“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Hate and Love
When your partner is angry at you it’s tempting (and perhaps human nature) to want to be angry back. But, as King noted, darkness cannot drive out darkness. You’ve likely noticed that not much actually changes when the two of you are yelling at each other.
This fits with marital research done by John Gottman and associates, which demonstrates that more important than how you argue is actually how you repair as a couple. The steps of repair are that one person makes a ‘bid for repair,’ which might be an apology, holding of a hand, a smile, an affirmation or some other ‘bridge maker.’ Importantly, the next step is ‘accepting that bid for repair.’ One partner might apologize, but if the other partner doesn’t accept the apology (or smile, or touch, etc) then the repair is not complete or effective.
You may not have thought about the importance of repair in your relationship but I urge you to do so now. What works for the two of you? What smooths things so that you can reconnect, or at least more calmly discuss your differences?
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