Don’t call us, we’ll call you

September 14, 2010

King of repair attempts

Filed under: Family, Neal's writing, Personal — Tags: , , , , — llcall @ 10:00 pm

If you have ever taken a marriage and family class, you probably know what a “repair attempt” is.  Of course, even if you haven’t, you’ve probably seen these at work in relationships before.  John Gottman, relationship guru, explains a repair attempt this way in his excellent book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work (I highly recommend it, even if he is a bit full of himself):

This name refers to any statement or action — silly or otherwise — that prevents negativity from escalating out of control.  Repair attempts are the secret weapon of emotionally intelligent couple — even though many of these couples aren’t aware that they are doing something so powerful.  When a couple have a strong friendship, they naturally become experts at sending each other repair attempts and at correctly reading those sent their way.

I have to confess something here: I’m not so good at stopping the escalation and sending a repair attempt instead.  I’m a bit of tiger when I feel I’m right, and let’s face it, if you’ve met me, you know I feel I’m right an awful lot.  So poor Neal, one of the most conflict-averse people you’ll ever meet, has a wifey that, truth be told, enjoys a little bit of escalation every now and then.

Thank goodness for Neal and his innate ability to send repair attempts, which usually come in humorous form.  Repair attempts are typically unique to each couple, based on their own idiosyncratic behaviors, so  I’m quite sure that some people will be horrified when I admit that one of Neal’s go-to repair attempts is to say, “Well then, I’ll puncture your lung.”  Of course if I ever worried about Neal actually puncturing my lung, it wouldn’t be funny; but since I don’t and he wouldn’t, it seriously cracks me up.  Conflict defused.  There are many non-humorous repair attempts, but I maintain that this is one of the important reasons to find your partner funny because most of us will need to laugh at ourselves and each other to get through this life peaceably.

And all this background is simply to introduce the following note that I found sitting next to a stack of my papers when I came home after a particularly frustrating conflict last month:

Awesome.  About 10% repair attempt, 10% straight-up apology, and 80% trying to get me to throw stuff out.  That’s my Neal.



  1. Love it!

    Comment by Vickie Blanchard — September 15, 2010 @ 12:01 am

  2. Peter will sing a Lady Gaga song–how could I NOT start to laugh?

    Comment by kei02003 — September 15, 2010 @ 2:30 am

    • Now, if I knew a Lady Gaga song…

      Comment by llcall — September 15, 2010 @ 3:32 pm

  3. If we could all be so lucky to find a Neal.

    Comment by Kirsten — September 15, 2010 @ 2:17 pm

    • True, true. Of course, it would mean you’d have to throw a lot of crap out, even sentimental stuff. There are prices to love 🙂

      Comment by llcall — September 15, 2010 @ 3:33 pm

  4. I also wish I could find a Neal. That’s one freaky neat guy. Neat freak guy. Very clean, I mean. Likes his house in order. Also, very skinny. Fits into corners, very out of the way, like a lamp or coat rack. Inconspicuous. Maybe a little sneaky. Skulky. Maybe a little creepy. on second thought, I’d rather not have a Neal. He’s like a spider, jumps out of corners and dark places. Very quiet. Lying in wait. *shudder*

    Comment by neal — September 15, 2010 @ 7:46 pm

    • It was tough to decide whether I should approve this comment, but it’s your first blog comment, and that’s something to celebrate!

      Comment by llcall — September 15, 2010 @ 7:49 pm

  5. You guys crack me up. I’m so glad we’re friends!!

    Comment by Kristin — September 17, 2010 @ 4:31 am

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