We have all fallen out with someone or other over the course of our lives. It is never pleasant disagreeing with someone so strongly that there is a ‘schism’ in the relationship. Are you able to repair rifts?
Options for repair
Usually, we disagree strongly with someone because they violate our boundaries (see February 2021 column for this topic).
Examples of some typical rift and repair responses are given below:
Your in-laws take no notice of your wishes and keep coming over without prior arrangements.
RIFT: You ask your partner to ask (again) to arrange a visit instead of landing on you. Your partner says they will, and either don’t do it or do it indirectly which does not get the message across. You end up fighting with your partner about his family’s behaviour.
REPAIR: You could have a 1:1 with your in-law and ask them to ring ahead in case you are not in or have other things on at that time. This is a reasonable request and it is okay to make it. You may be perceived as difficult but are you bothered?
Your partner reneges on an agreement to go to a party which you wish to attend together.
RIFT: You feel angry and betrayed that they have changed their mind last minute and say… “you always do this! I’m sick of you letting me down all the time.” You both don’t go to the party and you hold onto hurt and anger for a few days at least.
REPAIR: Instead of losing it, you could ask what it is that has made them change their mind. They might surprise you with their response, and whatever it is you both need to discuss the impact this behaviour has on you and your relationship.
Your friend regularly dismiss your feelings.
RIFT: You start giving them excuses as to why you can’t meet up and avoid this friend more and more.
REPAIR: You continue to meet your friend and next time they are dismissive you tell them that you are feeling dismissed and unheard by what was just said. No doubt your friend will state they did not mean to do this, and you can respond that nevertheless, saying what they did gives that impression. They can then choose to change, or not. If they don’t then you can choose to let them go.
Your colleague grabs the overtime shifts even though they know you really need the extra money this month.
RIFT: You complain to your supervisor about this colleague and anyone else who will listen.
REPAIR: You inform your supervisor about your needs for overtime and ask this be considered for the next schedule. You try to understand that your colleague also needed the money, and so did what was right for them.
In short, if there is a rift, usually there is a way to repair it. It depends on your attitude and willingness to see both sides, and then communicate your needs in the mix. It can be that simple.