Joy and pain are amplified in close relationships. When expectations are not met and trust is betrayed by one whom we love deeply, the resulting hurts run deep. How do we repair a broken relationship? What are some steps toward restoration?
5 Ways to Mend a Broken Relationship
In this article, I will discuss 5 ways to repair a broken relationship.
1. Expressing our hurt and need
When the probability is great that the one who has hurt you will respond non-defensively and compassionately to your expression of hurt and need, this is an important first step. Should you wait for the offender to realize his/her wrongdoing? He/she may or may not realize the impact.
As Jesus commanded His disciples, if a brother has wronged you, first go to him privately to express your hurt and desire for healing (Matthew 18:15). If the offender has not demonstrated prior empathy, compassion, or sorrow for you and for his/her choices, it may not be advisable to express your hurt and need yet. You may need the support of another, like a friend or a counselor (Matthew 18:16), or you may choose to wait (Ecclesiastes 3:1) for a reconciliation attempt.
2. Acknowledging the other’s hurt and our part/impactOnce you become aware of your beloved’s hurt, sincerely acknowledging or validating the hurt and taking ownership for your part in his/her hurt and the impact of your choices is an important next step for emotional repair.
While you may not have intended the hurt, it is best not to explain your intention immediately, or to defend or justify your choices, but simply to acknowledge the hurt and take responsibility for how you impacted your loved one. “I hurt you and I’m sorry,” not, “I’m sorry that you felt hurt.” Rather, “You were hurt because I ______.”
3. Expressing our sorrow for our spouse and our choices
A sincere expression of sorrow for our loved one and our choices and our impact is needed for repair. “I see how this hurt you, and I’m sorry. Knowing how hurt you feel, I feel sad for you, and I’m sorry.”
4. Asking for and granting forgivenessForgiveness, or cancelling the debt owed, is God’s nature toward us, and His heart for us when we hurt each other (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13). Asking for forgiveness is an important step in the repair process. Extending or granting forgiveness and grace to the offender releases him/her from our anger at the offense.
5. Walk in repentance with support and help
Trust is rebuilt when actions speak louder than words and steps are taken to avoid an intentional recurrence of hurt. This could include things like seeking accountability for change, prayer and support from others, and taking steps to break hurtful patterns and choices, build trust and facilitate and sustain change.
Further hurt within a close relationship is inevitable as two broken individuals being transformed live in proximity. But turning toward God and walking in His ways with help hasten repair and strengthen bonds.
Christian Counseling for Relationship Issues
Christian counseling can support efforts at relational repair. The good news of peace with God through Jesus Christ is a message of reconciliation. While we were estranged from Him, God took the initiative to send His Son to suffer and die for us so that through faith in Jesus, we can be reconciled to God, and those joined to Jesus now have the ministry of reconciliation.
We call others to be reconciled to God through Christ, just as we are conscientious about seeking reconciliation with others. Christian counseling supports and leverages faith in Christ for the healing of hurts and relationships and can facilitate the communication necessary to begin and sustain the healing. If you need support in repairing hurts, I urge you to contact me or one of my colleagues. We’d be happy to help.
“I’ve got you!”, Courtesy of Alvin Mahmudov, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “A Shoulder to Lean On”, Courtesy of Nathan Dumlao, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Standing Cliffside”, Courtesy of Alex Iby, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Don’t Let Go”, Courtesy of Everton Vila, Unsplash.com, CC0 License