Today I will be continuing in our series on forgiveness, addressing what is needed to communicate clear and effective boundaries when rebuilding a wounded relationship.
Step 1: Are you both ready?
Determine if you both are ready for the boundary conversation. Look for clear evidence of a heart change in the other (not perfection, mind you!) before you make yourself vulnerable in a conflicted relationship—especially when you’re dealing with a “boundary-buster” or serious offender.
How to identify if there’s been real heart change* …
- Has there been a clear confession of at least the most fundamental of offenses or boundary violations?
- Has the other person demonstrated remorse for his/her part?
- Has the other person verbally taken ownership for his/her part in the problem?
- Have you seen his/her repentant choices and new attitude in action?
If you don’t see these crucial pieces in the person you hope to reconcile with, then your boundary conversation will most likely be resisted or even rejected by the other person.
If you feel this list is representative of both of you, then you’re ready to move to the next step …
Step 2: Choose the best time and place.
Choose carefully a time and place to talk. This should be where there are no interruptions and lots of privacy. You might even want to enlist the support of a neutral third party, such as a counselor or pastor to be present who can help in this first conversation.
However, you must both want this third party to be involved/invited. So, asking permission and settling this issue with the other party is crucial before you agree to meet.
Step 3: Pray before you talk.
If you know that the other person is comfortable with prayer, suggest starting the meeting by praying together. If you know the other person is not comfortable with this, then pray on your own before the meeting.
Either way, this invites God into the redemptive process, where He is able to work on giving you both the right frame of mind.
Step 4: Affirm your spouse (or offender).
Affirm your care for the other person and the relationship. If you don’t “care” for them, then you are not ready for this part of reconciliation.
Step 5: Choose one issue to discuss.
Deal with one issue or particular area per conversation. Don’t be in a rush to deal with all the problems all at once.
It most likely took you years to develop the problems and it will take lots and lots of boundary conversations to change the relationship for the better.
Be willing to accept that uncomfortable reality.
Remember that as humans, we can only handle being confronted with and changing one or two issues at a time. Otherwise, we can easily become overwhelmed, discouraged or might even feel rejected. Not to mention, it’s just not realistic.
Step 6: Be clear, positive and humble.
Calmly and respectfully clarify what you’ve been feeling, giving them benefit of the doubt for his/her actions as well …
“I know that you might not realize it, but when you (hurtful action), I feel …”
And add more clarity by saying …
“It would help me a lot if you’d do/say this instead … (preferred action). Is this something you’d be willing to do moving forward?”
You might also want to follow this up with something like …
“What can I do to help improve the way I’ve acted toward you in this conflict?”
If your first boundary conversation doesn’t go well, then don’t become discouraged …
[bctt tweet=”Change is a fickle mistress that must be courted over and over with gentleness and patience. #change #forgiveness #boundary #reconciliation” username=”BethSteffaniak”]
What are some helpful suggestions you would like to add to our list here today?
Which of the suggestions has been crucial to the success of any boundary conversations you’ve had?
* Taken and adapted from Beyond Boundaries by John Townsend. I would encourage you to read this book, if you are facing any kind of reconciliation or rebuilding of trust scenario. * To read the previous post in our ongoing series on forgiveness click – The Support Needed to Trust Again
Here are some other lovely linkups I join – Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Mondays, Purposeful Faith, Tell His Story, InstaEncouragements Linkup, Recharge Wednesday, Worth Beyond Rubies Wednesday, Tune in Thursday, Heart Encouragement, Grace and Truth, and Faith on Fire Friday. [yikes-mailchimp form=”1″]
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