Repair from Conflict

Repair from Conflict

Conflict is an inevitable part of many relationships, but do you find yourselves struggling to repair after conflict? Do you both find it difficult to "get back on track" or are you both able to work through it? Do issues get stuffed away only to be brought up again in another argument? Dr. John Gottman refers to couples as "emotionally intelligent" when they can successfully repair from conflict/negative interactions in a relationship with the goal of understanding each other better. Furthermore, couples who have built a positive emotional connectedness between each other in the relationship typically are more successful at repair attempts with their partner and in their partner receiving/accepting of the repair.

The Repair Attempts Questionnaire below can help couples assess the use of repair attempts in their relationship: Read each statement and select TRUE (T) or FALSE (F).

During our attempts to resolve conflict Response
1. We are good at taking breaks when we need them. T / F
2. My partner usually accepts my apologies. T / F
3. I can say that I am wrong. T / F
4. I am pretty good at calming myself down. T / F
5. We can maintain a sense of humor even in conflicts. T / F
6. When my partner says we should talk to each other in a different way, it usually makes a lot of sense. T / F
7. My attempts to repair our discussions when they get negative are usually effective. T / F
8. We are pretty good listeners even when we have different positions on things. T / F
9. If things get heated, we can usually pull out of it and change things. T / F
10. My spouse is good at soothing me when I get upset. T / F
11. I feel confident that we can resolve most issues between us. T / F
12. When I comment on how we could communicate better, my spouse listens to me. T / F
13. Even if things get hard at times, I know we can get past our differences. T / F
14. We can be affectionate even when we are disagreeing. T / F
15. Teasing and humor usually work with my spouse for getting over negativity. T / F
16. We can start all over again and improve our discussions. T / F
17. When emotions run hot, expressing how upset I feel makes a real difference. T / F
18. We can discuss even big differences between us. T / F
19. My partner expresses appreciation for nice things I do. T / F
20. If I keep trying to communicate it will eventually work. T / F

Scoring: One point for each TRUE (T) response.

  • 6 or above: Area of strength in the relationship. When discussions are becoming "out of hand" you are both able to effectively calm each other down.
  • Below 6: An area of improvement in the relationship. Learning how to repair your interactions when negativity engulfs you, can dramatically improve your problem solving and establish a more positive perspective of each other and the relationship.

Gottman, J.M., Ph.D. (1999). The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. New York, NY. Three Rivers Press.

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