Linda Lewis Griffith

Healing the hurt when a relationship hits a roadblock

It’s not unusual for relationships to get stuck. One person says or does something thoughtless. The recipient takes offense. Hurt feelings arise between both members. The relationship comes to a grinding halt.

These relational standstills effect more than the two people involved. They quickly spread to other family members, friends and co-workers. Life at home is fraught with bickering. Family gatherings are unnecessarily tense or are canceled altogether. Office mates secretly gossip about the rift. Friends are reluctantly forced to choose sides. If neither party moves toward conciliation, the pain and bad karma go on for years.

But bad blood doesn’t have to continue. It can be stopped at any time. Whenever one member chooses to end things, the feud comes to an immediate halt. The best way to do this? Declare a fresh start. Announce to yourself, all the offended parties and whoever will listen that the relationship is going to change.

You’ll reap instant benefits. Instead of feeling the need to badmouth, you’ll keep quiet or say something nice. You won’t waste energy spewing vitriol. Peaceful thoughts will fill your emotional airwaves.

Don’t let pride interfere with your decision. There’s nothing strong about clinging to anger and hatred.

And don’t worry about what others will say. They may be curious about the turnaround, but they’ll be grateful that you cleared the air. You may even serve as a role model for repairing their own damaged relationships.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that the other parties will be ready to bury the hatchet. Their anger may be serving a purpose. They may want the war to rage on.

Not to worry. You can’t control what they do. Simply reach out and extend the olive branch. Then behave in a warm, welcoming manner. The rest of the work is up to them.

TIPS FOR MAKING A FRESH START

Make a commitment. Announce “From this day forward, my relationship with you will be better.”

Reach out. Pick up the phone. Send a card. Arrange a meeting. Your willingness to make contact speaks volumes about your long-term plan.

Apologize. Sincerely ask forgiveness for any wrongs you may have committed. Be willing to repeat the apologies as needed.

Don’t bring up the past. There’s no need to rehash every old problem. That keeps you stuck in a destructive rut. A fresh start implies moving forward. Make that your ultimate goal.

Decide how you will be different. Analyze why the relationship went sour, and then learn what you can do to avoid future problems.

Be pleasant. Avoid being sarcastic or judgmental. Be sensitive about humor and jokes. Be on your best behavior to encourage reconciliation.

Focus on others’ good qualities. Highlight personal traits that you admire; comment on them often.

Develop a workable relationship. Identify several topics you can safely discuss and activities you can readily engage in.

Be patient. A fresh start may take time. Your diligence keeps the relationship moving in the right direction.

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