Can Relationships Be Repaired (and When Is It Too Late)?

January 6, 2014 (Updated Mar 23, 2015) by — Intended Audience: , .

Series: Exploring Conflict in Relationships (2013 Interview)
  1. Why Do We Fight About the Little Things?
  2. How Can Couples Prepare for Future Conflicts?
  3. Knowing When You Need to Address an Issue
  4. Can Relationships Be Repaired (and When Is It Too Late)?
  5. Advice for Newlyweds: Don’t Forget Who You Are
Video Can Relationships Be Repaired and When Is It Too Late

Video: 4 Minutes

I am periodically asked if relationships (particularly marriages) can be repaired. Thankfully, the answer is Yes! The core requirement is that both parties still want to repair the relationship, or at least are still open to repairing the relationship. Sometimes one or both parties can be in a period of uncertainty, where they are trying to figure out their feelings regarding whether or not they still want to work on the relationship. Though that is usually a difficult season (for both parties), even in those times the door is still open to healing and reconnecting.

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It is only when one (or both) parties reaches a firm decision to no longer want to work on the relationship that the door closes on any possible repair. Healing and repairing relationships requires a lot of effort from both sides, so once either party decides they do not wish to engage in that work anymore there is nothing more that can be done (unless something changes such that both parties decide to try again to repair). But for those who do want to repair their relationship, their perseverance at growing and healing brings great rewards! This is because healing relationships is dependent on building emotional muscles; and emotional muscles, just like physical muscles, will get stronger with time and effort.1

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  1. I should mention, however, that just like one can exercise incorrectly (such that you don’t make any gains and/or you end up hurting yourself), the same is true for building emotional/relational muscles. Everyone needs help and guidance at times. If you’ve gotten stuck in your growth, that is a sign that you’re needing outside help in order to build the muscles you’re lacking (and/or further strengthen existing muscles). So if you’re trying to repair a damaged relationship, seek help with that (e.g., mentors, clergy, counselors)–you don’t have to walk through that alone! 
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