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Forgiveness and repair are key relational skills, but what are they? And how do we do them?  

When we experience a rupture in a relationship, the path to reconciliation is two-part. The first is forgiveness—the inner work of coming to peace with oneself and the other person. The second is relational repair, the work of two people taking accountability for their part in the rupture, rebuilding trust, and reestablishing closeness. Forgiveness can happen without relationship repair, but a relationship cannot  be fully repaired without forgiveness. Reestablishing closeness without the work of accountability and trust building is often confused for forgiveness, but it is actually a form of enabling. 

Recognize that the path of reconciliation is two-parts: forgiveness (internal) and repair (external).

  • Be accountable to yourself and to your partner; take responsibility for your actions.
  • Remember that shame says “I am something wrong” and guilt says “I DID something wrong.”
  • Be intentional about doing what it takes to rebuild trust and safety.
  • Remember that resolving conflict is not a matter of winning, but a matter of working together toward health and wholeness.

Carmen Okhmatovsky, Individual and Relational Therapist.