Relationships can be one of the greatest sources of joy, meaning, and fulfilment you’ll ever experience in your life.
But they can also be a source of great sadness, hurt, and regret.
Even the best relationships don’t enjoy “smooth sailing” all the time. Life and human nature have a funny way of throwing unexpected challenges your way – challenges that stretch you to your limits both individually and in your relationship. Even the little things, like common day-to-day stresses, can build from an imperceptible strain into a “big deal”.
Because of this, feelings of hurt, anger, resentment, neglect, and even betrayal can surface in your relationship from time to time. This is a natural consequence when two people bring their lives together. However, these feelings – and the events that trigger them – can leave your relationship feeling broken and in need of repair. So it’s important to know how to address these problems and rebuild your relationship in the process.
In this article, we introduce a few different strategies and techniques you can use to rebuild your relationship when it’s feeling a little broken.
Many problems in relationships are caused because people don’t know how to truly listen to one another.
When your partner speaks to you, make a deliberate effort to be present and listen to what they say. Ask clarifying questions to ensure you understand. Ask them how they feel about what they’re sharing with you. Express empathy.
Sometimes, in order to listen effectively, you need to be prepared not to be easily offended. People can struggle to express their heartfelt needs because they feel embarrassed or neglected, they don’t know how to put what they’re feeling into words, or they themselves are yet to identify exactly what’s bothering them. This may mean they what they do say seems accusatory or unfair. But if you can listen and ask questions to determine why your partner feels the way they feel, you can help them to identify their unmet needs. And once you know which needs feel unmet, you can take appropriate action to meet them.
When your behaviour has caused problems or even broken trust in your relationship, the most important thing you can do is to be honest and take responsibility for your actions. Even if your behaviour has only caused part of the problem, it’s still important to acknowledge where you’ve been to blame.
When you take responsibility for your actions, you demonstrate that you care more about the other person in the relationship and their feelings than you care about your own pride or how you look. Be honest and remorseful, and take steps to remedy the problem. Ask your partner what they feel you can do to help fix things.
If the problems or broken trust you are experiencing were caused by the other person in the relationship, take responsibility for approaching the issue by clearly explaining what has gone wrong. Tell your partner what you feel needs to happen so that you can feel safe, respected, or loved again.
Lack of connection is a common problem in relationships. The demands of day-to-day life can often get in the way of your best intentions to connect with the most important people in your life. The same applies to your partner and their best intentions.
Reconnecting takes deliberate effort. Set aside time each week to spend one-on-one with your partner. You can go out on a date, or simply stay home and deliberately spend time together. If you’re not sure what to do to reconnect, the following suggestions may help: you can look over old photos together, reminisce on special times you’ve shared, or talk about how you felt when you first met.
Sharing is an important part of establishing a connection. Remember to share and express your loving feelings towards the other person in the ways that mean most to them and to you. Whether this is a physical expression of love, kind words, an act of service, the giving of a gift, or something else, the important thing is that you express your love. This is especially important when you’ve recently felt hurt or angry.
Learn to Forgive
Forgiveness is an important part of any relationship. It’s also vital for your own mental wellbeing.
When conflicts have been resolved, it’s important to move forward. Don’t dwell on the past. Forgive the other person.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you’re condoning your partner’s actions or acting like nothing ever happened. It’s simply an acknowledgement that something was wrong, but that you’re not going to hold this against the other person.
Even if the problem has not been resolved, learning to let go of the past and forgive is key to moving forward and preparing to rebuild your relationship – or, in a worst case scenario, to rebuilding yourself.
But it’s not just the other person you need to forgive. You also need to learn to forgive yourself. Be kind to yourself, and forgive yourself for the mistakes you’ve made. Acknowledge your own efforts to improve.
Be Responsible For You
At the end of the day, the only person you can control or change is yourself. You can’t be responsible for other people’s behaviour, and you can’t make them change. But you are responsible for your behaviour, and you can change.
When problems in your relationship arise, look for what you can change and do better. Could you be a better listener? Could you take the initiative in arranging time to reconnect? Do you need to take responsibility for mistakes or hurtful comments/actions? Looking at what you can do and change is empowering, and much more effective than simply listing all the ways you feel your partner needs to change.
Seek Professional Help
Because relationships and relationship problems are so complex, and because the feelings that can come from a broken relationship are so intense, it may be worthwhile seeking professional help to rebuild your relationship.
At BayPsych, our relationship counsellors have years of experience helping people like you rebuild their relationships with a spouse, partner, or other loved one. If you feel that you need additional help in treading the road to healing, reconciliation, and recovery in your relationship, call us today on 3488 0483.
This article has covered 6 strategies for rebuilding your relationship. But there are many more out there!
If you’ve ever felt your relationship was broken and in need of repair, how have you gone about trying to fix it? What worked? What didn’t? Let us know in the comments below.