What is a mulligan in golf? According to Wiki, a mulligan is a second chance to perform an action.
Usually, after the first effort didn’t go so well because of a blunder or bad luck.
A mulligan is an informal rule which permits a player to replay a stroke, even though this is against the formal rules of golf.
The term has also been applied to other sports and games, and to other fields generally. The origin of the term is unclear.
So I don’t feel so bad about lifting the term “mulligan” to describe a conversational do-over between a husband and wife.
Just because you said something doesn’t mean you can’t restate it…or ask your partner to rephrase what they just blurted. What is a mulligan in golf? It’s an act of kindness that bends the rules. You can bend the rules in your marital conflict as well by learning how to make a repair attempt.
You don’t have to be an avid golfer to enjoy the benefits of a Mulligan Marriage– the term “Mulligan” has now entered popular culture. A “Mulligan” means any “do-over.” A mulligan is an act of grace, a second chance after an initial failure.
Of course, strictly speaking, golf rules forbid the Mulligan. That hasn’t prevented it from becoming a part of the game. Some golfers apply their own particular “rules” on the proper use of the Mulligan, such as limiting its use to one “play” once per round or limiting its use to the initial tee.
The mulligan operates on a forgiveness principle. There are conflicting origin stories for the mulligan. Of course, these perfectly reasonable but conflicting stories all start with a golfer named “Mulligan.”
However, the notion of a “mulligan” offers an important mindset for marital communication.
When your partner criticizes, it’s only natural to defend. But what if instead of becoming defensive, you simply say;
Hey, I’m feeling kinda defensive right now… could you put that a different way?
The Mulligan marriage is a way of gently protesting to your partner that you feel attacked or criticized without falling into a reactively defensive posture.
It gives them an opportunity to reflect on what they are trying to say, and how it actually landed.
Basically, you are complaining that your feelings are hurt, while at the same time you are trying to stay engaged in the conversation that your partner is attempting to initiate.
A Mulligan can go both ways. Imagine that you said something to your partner that elicited a reactive defensive response. You could say something like “You seem a bit defensive. I understand. Maybe what I said was too harsh. Please forgive me. Can I try again?”
What is a mulligan in golf? A gracious do-over. Now you can have a mulligan in your marriage too!
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Daniel is a Marriage and Family Therapist. He currently sees couples at Couples Therapy Inc. in Boston, Massachusetts, three seasons in Cummington (at the foothills of the Berkshires...) and in Miami during joint retreats with his wife, Dr. Kathy McMahon. He uses EFT, Gottman Method, Solution-focused and the Developmental Model in his approaches.