3 Things To Try When Your Relationship Feels Broken Forever

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How To Fix A Relationship That’s Broken- Options And Outcomes
Love, Heartbreak

You don't have to give in to it being over.

Couples in committed relationships love to play the game of catch. It’s fun and at times, challenging — just like relationships between two strong, independent people.

It's a metaphorical ball made from laminated glass, strong, capable of bending slightly upon impact, and yet can crack and eventually break into tiny pieces is hit just right.

The couple plays daily, throwing that relationship ball back and forth. Mistakes happen, the ball is dropped, and some chips and dings show up as a result, but it’s still intact. The ball gets misplaced and found through the years.

And then today happens.

This time the ball, thrown too hard or the catcher distracted drops it, and it is smashed. The ball — already showing wear and tear — breaks into several pieces and the game of catch stops.

Your relationship, like the glass ball in our game of catch, is broken.

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If you want to fix your broken relationship, how do you do it? Here are 3 basic options on how to fix a relationship that's broken so you can be clearer on the outcomes and choose to shift positively.

1. Glue the broken relationship pieces back together and continue playing like you always have — keep the same ball, try Gorilla glue instead of Elmer’s.

This is an option I see couples choosing by default. Usually, the energy to sustain significant relationship improvements isn't available.

Why? Either one or both partners are stuck in the rightness of their position. There’s a lack of ability or willingness to sacrifice so they can strengthen the relationship, long-term.

Phrases of this option:

  • "I want this relationship to work."
  • "This is the way I am. You need to deal with that."
  • "That’s not true. That didn’t happen. You’re wrong."
  • "You always blame me for everything — what about you?"

Outcome shifts positively when:

  • Personal defenses are lowered.
  • The ability to tolerate discomfort is strengthened.
  • Adopting a view that differences are opportunities to learn.
  • Validating each other's views/perspectives through listening to understand rather than evaluate.

2. Refresh big time with new and improved relationship skills as well as individual approaches/attitudes — go out and get a new ball, new gloves, and matching shirts!

Couples choose this option when they are ready and willing to look at what the relationship needs to flourish and willing and able to make individual sacrifices.

Phrases of this option:

  • "I want this relationship to work."
  • "I’m willing to work on my flaws."
  • "I didn't realize you felt so badly. I never meant to ignore/hurt you."
  • "I am willing to create more fun times together."

Outcome shifts positively when:

  • Couples follow through on promises made to talk more, have more fun, etc.
  • Action is taken on something they learned their partner needed/wanted.
  • Self-care becomes a priority and good feelings are shared.

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3. Stop playing at the relationship altogether — game over, no need for a ball anymore.

Yes. Ending the relationship is an option. Always a hard option to face and then implement. Usually one or both partners have been thinking about getting out of their commitment for a while.

Phrases of this option:

  • "I’ve been thinking about getting out of our commitment together for a long time."
  • "I don’t want to end our relationship — but I accept you are finished."
  • "I don’t want to end our relationship — I want you to reconsider."
  • "I’m tired and unwilling to give anymore."

Outcome shifts positively when:

  • The reality of the relationship is accepted.
  • Grieving the end of the relationship starts (writing a goodbye letter).
  • Committing to self-care happens  (supportive friends, groups, healthy lifestyle changes, individual therapy and/or coaching).

If you’re in a relationship that’s broken, consider your readiness to fix it based on these three options and outcomes.

Remember there are three distinct and separate parts — you, your partner, and your relationship together.

  • Which option are you choosing? Which option do you think your partner is choosing?
  • What does your relationship together need more or less of?
  • What are your personal challenges and what shifts or sacrifices can you make to fix the relationship?
  • What’s personally unavailable to give to your relationship. What do you need to keep for yourself?

Embrace the opportunity to fix your relationship and in the process, grow the person you are meant to be.

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Mary Franz is a Couple’s Therapist, Critical Incident Responder, and training as a Mental Health Neutral in Collaborative Law Teams. Need to talk about a personal or business relationship challenge? Visit her website and ask for a complimentary strategy session.