The opportunity to build a better relationship presents itself during the most challenging times, sometimes. I think the best way to look at these 'breakdowns' is as opportunities. It sounds like a Chinese proverb, but switching our perspective and opening to a different way of viewing a situation has the potential to reveal a completely new understanding. With that new understanding, the possibility for creating something that has never existed before presents itself.
There is the uncanny consistency of making something genius out of what seemed like a 'mistake' in almost every scientific discovery; the masterpiece that emerges from the accidental paint splatter (less common); and the radical idea or group that springs up from the catastrophe of the moment. It's always my hope that folks get to mediation before a catastrophe strikes, but that never seems to happen. It's so much more productive to sit down with someone you trust and share a mutual desire to collaborate and build a more durable and functional relationship BEFORE things get so bad that recovery seems impossible, unlikely, distant, vague, and maybe not even desirable.
It's always best to build on a strong foundation.
I'm starting to move into a greater appreciation of honing. You take a solid piece of work, then buff and polish until it gleams, adding personal touches, practical additions and colorful insights. Most people seem to see the mediation process more like visiting a mechanic. Left with no choice, broken down on the side of the road, you call the mechanic to repair the vehicle, which likely only gets you to the next breakdown, inevitably some ways down the road. I know I use way too many metaphors for my own good. I've come to see mediation more like crafting; honing the best version of our relationships.
I have a few woodworking projects going this summer. Can you tell? I'm making some spoons. Jen Heathcote of Climbing Tree Woodwork taught me how to make absolutely beautiful spoons in the Ozark woods this summer. I'm also making a 6' headboard, and the sanding process is so satisfying I may never finish honing this thing.