Relationships: Rebuilding and Repair
It is the neglect of timely repair that makes rebuilding necessary.
These words by Rev. Richard Whately, the Archbishop of Dublin in 18th century have resonance for those trying to rebuild their relationships today.
Of course there are many reasons for relationships breaking down but some of the more common are infidelity, guilt, abandonment, lack of respect for your partner or lack of commitment. If you can work together to find the reasons that your relationship is breaking down then you have the opportunity to rebuild and renew your relationship.
It is not impossible to recover from these situations, but the keys are commitment and honesty in dealing with each other. Possibly the first and most important step is to communicate honestly with each other about what is going on and what you would like to do about it. If either of you wants the relationship to be over that will sound the death knell of recovery. Yet assuming that you both want the relationship to continue then you need to start the process of re-connecting.
There is no doubt that this is not an easy process, perhaps you have been hurt in the past and a significant part of sharing what you think is wrong and how you might move forward is about being vulnerable with your partner. Yet if you do not trust the process and be honest any recovery will be built on shifting sands.
Take time together, take turns to say what you find upsets you in your relationship, be careful with criticism though. You should talk about your feelings and your thoughts not what the other person does. Thus I feel let down when you go out drinking every week-end, and not your drinking is driving us apart. This time together allows you to begin to come together to repair and rebuilt some of the things that attracted you to each other in the first place.
Equally you should spend time apart to reflect on the changes and how they sit with your values, interests and needs, relationships are not about being glued at the hip with the same set of interests. Relationships are about the emotional well-being and the mutual support of another person.
Repairs and re-building take time so you do need to be patient with each other, you are going to have relapses and mistakes, but in that there is an opportunity to value each other’s support, interests and strengths. Do not try to agree or disagree about all things, it is okay to have contrary views, as long as your respect and value your partner’s view.
While many couples can work through this process, often it is easier to work with a relationship counsellor to establish more effective communication, to offer an outside perspective and perhaps to work on alternative ways of working through the issues.
As you come back together it is important that you do not neglect the timely repair in the future so set aside time that is for both of you to re-connect on a regular basis, so that in the future the relationship is stronger and can survive the storms thrown at it by life.
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