13 Steps To Fix A Broken Relationship
When you were first dating or early in your marriage, everything felt easy and wonderful.
You were the perfect couple, feeling almost smug about how you had something so special that other couples must feel jealous.
But somewhere along the way, frustration, fighting, and detachment began to infect your close connection. In fact, you've been spending more time wondering how to repair a relationship than you have enjoying it.
Maybe you've even considered going to a relationship therapist to help you and your partner fix your relationship or work through conflict.
Even the best relationships get broken from time to time. But it's important that you act quickly to build powerful platform for regaining trust and building intimacy and happiness in your love relationship.
Quick note: Having good communication on a date and in a relationship is an important skill to develop. To learn more, check out this course that is helping couples learn healthy communication skills.
- Can you repair a relationship?
- 1. Write Down Your Thoughts
- 2. Initiate a Conversation
- 3. Let Go of Any Lingering Anger
- 4. Apologize for Past Hurts
- 5. Work to Create a “Couple Bubble”
- 6. Make a Pact
- 7. Set Some Ground Rules
- 8. Become an Expert on Each Other
- 9. Repair Damage Immediately
- 10. Rebuild Trust
- 11. Build Up Happy Memories
- 12. Lean on Each Other
- 13. Seek Counseling
- How to Fix a Broken Relationship After Cheating
- Repairing Broken Relationships Takes Time
Can you repair a relationship?
The short answer is: it depends. For partners or married couples who both want relationship repair, the odds are definitely more in your favor. When one of you already has a foot out the door, it's much more difficult.
However, if you both believe the connection is worth saving, and you're willing to do the work required to mend a broken relationship, you have reason to be optimistic.
Even so, there are certain behaviors you must address that can undermine your commitment and desire to improve things. According to relationship expert and bestselling author, Dr. John Gottman, there are four behaviors that can doom a relationship.
- Criticism: Suggesting that something about your partner is the cause of your problems.
- Defensiveness: Counter-attacking your partner or acting like a victim and whining.
- Contempt: Insulting your partner and acting superior.
- Stonewalling: Telling your partner you don't care by shutting down and tuning out.
If you or your partner practice any of these four behaviors consistently, and you aren't willing to change, the odds that you can fix your relationship diminish dramatically.
But the fact that you're reading this article shows that you want to make things better and reconnect with your partner on a deeper, more satisfying level. Let's look at how you can do that.
How to Fix a Broken Relationship
1. Write Down Your Thoughts
Organize the thoughts that are tumbling through your mind. Get a pen and paper and just free write.
Jot down every thought that comes to mind.
- Why is your relationship broken?
- How did it get to that point?
- What do you wish would have gone differently?
As you see the words on paper, you can start to make sense of them and gain clarity about the problems you are facing together. You may even want to write as if addressing a letter to your spouse or lover (but without sending it).
Writing down your thoughts helps you feel more settled and calm before you meet together to talk about your relationship.
2. Initiate a Conversation
This may be the hardest step in the process. Being the person to reach out to the other means taking a risk. Your significant other may not want to meet you halfway.
If this is the case, you could both end up feeling worse. This is definitely a valid concern. But think of what you’ve missed out on by being apart all this time. Isn’t your relationship worth the risk?
Make up your mind to initiate a conversation. Find a time when you are both calm and relaxed and won't encounter any disruptions.
Sometimes when there are rifts in your intimacy and closeness, it's hard to discuss them openly. You fear things will spiral out of control. But you can approach this conversation with positivity and love.
Let your spouse know that you want to talk about healing your relationship and making it better. Set some ground rules that you won't engage in any of the four negative behaviors outlined previously.
3. Let Go of Any Lingering Anger
If you have a broken relationship due to a misunderstanding or wrongdoing by either party, then it can definitely fuel some anger.
This strong emotion can be a big hindrance to repairing broken relationships. Try your best to set anger aside as you begin the work of healing and reconnecting.
When it's time to deal with the anger you carry, you may need the support of a couples' therapist to unravel your feelings.
You both may need to accept responsibility for the pain you've caused the other, and do whatever is necessary to rebuild trust and closeness.
4. Apologize for Past Hurts
Accepting responsibility often requires apologizing and forgiving. Ideally, both of you should take some time to talk about past hurts, regrets, and say you are sorry for your part in it.
It’s important for each of you to say these things out loud, and it’s important for the other person to hear them.
This allows both of you the chance to finally move past it and repair the damage. Saying you are sorry, especially if a lot of time has passed, can be so difficult.
Just say what is in your heart. Don’t accuse, just apologize. Then change your behavior so your partner knows the apology is genuine.
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5. Work to Create a “Couple Bubble”
As individuals, it is indeed important to be independent, to forge our own way in life. In relationships, however, we ultimately seek love, comfort and safety from another person.
A couple in a “couple bubble” (a phrase coined by relationship expert Stan Tatkin) will know that, come what may, they have each other’s backs.
They feel the peace and contentment that comes from knowing that they are cherished and safe. They are two against the world, and as a team they are indestructible.
There are no secrets, no judgments and no insecurities within the couple bubble. It is as warm and as protective as your own home.
Learn to think in terms of “we”, rather than “me”. Commit to placing your relationship first and foremost, creating a place of reassurance and protection.
6. Make a Pact
In his book Wired for Love, Stan Tatkin has defined the couple bubble as being based on a series of agreements, such as:
- “I will never leave you or frighten you.”
- “I will relieve your distress, even when I’m the one causing it.”
- “You will be the first to hear about anything.”
These agreements are consciously held — like a pact. Above all, you are saying to each other: “We come first.”
Mutuality takes the place of autonomy. Encouragement and support take the place of threats and guilt.
Unlike co-dependency, in which the relationship is driven by insecurity and fear, the couple bubble is driven by empathy, understanding and acceptance.
7. Set Some Ground Rules
You both are raw and vulnerable, so set up your future together in such a way that you both feel safe.
- What will your relationship look like going forward?
- Will it be like before, or will it be different?
- Do you commit to prioritizing the health of the relationship above your own individual needs?
Likely it will be different at least for a while. You’ll be in a sort of getting-to-know-you-again phase that may be a little awkward. But that’s ok. A little awkwardness is normal.
You are both being extra cautious because you don’t want to get hurt again. Try not to overthink it. Make allowances and remember why you want this relationship to heal.
An idyllic state of affairs won't happen overnight! It takes time and dedication to build a genuine couple bubble.
8. Become an Expert on Each Other
Become an expert on your partner and invite him or her to become an expert on you
- What makes your partner feel safe and secure, above all else?
- What will upset him/her?
- What will reassure that person?
Try thinking back to the last time you had some sort of conflict or upset. How did your partner react? What would have soothed him/her?
Closeness and trust can only exist between people who know each other really, really well. In time, each of you will come to know exactly how to comfort the other, in any kind of situation.
9. Repair Damage Immediately
Of course, no one can expect to be the perfect partner at all times. There will be occasions when you do hurt your partner, even unintentionally. The key here is to make amends as quickly as possible.
Don’t let a situation fester – in this way it becomes lodged in the long-term memory, and may be very difficult to release.
Address the rupture of your connection immediately. Hold up your hands and apologize, talk about it and be sure there are no lasting hard feelings.
10. Rebuild Trust
You can’t build a house overnight; it has to be built brick by brick. The same is true of a relationship, and especially when you are mending a broken relationship.
You are both are familiar with each other, but you're not completely trusting of the other yet.
This is a time where you both can prove to the other that you will be there for each other. Your partner can trust you to care for him or her in the way that they need and feel assured that past hurts won’t be repeated.
This will likely be the longest step of the process, and at times could be frustrating. So try to be patient, loving, hopeful, and let it happen.
Be there for each other in the small and big things, offer a listening ear, and do nice things for your spouse. It will help them know that this time the relationship will be solid.
11. Build Up Happy Memories
It helps to build up a repository of happy memories and experiences to counteract the effect of the odd blow.
We tend to retain negative memories for longer and with more clarity than we do positive ones — so it makes sense to fill up on loving gestures whenever possible.
Learn what makes the other feel good and act on it. Hug your partner often, send affectionate messages, make breakfast in bed for long lazy mornings. It’s the little things that count.
12. Lean on Each Other
Let each other know that whatever happens, you’re there for each other. If your partner is distressed or needs help, you should be the first person to whom he or she turns.
No issue is too weighty or trivial. Accept that within the couple bubble, you can be vulnerable – your partner is your rock.
13. Seek Counseling
Sometimes past hurts are just too much for two people to handle alone; if that’s true, it may be time to see a counselor together.
A trained therapist can help bring out each person’s true feelings and discover the reasons behind why the relationship became broken, which can then help you to let it go.
A counselor can then help both of you go through the proper steps to come together again. All of the time an energy you will invest in it will definitely be worth it.
How to Fix a Broken Relationship After Cheating
The strategies outlined above apply to all couples, but infidelity in your marriage or love connection adds a deeper layer of difficulty to mending relationships.
For some couples, cheating is the nail in the coffin. It is a significant breech of trust and betrayal. Infidelity in marriages makes up for more than a third of all divorces.
But for many couples, it is possible to fix a relationship after cheating. It will likely take work with a therapist and many months (or years) to rebuild trust, but it can be done.
Here are some of the steps you can take:
- The cheating partner must fully acknowledge and own up to his or her behavior.
- The cheating partner must acknowledge and apologize for the pain he or she has caused you and the harm it's done to your relationship.
- You both must discuss and figure out what caused the cheating and get to the root issue.
- The cheating partner must cut off all communication with the other person and do whatever is necessary to make the betrayed person feel safe.
- The non-cheating partner should not constantly punish the other or bring up the infidelity every hour. Set times to discuss it in or out of counseling.
- The cheating partner must give the betrayed partner plenty of time to heal and rebuild trust. Forgiveness may not be instant.
- Both people must be patient and committed to rebuilding the connection and intimacy, as well as working on the other steps outlined to restore a broken relationship.
Repairing Broken Relationships Takes Time
If you and your significant other are having difficulties, the first step is acknowledging the problems before they become insurmountable.
Depending on the issues you are facing (boredom, constant bickering, differing values, infidelity, etc.), it can take time to repair the connection and strengthen your bond.
Don't be in a hurry to end the marriage or connection because things haven't turned around quickly. If you still love one another and want to find a way back to each other, be patient and do the work necessary.
Whether or not you stay together, you'll both know you've given it your best and done what's necessary to fix your relationship.