Don't be too hard on yourself when things go wrong with another person in your family. It may have taken years for trouble to develop, whatever the cause. It also may take years for things to become fully resolved.

When struggling with the factors leading to my schism with a family member, I tended to blame myself when I was not particularly to blame. These things just sometimes happen.Faith, Church activity, temple attendance, priesthood blessings are imperative. Pray for the ability to resolve and forgive those who have caused pain in any way. Try to understand why the pain had been inflicted. Forgiveness must take place. Bitterness can canker the soul and create worse rifts. Forgive yourself. Sometimes we expect life to run smoothly when it doesn't and feel angry that things go awry in the first place. We must learn to practice showing and feeling the pure love of Christ toward anyone who has offended us.

Also, it is possible to have a strained relationship and still behave with kindness and love toward the other person. Things may not be perfect now, but we can look forward to improvement.

To those who are not involved in the rift, be careful. Letters written and advice given to admonish those involved may cause more harm than good. Allow time for healing. Time does heal. And remember, never say, "It won't happen to me." That's what I thought, too. - Name withheld, Idaho

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How we did it:

Focus on future

How easy it is to focus on what has already happened. The ongoing problems thrust themselves at us, grabbing our attention and fueling the fires of frustration. We unload the pain as anger at its apparent source - the other person.

Instead of doing the above, inwardly focus your attentions on that which is yet to come - the celestial oneness you desire with all your heart. This puts us in touch with our unlimited potential for betterment.

As this future focus invites a positive attitude and the power of the Holy Spirit, we being to feel joy at times even before the problems are resolved. - Karl E. Humiston, New York City, N.Y.

Be patient, listen

When love begins to fade in family relationships, darkness and contention move in. Apply the advice of James 1:5-8 to ask God for wisdom. Be patient and listen for divine answers while you work for a solution. Trust in God; search and wait upon the Lord. Ask Him to help you be filled with more love for your family and to soften your heart and open your eyes to what needs to be done. Then, when the restoration of your family relationship has been achieved, remember to thank your Heavenly Father. - Ian R. Shields, Salom Arm, British Columbia

Eliminate the negative

When my mother married a man of whom I did not approve, it caused a rift in our previously happy relationship that lasted for two years. During that time, we rarely spoke to each other without a hostile exchange. Eventually, I discovered that I missed the closeness we once enjoyed. A little work restored our treasured friendship. We learned the following:

- Eliminate negative words used to describe the other person. Replace them with positive terms.

- Strike from your speech hurtful stories used to justify your separation. Substitute happy accounts.

- Avoid dwelling on confrontations. Instead, fill your thoughts with fond memories. - Teresa Holladay, Provo, Utah

Our job to forgive

The scriptures tell us, "Charity never faileth," and with charity comes humility. You can never lose if you are humble. It doesn't matter who is right or wrong. Let the Lord be the judge. Our job is to forgive, and our goal is to be together with our families eternally. Even if the other person is wrong, we need to forgive and try to recompense. As it was said in the last conference, "Let it go." - Alan LaFleur, Salt Lake City, Utah

Do what you can

When I came back to my family after being less-active for a long time, it was difficult but worth it. I did the following:

- Corrected the things causing our separations for which I was responsible.

- Asked forgiveness for my mistakes.

- Became involved in activities they were interested in and were important to them.

- Opened the lines of communication.

- Got them involved in things I was doing. Too often we want things for ourselves, and we shut our families out. - Connie Heyrend, Idaho Falls, Idaho

Listening relieves tension

Before we were Church members, twice we came close to divorce during our 14-year marriage. Both times my husband stopped the divorce proceedings with a firm "no."

Often it is not the end of a marriage we desire, but perhaps the end of a situation. In companionships, constant renewal and evaluation are needed. Sometimes there is no sweeter word to hear than "no." We need to take time to listen with our ears and hearts. I believe listening with honest and pure intent also will relieve strain on family relationships. It must be an ongoing principle, though, not just one to be applied when there's trouble. - Name withheld, Alberta.

Talk about problem

I suggest the following:

- Communicate. Often ill feelings may come from what we assume another thinks or feels. Make sure to identify the problem and talk about it without blaming or criticizing.

- Forgive. It is our responsibility to forgive others. When we realize this, we often will look harder for ways to forgive and bring peace to ourselves.

- Accept. Learn to accept others as uniqwue individuals making the best judgments they know how. - Patty Adams, Freeburg, Ill.

Pray for loved ones

I used to pray fervently for my loved ones, and received a measure of spiritual guidance. But after asking the Lord to bless them, I was often bewildered or burdened, wondering what I should do.

Bishop Henry B. Eyring's talk on "Going Home" impressed me deeply. In it, he describes how he prays for his loved ones: "Heavenly Father, I love someone. I know they have a need; tell me what you would have me do for them." Since I have begun to pray like this, great blessings have been poured out upon me and my family. One of the best blessings is an almost immediate change of heart concerning the person and the problem. The Holy Spirit comforts and guides me with great clarity. - Kathleen J. Dickson, West Jordan, Utah

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How to checklist:

1 Discuss the problems without blame, criticism.

2 Eliminate negative words and forget hurtful stories.

3 Be forgiving, even if you may feel you are not in the wrong.

4 Correct problems that may have caused differences.

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WRITE TO US:

Feb. 6 "How to influence and help grandchildren without being meddlesome."

Feb. 13 "How to avoid placing too much importance on appearance."

Feb. 20 "How to help someone who has been disfellowshipped or excommunicated."

Feb. 27 "How to have an enjoyable dating relationship when there are few or no church members to date."

March 5 "How to identify a spiritual prompting."

March 12 "How to draw closer as a family through family home evening."

March 19 "How to develop self-reliance and independence."

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March 26 "How to improve the quality of your life."

April 2 "How to store important records."

April 9 "How to make time for exercise."

Have you had good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Material must be received at least 12 days before publicaiton date.

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