Are you going through a difficult time with a family member, a loved one, a co-worker or even a boss? Maybe you are on the brink of losing a relationship. Don’t give up hope. Instead, apply relationship first aid to revive an ailing relationship.

Here are 6 ways to apply relationship first aid:

  1. Build the positive. Is the relationship more positive than negative? If it is more negative, you need to build positivity. You can do this by focusing on the good qualities of the person–why you liked the person in the first place, what positive traits do they have, are there characteristics that make them attractive, approachable, likable or someone you want to know? Philippians 4:8 tells us to think on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. Think about such things.
  2. Become more empathetic. Try to understand why the person may be acting in ways that might be upsetting. Is the person stressed at work, overwhelmed with responsibility, feeling sick, etc. Understanding is not making excuses for the person, just widening your lens to see what may be stressing them or contributing to their difficulties. For example, asking your spouse to help you understand why he leaves his socks on the floor, will lead to a different solution than being critical and angry because he leaves socks on the floor. Once you have understanding, then you can negotiate an action step that will improve things for both of you. People are more cooperative and willing to change when they feel understood. So, empathy and listening go a long way to improve relationships.
  3. Forgive often. This is probably the most important first aid response to use. And yes, in some cases, it can be hard to do. However, forgiveness is an act of our will, a choice we make to not allow unforgiveness and bitterness to damage our relationships and keep us stuck. Forgiving someone is a gift we give to ourselves and others. We do this because God forgives us and tells us to forgive others as he has forgiven us. Often our emotions take time to catch up with our decision to forgive, but making the choice begins the process of healing relationships.
  4. Don’t bring up the past. To revive a relationship, work through past hurts, then stay in the present, forgive, and move on. Continue to build trust by acting in forgiving ways. Doing this, changes the climate of a relationship.
  5. Take responsibility for your part of the problems. When someone is unhappy in a relationship, it is often because they are unhappy with themselves. They might not know what they want or need, but just feel unhappy. In those cases, encourage the person to talk to you or someone who can get to the source of their dissatisfaction. Leaving a relationship doesn’t usually fix the problem.
  6. Go to couple/family therapy. Therapists who are trained in couple/family therapy know how to build strong relationships. Too often, people wait until the damage is so far gone, they simply give up. This is avoidable by getting help early on. Don’t wait when you see signs of distress. Get the help you need.

Despite relationship tensions, conflicts and upsets, there is much we can do to make things better. Be intentional. Address problems and make every effort to work on creating healthy relationships. Even small changes can have a big effect.

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