How to Handle and Respond to Regret in Relationships

by | May 31, 2017 | Relationships | 0 comments

I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. – Joel 2:25

James and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary this May 16th! Our marriage has been a miracle and masterpiece that could only be explained by the presence of a mighty God. He has taken our brokenness and made so many blessings come from it––namely our three remarkable children. God truly works all things out for our good for His glory!

I’m largely the woman that I’m today because of my husband’s love, wisdom, leadership, support, encouragement, and friendship. And, he’s my favorite Bible teacher!!! We both chose to answer the call to ministry and follow God as we helped build His kingdom. I love, love, love being in partnership with James. When he asked me to marry him, he said, “I can never promise you that we will ever own a home.” Well, God exceeded our expectations!

The possession of things have never been the object of James’ affection but rather reaching our community and our world with the liberating truth of the gospel. I’m grateful that he has never wavered even in the midst of opposition and adversity. And, there’s been some adversity and unexpected challenges. But neither of us have regrets about what we went through because it moved us to where we are now.

As you and I live as Remarkable Women, I think it’s important for us to take inventory of the many different types of relationships in our lives:

  • Spouses
  • Partners
  • Friendships
  • Family
  • Children
  • Colleagues
  • Mentors
  • Mentees

These significant personal connections have the ability to fill our hearts and break them all at the same time. Relational intimacy finds deep roots in vulnerability, trust, and transparency. And because we are human, we often make mistakes in our relationships that abuse the vulnerability of others, damage trust, and paralyze their freedom to be transparent.

Most damaging in these mistakes is an unseen enemy that often stifles our growth and ability to heal from the pain – regret. Defined as “to mourn the loss or death of; to miss very much.” Regret is significant and can lead to significant consequences for you:

  • It can suffocate and hurt your relationships.
  • It can make you question your status and make you wish for something else.
  • It can interfere with your success in building and living your life with freedom.
  • It causes you to regret things that you did and didn’t do.

I believe rather than allowing regret to grow and cause damage, we need to become aware enough to change it and eliminate its impact on our lives. One of the most important places to build awareness about regret is in our mental healthy and protecting our well-being in this area. God provides incredible instruction for us in the Bible for how to live our Best Remarkable Life in His grace and power, which equips us to eliminate regret from our relationships.

You need to give yourself freedom and permission to live with no regrets. Consider these 5 strategies to help you eliminate regret in your relationships:

  1. Avoid ignoring regret. Pretending that regret doesn’t exist won’t make it go away. It’s important to recognize that you’re experiencing an issue and that you need to work on resolving it.
  • Figure out why you feel regret.
  • Access where it is coming from. Get to the root. 
  • Name it! Is the regret coming from recent interactions with an ex? Is it appearing because you’re comparing yourself to others? Are you wrestling through a broken friendship?
  1. Accept your mistakes. Recognize that perfection isn’t attainable – for anyone.
  • Be kind to yourself and your partner, so regret doesn’t take over your lives.
  • Accept that mistakes will happen. What matters more is how you react to them. Remember that God uses mistakes to help us frame and write our story.
  • Mistakes can serve as powerful teaching tools.
    • They can show what can go wrong, so you can avoid it again.
    • They can give you important life lessons you may not learn otherwise.
    • Some lessons are better bought.
  1. Understand the role of missed opportunities. Research shows that a missed opportunity is the biggest reason for regret.
  • It’s more common for you to regret not doing something than to regret taking action. Do you have a particular missed opportunity that is haunting you and hurting your relationships?
  • In some cases, people regret staying with a partner or not giving a potential partner a chance.
  • Regrets about business relationships that derailed your chances for success also impact people.
  1. Be bolder. Since most regret comes from not taking action and missing opportunities, cultivating courage can prevent regret from occurring in many instances.
  • Find and use your voice!
    • If you’ve been scared to ask for something or change something about your relationship, then speak up.
    • If you’re not happy with the way your partner treats you or the kids, then ask for change.
  1.  Don’t be afraid to get help. Individual or couples therapy may be the key to getting over your regret.
  • Couples’ counseling can make your relationship stronger, help you overcome challenges, and create healthy coping strategies.  
  • Individual therapy can help you get to the bottom of the real reason why you suffer from regret. It can help you uncover years of past mistakes or pain that you’ve buried. It can also show you how to move on and get over your fears.

Regret can act as a dangerous force that causes destruction in your relationships. Before it hurts you or your loved ones, holds you hostage and keeps you from pursuing a life of FREEDOM, refuse to live by default instead of design.

REST in God and find the courage to take steps to get rid of it. You’ll strengthen your relationships with others and your love will grow.

What’s one thing that you will do differently in your relationships now as a result of learning how to eliminate regret? Post a comment below and tell me about it.

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