Have you ever been verbally or physically abused? Have you even thought about healing that broken relationship? Did your partner cheat on you? Did your friend betray you? Did your father beat you?

Relationships constantly cycle through brokenness and mending. Because each one of us has shortcomings, blind spots, and wounds, we wound others. Ironically, it’s only when we come into contact with other people, that those wounds can begin to heal. From the time we are born, we begin accumulating memories, some good, some not so good. In fact, even in utero, the fetus is storing memories, recording sounds, experiencing environment, culture, and more.

Given the complexity of each human being and the joining of our lives in communities, friendships, and marriages, it’s incredibly important to gain skills for healing; not only for our own brokenness, but hopefully to help those around us as well.

What does the healing process look like? How do you start it? And is it really worth it?

Here are 3 Practical Steps to Healing a Broken Relationship:

1. Begin Basic Communication

What type of communication are you most comfortable with? What makes you feel safe? No matter how you choose to initiate, remember fear is normal. Maybe start with an email or a hand written letter. Maybe call and leave a message when they're not likely to pick up. Or maybe you’re ready to talk face to face? Whatever the case, initial communication can look different for each of us. Above all, be sure to clarify your goals for the relationship upfront. Describe what that might look like – “I’d like to begin hanging out with you again,” or “I’d like for us to meet over coffee once per month” Keep it brief, not providing too many details, but remain committed and ready for this new season of healing to take shape.

2. Pace Yourself

The process of restoration is a marathon not a sprint. It took a while for the relationship to break. It’ll take a while to mend. Start slow. Be brave. Prepare your heart for the fact this person may not even reciprocate. They may not be ready. Respect their journey, too. They may not be ready for healing – and that's okay. Know that your ability to reach out is enough. Remember, your peace and freedom does not depend on their willingness to partake.

3. Forgive Them Even if They're Not Sorry

It amazes me how many of us underestimate the power of forgiveness. It does not mean you delete the memories, but it does mean you release yourself from the emotional weight of the pain. You don’t hold them on the hook anymore. You’re no longer responsible for punishing them or for making them feel guilty for what they've done. It reminds me of this positive thought.

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”

Meet them where they're at. If they can't apologize, know that you’ve done your part. You’ve made your peace. You've let it go. You've chosen happiness over pain. At the end of the day, you've won, because you're free.

Written by Dale Partridge, edited by Janay Garrick


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20 thoughts on “3 Practical Steps to Healing a Broken Relationship

  1. Zach says:

    Hey Dale,

    I am very glad i saw this post it is amazing how when I am looking I always find what I need even if sometimes its not what i want to hear. To make a long story short I am working on repairing a relationship with someone that I really love! I ended our relationship 2 months ago because i thought that it was holding me back and the reason I was unhappy. I didn’t talk to her for a long time and tried to block the thoughts of her out of my head. Then about two weeks ago I had a huge breakdown and really realized that all the reason for me ending the relationship were with myself not with her, she was my mirror. I am very happy for this breakdown because I believe without breakdowns you cannot have breakthroughs however big or small. We have started to communicate again and I know that she still loves me as much as I love her but she is scared that I will do this again and frankly I understand. I was wondering if you have any advice for me. She also leaves on a trip in 18 days and will be gone for two months.

    Thanks
    Zach

  2. Chris says:

    Thanks for the honest words, Dale. Your second point is wisely stated. We must remember to extended patience to those we are trying to reconcile with-long suffering if you are following God’s way of loving each other. Remembering that there is a correlation between how long we are will to wait and the value we place on what we are waiting for speaks volumes about the intention of our hearts.

  3. AR says:

    Hmmm.. I just found out that my husband stole something and pawned it yet again. (I didn’t think there was anything left). I had come home from work today; while preparing to head to my other job I went to gather my equipment and the item needed was gone. Broken. Betrayed yet again.

    Back home tonight and working yet again. I just checked my email and your post was there. I laughed- don’t these come in the morning??. God talking.

    I am stronger this time – he has a week to find someplace else to live. Has apologized and come clean for the first time. He still must leave and work at regaining my trust while living apart. I have done more than my share of the work in the relationship hoping he would wake to the lies and addiction.

    I never wanted to break the relationship but the truth is he keeps breaking it and I keep trying to mend it. That’s not healthy. I’m jumping anticipating God will catch me. Yes, I am in counseling and attend a co-dependent group.

  4. Ashika says:

    Thanks for posting this article. But i believe its impossible to try. It’s hard for a girls to convince boys about their feelings.

  5. Nicole says:

    You say to forgive because it helps you, not the other person etc, but how exactly is it that you do that? How do you just turn that page? How do you stop what they did bothering you?

  6. Kimberly Kenoly says:

    I am attempting to heal from childhood sexual abuse by my father at the age of 39… I cut off all contact from my parents due to my health. My Drsfelt that after extensive testing over the years that my physical symptoms were not being caused by a thing physical in my body. After much prayer and thought, I realized that shoving down what happened to me and behaving like it was my fault while trying to please my abuser, still, was slowly killing me. I cut contact with my parents. My abuser has never apologized for what he did to me from the age of 11-14. My mother has written me apologizing for her part. The last time I spoke to her I had a complete breakdown…I felt helpless, like I was 11 again. My father back a paster and is constantly around little girls. I feel if you can’t acknowledge what you did to your own child you haven’t changed. Am I wrong to expect an admittance of wrong doing from him? His lies about the abuse to our extended family make me extremely angry. I know this isn’t healthy for me either. How do I let it go?

  7. Blair says:

    What if this person is a family member?? Someone that is supposed to be present in your life? I am struggling with forgiveness and we have tried numerous times to get past it but no one can seem to meet at a common ground. Do I just walk away from the negativity and risk not even having family near? Its especially hard BC we have a son who is affected by it.

  8. Carmen says:

    I am healing from infidelity. Throughout the relationship I suspected but it wasn’t until face to face with the “other woman” did it come alive. It has been one of the most difficult journey’s of my life. I love this man, but he lied to me … now he wants to get married and recognizes I am “the one.” I am having a hard time forgiving and moving on because of the damaged trust…this process is not easy…how does one truly let go of something so devastating??

    • Terry Torres says:

      Time, and letting God take charge of His creation (which is your man). Prayer will adjust your man’s attitude or God will protect you and move him on.

  9. Indigo 33 says:

    Thank you. I’ve just written a person who left me without any good explanation an email last night and I came across your post today. The whole thing has been weighing on me for over 2 years.and it was extremely painful because I felt that I had been abandoned and that I was not worth loving. Then it came to me that rather than waiting for him to come around, I have the power to speak up and tell him how it all made me feel, so I can release the pain and see myself with respect again.
    It was a real scary thing to do at first because it felt like I was exposing myself again when I thought I really should be showing a strong front and hiding the hurt. I was also afraid that I will be even more hurt if he didn’t respond. Then I weighed the pros and cos and found that I really have nothing to lose because he’s out of my life anyways, and it is up to me to voice out the pain that he’s caused me, and gain back my self esteem.
    So I sent this really heartfelt note to him late last night. And suddenly I felt better, knowing that I’ve done something for myself to gained back the power. It doesn’t matter anymore whether he’d respond or not. Chances are that I’ve overwhelmed him and he will dodge me for the rest of his life. But that wasn’t really about him. It;s about me loving myself.
    I have never felt lighter than I do now and am ready to move on. And I’m proud that I did it:-)
    Just thought I’d share my experience with people is going through the pains of unacquitted love, just like I did.

  10. beachygirl says:

    I was able to forgive my ex husband for infidelity, but I knew I could no longer continue to be married to someone who did not act trustworthy. You can forgive someone and still take actions to protect yourself from further abuse. I also pray for willingness to forgive. I never thought I would be able to forgive my ex at that moment, but time and prayer did heal me and now I wish only the best for things for him and I have lifted a great weight off ( resentment) of me.

    • Terry Torres says:

      Let he/she that is without sin cast the first stone. You are still have unforgiveness. Trust is part of learning to let Go and Let God spank your husband. If you hold that over him, you are still bound.

  11. abc says:

    i had a friendship for 4 years …………… bt now its completly broken …………….. i hav been blockd by that persn everywhere……………….. the prsn hates me …………….. how to get back this relation

  12. JM says:

    I have been betrayed with my bestfriend and my boyfriend. At first, I am happy that my boyfriend chooses me and he stayed. But when I remember what they did to me, I couldn’t contain the anger and pain. What can I do? It is easier to say that I forgive him, but it is hard to do. I wish I can move on and let go of this feeling.

  13. Alice Morland says:

    I know it’s so heartbreaking to be betrayed by someone you love. It’s not an easy journey by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve learned a little, by being on both sides of the fence. I think when someone “cheats” (as long as it’s not serial cheating), they’re desperately trying to fill some sort of void. It’s almost a call for help and being the one who was cheated on makes it feel so personal to you, but it’s really about them. Their wounds, their fears, their lack of self-respect and self-trust. Sometimes it is a wake up call and you have to realize if you can move forward with someone like that. It’s OK to say no, I just can’t, I’ll never be able to trust them again. Just be careful not to carry that “victim” story around for the rest of your life, it will tarnish every future relationship you have. I think that’s they key of forgiveness. You’re not saying what happened was ok, you’re just saying you know, this isn’t about me and my value as a person. This is about them and what’s going on inside of them. I deserve to be in a happy, healthy relationship. I’m going to let this go. It might not be today, but I intend to get to a place where I can let this go and wish the best for that person. Or you can decide you love them and want them to stay, but you love and respect yourself enough to say that great change is in order first. Get the therapy, get real, get raw. It’s hard and it hurts but the rewards are great. If someone isn’t willing to do the work, then there’s your answer. And it’s not because YOU are not worthy of them doing the work, it’s because they’re terrified to face themselves. Many of us believe the boogie man lives inside of us and we spend most of our lives running from ourselves. We’re complicated characters, for sure.

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