What is a "repair attempt" when it comes to couples in conflict? My studies with John Gottman taught me to help couples repair the damage they cause each other, and interrupt escalation patterns of conflict by use of repair attempts. Paul Ferrini also adds a piece to the process in his book, The Twelve Steps of Forgiveness. Paul states that it is important for individuals to take responsibility and simply be accountable for their mistakes in life. Having those two important considerations down, one can move into a position of making "repairs" when necessary. As human beings, making repair attempts should be a part of our everyday actions when we make mistakes which hurt others (intentionally or otherwise), especially the ones we love.
The process is fairly simple: (1) Have the realization of what only "You" may be responsible for during the conflict, for example, calling your spouse an insulting name; (2) Ask to be forgiven for the attacking statement, for example, "Sorry , that was on me, I apologize for calling you..."; (3) If you are sincere, a positive and forgiving reply may be received from your partner; (4) If it is, you may accept it with a mere "thank you" and, in which, further discussion may ensue; (5) If your apology was not readily accepted, be assured that you made the attempt, and that you did YOUR PART. The other part belongs to your partner. John Gottman, who has researched couples conflicts for many years, states that it is important for each partner to own up to their mistakes and make an apology which can open the door for their partner to accept it and move on. Then both can actually move on toward resolution. The emphasis is on resolution This is a good practice and is much healthier for couples' than being stuck in the escalation process where little gets resolved.