The antidote to secret hate – open repair

By Dave Henning / December 27, 2017

“The antidote to secret hate is open repair.”- John Ortberg

“Don’t secretly hate your neighbor.  If you have something against him, get it out into the open; otherwise you are an accomplice to his guilt.”- Leviticus 19:17 (MSG)

In Chapter 12 (“Houston, We Have A Problem: Intimacy Rupture and Repair”) of I’d Like You More. . . , John Ortberg asserts there’s a secret weapon against destroying intimacy through conflict and anger.  That secret weapon? – a “repair attempt” or open repair.  John Gottman and Nan Silver (The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, 1999) define a repair attempt as “any statement or action . . . that prevents negativity from escalating out of control.”

Therefore, in a repair attempt, you signal that you want to remain connected with someone in a moment of conflict.  Pastor Ortberg explains:

“Like old cars, relationships inevitably throw gaskets and leak oil every once in a while.  Little ruptures happen regularly.  The key isn’t to avoid ruptures, or even to solve the problems that irritate us.  The key to maintaining intimacy is how we talk about our problems (emphasis author’s).”

Ironically, Pastor Ortberg adds, our differences – the very things that interfere with intimate relationships and family connections – also make intimacy possible.  Yes, it’s tempting to think that I’d like you more if you were more like me (emphasis John’s).  However, often our differences draw us to one another.  In addition, they become the “grist mill” of great and intimate relationships.

Yet, ruptures happen when the sense of connection in a relationship breaks, like an electrical short-circuit.  As a result, John lists several signs of rupture:

  • My words toward you are strained or heated.
  • I’m less likely to look at you.
  • Instead of giving you the benefit of the doubt, I’m likely to interpret what you do or say in a negative way.

In conclusion, Pastor Ortberg notes, even intimate relationships experience conflict. But, you maintain ongoing intimacy through a repair attempt or open repair.

Today’s question: How have you used open repair to maintain intimacy?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Reacting from our bird brain”

About the author

Dave Henning

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