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Can You Still Mend A Family Feud If You've Been Fighting For A Long Time?
  • Filipino families are known for having close ties, but it is also inevitable for those ties to unravel and snap — causing a rift among members. Some arguments can be resolved quickly, but other feuds run deep. It can persist for years to the point that no one really knows what started it. When this happens, can you still mend and save the relationship?

    Sometimes, the better option is to just cut off toxic relatives from your life, but what if you don’t want to lose that loved one for good? Can you still save the relationship?

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    What to say to a toxic relative

    Ending a family feud requires cooperation on both sides, but the only response you can control is yours. According to an article on Oprah.com, there are specific words that you can use to confront toxic family members in a “graceful, loving way.” Here’s a script on how you can address them:

    First, set the stage.

    “In an effort to honor our relationship, I need to tell you the truth…”

    Then, tell that person how you feel.

    “When you _________, it makes me feel _________.”

    Lastly, ask the person this:

    “Are you willing to stop doing that?”

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    Remember to tell the other person specifically what you need for you to be able to save the relationship — perhaps an apology or an acknowledgment of all the hurtful things they’ve said about you or an affirmation that they will stop doing it and for good.

    Here’s an example of what you can say:


    In an effort to honor our relationship, I need to tell you the truth. When you talked behind my back and said hurtful words about me to our other family members, it makes me feel angry. For us to be able to move on, I’d like you to stop doing that. Are you willing to do that?

    After you’ve said your piece and your family member doesn’t respond, give it some time before trying again. What’s important is to keep your words and manners respectful and loving so you don’t add fuel to the fire.

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    Keep reaching out

    "Forgiveness is a choice."

    If you really want to save the relationship, you have to show it, so keep reaching out. Send that family member a light-hearted message regularly or every few months. “She might be feeling guilty after keeping her distance for such a long time,” shares psychologist Joshua Coleman, Ph.D., in an interview with Real Simple. “This sends the signal that you’re still alive and happy and open.

    “Forgiveness is a choice,” says TV personality and author Dr. Phil McGraw. Holding on to a grudge will only eat you up inside and cause bigger rifts. If your relative refuses to acknowledge you, let them know that you are letting the past go because you want to focus on healing the family.

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    Leave the door open

    "Let’s start over and not talk about past issues that can’t be resolved."

    If some time has passed, another way to move on from a feud is to act as if nothing happened. “For some people, the last thing they want to talk about is the conflict that started the feud. That’s why they’re avoiding you in the first place,” says Sheila Heen, co-author of Difficult Conversations: How To Discuss What Matters Most, to Real Simple. She suggests calling that person and asking to do an activity that both of you enjoyed in the past.

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    Even if years have passed, an estranged family member can still come back for important milestones — say the birth of a niece or nephew, a parent’s birthday, or (sadly) death of a loved one. Don’t pressure them to reach out, but let them know in a subtle way that they are welcome anytime.

    “Agree to an amnesty. ‘Let’s start over and not talk about past issues that can’t be resolved,’” says Mark Sichel, a psychotherapist from New York City, to Real Simple.

    Sometimes reconciliation is no longer possible no matter how hard you try. Click here for some tips on when to cut family ties for good.

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