6 min read
All relationships encounter rough patches. These conflicts feel all-consuming. They create distance in your relationship and dissonance in what you want versus the reality that you’re living.
In our recent interview with Kimberly Hill, a Certified Dating & Relationship Coach, she shared a ritual in her relationship that she practices called “Relationship Repair” and that got me thinking about how Ansh and I diffuse arguments.
Most conflicts follow some variation of this Conflict Resolution Curve:
🆕 Inception – The moment a conflict is registered
This occurs first individually, with us becoming aware that something is wrong and then as a shared intelligence – in which you may try to communicate with your partner about the issue, but no progress is made.
🌶️ Getting Hot – The in-between space
The build is what comes between becoming aware and reaching a conversation space (healthy or otherwise) to resolve the conflict. The build can have many different flavors. Some include: passive aggressive with an extra shot of cold shoulder, simply stonewalling, and blatantly ignoring the obvious elephant in the room.
💣 Big Bang – The climactic moment of the conflict
Sometimes conflicts can be resolved in healthy ways – leveraging Safer Space and Conscious Coupling. Other times tears, heated words, and low blows can make guest appearances as we try to move through the confusion of what we are feeling.
🧊 Cool Down – The period after our conflict reaches a “resolution”
Sometimes that resolution is understanding each other’s perspective, and sometimes it involves compromising. In either case, we feel like the conflict is behind us – and it’s smooth (or smoother) sailing ahead.
🆕 New Normal – How life will be after this conflict
We don’t go back to the “way things were;” rather, any conflict, whether resolved or not, results in a new way of living because individually and collectively, we have grown our understanding of what it means to share a life together.
BUT WAIT!! There’s one step that we often miss after a New Normal has been established.
🪡 Relationship Repair – Building goodwill back into the relationship
It’s not taking our ability to resolve disagreements with our partner for granted, and being intentional in building back the trust that was broken when the conflict arose.
Relationship Repair can feel like extra work, but it’s the essential secret ingredient to building a healthier relationship that we forget to add when our relationship is at its most fragile state.
Depending on how long your conflict has been Getting Hot, at some point all you want is to ease the friction at home. It’s not even about resolving conflicts at that point. It’s about how strong our desire is to move on and re-establish some sort of normal at home. So when the “conflict ends” and you move on, it’s natural to consider that itself a victory. Finally, there is peace at home, we survived a hard time in our relationship, and we are still together – everything is gonna be alright.
Where we have room for growth is realizing that conflict resolution takes a huge toll on the shared trust that our relationships are built on. Not acknowledging the shared trust that was broken and going a step further to sow some goodwill back into the relationship is more than a missed opportunity. Too often we take for granted our relationship’s ability to come out on the other side of a disagreement. Relationship Repair after a conflict is how we can ensure a long-term healthy relationship.
Relationship Repair doesn’t have to cost a lot. It can be as simple as asking for a do-over, going on a date and reminiscing about why you’re in this relationship, writing each other a letter on how your life has changed for the better since that person came into your life, showing them love in their Love Language. Or take a moment for Love Stretching because, when we are struggling to find the right words, we often forget that words aren’t everything; silence and loving touch can speak volumes. Relationship Repair isn’t about grand gestures of love to show your commitment; it’s small acts of service/love in a relationship that bring the feel-good vibe to the front and center of your mind.
When Relationship Repair is coupled with Conflict Resolution we see a greater impact on shifting the focus from the negative (we are always fighting) to the positive (we may have tough times ahead and will continue to find a way to work through them because we are an awesome team).
I know this is what has been helping Ansh and me come out of each disagreement stronger together. The next time you find yourself at the end of a conflict resolution cycle, go that extra step and Repair your Relationship intentionally.