In a previous post we talked about how to begin restoring your relationship when you have hurt your partner’s (or child’s) heart.
But what if you are the one who was hurt by them?
First, it’s important to decide what you really want to happen in your relationship.
Relationship Goal: Healing, Not Punishment
When we get hurt, it’s all too natural to want to hurt someone back. Unfortunately, getting even is a game no one ever wins.
That being said, your hurt feelings are real. You are an important member of this relationship. You deserve respect and kind treatment, just like the other person does. Relationships in which either or both of the members are okay with hurting the other person are not healthy.[1. If you feel unsafe in your relationship and need help getting away from abuse, contact New Horizons Crisis Center at 507-637-5570 or toll-free at 800-882-1736.]
So how can you get your loved one to see the problem and seek forgiveness so your relationship can be restored?
Don’t Push the String – Pull It
You can’t really make anyone apologize for hurting you. It’s like pushing a string on a tablecloth. (Ever tried it? Yeah. Pretty useless.)
Pull the string, and it will follow wherever you wish.
Push it, and it will go nowhere at all.
–President Dwight D. Eisenhower
You can try to lead them through the 5 steps we discussed last time, only from a different angle. Let’s see how this might work.
#1 – Get soft. Don’t put up a wall that will make it harder to mend your broken relationship.
- Speak gently, with respect. Don’t nag or scold.
- Try to relax your body so they don’t see you as “on the attack.”
- Choose a good time to talk: find a time when they are calm enough to be open to change.
#2 – Stoke their desire to understand you. Talk about how your hurt feelings have made a hole in your relationship that you want to mend quickly. Try saying something like:
- “I miss how close we were. I need your help to fix this.”
- “Something has happened that makes it hard for me to feel close to you. Can we talk it over?”
- “It’s so much better when we are both happy together. Let’s work on this thing that has come between us.”
#3 – State what happened that hurt you. Be matter-of-fact; focus on the action done and how it made you feel. You may want to express it like this:
- “When you laughed at me in front of my friends, I felt embarrassed. I really wanted you to stick up for me.”
- “I felt deeply disappointed when you broke your promise to come to Joey’s game. We were counting on you.”
- (to a child) “I felt very hurt when you said mean words to me.”
#4 – Open the door for them to apologize. See if they are processing what you’ve told them. Ask questions like:
- “What do you think we should do next?”
- “Have I helped you understand why this bothered me?”
- “How do you feel about all this?”
#5 – Remain open to touch. Giving them the “cold shoulder” until they apologize says your love for them is conditional: “Do what I want or I won’t love you.” In your relationship, what kind of touch says “I love you even while we have conflict”? Accept and offer that touch. Maybe it’s:
- Sitting side-by-side with shoulders touching
- Holding hands
- An arm around the shoulder
Keep Your Eyes on the Goal: Healing
Remember that your goal is to heal your relationship. Avoid acting in a way that puts up walls you’ll have to tear down later.
Recognize that being kind to someone who has hurt you takes a lot of maturity. Stretch yourself to grow into that. Some of the world’s greatest heroes were peacemakers, not fighters.
Working through hurt feelings to restore a relationship built on trust and love is no easy task.
But it can be done. And we would love to help.
At Choices Pregnancy Center we believe helping young families develop healthy relationships is vital.
Call, text, or stop in and find out how we can help you. Do it today!