Dating TipsRelationshipsHow can I fight fair with my partner?

Enhance The Quality Of Your Romantic Relationship Using The Tricks Out Of The Gottman Bag!

I grew up seeing unhealthy conflict management all through childhood with adults walking away in the middle of an argument or saying mean things that they did not necessarily believe. Naturally, I started moving towards the relationship theories that are designed to remind us to treat our partners in a more tender manner, with consideration, and not take them for granted.

Here are some handy tools from the Gottman method to keep ready when you may not be as emotionally regulated but also intend to stop repeating old and ineffective behavioural patterns over and over to no success. This method usually is more preventive, than curative.


Arguments can turn ugly soon. The concept of rupture and repair gives us hope. Because while words can not be taken back, accountability can help mend matters. 

Consider rupture to be any disruption in the connection between partners that causes disconnection or  misunderstanding. A repair attempt is any statement or action — verbal, physical, or otherwise — meant to diffuse negativity and keep a conflict from escalating out of control. In his book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, Dr. John Gottman, calls repair attempts a secret weapon of emotionally intelligent couples. His groundbreaking research shows “the success or failure of a couple’s repair attempts is one of the primary factors in whether [a] marriage is likely to flourish or flounder.” (Khalaf, n.d.)

So what are repair statements? You can understand them as intentional and conscious attempts to soothe their partner by addressing the rupture and hence rebuilding trust in the relationship. Here are some statements we suggest to repair after conflict.

Pro tip: Being aware of your partner’s love language might be a bonus when making repairs.


The four horsemen of apocalypse is a biblical reference to the end of time. In the context of relationships, this metaphor is used to describe communication styles that, according to research, can predict the end of a relationship. 

  1. CRITICISM – Criticising your partner is different from addressing the pressing concern you have at the moment. At the core of criticism is an attack made at our partner’s character. 
  • Criticism Example: “Can you be responsible once and do the sensible thing by doing  the dishes? Didn’t you realise I was running late?”
  • Antidote: gentle start-up by using I statements and expressing positive needs.
  • Example: “I had a really exhausting day, I don’t think I’ll be able to do the dishes today. I wish you’d taken care of them for me just today.”

2. CONTEMPT – Coming from a state of contempt aims to ridicule or mock our partners. It might escalate to the degree of name calling and can result in our partners feeling worthless. While criticism attacks your partner’s character, contempt assumes a position of moral superiority over them. 

  • Contempt example: “You are out all day spending time with your stupid friends who basically add no value to your life. Am I supposed to take care of the kids all day? You should be ashamed of yourself!”
  • Antidote: Appreciation through expressing gratitude for your partner’s positive actions and qualities. 
  • Example: I am glad you take time out for yourself. I bet it helps you rejuvenate. Thank you for taking care of us. Maybe once in a while you could consider inviting your friends over? I really struggled with handling the kids today all by myself.

3. DEFENSIVENESS – It is typically a response to criticism. When we feel unjustly accused, we fish for excuses and play the innocent victim so that our partner will back off. 

  • Question: “Did you remember to pick up the clothes from the dry cleaners or did you forget it as always?
  • Defence: “I have been so busy this week. I am sure you took notice of that yet decided to pile this on me. Why didn’t you just pick it up?” (This partner not only responds defensively, but they reverse blame in an attempt to make it the other partner’s fault.)
  • Antidote: Taking responsibility. 
  • Example: “I genuinely forgot to pick it up. That’s on me. Do you think it’s too late to go right now?”

4. STONEWALLING: Stonewalling occurs when a listener withdraws from the conversation, shuts down, or simply ceases to respond to their partner. Rather than confronting their partner with their problems, stonewallers may engage in evasive actions such as tuning out, turning away, acting busy, or indulging in compulsive or diverting behaviours. 

  • Stonewalling Example: Acting busy, shutting down conversations etc.
  • Antidote: Self-soothing by taking a break. During the break do something that is unrelated to the argument.
  • Example: This is getting overwhelming for me. Can I take some time for myself and process everything? I promise to get back to you once I feel better.


Dr. John Gottman introduced the idea that a foundationally strong partnership is similar to a house. It contains weight-bearing walls and levels, which each person builds on to form a solid connection. He termed this structure the Sound Relationship House, and for more than two decades, it has provided numerous couples with the skills they need to have happy, healthy relationships.

    1. Build Love Maps – A crucial guide to your partner’s inner world. What are their preferences and dislikes? Who is your partner’s best friend? Did they have a pleasant childhood? How do they prefer to unwind after a stressful day? Building Love Maps entails asking the appropriate questions to understand more about your partner. In an ideal relationship, you and your spouse understand one other better than anybody else.
    2. Share Fondness And Admiration – Expressing your appreciation for particular qualities. Perhaps you admire their sense of humour or their willingness to help those in need. In healthy relationships, you can express both the substantial and small reasons you love your partner.
    3. Turn Towards – When you need your partner’s attention, support, and comfort, you may say something or make a gesture that prompts a response—what the Gottmans refer to as a “bid.” Consistently declining (or worse, rejecting) a bid signals trouble for any relationship.
    4. The Positive Perspective – Couples in healthy relationships see the best in each other and rarely rush to take offence or criticise. Give your partner the benefit of the doubt. Believing that you’re on the same team deepens your bond from within.
    5. Manage Conflict – First, you must embrace your partner’s influence, which means acknowledging their feelings and goals rather than doing things your way. Second, whether the problems are solvable or not, you talk about them. Third, if you find yourself becoming agitated during an argument, self-soothing techniques (such as going for a walk or taking deep breaths) will help you stay cool.
    6. Make Life Dreams Come True – shows that you desire the best life for your partner and are willing to go to any length to achieve it. The benefit of good companionship is that you have someone who will not only encourage you but also help you achieve your goals.
    7. Create Shared Meaning – The Gottmans define it as creating a culture of symbols and rituals that reflect who you are as a group. It can be as easy as eating pizza from your favourite restaurant every Friday night, or as complex as your individual birthday celebration. These Rituals of Connection identify you as a group, and you develop them together.
    8. Weight-Bearing Walls Of Trust And Commitment – As crucial as all of the levels of the Sound Relationship House are, they cannot stand alone without the foundations of trust and commitment. In a healthy, supportive relationship, two people decide to believe in each other and stick together. They freely love each other and promise to help that love flourish.

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Until next time. 🙂

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