After an entire year in close quarters with each other, many families have experienced at least one, if not several, blowouts and rifts with fellow dwellers. Disagreements with family members are common and natural, but they can be exacerbated by times of stress. Research has shown that even in securely attached relationships, caregivers and babies are only in sync 30 percent of the time. This disconnect, beginning in the earliest stages of life, teaches children how to repair ruptures with others and develop empathy.
So fighting is normal, but what’s the key to repairing a relationship once a rift has emerged? First things first, strengthening the family fabric helps prevent tears and makes it easier to repair a relationship that has been strained. Focusing on clear communication, emotional openness, and quality time spent together are the best ways to prevent these rifts in the first place. When a family fabric is strong, people feel more comfortable expressing their emotions early, before they reach the blowout stage.
If the rift is unavoidable, there are four strategies to bring you closer to someone you have fallen out of step with:
- Acknowledge the offense. Getting everyone on the same page about where things went wrong is a critical starting point. Express why you were hurt and ask clarifying questions about how the other person is feeling.
- Express remorse. The best apology is the most sincere. Truly apologize for your actions and express that you understand why you hurt their feelings. Need more help? Check out our article on teaching children the value of forgiveness.
- Explain yourself. This step is not always necessary, but if an argument was the result of a misunderstanding, it can be helpful to explain how your comprehension of a situation differed from the other person’s and suggest a better communication strategy to prevent it from happening in the future.
- Express your intention to prevent the situation from happening again. Suggest a few strategies to promote better family cohesion, like those mentioned above. This can also include tools such as setting “me time” hours, making a chore chart, or doing a brief emotional check-in each morning. Whatever the issue is, try to find a targeted solution.
Conflict is normal, especially with family members, and it can even sometimes be productive. Look at these rifts as an opportunity to form a better understanding of the other person’s perspective and reach a solution for a more peaceful future.