How Couples Can Repair Past Mistakes & Reignite Love

Nothing has to stay broken.

How To Fix Mistakes In Your Relationship getty

No matter how satisfying your relationship is, you and your partner will have to learn how to fix mistakes in your relationship.

At some point, you will say or do something to cause a rupture in your closeness.

You may say mean things, act insensitively, or forget an important birthday or anniversary. You may find yourself in a screaming match, spilling out accusations you don’t mean and later regret.


RELATED: 8 Things All Couples Can Do To Fix Their 'Broken' Relationships

Making mistakes is inevitable in relationships.

When the emotional connection in your relationship is broken, a rupture occurs.

Like parents caring for their infants, couples strive to become attuned to one another by focusing on each other’s needs and moods.

For example, you can tell by the disappointed expression on your partner’s face that he didn’t score the job he interviewed for.

You move toward him, instinctively knowing that enveloping him briefly in a loving hug is just what he needs. The job of his dreams may have evaporated, but he still feels loved and wanted by you.


Our idealistic view of relationships is based on what is often projected in romantic comedies or attractive Instagram pictures. This view implies that in the best relationships, partners are happy, loving, and attuned to each other the majority of the time.

This assumption is false.

In reality, couples in healthy relationships experience attunement about one-third of the time. The rest of the time, partners are in the process of rupturing their relationship and then repairing their mistakes.

You may find it helpful to view your relationship as moving through an ever-evolving process of attunement, misattunement, and re-attunement.

Resisting making repairs.


You may be hesitant to repair your relationship blunders. Perhaps you get stuck in the stance of insisting you are right and that your partner behaves way worse than you do.

So why apologize?

There is an often-repeated statement regarding navigating the ups and downs in relationships: Do you want to be right, or do you want to stay in your relationship?

Forget arguing about who is right or wrong. When you defend why you are right, you are wasting your time.

Instead, view apologies and amends as ways to own up that something you said or did has hurt your partner.

Recognize that you don’t want to leave your partner in pain and just go on with your life. See your partner’s hurt, confess to your part in it, and get back in touch with the love that brought you together in the first place.


RELATED: How To Fix A Broken Relationship In 7 Steps (Before It's Too Late!)

Simple steps to healing.

If you are in a committed relationship, it's time to become an expert at making repairs.

Fixing relationship blunders can be simple: Look your partner in the eye and say you are sorry. You can specify what you did that upset your partner.

Then, take these 3 simple steps toward making amends and fixing your relationship.

1. Talk face-to-face.

The eyes are part of our brain and because our brain needs to register the repair, being face-to-face with your partner engages the re-attunement phase.

Our brains are caught up in determining if the person sitting in front of us is friend or foe.


When you make a repair in a genuine loving manner, you are sending a message to your partner’s brain that you are friendly and on the same team.

When this message registers with your partner, their nervous system relaxes, and the door is open to resuming the loving connection between you.

2. Spend time together.

Dr. John Gottman, licensed couples' psychologist and author of Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, states that when couples invest time in creating a solid foundation in their relationship, it is easier to weather the storms that arise.


If you are understanding of each other and spend time doing nice things for one another, making repairs and getting back into attunement happen readily.

But if you treat your partner harshly, ignore them, or disrespect them, then your repair attempts will fail.

3. Be humble.

Being humble by admitting you are human — and therefore capable of making mistakes — will endear you to your partner.

Being open to making repairs as ruptures occur will keep your relationship on track. And continuing to invest in treating your partner well will reduce those blunders to small blips on your relationship screen.

RELATED: How To Fix A Broken Relationship — And Fall More Deeply In Love


Dr. Beth O’Brien, Licensed Psychologist and PACT Level 3 Couple Therapist, has been in private practice in Colorado for over 25 years. She assists couples with communication problems, intimacy concerns, betrayals and affairs, and enhancing long-term relationships. For more information, visit her website.