Blogs: Mending Challenging Relationships

PT experts share their insights.

By PT Staff, published on May 7, 2013 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016


 Bloggers head shots

L to R: Craig Malkin, Ph.D, Pamela Haag, Ph.D, Shauna Springer, Ph.D, Robert Taibbi, L.C.S.W. and Carlin Flora

What are some simple strategies to overcome conflict and mend challenging relationships of any sort?

Ask the other person what it is that they would need changed in order for the situation to feel better. When you do that, it helps them feel as if you're taking their perspective seriously. By at least repeating back to them what they've just said, you show that you're trying to understand. —Craig Malkin, Ph.D., Romance Redux

Suppression is underrated. We're in a tell-all age; there's a tendency to think that sharing and saying is always the best approach. Maybe not. When it's a small matter or annoyance, quiet tolerance for human flaws and imperfections can sometimes work much more effectively than noisy confrontation. —Pamela Haag, Ph.D., Marriage 3.0

Make it a conscious priority to stay in better contact and share something about your life at a deeper level when you get together. One of the most important things for any relationship is to either nurture it or give people an understanding as to why you can't for a period of time. —Shauna Springer, Ph.D., The Joint (Ad)Ventures of Well-Educated Couples

Make an effort to sincerely say you want to repair the relationship. Send an email. Even if the email comes back with a nasty reply, you can try again. You have more than one shot. People get stuck because they don't act until they know it's going to be successful. You can't know. You somehow need to keep the door open. —Robert Taibbi, L.C.S.W., Fixing Families

Rise above it. Do something really kind and generous that will set the tone going forward and show that you really care, even if things have been rocky. Once you build goodwill, that's a good time to address any specific tensions. When you are ready to do so, acknowledge your own role in the problem. —Carlin Flora, Under a Friendly Spell