Learning to repair after an argument is one of the most important skills for your relationship sustainability. Research shows that successful couples get upset with each other and might have conflicts, but they know how to come back together and repair. Not repairing the connection can have a profound effect on the level of stress for you individually and for the relationship. Overtime, conflicts with no repair will build into chronic resentment, loneliness, and dissatisfaction.
Here are 4 steps you can use to try to improve your relationship after an argument:
Take some time to reflect on your feelings and how they were expressed in the conflict.
Acknowledge to your partner that your action or behavior had a negative impact on them = offer a sincere apology. E.g., “I am so sorry I got mad and snapped at you. I know it was not ok and it hurt your feelings.” Please remember that by offering an apology, you are not taking the whole responsibility for the conflict on yourself. It always takes two to tango. However, your apology will signal to your partner that you are here to make a connection and to build a bridge. It helps us shift focus from “me vs. you” to “Us.”
Share the underlying, more vulnerable feelings in a softer way. E.g., “I was feeling very alone and misunderstood by you, which showed up as anger. But what I was really trying to express to you is my feelings of hurt and loneliness.”
Create space for the partner to share their feelings in a softer and more vulnerable way by listening to their experience.
Each step is important in the repair process. We cannot jump to Step 3 without acknowledging the impact of our angry or defensive reactions on our partner (Step 2). Vulnerability in Step 3 helps us open our hearts to each other and to honor the connection. Brene Brown reminds us: “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope empathy, accountability, and authenticity.” Learning to repair takes courage and time! But your relationship is worth it. Give it a try And if you have thoughts or questions, feel free to reach out!