Reconnecting when Relationships Break

One of the greatest challenges in relationships is learning to move toward the other person when differences work to separate us.  Otherwise we end up focusing on managing the distance between ourselves and the other person rather than making the effort to reconnect.  Yet it usually takes more energy to manage distance than to make the effort to reconnect in important relationships, no matter how challenging it can feel to make that effort.

Here are practical steps you can take to re-establish connection and restore the joy of relationship, adapted from Danny Silk’s

blog

:

Make your goal connection rather than keeping your distance.

Especially in family relationships, it’s vital to remember the goal is connection, not keeping your distance.  To re-connect, we have to let go of our self-talk that builds a case against the other person.  We need to quickly drop the notion that keeping a list of wrongs, real or imagined, is preferable to staying connected.

 

Drop the disrespectful talk.

Refuse to participate in any disrespectful exchanges.  Love does not blame and shame.  Disrespect is characterized by the words: “

You, you, you.” As in:  “You

always say…do…such and such.”  If you find yourself using the “you” word often, realize you’re locking the other person into a place of condemnation, something Jesus doesn’t do to us.  It’s far more productive to be vulnerable about your own thoughts, feelings and needs than to talk about the other person.

Step back, breath a moment and address your own fears and anxieties.

Take time to process what you’re feeling and identify why you’re upset.  It’s hard to be reasonable when our feelings are amped up.  Identify what’s bothering you and prepare yourself to listen more closely to what’s bothering the other person.  It’s amazing how often a solvable communication breakdown triggers the blame and shame game.  Refuse to go there.

Learn to identify and communicate what you need in the relationship.

When we linger in self-protection or distance mode too long, it gets hard to acknowledge our actual needs. To move toward the other person, you have to realize what’s really important to you, what you need most. To move toward another person, it requires vulnerability to open up your own heart, acknowledge your own areas of need, and be willing to communicate those.


Listen to what the other person needs in the relationship.

Moving toward connection requires getting really good information about what the other person needs. Meeting another’s needs is the number-one thing that fuels connection and builds trust.  The first person who can identify what the

other

person really needs and who meets that need “wins.”  Victory is a re-connected relationship.

Be ready to adjust in order to protect a repaired connection.

A successful reconnection conversation doesn’t just clean up existing messes that led to the disconnect; it also identifies areas where you need to adjust in order to build and maintain a better connection. Your goal should be to move forward from your conversation with motivation and a plan for staying better connected going forward.

As Danny Silk concludes: “There’s nothing more courageous than fighting for your connection by leaning into a tough conversation. Remember that you’ve not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control. You’ve got this, and it’s worth it.”