Keys to Relationship Repair

All couples encounter differences and fall out of synch at times. They may disagree about things, misinterpret one another, or get their buttons pushed. Your ability to effectively communicate at such times makes all the difference between resolving issues or getting stuck in upset.

Unfortunately, most of us did not grow up seeing adults model healthy ways to work through differences. So we don’t know how to talk with one another in a way that handles each other’s distress.

We can all learn from couples who share ongoing happiness. How do they communicate and  handle distress? A key skill they have is being able to rapidly repair things. They are good at quickly attending to the little glitches that every relationship encounters. Continue reading

On the Brink of Divorce

In my intensive marriage retreats, I frequently work with couples on the brink of divorce. One or both partners seem to have given up. They arrive ambivalent about staying together. Most people would probably think, “Who could possibly help them now?”

But quite often, within two or three days I see an amazing turnaround! I never get tired of witnessing what seems miraculous…. As I help each partner see more clearly what has really been plaguing them, a surprising majority of times things dramatically shift.

In working with me, couples learn things they never knew. They find out what scientific research shows us to be the basis of lasting happiness in a healthy intimate partnership. Partners then understand one another better and learn tools to turn things around. And they start feeling their love for each other again. Continue reading

Keys to a Secure Partnership

Most relationships start with happiness and hope. The last three decades of scientific research on love reveals what you need to do in order to mutually sustain those positive feelings. It also explains why in so many relationships shared positive feelings erode over time.

It comes down to this: An intimate partnership can function in one of two ways — securely or insecurely. If you want lasting happiness, you need to be in a securely functioning relationship.

When a couple functions securely, their love and friendship grows stronger with time. They maximize shared happiness and minimize distress. In secure functioning, things feel fair, equal, just and sensitive. Riffs get quickly repaired. Past upsets do not linger on as negative memories. Continue reading

How to Repair Upsets & Stay Happy

What’s the difference between couples who share long term happiness and those who don’t? In a word, they know how to repair. All partners go in and out of synch and can occasionally be at odds. How this gets handled makes all the difference.

Couples who keep love alive are good at quickly repairing the riffs and glitches every relationship encounters. Knowing how to repair is a vital skill to keep love alive and thriving. Continue reading

The Importance of Quick Repair

How do couples who share ongoing happiness differ from those who don’t? One key difference is that they know how to quickly repair. Partners who keep love alive resolve small riffs or ruptures before they escalate into big ones. All couples go in and out of synch and can occasionally be at odds. Knowing how to repair such distress is central to staying happily connected.

Here’s an example of repair. Say your partner forgets to do something they agreed to do. You react by criticizing them. They react back defensively. You now notice you are in a familiar reactive pattern. What can you do? Below are some simple steps that couples who engage in quick repair would do. Continue reading

Ending the Vicious Cycle

When many of us try to “work” on our relationship, how we communicate does not work at all! Instead of resolving issues, we fall into a vicious cycle, which creates even bigger problems and more upset feelings. Talking can go around in circles for hours, and never get anywhere that feels positive. Couples get stuck in a vicious cycle.

How you talk makes a difference. How you communicate is like choosing the road you take. Sadly, the road that many couples take when faced with challenges or issues leads them into a familiar downward spiral. Despite their best intentions (at least to begin with) things only accelerate downhill. Continue reading

Stopping Poor Communication

Let’s say you find that you are involved in a situation where you and/or your partner are getting upset. Not having tools for stopping poor communication, you fall into in a destructive pattern of reactivity. Different people react in different ways, of course. One person might get more visibly angry or critical. Another might try to avoid and withdraw. Regardless of the form, these are all some form of reacting.

Someone has just said or done something, and the other person is getting upset and showing this through some form of reactivity. The best thing you can do as soon as you recognize this is to put on the brakes, so to speak, and then try to reverse out of the situation as quickly as possible — to repair it in some way. Continue reading

Agree to Stop the Damage

When you are in the midst of a reactive pattern, the only result you can get is further reactivity. You will never resolve the issue if your reactive brain has taken control of the conversation. Continuing to talk more is like trying to put out a fire by throwing gasoline on it. Good things will never come of further communication. It’s time to agree to stop the damage.

Making an agreement to pause at such times with your partner is crucial. It can literally save your relationship. If you cannot pause, it is as if you have a car that only has an accelerator and no brakes. That will never turn out well for you, as you will just go faster and faster, speeding up until you crash. Empowering your relationship with a pause agreement is like installing a vital factor — brakes — in your vehicle. Continue reading