What do I mean, repair the cracks with gold?
So often, clients have said to me, “I’ve made such awful mistakes, but I am too ashamed to admit this to my partner. I can’t build bridges any more. I would rather die than try again.”
“I’m sick and tired of having to make repairs! I want a maintenance-free relationship!”
“We’ve both hurt each other so much, we should separate. The damage is too great!”
These are sad moments indeed. And it is true that sometimes the damage is beyond bearing. However, many couples I work with do the necessary work and go on to grow in a relationship that is much more real, and the expectations more realistic.
So what I’m doing here is to encourage you in making repairs and bridging the ruptures that have fractured your relationship.
In Japan, there is a tradition around the beautification and celebration of repair. Instead of tossing pieces of pottery in the trash, some specialized craftsmen and women practice the 500-year-old art of kintsugi, or “golden joinery.” Rather, these Master craftsmen seal the cracks with gold. Yes, real gold or other precious metals.
Golden joinery is a method of restoring a broken piece with a lacquer mixed with gold, silver, or platinum. The result is a shining metallic line that marks and highlights the fracture. The fracture-line itself is often stronger and more durable than the original material. This illustrates my point that by repairing the cracks with gold, you make your relationship stronger.
Making good repairs, and celebrating them, is what brings the gold, a substance of high value, into your relationship. Also, making repairs with gold makes your relationship unique – no other couple has cracks quite like yours! Furthermore, your relationship is more valuable than it was before the rupture and repair. Like kintsugi, making these fine repairs is an art, a craft and a skill.
Gold, in Jungian depth psychology refers to refined consciousness, where the dross or dark substance has been burned off or transformed. Gold something we work for. This is particularly so in relationships when we have worked for the repairs.
My favourite poem by Leonard Cohen goes like this.
“Ring the bell that still can ring,
forget your perfect offering.
Everything has a crack in it.
That’s how the light gets in.”
Being in a relationship is not about finding the perfect partner, or even being the perfect partner yourself. Instead, it’s about making repairs, and appreciating the light or new perspective that floods in when something is cracked.
When you dedicate yourself to repair the cracks in your relationship with gold, remember that a fracture does not happen without pain. So there is pain before the repair. No repair happens without skill and application and a thorough understanding of what is broken. Sometimes you need a couple’s therapist to help you appreciate each other’s point of view.
What would you prefer? To have a relationship threaded with the gold of mutual repair? Or to throw the shards of your relationship in the trash?
Here are some simple examples of every-day repairs, when you repair the cracks in your relationship with gold.
To get us started, I’m going to give simple examples of how to heal a breach of trust or bad feelings.
Example one: I’m sorry.
(When you know you have wounded your partner. An oldie but a goodie – it never goes out of style!)
Example two: I didn’t know this was so important to you. I want to understand you better. Please tell me more about it.
(Do this when you have displayed ignorance about your partner’s priorities. Consequently, you misunderstood them.)
Example three: I know I didn’t keep my word on this. Now I really want to do better. I will do “x” to prove how I want to change.
(Then DO it. Not following through on agreements seriously erodes your relationship.)
Example four: A touch of the hand, a squeeze of the shoulder – even when you are in the middle of a fight or tense situation. (Just to say you are still present and connected.) It is much easier to repair when the bond between you is being positively acknowledged.
5:1, according to the Gottman’s research, is the ratio of positive connection and repair that you must reach during the conflict. And 20:1 in everyday life! This prevents you from being overwhelmed with negativity during an already difficult experience. For further discussion on this ratio in everyday life, go to the 10:1 ratio of gratitude to complaints.
Repairs like this are golden. Perhaps they sound corny, but give them a try!
Copyright © Kaye Gersch 2017