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  • Writer's pictureHayley Reed, LCSW

Repairing Relationships

What is your earliest memory of an apology? Do you remember giving an apology or receiving one? Both are equally important in our social-emotional learning. An apology can be the first

step in repairing a relationship with your partner, child, friend, or sibling. Relationship repair refers to reconciling and mending a relationship after one or both parties have been hurt.

Often in relationships we feel stuck or at a point where we don’t know how to move forward. Individuals can become stuck in repeating unhealthy generational cycles without opportunities to repair. Perhaps, someone grew up in a family where their parents always argued. But they never got to see how the relationship was repaired. This can impact how they manage conflict with their spouse in present day. Our experiences in our family during childhood shape the adults we become. How we handle conflict, the roles we play in relationships, and even the communication styles we adopt are all reflective of our experiences in our family of origin.

But, what actually goes into repairing a relationship? We often feel that before we initiate a repair attempt we want the other party to repair things with us first. Perhaps we tell ourselves that we will only apologize for yelling at our parents if our parents will acknowledge first that they don’t listen to us. But, in fact true repair actually comes from repairing first with ourselves. Can we own our actions and words and furthermore understand why they were problematic or harmful to another? If this feels uncomfortable you are in fact on the road to repair.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when repairing relationships and achieving relationship success.

  1. If emotions are hot hit the pause button! Give yourself time to cool down and think about what transpired between you and the other party. Walking away doesn’t mean you are walking away from the problem. Know that you are stopping things from escalating in the moment with the intent that you will come back and address what happened.

  2. Evaluate your relationship with this person. What do you want your future to look like with them? Is this a relationship you want to invest in or a relationship you want to establish boundaries with? Ask yourself “what will it take to achieve the kind of relationship I want?”

  3. Consider the other perspective. Begin by describing for yourself the conflict or argument you had with the other party. To consider the other perspective think about whether the other party would agree with your description of the events that transpired. Keep in mind there may be multiple truths and experiences here.

  4. Be vulnerable and open. When engaging in relationship repair be honest with yourself about your feelings. This means being vulnerable and laying it all out on the table. If you aren’t fully open with the other party this may lead to resentment and lead to further relational ruptures. Secondly, keep yourself open to hearing the other party’s perspective by participating in active listening.

  5. Prioritize reconnection. The last step of relationship repair is reconnection. Moving past the hurt and pain in any relationship can take time and work. But, the path forward involves getting back to the good stuff. Join with your family member, partner, child, or friend in doing something that you love together. By engaging in pleasurable activities you will strengthen your bond and deepen your connection.


Hayley Reed, LCSW is a licensed social worker who specializes in couples and family therapy. She supports children, adolescents, and adults, as well as families and couples, in understand their feelings, why these feelings have surfaced, and how to cope. Her style is both caring and personalized, which encourages self-reflection and self-actualization.

Learn more about Hayley Reed, LCSW at

(914) 488-4343


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