People are imperfect and sometimes we damage healthy relationships – not on purpose, but for a variety of reasons. Although when most people think of a damaged relationship, infidelity or betrayal spring to mind, and while this is sometimes true, it is not always true. In addition, a damaged relationship does not always have to be romantic; in fact, it can include friendships and family relationships, as well. In other words, family relationships and friendships can also fracture. Even co-workers, who previously had a good working relationship, can become bitter rivals over differing views.
Although there are always two sides to a story, in some cases, one person is clearly responsible for the damaged relationship. It is important to note that everyone makes mistakes – sometimes it is in a relationship and other times it is not, but regardless mistakes are bound to happen. In some cases, the damage occurs over time, while in other cases, it occurs suddenly. Moreover, sometimes the mistakes are intentional and other times they are accidental. Regardless of the circumstances, the person at fault is responsible for repairing the damage and healing the rift.
Listed below suggestions that can help you repair a relationship that you damaged:
• Be Accountable
If you are wondering how to repair a relationship you damaged, you have come to the right place. The first step is to be accountable for your actions. How did you contribute to the damage? What should you have done differently to avoid the damage? How do you feel about your actions? Do you accept responsibility for the state of your relationship?
Hold yourself accountable by listing all of things you did to damage your relationship on one side of a piece of paper. Make sure that you list all of your actions that contributed to the damage – even the ones that you find small and insignificant. For example, “I spent more time at work or with friends then I did with my partner” or “I constantly criticized my spouse because he gained weight after we got married.” Beside each “infraction” explain why you behaved the way you did. Be honest with yourself – do not make excuses or justify why you behaved the way you did. Just list the reason why you hurt the person you love.
• Get to the Root
You can repair your relationship by getting to the root of the problem. Analyze the list you crafted in step 1. Do you notice a specific pattern of behaviors? In other words, are you quickly angered when your loved ones or friends do not agree with you or do what you tell them to do? Do you have a habit of being jealous when it comes to the opposite sex talking to your partner? If the answer is “yes” to any of those questions, it may be time for you to make a change and repair your damaged relationship.
Take some time to think about whether or not you really want to save your relationship. If not, let it go, but if you do, try to repair it. Some people damage their relationships because they really do not want to be in them anymore, but do not know how to convey that sentiment to their partners. If you are one of those people – stop! Be honest with your partner and yourself. If you are not one of those people – do not give up. Do what is necessary to make it up to the person you hurt.
• Ask for a Meeting
If you really want to save your relationship, ask for a meeting with the person you hurt. Keep in mind that the “victim” in the relationship may still be hurt and/or angry so tread lightly when requesting a meeting. Explain to the other person why you want to meet him or her and set up a time that works for both of you. Keep the phone call or text light and easy and promise to keep the meeting “short and sweet.” If the other person agrees to meet you – choose a public place like a shopping center, crowded park or restaurant. Do not meet at your house or the other person’s house. Prepare for the meeting by doing some deep introspection.
• Look at the Situation from the Other Person’s Point-of-View
If you want to repair a relationship that you damaged, you will need to look at the situation from the “victim’s” point-of-view. In other words, put yourself in his or her shoes and think about how you would feel and what it would take for you to forgive that other person. Refrain from thinking about yourself, rather empathize with the person you hurt and ask him or her how you can “fix” the relationship.
• Be Open & Honest
Lastly and most importantly, be open and honest with the person you hurt. Explain to the “victim” what happened and why
it happened. Do not use accusatory words. Also, make sure that you use first-person pronouns like “I” instead of second-person pronouns like “you.” Explain to the person how you plan to prevent future occurrences and let him or her know that you are willing to start from the bottom and work your way back up.
In other words, tell you loved one that you are willing to do what is necessary to regain his or her respect, support, love and trust. For example, if you cheated on your spouse, provide him or her access to your call logs, emails and receipts. In addition, come home immediately after school or work without complaint. Lastly check in with your spouse when you are going to be late coming home. Do not give your spouse a reason to doubt you. Reassure you spouse that you love him or her and do not “waffle” when he or she asks you difficult and painful questions.
Dr. R. Y. Langham
Dr. Phil. (2014). Fixing a broken marriage. Retrieved from http://drphil.com/articles/article/25
Taibbi, R. (2012). Relationship repair: 10 tips for thinking like a therapist. Psychology Today. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fixing- families/201208/relationship-repair-10-tips-thinking-therapist