July 05, 2011

Creating 2nd Chances: Tips for Turning a Bad Situation into a Good One

Creating 2nd Chances: Tips for Turning a Bad Situation into a Good One

Sometimes folks worry that in order for marriage to work, you have to be perfect. Of course no one is perfect and forgiveness is an important part of marriage. Everyone needs a 2nd or 3rd or 4th chance to get it right. Indeed it is important to realize that even in those times when you "blow it" there is still the opportunity to turn things around, restore loving feelings and actually deepen the intimacy and closeness between one another. Today we have some useful tips that will show you how to turn a bad situation into a good one with your partner.

Common Myths about Forgiveness and 2nd Chances

-- Let's Just Forgive and Forget (sweep it under the rug)
We expect our partners to forgive and forget without understanding that problems need to be addressed and changes need to be made. F&F may calm things temporarily but doesn't do anything to solve or prevent a reoccurrence of the bad situation.

-- Just Say You're SorryWhile saying one is sorry is important, as we have discussed before, when we talked about incomplete apologies, there is more to reconciling after a problem than just saying the words. Understanding how the problem arises, and being committed to making changes are essential for a lasting reconciliation.

-- There Is Nothing You Can Do to prompt a 2nd chance. Your partner either gives you a chance or s/he doesn't. There is nothing you can do to make it happen.Just forgiving and empty apologies along with a sense of helplessness do not lead to lasting peace in relationships. Repeated forgiving breeds resentment and despair. Fortunately, there is another way.

The Basics of Making the Most of a 2nd Chance

1.Get to know Yourself Better / Be Aware of Your Stress Patterns

Become aware that our behavior follows basic stress patterns. When you learn what your pattern is, with practice you can first learn to recognize it faster and interrupt it more quickly and then learn to change it.

2. Own Your Mistakes (Stop blaming or making excuses)

Some believe that extenuating circumstances excuse bad behavior. While it is OK to explain your experience and why you acted the way you did in a bad situation, it is not OK to use circumstances as an excuse or justification. Simply, it is not OK to blame someone else or something else for your behavior.

3. Say you're sorry and express sincere regret and that you are committed to doing things differently.

4. Make it clear that you understand that what you did was wrong and what needs to be done for things to be different.

5. Practice Practice Practice Doing It Differently.

Remember, forgiveness and getting a 2nd chance is more likely to be forthcoming when in addition to an apology it is clear that you understand that what you did was wrong and that you'll respond differently next time. While the struggle to change is not easy, couples who make the effort to understand and change their frustrating patterns not only have fewer difficulties but also deepen their closeness and intimacy through the process.
Finally change doesn't come quickly it takes time and there will be lots of mistakes ... but things do get better with practice

Rev. Michael Heath, LMHC prepared these comments for Bridge Street 7 5 2011.

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