Relationships are not always goodness and light.  Whether at home or work, relationships often breakdown and can go through difficult stretches.

While we teach and try daily to practice the ways of relating found in The Power of TED*, we know that such work is a lifelong learning process.  As a married couple, and also work partners, at times we have differences of opinion and approaches to life and work.  Recently we had a very angry and intense exchange.

We both had various perspectives on who was persecuting whom and who was the victim.  We were fully in the relationship drama and rapidly playing all three roles of Victim, Persecutor and Rescuer.

We looked for ways to rescue ourselves from our intense feelings of anger, blame and sadness.  Donna did more gardening, exercise and writing.  David lost himself in travel and a business trip.  Both strategies were opportunities to avoid looking deeply at the intense feelings we were both experiencing.

Gradually, our nervous systems calmed and we were able to reflect upon the angry exchange.   The wise counsel of a friend and therapist came back to us.  She often said, “When relationships break down, the key strategy is to repair, repair, repair.”

Through our own breakdown and repair cycle, we have discovered there must be a genuine desire to repair the relationship.  Moving past the blame and need to be right, we both must take responsibility for our individual contribution to the situation.   We have found that the road to mending our breakdowns is through our intention to repair, repair, repair.

Next time you are in a relationship breakdown.  Ask yourself;

  • What is my intention?  Only you can decide if you are willing to rebuild the relationship.  “Choose to repair” is our motto and has served us well over the years.
  • Is your intent to repair genuine, or only in appearance in order to get what you want?  This requires radical honesty on your part.  If your motive for the repair is not based upon what is best for the relationship, then the attempt at repair will most likely be unsuccessful.
  • Take responsibility for your actions and your role in the argument.  This gives space for the other to also step into their contribution to the breakdown.

Relationship drama is a fact of life.  As a couple and and as business partners we know anger and disputes arise. The journey to reconciliation is smoother if the focus is less on who is right and instead, embrace the desire to repair, repair, repair.

Our recent argument is healing and has left us with a deeper trust that we can flow with the relationship drama that is naturally part of a long term relationship.