Repairing Broken Relationships
Updated: May 5, 2022
Relationships fall apart for a variety of reasons: arguments, betrayal, money, selfishness, envy, jealousy, misunderstandings, competition, inattentiveness, distance, and more. Marriages go sour, friendships crumble, hard feelings develop between family members, working partners fall out. When a relationship is broken, emotions run high, often resulting in anger, frustration, bitterness, disappointment, and confusion. Some broken relationships see love turn to hate. The truth is, maintaining positive human relationships over the long term can be a challenge for people living in a fallen world.
Noah and Emma had been married ten years when things began to fall apart. As Noah moved up the career ladder, he spent more and more time in the office, even going in on weekends. When he got home from work, Noah was too tired to do anything but lie on the couch and watch television. Emma began to feel neglected. When she tried to talk with Noah about the situation, his stock response was “you don’t understand.” Emma needed someone to talk to, to be close to and Noah was no longer that person.
Olivia and Mia had been friends since elementary school. When it came to their interests and talents, they could have been identical twins. Therefore, it surprised no one when, after college, Olivia and Mia went into business together. They opened a florist shop that thrived from the outset. For several years their relationship grew closer and closer. Friends said they could read each other’s thoughts. But, then, out of the blue. Everything fell apart.
Olivia got married and had a baby. With an infant to care for, she began spending less time at the florist shop. This meant Mia had to spend even more time at the shop. Before long, the disparity in their schedules led to conflict and the conflict led to a break in their relationship. Mia eventually bought out Olivia’s half of the business—but not until they had argued strenuously over the price. The two once close friends have not spoken in two years.
Max and Felix had always been competitive. As twin brothers they tried to outdo each other in everything from academics to sports. Their sibling rivalry had always been intense but friendly. In fact, for years Max and Felix remained as close as two brothers could be. They were the stars of their high school football, baseball, and basketball teams. Both won athletic scholarships to the same university, and both did well on the field and in the classroom.
Everything between them went well until their senior year in college. That’s when they both fell for the same girl. Felix thought he had the relationship nailed down and planned to ask Julia to marry him after graduation when Max beat him to it. Julia and Max were married the day after graduation. They asked Felix to be best man but he refused to even attend the wedding. The brothers haven’t spoken since.
These actual examples are representative of the kind of circumstances that can cause relationships to fall apart. There are always reasons that seem justifiable to the harmed party in a break up. Emma thought Noah was inattentive, Mia thought Olivia wasn’t doing her share of the work, and Felix felt betrayed by Max. Regardless of the supposed reasons behind broken relationships, the solution is the same. Repairing a broken relationship requires forgiveness, humility, a willingness to admit to wrongs, and a determination to reconcile. These things are required of both parties. The bottom line in repairing broken relationships is this: both parties must value the relationship more than they value their pride and ego.
If pride, ego, or an unwillingness to forgive are standing in the way of reconciliation, your first step is to repair your relationship with God. Pride, ego, and an unwillingness to forgive are signs that Satan rules your heart, not Christ. Not until Christ rules your heart will you be able to repair a broken relationship. The Bible is clear in its teaching about pride and ego. Proverbs 16:18 tells us, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
As for forgiveness, the Bible is replete with admonitions to forgive just as Christ forgives you. Prominent among the many verses on forgiveness are Ephesians 4:32 and Mark 11:25. The verse from Ephesians tells us to “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” The verse from Mark tells us, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you…”
Consequently, for most people, the first step toward repairing a broken relationship is getting right with God. Pray that God will help you put aside the anger, bitterness, and resentment that prevent you from taking the initiative to reconcile. Ask God to replace your pride with humility so that you can forgive the other party, ask forgiveness of the other party, and admit where you might have been wrong. Also ask God to help you see the situation from the other party’s point of view. Once you are reconciled to God, you are ready to reconcile with the other party.
Before approaching the other party, pray for that individual. Ask God to replace their pride and ego with humility and to open their hearts to reconciliation. Thank God for the relationship, and ask Him to bless your efforts to repair it. Having prayed about these things, take the initiative to approach the other person. Don’t say “I will meet you half way.” Rather, go all the way. Reach out to the other person, apologize for allowing the break to go on for so long, and ask for forgiveness. Even if you are the wronged party in a broken relationship, you can still ask for forgiveness for not making an effort to set things right.
When interacting with the other party in the break up, show that individual the face of Christ in how you proceed. Be patient, kind, humble, and gently persistent. If you are snubbed at first, keep trying. This is the point in the reparation phase where Satan will try to step in and take over. This is where he will try to use hurt feelings to poke your pride and stoke your ego. If you feel this happening, stop and pray. Ask the other person to pray with you. Above all, don’t give up. A restored relationship with someone you love and to whom you were close is worth the effort.
Dr. Goetsch is the author of Christian Women on the Job: Excelling at Work without Compromising Your Faith, Fidelis Books, an imprint of Post Hill Press and Christians on the Job: Winning at Work Without Compromising Your Faith, Salem Books, an imprint of Regnery Publishing, 2019: www.david-goetsch.com