group for Christian women.

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You're listening to The Happiest Lives Podcast with Jill Lillard, Episode number 13.

Hey, hey, everybody!  Welcome back!.

Today we will finish the series Better Conversations, and I will share the secret skillset of happily married couples. 

It's not that satisfied couples don’t fight or have disagreements; instead, when they experience negativity, they are able and willing to make Repair Attempts.  

I always say my husband and I are a perfect example of this. 

He is a psychologist, and I am a marriage counselor, and still, things go south from time to time. However, somehow we keep starting over, leaving the past behind as we move forward. 

Repair Attempts are any efforts made to de-escalate conflict or repair emotional distance. This, my friends, is the hallmark of happy couples. 

In episode number 11, I talked about Gottman’s 4 Horsemen Of The Apocalypse:  criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.  Just because they show up occasionally in your conversation, this does not mean your relationship is doomed for destruction. 

If you notice what is happening and interrupt the negativity, you will keep turning your conversations and relationship in the right direction. As soon as you see things aren't going well, you want to be willing to move toward healing. You want to be willing to repair and move forward. 

Now this isn’t something that will happen instantly. Like cooking a good meal, it can take time and attention to sort through feelings, so be patient with the process so you don’t lose heart.  

A repair attempt is an effort to interrupt negativity. It requires humility and willingness; at least, it does for me! Sometimes we must set aside pride, take ownership of what I contributed to the negativity, and be willing to say, “Hey, I might have been wrong there.”

Are you willing to extend grace when someone else does wrong? Repairing means we're not holding on to unforgiveness and bitterness; instead, we're willing to release and let those things go. It’s acknowledging that maybe we both were just having a bad day and need some grace.

Repairing doesn’t mean we keep putting ourselves in harm's way; it just means we find a way to repair that we feel good about so that we don’t feel powerless in our relationship. It keeps us on the pathway of learning and growing. 

To make repairs, you want to have enough personal insight during your conversation to know when to tap the breaks and slow things down before things derail. But even if things derail, you can use repair attempts to get back on track. 

This starts with awareness of what's going on in your body. What sensations are you experiencing? Are you emotionally starting to flood?

The sooner you interrupt that negativity, the better. Being able to say, “Hey, let's take a break because I need to calm down,” or “This isn't feeling good right now” can go a long way to staying connected for the long haul as you commit to coming back and have the conversation when you are both calm.

For those in my coaching group, Clarity+Courage, there is a course on Making Up After a Fight, and I discuss the idea of having a flood plan for when you become emotionally flooded. 

The plan starts with creating an interruption and ends with coming back together. 

It also includes what you do in between– during the pause– so that you can have a better conversation and not repeat the cycle. This is where we do Heart Scans, a process that I use in all my coaching programs.  

Heart Scanning helps you look at your thoughts, process your feelings and decide how you want to show up. It's a great way to validate your experience without getting stuck. It will help you process a fight or regrettable incident and figure out how to repair things. 

Repair attempts can take various forms, but they all serve the purpose of reconnecting and resolving conflicts. 

Repair attempts may incorporate humor, physical affection, intentional eye contact, shifting the focus, taking responsibility, and making verbal statements. You can get a list of repair attempt statements inside Clarity+Courage.

If you want your repair attempts to be successful,  making positive investments into your relationship's emotional bank account will not only prevent things from escalating but will lay the foundation for repairs.  So the more positive investments, the more likely your repair attempt will be successful.

I had a couple I worked with, and the husband felt they could only share positive experiences once they solved all their problems. He considered himself solution-focused when the actual solution could not be found because the positive sentiments were depleted. 

The relationship had become all about solving problems instead of loving and enjoying one another. It was like trying to pay off debt without bringing in new cash.  There was nothing to withdraw from to make the repairs. They were emotionally bankrupt and would never find solutions because enjoying one another was the solution. They could not make successful repair attempts without creating new positive feelings in the relationship. 

What investments are you making in the fun things, the happy things, the light things?  

Are you hitting refresh on your love maps, discovering your partner's inner world? Are you expressing fondness and admiration? Are you making bids to connect as you turn toward in life-giving ways?  If so, your efforts to repair things will be more effective than if you aren’t making positive connections. 

The more contempt and defensiveness you have in your relationship, the more you'll flood, and the harder it will be to repair things. Remember, repair attempts are an ongoing process you should actively engage in. They contribute to the overall health and resilience of the relationship by fostering understanding, empathy, and connection. 

Nothing is wrong if you fight or things go south occasionally. Keep coming back together, learn from what didn’t go well, and be willing to leave the past behind as you move forward. 

Thank you for listening today. Enjoy the rest of your day. We’ll talk again soon!