How to repair a relationship

Most people don’t know how to repair a relationship once it has been broken.

Protocols to repair after a regrettable incident have been validated across cultures.

A step-by-step guide:

Building and maintaining healthy relationships is hard.

Even great relationships face complications.

But the best relationships know how to overcome.

Here is how.

Let’s say someone breaches your trust.

The last thing you would want the breacher to do is apologize BEFORE giving you an opportunity to share how you feel!

Apologizing before understanding is a surefire way to further damage a relationship.

Instead, do this.

When a regrettable incident in a relationship takes place, both parties must take the time to understand each other.

First, understand.

Then, apologize.

This sequence has been validated across cultures.

But it’s easier said than done.

Relationship repair is a technical skill that is possible to learn.

Here is my 5 step exercise for creating understanding (that’ll help you rescue damaged relationships):

But first, let’s establish some ground rules.

1. Both parties must not dictate their version of the “facts”

2. Both parties must assume each other’s reality has validity

3. Both parties must understand each other’s perception of the situation

I’d also recommend checking out this thread on the Four Horseman.

It shares the 4 behaviors that kill partnerships.

Now, let’s get into step 1 of creating a shared understanding.

Step 1: Describe How You Feel

Take turns sharing how you felt about the incident.

Don’t hold anything back, but:

• Don’t say why you felt that way (yet)
• When listening, avoid commenting on your partner’s feelings

Step 2: Share Your Reality

Describe your reality of the situation.

Then have your partner share theirs.

Summarize and validate shared understanding of each other’s reality.

DO NOT move forward until both parties feel their understanding is validated.

Step 3: Share Your Triggers

Triggers are memories or experiences that might’ve escalated the situation.

Both parties must:

1. Share triggers involved in the incident

2. Explain why those memories are triggers

3. Understand why the other side is triggered by those memories

Step 4: Accept Responsibility

1. Acknowledge your contribution to the situation

2. Share how you set yourself up for the conflict

3. Identify what you regret and apologize if necessary

Here are some prompts to help you out.

Step 5: Build A Plan

Take turns sharing one thing your partner can do to make the discussion better in the future:

• When sharing, remain calm
• When listening, be agreeable and understanding

Then, identify what each of you needs to put this behind you and move on.

Relationships are hard.

But as the author and therapist Esther Perel says:

“The quality of our lives is the quality of our relationships.”

Use this repair guide to help get back on track.

If you enjoyed this thread:

• Follow me @mattschnuck for more threads on EQ, entrepreneurship, and growth.
• Retweet the first tweet to share this guide with someone with an important relationship in need

@nathanbaugh27 He extended this work to nuclear disarmament in the 1980’s.

A good rule at home or on the global stage…

Follow: @mattschnuck



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