You’ve heard every story your signinficant other has told at least 20 times.
And now they’re telling it again.
You smile, nod and pray that a life-destroying comet is heading directly for your house. Or maybe a plague of locusts.
Anything that would prevent this tale from being told yet again.
I get it. I’ve been there many times with many people.
What I didn’t know while I was praying for a natural disaster was that this attitude is the #1 relationhsip killer.
Resentment, according to John Gottman in his wonderful book, The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work, points out that it is so deadly and toxic to relationships that he likens it to one of the Four Horses of the Apocalypse.
While this may sound dramatic, I assure you it is not.
All relationships grow old , predictable and rut harboring. The most insidious part is that it doesn’t happan all at once.
It shows up like the dirty dishes in the sink or pet hair on the sofa. You don’t notice the fork or plate or small pile of fur gathering on that sofa. Instead, you are shocked and confused when you’d like to cook and realize the kitchen needs a major rehaul before you can pull out a skillet.
Resentment shows itself in a number of sneaky and predictable ways.
For one thing, it makes us bitchy, manipulative and refusing to do what is best for ourselves, the other person or our relationship.
Instead, it makes us dwell in being cunning and trying to get over.
And in worse case scenarios, it makes us doubt our abilities and at some point not give a shit that we don’t give a shit.
I always say that when I say I don’t give a shit it means one level of disengagement.
When I move into the I don’t give a shit that I don’t give a shit, mofos better watch out.
I’ve had this experience too many times to mention and it usually involves a love relationship.
But wait. There’s hope.
According to Dr. Gottman, the author of 7 Pinciples for Making Marriage Work, the most powerful anecdote against resntment is the Repair Attmept.
This simple and effective tool allows you and your partner to defuse a possible ugly situation where no one gets heard because the listening has stopped. Many times in my relationships, I’ve been emotionally flooded in a way that doesn’t allow me to think or breathe or create a fresh response to a highly emotionally volatile situation.
When this happened, I chose resentment over repair attempts and connection. I got pissed off and emotionally shut down.
I checked out of the relationship but hadn’t packed my bags yet.
Over the years and now as a married man in his fifties, I’ve acquired new tools and fresh approaches to life, my husband and my community.
I recognize an emotional overload with myself and others way before anyone can articulate that this is happening.
I can also whip out several repair attempts ( a goofy face, silly dancing or ask to step away from the conversaion because my best, clear, loving thinking is nowhere to be found) that have proven effective in reinventing communication and connection.
What do your Repair Attempts look like?