by Elizabeth Earnshaw, LMFT
Conflict is bound to happen in your relationships – if it doesn’t then you’re a unicorn and I’d love to hear from you.
The way that you “kiss and makeup” afterwards determines whether the conflict deepens your connection and intimacy or creates resentment and unhealed wounds.
Going to your partner and giving a true apology, expressing love, being open about your responsibility in the interaction, and having a willingness to move forward is pivotal.
This is especially hard for me. I am stubborn and saying “fine, I was wrong.. let’s get on with it” is the way I am inclined to respond to conflict (if at all.. see stonewalling in the dictionary and you might find my face).
I’ve had to push myself to put ego aside, gently approach my husband, and give genuine apologies. It’s hard work but it’s important and I encourage you to push yourself as well.
Here are examples of repair:
– use humor to make fun of yourself (“okay, the drama queen has been dethroned. I can talk now”)
– use physical affection (can we just hug now?”)
– say sorry (look, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have yelled)
– stop action (phew, this is getting heated. Let’s just take a break)
– use pet names (honey, I don’t want to fight anymore).
– express feelings (in just so upset right now)
These types of interactions in conflict or after conflict help to deescalate and reconnect.
Tip #2- learn to accept repairs, too. You must learn to recognize when you’re partner is also trying to repair and take a deep breath, accept it, and allow softness to enter the communication.
Elizabeth Earnshaw, LMFT is a licensed marriage therapist in Philadelphia. Elizabeth supports individuals and couples improve the relationship they have with themselves and others through better communication, self soothing, and a clear understanding of what a successful marriage looks like. She believes that any committed couples who is willing to do the work can walk away from therapy with more clarity and connection in their relationship.