In his book, The Science of Trust, Dr. John Gottman explains that both partners in a relationship are emotionally available only 9% of the time. This leaves 91% of our relationship ripe for miscommunication. What matters most is how couples repair when they mess up—rebuilding the bridge of connection before it becomes consumed by negativity.
According to Gottman, a repair can be so much more than an apology (although apologies work, too)—a silly smile, an “I feel” statement, a pause in the action, even partial agreement. A repair attempt is any statement or action that prevents negativity from spiraling out of control in conflict. Because negativity is an ever-present guest in conflict discussions, successful repair attempts are powerful ways to keep negativity at bay. Even when it’s hard to think of what you should do or say to repair hurt feelings, just the show of effort can be more powerful than simply saying sorry.
Dr. John Gottman takes a scientific approach to repair relationships. Here you can learn some of his most important findings.