Relationship Minute: The repair remote control

Repair is one of the best tools a couple can have at their disposal. Because mistakes, carelessness, and conflict are inevitable, the right repairs at the right time can make all the difference.

Imagine repair attempts as buttons on a TV remote control. If the conversation goes awry, you can “press”:

Rewind (Sorry) 

  • “Can I try again?” 
  • “I messed up.” 
  • “How can I make things better?” 
  • “I’m sorry.” 

Fast Forward (Get to Yes) 

  • “I agree with part of what you’re saying.” 
  • “Let’s find a compromise.” 
  • “What are your concerns?” 

Pause (I Need to Calm Down) 

  • “Can we take a break from this conversation for now?” 
  • “Please be gentler with me” 
  • “I am starting to feel flooded.” 

Stop (Stop Action!) 

  • “Give me a moment.” 
  • “Let’s agree to disagree.” 
  • “We are getting off track.” 

Record (I Appreciate) 

  • “That’s a good point.” 
  • “I know this isn’t your fault.” 
  • “I love you.” ​​​​

Microphone/Voice Command (I Feel) 

  • “That hurt my feelings.” 
  • “I feel defensive. Can you rephrase that?” 
  • “I’m getting worried.” 

The better you get at using and recognizing repairs, the more effective they will be in your relationship. 

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The Relationship Minute is from The Gottman Institute. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning.