The Importance of Repair
This post is about the (sometimes elusive) concept of repair.
To start I’ll say:
In relationships, partners are constantly and inevitably moving through cycles of harmony, disharmony, rupture, and repair. (Find more about what I mean by this by exploring the work of Ed Tronick PhD and Claudia Gold MD.)
A part of building a secure and healthy relationship is getting more comfortable in each of those stages, and being able to experience them without major disruption to connection, relational esteem, or relational security.
In relationships withOUT good repair practices, repair isn’t very present and, instead, it looks more like periods of disharmony that “magically” return to harmony without any explicit repair. Without repair, hurts can linger and resentment can build. Also, without repair, disharmony itself can feel like a threat to the relationship, and relational esteem can stay low or get even lower.
When repair practices ARE in place, disharmony doesn’t have to mean significant periods of disconnection. By that I mean, couples can be in disharmony or experiencing a minor rupture, but can remain emotionally connected, in full respect with one another, and relational esteem can stay high.
During repair, partners reaffirm that their feelings matter to one another, they each can name what happened, and they can find a way to move forward together in both an authentic and connected way. Additionally, partners can apologize if any boundaries were violated or if the conflict dipped below the line of respect (ideally conflict stays above the line of respect and boundaries are honored).
Eventually after you practice repair consistently, you’ll get to a place where you feel more acceptance during periods of disharmony or minor ruptures, and your relational esteem (or sense of relational security) can stay pretty level throughout all stages of harmony, disharmony, rupture, and repair.
The takeaway is this:
Every time you and a partner move relationally from disharmony into repair- you build trust, security, and relational esteem.