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12 Stages of Reconciliation in a Relationship God’s Way

Has a relationship in your life been broken? It is important to understand the stages of reconciliation in a relationship to begin rebuilding trust. Today we will look at the 12 stages and see how to navigate them successfully.

By the way, if you found this mid-series, go back to the beginning here ~> How To Begin Reconciliation in a Relationship: Real Talk

If I had to narrow it down to 4 stages of reconciliation I would say they are:ForgivenessExpectationsBoundariesMeasure and celebrate Click To Tweet

What are The Stages of Reconciliation in a Relationship?

When talking about how to reconcile a relationship I like to think of the process like a path. The path to reconciliation is not a straight line.

Think of it as a hiking path. Sometimes there are rocks you have to climb over, other times there is danger and you need to retreat.

As long as you are leaning into God and allowing Him to guide you, you will find your way through to the end of the path.

There are some clear stages to work through, however. If I had to narrow it down to 4 stages of reconciliation I would say they are:

  1. Forgiveness
  2. Expectations
  3. Boundaries
  4. Measure and celebrate

More Than 4 Stages of Reconciliation

So people want to narrow down the process of reconciliation as much as possible. In some faiths, there are 4 stages of reconciliation with God…

BUT, honestly, there are subsets within each stage so I just can’t narrow it down.. To say there are four stages of reconciliation, 5 steps of reconciliation, or even 7 steps of reconciliation would be leaving pieces out.


So, the way I work through this there are about 12 stages of reconciliation. AND throughout the entire process, there must be grace.

You need to focus a bit on self-care, and growing your relationship with God. Accepting His grace to you.

And of course, forgiving your offender itself is impossible apart from grace.

The grace of God is what the entire ministry of reconciliation hinges upon.

My Experience with Reconciliation

The process of reconciliation has been hard for me.

I hate conflict. I hate confrontation even more. Reconciliation requires a bit of both…

I would much rather focus on forgiving the people who have hurt me and broken my trust. Forgiving them and praying that God will work it all out. Sometimes He does and I don’t have to do anything.

Other times, however, God is working to grow me. He pushes me forward to do the work of reconciliation…

In every case, I grow. But not every case ends with balanced healed relationships. It is hard and it hurts.

As you work through this, remember you are not alone. Remember that God is always about the business of reconciling. Turn to Him for help and reach out to a friend for prayer and support.

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1.) Forgiveness

There is a reason we have spent weeks learning about Biblical forgiveness. If you have not or are not working toward forgiving the offense, reconciliation is impossible.

Let me repeat that. Reconciliation in a relationship is impossible without forgiveness!

Review Forgiveness

We have learned so far that to forgive you must:

2.) Forgiveness and Reconciling Are Two Separate Things

Now, to be clear, reconciling a broken relationship should naturally flow out of forgiveness. Notice that I said, ‘should.’ Forgiveness and reconciliation are two very different things.

You can forgive and not be reconciled.

However, you cannot truly be reconciled without forgiveness. 

3.) Real Expectations

For today, we will focus on marriage – reconciliation in a marriage relationship. When trust has been broken in your marriage, and you need to reconcile, it is important to have clear and real expectations.

  1. Words, feelings, and thoughts are not enough
    1. Forgiveness isn’t enough.
    2. An apology isn’t enough.
  2. Both parties will have to work hard to rebuild the broken trust.
  3. You may need help.
  4. Reconciliation will take time.

Related Post: How to Fight the Real Enemy in a Biblical Marriage

4.) Not Enough

Simply forgiving your spouse does not reconcile the marriage.

Forgiveness is critical, you can’t restore things if you are still holding onto anger and bitterness, but it is not enough.

What forgiveness does, however, is open the door for reconciliation to be possible. 

Alternately, an apology alone is not enough. An apology can create the right atmosphere to cultivate the reconciliation you desire… but it is not enough when the offense has broken trust.

Humility is needed but is not enough to mend the broken pieces.

In a perfect world, reconciliation would always be as simple as saying, “I’m sorry.”

But I don’t live in that perfect world. Do you?

5.) Both Parties Must Work Hard

True reconciliation will involve both of you. To restore a relationship where trust has been broken requires two parties, both willing to work toward the goal.

When only one party is working on the relationship, trust is still broken, feelings are still torn, and there is no healing.

Now, don’t lose heart if you are working on your marriage alone. Even if you have been working on it alone for years, there is still hope… because you are never working on it alone.

God is an amazing partner in the fight for reconciliation!

I am still fighting for so many relationships through prayer. I even still talk to the people and do life with them, I just protect my heart, and reserve the best parts of myself while I am fighting for a full relationship in the future.

Related Post: 15 Bible Verses For Marriage Problems to Help You Find Joy In Your Marriage

6.) You May Need Help

There are several forms of help that you may need to turn to for the reconciliation of some relationships. What kind of help?

7.) Always Start with Prayer!

Prayer is a powerful help in the fight for reconciliation.

Pray about ways you can take a first step toward reconciling the hurt in your marriage or other relationships.

Prayer is absolutely what fixed my marriage. I would be divorced a second time without God’s hand guiding me and changing everything!  

8.) Christian Counseling

In our fallen, broken world, there are issues where a counselor is non-negotiable. Even when you have forgiven, when both parties are willing to change, the hurt may be too big to work through alone.

You may need help to re-open the lines of communication. Don’t be ashamed of that. Do whatever it takes to make things right again. 

9.) A Prayer Partner

Accountability through a prayer partner is amazingly helpful.

Not only is personal prayer a great tool for the reconciliation of relationships, but a partner can be amazing. Find someone you trust to talk to about the issues. Someone like-minded in faith who will pray with you, hold you accountable, and shoot straight with you.

10.) Time Will Help

Expect that reconciliation will take time. Expect that it will be hard work. Don’t expect to be healed and healthy tomorrow.

Both of you need to do some hard heart work to restore the relationship. Don’t set a clock on getting back to normal.

In fact, don’t expect normal at all. Things may never go back to where they were… that’s okay. You both learned something new and grew through this, which brings change. Give yourself and your spouse space to change.

11.) Setting Boundaries

When working to reconcile a relationship you will need to work through healthy boundaries. Have you set boundaries before? It can be tough. Tough love is scary sometimes. Do it anyway.

This is a specific place you may need the help of a counselor. An outsider with experience can offer great examples of clear boundaries to help you get started.

Related Post: How Good Boundaries Provide Hope for a Broken Marriage

12.) Celebrating Benchmarks

There will be some very humbling moments in the step of reconciliation. To reconcile things in any relationship, you will have to learn how to live with each other in the right way again. 

Only you know what is between you. In our home, this could mean talking to him when I have been freezing him out. Allowing him to touch me when I have been withdrawn. Sharing things with him that I have kept for fear of being hurt.

When you have clear boundaries and timelines set in motion, you can then see improvement. You can celebrate change.

It is important to celebrate hitting milestones as you work toward reconciliation.

Types of Reconciliation in Conflict Resolution

There are as many types of reconciliation as there are types of relationships. And you will walk through the stages of reconciliation in a relationship differently with each.

  • Marriage
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Co-workers
  • Neighbors

Reconciliation in Marriage

The conflict that breaks trust and requires reconciliation in marriage can really be different. When two sinful people spend a lifetime together, our sin can easily hurt our spouse. Common issues include:

Of all of these, I would say the stages of reconciliation after an affair are the most common I am asked about. Infidelity. It is a plague that is running rampant in our culture.

The stages are the same, though in all of these situations – ALL of them – I advise you to find a good counselor. It will help you in the fight to have someone you see, face to face, who is on your side.

Related Post: How To Be a Biblical Wife To an Ungodly Husband

Reconciliation in Family

Restoring broken trust within a family, outside of marriage, is probably the most shattering though. With marriage, sadly, in our culture, we almost expect there to be trouble. It’s a given.

But with my own flesh and blood… when that trust gets broken it hurts so deeply.

The stages are the same… but they may take longer than you might expect. And you will take two steps forward and ten steps back repeatedly. Expect it to be hard.

Personally, I have been fighting in prayer for my relationship with my dad for so many years. I hope for it against all hope… and there is a part of my heart that is shattered because he doesn’t pursue the relationship…

You are not alone.

Reconciliation in Friends

Friendships are a bit different. At least as an adult. As a youth, I remember spending countless hours and days working to fix broken friendships.

Today, there are a handful of people who don’t share my name or blood that I will fight to stay in a relationship with. Ya’ know what I mean?

While the stages are the same, the process will vary depending on how deep that relationship is.

Reconciliation in Co-Workers

Of all the types of relationships you may want to reconcile, co-workers are perhaps the most clear-cut. When there is a conflict at work, there are people higher up who are trained to help navigate restoring balance.

Take advantage of your HR people. They are gifted blessings in this area.

And remember to pray hard. This could be the perfect way to show Christ’s love to the lost world.

Reconciliation in Neighbors

Oh, how I wish there was never conflict with neighbors. It sets my teeth on edge! I love where I live, and I love my neighbors. Love them! But over the years we have struggled with conflict with a few of them. Some conflicts were intense enough to make me think about moving.

This again is a time when prayer is critical.

You are the light of the world, the salt of the earth. Light makes people uncomfortable in their sin. Salt pulls out the impurities. If you are living, surrendered to Christ, there will be conflict around you.

Be sure to be Christlike even when you are wronged. Pray hard. Forgive easily. Work through the stages of reconciliation as best you can with those around you! It is an act of love.

Which of the Stages of Reconciliation Do You You Need Help With?

I struggle with the stages of reconciliation. Struggle. I want them to go quickly and from one to the other.

Actually, I want every conflict to be resolved like the last…

I wish I could use a checklist and work through all the things myself… make everyone happy… fix everything so there was never any stress or disagreement…

But it doesn’t work that way. I get stuck, most often in boundaries. How about you? Which area gets you stuck most often?

  1. Forgiveness
  2. Separating
  3. Expectations
  4. Needing more
  5. Working hard
  6. Needing Help
  7. Prayer
  8. Counseling
  9. A Prayer Partner
  10. Time
  11. Boundaries
  12. Celebrating

in HIS love,

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Tiffany Montgomery

Tiffany of Hope Joy in Christ inspires Christian Women to grow in faith, live out Biblical Marriage Principles and raise Godly Children.  Join the Wives Only Facebook Group here or keep up with her through Pinterest.