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Repairing Ruptures in Relationships

I hear lots about people cutting off ties with relatives or their romantic partners and it causes me to wonder, is that boundary to end the relationship or cut ties truly necessary?


I would offer, in some cases it truly is.   When someone has shown themselves to be so controlling, abusive, or toxic, it can be necessary to remove them from our lives in order to save our own health and wellbeing. 


In my experience, that is rarely an easy decision.  Many people try to set boundaries first to see if the relationship can be salvaged or  repaired.  


In instances, for example, where there is adultery, repeated dishonesty, and/or complete disregard for the welfare of the other person, setting boundaries may or may not be enough to motivate someone to change their behavior.  


Sadly, all too often the extreme boundary of cutting off ties may be necessary for a person to heal, not tolerate more abuse or toxicity in their life so they can go on to experience a healthy and satisfying life with safe people.


However, in many cases, relationships can be repaired by becoming equipped with self management and interpersonal skills such as active listening, re igniting curiosity and learning to speak with ownership.


Having these skills and utilizing them often, can make a big difference to not only repair existing ruptures in relationships but also prevent them from happening in the future.


What are some basic tenets for repairing ruptures and strengthening existing relationships?


I would offer the following with the caveat that they are easy for me to write, and much harder to execute, especially if your family dynamics do not include anyone that has modeled these behaviors.


-              Be Curious.  Sometimes we are not even on the same page with what we are disagreeing about!   If we can remain curious, it opens up the door to increase both understanding and clarity about what is really going on for us and for the other person.

-              Show up Compassionate.  This includes  your own thinking.  If we can remember that many times in a relationship there’s going to be miscommunications, misunderstandings, or an under estimation of how important something is to our partner, or friend.  If we can remember to show up with compassion first and foremost this will help any conversation go better.

-              Ask Questions for clarity.   So many times in relationships I observe that people are on two wildly different pages.  Asking questions can help to clarify what the real issue is so you can begin to deal with that rather than find yourself in the weeds.

-              Listen, often and well, and summarize out loud.  When the other person feels heard, that alone can begin to turn a destabilized relationship back on its feet.  When people feel heard, they often feel cared for and more connected.  Listen first before you try to get your point across.  This can sound like,” so it sounds like you are saying ___, is that right?”  Once your person feels heard, they are more  likely willing to hear you!

-              Speak your truth using the Language of Ownership ( or LOO).  Practice communicating using I statements.  They sound like; I observed that… I think… I wonder if …I feel, I need, I hope for, I desire…My experience was…

These work so well because we are owning our own thoughts, feelings, needs and desires and presenting them that way vs. attacking the other person for what they did or did not do.

-              Manage your own Emotions.  This is crucial to the success of all our relationships.  When we learn and practice staying calm, when we ensure that we are not “acting out” of our own pain ( or past wounds) only then can we be fully present.  If you need a time out to calm down, then take it before you attempt any meaningful or productive conversations.


Lastly, be sure to take ownership for your part in the rupture – or misunderstanding.  Share how important the person is to you and that you hope to not only repair what went sideways, but that you hope a meaningful and calm conversation will help you come to a better understanding that can actually serve to deepen your relationship!



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