Basic Skills for Regulating Relationship Conflict
Based on the research of John M. Gottman, Ph.D.
Understand the four destructive behaviors that predict divorce and replace them with their antidotes
Destructive Behavior Antidote
desired change, speak
from an “I” position
Defensiveness Accept responsibility
Contempt Establish a climate of
Stonewalling Self-soothing, taking a
break, staying connected
Soften Your Startup
Discussions generally end up on the same note with which they began. If you want a good outcome, begin with a gentle introduction of the topic.
Make and Receive Repair Attempts
Repair attempts are behaviors that help slow down a conflict and keep it from escalating. They say, “I need to calm down,” “I’m sorry,” “I agree,” “Let’s stop for a bit,” “I appreciate what you have done.”
Soothe Yourself and Each Other
If repair attempts don’t work, it is likely that the other person has become flooded with strong emotions. Stop the discussion and wait at least 20 minutes before resuming. Use this time to soothe yourself by going for a walk, meditating, or whatever will help you calm down.
Learn to Compromise
Be willing to accept influence from your partner. Look for common ground, feelings or goals that you share.
Be Tolerant of Each Other’s Faults
Don’t try to change your partner. You can’t. Remember—these are often characteristics that led you to love your partner in the first place.