“How do I fix a broken relationship?” is one of the most common theme of letters I receive. Given that there is NOT the continuation of duplicity or deceit, violence or cruelty, even the most troubled relationship can find healing.
Here are a few generic principles to jump-start the journey of greater health whether the relationship in question survives or not:
1. Don’t focus in “the relationship” but on doing what is healthy and mature for your individual sake. This is not selfish. Getting your house in order will challenge everyone around you to greater health even if you lose your primary, but toxic, relationships in the process. If you do not have the energy to do this, a simple way to help you access the healthy thing to do is to ask yourself the question What do really well and emotionally healthy people do when faced with such a situation and then try, as tough as it might be, to live the answer.
2. Never participate in sexual behavior you do not want. Good sex, or sex at all, (or what one partner regards as good sex) will not salvage a toxic relationship, but only serve to perpetuate all that is already unhealthy about it. Keep in mind that sex frequently prevents love from growing within a relationship.
3. Talk to close friends about what is really happening to you within a deteriorating relationship. Secrecy escalates toxicity. Opening your life to a trusted friend will help you to see healthier options. While a toxic relationship might be “killing you” allow your community to help save you.
4. Do not go rushing back to anything or anyone simply because they say they are sorry. Being sorry (asking forgiveness) for unacceptable behavior is not, in itself, change. Forgive, yes, but do not forget. Look for the fruit of regret. The fruit of an apology and forgiveness is changed behavior.