Repairing a Broken Relationship
"Throwing It All Away" by Genesis
How to Restore a Broken Relationship
One of the hardest things to go through in life is the breaking of a relationship with someone, especially if you were particularly close to that person and have known them for a long time. Once a relationship ends it can be very difficult to restore that relationship. The more intimate you are with someone, the deeper the pain goes when things go wrong. In this article we will discuss how to repair a relationship that has been broken. We will deal with relationships in general. In another article I will discuss how to repair a broken marriage. The good news is that relationships can be restored if everyone involved is willing to put the effort into the process of healing. It may take time, but the end result is worth the time and effort.
Obstacles to Healing
Before we can discuss the process of repairing a relationship, we need to consider what keeps restoration from happening in the first place.
I put this one first, because it the biggest and most common obstacle to the healing of relationships. I know the times I have been separated from a friend I struggled a lot with pride. When I came to the conclusion that either I was totally wrong or at least shared part of the blame, it was difficult to bring myself to accept responsibility. Pride keeps people apart. We know that if we humble ourselves and go to the other person and admit wrong doing, we will lose face- or so we think. I have learned that I lose face by not admitting my error. I save my reputation by swallowing my pride and taking steps to restoration with that person. There is no secret formula to overcoming pride in a broken relationship. We all struggle with it at some point. Simply, you must bite the bullet and go for it. For example, one of the keys to learning to swim is to just go head long into the water and go for it. Too, in a broken friendship, you have to just go for it, do or die.
Time gets in the way of healing. What I mean is that the longer we wait, the harder it is to take the steps to restore that relationship. Paul, a first century leader in the church, wrote to the Christians in Ephesus to "...not let the sun go down while you are still angry,..." (Ephesians 4:26 NIV). That is a good rule to go by. That, in no way, means that you have to fix everything by sunset. It means simply to quickly move into the process of repairing the relationship. The sooner you begin the process of healing the better. Time has a way of desensitizing us, causing us to not see the need for that person like we do when the problem first occurs. Too, as time goes along we can allow bitterness to set in, which exaggerates the problem even more.
3. Wrong voices
We all listen to several voices on a daily basis. The voices can come from advice from people at work, a neighbor or the media. The voices can come from inside us. I am not referring to people who hear voices in an insane kind of way, but rather the voices that crowd our thoughts daily. We must use discernment, and not listen to the wrong advice, as that often will lead us to maintain the broken relationship. Obviously, some relationships are not healthy for us to keep, but more often than not we should listen to counsel that encourages us to restore those relationships.
4. Unwillingness to mend the relationship
One obstacle that is out of our control is the other person who is unwilling to make amends. That can create more pain for the person who wants badly to restore the friendship. I will write later in the article on how to deal with this, but the main thing is to be patient, and give them space while affirming your love for them.
Steps to Repairing the Relationship
1. Realization of Brokeness
I put this step first as I am surprised at how many people are oblivious to the broken relationships around them. Often, they do not see that they are a common denominator in a series of broken relationships. If you tend to have relationship problems with several people, take a look at yourself to see if you are the source of the problem.
Whether you are the source of the problem or not, humility is a must if the relationship is to be restored. If you are the whole reason for the problem or just a part of it, it takes great humility to admit wrong doing. The rewards, however, are much greater than the struggle to admit your error.
If you are not the source of the problem, you still must take steps to reconciliation. Do not wait on the other person. It will take humility on your part, especially if you were not the cause of the break with the other person.
Patience is necessary. The relationship did not end overnight, so it will not be repaired overnight. You need to give each other time and space to think things through, and to heal. Patience is especially necessary if the other person is not willing to reconcile. Don't push them as that will drive them further away. Affirm your love for them, respect their wishes, and allow them room to figure things out.
4. Talking openly
Talking openly about the problem(s) is a necessary step to healing. This will include a period of blaming, then heart searching, and finally finding a solution. Blaming is part of the process. We all do it. We blame each other for the problem. This is part of fighting through misunderstandings so that the truth can be found.
Next, we must move into a time of searching ourselves to see where we were wrong. It is extremely rare when only one person is at fault in a broken relationship. More often than not, both parties are guilty. We must search within ourselves to see where we went wrong without justifying ourselves. We must be completely open and honest at this point if wholeness is to be achieved.
Finally, we must move into a serious discussion to find the solution. Phrases such as 'I'm sorry' and other such phrases are not helpful. Genuine seeking of forgiveness and a desire to solve the issues at hand are what bring healing.
These steps of talking may seem simple, but when you combine the complexity of two humans into the equation it can get messy. Keep moving ahead. Don't let yourself get side tracked by non-issues. Hold on to hope all the way to the end.
Forgiveness is so necessary to keep a relationship alive, whether forgiveness is necessary for little or big problems. We must not let bitterness take root, as it will destroy us. Forgiving the other person will be easier if we remember our constant need of forgiveness. We tend not to forgive when we think of ourselves as being better than we really are. We all make mistakes, and should forgive as we want to be forgiven. Be generous in your forgiveness.
At this point many may wonder what true forgiveness is. To forgive is not to forget, as that is impossible. Once something is planted in your mind, it is there to stay. You can choose not to dwell on a certain thought, but you can't eliminate what is recorded. For example, when you delete something from your computer, it is still there. It can be found on your hard drive, but it isn't at the forefront of your computer's memory. To truly forgive someone is to move beyond the problem, and to move toward reconciliation with that person. I am a follower of Christ. One of the things He taught was that we are in a broken relationship with the Heavenly Father, but He, through Christ, moved beyond that and has moved toward reconciliation with us. He has made the first move, and now we must take the next step by moving toward Him by faith in Christ. I use that as an illustration of how to forgive. We must move beyond the problem toward the other person. Then they must move toward us to reconcile. Forgiveness then happens, and the relationship is made whole again.
6. Practice the Solution
In a previous step we talked about finding a solution. That is good, as long as we put the solution into practice. For instance, if one of the problems is verbal abuse, then the solution is to use words that build up the other person. That is great, as long as you stop using abusive language and begin to use words that build up. All solutions to problems are only effective if you put them into practice.
Repairing a broken relationship can be very difficult, especially if problems have gone unchecked. However, there is always hope of reconciliation. As time goes along and problems grow it becomes more difficult, but it is still possible to repair the problems if both parties are willing to take the necessary steps. Never give up hope. Even if the other person is unwilling you must do your part to reconcile without harrassing them. You always want to give them the space they need, while affirming your love for them. Once the relationship is made whole again, the reward will far outweigh the effort.