Six Stages of Reconciliation

Six Stages or Steps of Reconciliation  

It is important to understand the difference between reconciliation and restoration. Reconciliation has as its goals friendship and cordiality. Restoration’s goal is to rebuild better than before. The six stages of reconciliation are as follows:

  • First, be honest with yourself and your spouse. In any demise there is always blame to be taken. No one is without both fault and responsibility. It may be time for you to wake up and see that your reactions were not as saintly as you believed them to be. Do not project blame or condemnation but rather approach your spouse with the understanding that you assume responsibility in part for the current situation. No one is going to want to be friends with someone who makes them feel guilty or like a failure. Friendship begins by establishing a non-threatening environment. To do this one has to have an accurate view of themselves in order to accept and acknowledge that corporately, both parties share in the mess in which they find themselves.
  • Secondly, set up rules of engagement. Any time the President sends troops into dangerous territory he always defines the rules of engagement. These rules are the yardstick by which military responses are determined. The most common is “do not fire until fired upon”. Similarly, you need to establish rules of engagement with your partner. One might be, “cast no blame” or “keep the conversations on safe subjects.” If there is another person involved in the relationship it might be reasonable to keep him or her out of your conversation. Why start a fight when your goal is to reestablish a friendship? 
  • Thirdly, place restrictions on the quantity of your talking. Too much, too fast, always chokes. This is critical, especially if the only one you have spoken to in the last five days has been a plant, and a plastic one at that. Be sensitive to the amount of time and quantity of information you share. Little is better than too much. Always leave them desiring more. You have spoken too long if, after the phone call, they have to reestablish blood circulation to their ear. Relax, because the very real need you have to share will eventually be met. 
  • Fourth, establish a series of successful events. Scientists say that it takes from 21 to 30 days to develop a habit. You need to develop a series of communication times that were both informative and uplifting in nature. Odds are that your spouse is suffering from amnesia as a result of the strife and turmoil experienced in the relationship. They cannot remember that they ever had a good time with you. They need to both be reminded of those good times and experience fresh good times with you. I never had a good time at the dentist’s office, therefore I hated to go there. Then I met a dentist that made me laugh. He was no different in skill than the others I had gone to, yet I began to look forward to going simply because it was a pleasant experience. You need to establish positive times and build on them. If you do experience difficulties, do not panic, do better next time. No one expects you to be perfect, so please allow yourself some grace. 
  • Fifth, be an active listener. I am amazed at how poor the listening skills are among people. We have all experienced talking to a person whose eyes were darting around looking for someone else to visit with. How did you feel? Pretty much like dirt. The art of actively listening is based on the simple principle of honor. If you honor someone you pay attention to all that they say and do. When I was first dating my wife, I replayed every word she said to me, trying to analyze if she liked me. Every voice inflection, every word, the body language, her eyes. I was monitoring it all. Why? Because I was interested and wanted to know how she felt about me. Was the "good-bye" a simple "good-bye", or was it a get lost good-bye, or you bore me good-bye, or possibly I hope I see you I hope I see you again good-bye? When I was dating her, you can bet I was actively listening. We need to honor those we speak with by actively listening. 
  • Sixth, develop your self-esteem. The importance of developing your self-esteem is based on the fact that during the turmoil and strife in the marriage, you have encountered rejection. Rejection is the key factor for destroying self-esteem because it attacks your worth as a person. We were created with the need to feel accepted. God is to be the primary care giver of that acceptance but being sight minded creatures we need to actualize that acceptance through others. This is why separation and divorce are so destructive. It levels us with rejection and its companion, guilt, follows closely behind to destroy our esteem. 

In summary, the goal of reconciliation is to establish a friendship with your estranged spouse. Reconciliation is the task of removing obstacles to a productive relationship. Even in the midst of restoration it is important to utilize the skills of reconciliation to keep strife and contention from becoming a pre-dominating force.

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