Relationship Tips: Restore and Repair

The holiday period can be stressful for many people and can often put pressure on relationships. When conflict does arise, it’s important to remember to be gentle. Tonia, Clinical Family Therapist at Relationships Australia SA, shares tips for helping to restore and repair and your relationship after conflict.


5 Tips to Refresh Your Relationship in 2017

Good relationships are good for you and your children. People in supportive, loving relationships are more likely to feel healthy, happy and satisfied with their lives.

They are less likely to have mental or physical health problems or do things that affect their health. People in good relationships help each other practically as well as emotionally. They share the good times and help each other through the tough ones. All relationships have challenging times.

It’s never too late to improve your relationship and your children will benefit from your efforts.. To mark the new year, we’ve put together a few tips to help you ‘refresh your relationship’.

1. Express interest in your partner’s world

Learn what is happening in your partner’s world. Ask questions that show you are interested in their day-to-day life. We sometimes forget to check in with our partner or fail to respond to their attempts to connect. Over time this can create serious damage to the relationship. It can be as simple as asking, “How was your day?”[1]

2. Be gentle in conflict

Avoid criticism or blame and try to focus on your own needs. For example, instead of saying, “You never help around the house,” focus on what you do need. For example, “The house needs cleaning and I would really appreciate some help.” Avoid statements of “You never…” or “You always…” It may take some practice at first.[2]

3. Repair negative interactions

Take responsibility, even if it’s for only part of the problem. It can be difficult to admit being wrong or making a mistake, but Dr. Gottman holds ‘repair’ as one of the most important relationship skills. We can’t always avoid conflict, , so when couples make mistakes, hurt one another, or have fights – it is essential to have ways to repair the relationship. Conflict can actually deepen intimacy and bring couples closer together. Dr. Gottman says that, “conflict is an opportunity to learn how to love each other better over time.” The ability for couples to repair is directly related to the strength of their friendship. Distressed couples have as many repair attempts as happy couples, it is just that these repair attempts tend not to work because these partners don’t feel close, accepted, or safe enough.[3]

4. Spend time alone together and make it a priority

If you have children, competing work schedules or other commitments, finding the time to be alone together without interruption can be a challenge. As with all new things, take small steps in the beginning. Thirty minutes alone together, with phones on silent is plenty of time to connect and discover what is happening in your partner’s world. [4]

5. Express affection and let your partner know how you feel about them

We convey a great deal of information without using words with our body posture, the tone of voice, and with our facial expressions. These non-verbal ways of communicating tell the other person how we feel about them. If your feelings don’t align with your words, it tends to be the non-verbal messages that are heard and believed. If you can, kiss and hug your partner every day and give them a smile when you make eye contact. If you are uncomfortable with making physical contact, remember that small actions speak volumes! Doing something thoughtful and unexpected for your partner like picking a flower from the garden or unpacking the dishwasher, can go a long way in expressing how you feel..[5]

Relationships Australia SA offers a range of services to support individuals, couples and families through difficult times. Seeking help early can prevent problems from getting out of control. Go to or call 1300 364 277 for more information.

For training and workforce development in the areas of communication and interpersonal skills go to The Australian Institute of Social Relations RTO 102358 or 08 8245 8100.

[1] Navarra, B 2016, Research-Based Tips for a Healthy & Happy Relationship, The Gottman Institute, viewed 4 January 2017, <>

[2] Navarra, B 2016, Research-Based Tips for a Healthy & Happy Relationship, The Gottman Institute, viewed 4 January 2017, <>.

[3] Navarra, B 2016, Research-Based Tips for a Healthy & Happy Relationship, The Gottman Institute, viewed 4 January 2017, <>.

[4] Relationships Australia 2016a, Communication, Relationships Australia, viewed 4 January 2017, <>.

[5] Relationships Australia 2016b, How can you improve your relationship?, Relationships Australia, viewed 4 January 2017, <>.