Another batch of desperate emails; more phone calls from broken hearts asking for help in restoring a damaged relationship. Another person coming to my office to ask for help in getting her man (or woman) back.

While the emails this week came from women, men often contact me at The Marriage Recovery Center as well in an effort to save a relationship in trouble. There are few situations more drastic and dramatic than when a mate leaves with no clear promise of return.

“He’s left and won’t make any commitment to come back,” Meg said sadly, referring to her boyfriend.

“Out of the blue!” she continued emphatically, tearfully telling her story.

She and her boyfriend, Matt had been seeing each other for the past year and she thought their relationship was intact. Her boyfriend felt differently.

Many don’t see it coming, whether dating for a year or married for twenty years. They believe there are problems, but deny the severity of them. They know there are issues that need attention, but rarely see them as threatening the relationship. Denial, the minimization of problems, ultimately causes severe damage. We deny the importance of problems to our own peril.

“I want him back,” Meg said to me in her first counseling session. “While I don’t like the way he left, or that he isn’t talking to me, I still want him back.”

Meg answered one of the first questions I ask.

“Do you really want him back?” I ask.

“Without a doubt,” she replied emphatically. “I really miss him. But, I’m really hurt that he left.”

“Yes,” I said. “You certainly have a right to feel hurt. And yet, if you want to try to win him back, you won’t be able to spend much time feeling sorry for your situation.”

Meg looked stunned.

“What about what he’s done?” she said.

“We can talk about that,” I said. “But, if you want to win him back, it’s going to take a special effort, with no guarantees. We have to focus on why he left and what you can do about that.”

Meg sat quietly, taking in what I was saying.

“If you do, it will take significant effort and must be done strategically. We can talk more about this. One of our primarily tools will be the Therapeutic Healing Experience, and we’ll have to see if he is willing to engage in this with you.”

Meg was initially skeptical, though agreed to counseling to work on understanding what went wrong, clarifying the issues and specifying a plan that might bring him back. I shared the specifics of the plan that just might work to coax him back into the relationship so that they could effectively work on the issues.

These same strategies might work for you as well if you are experiencing a broken relationship.  

First, consider the problem. There are reasons why people leave relationships. Rarely is it because a one-time situation, but rather an accumulation of issues. It’s been said that relationships break down ‘one wound at a time.’ What are the wounds that have been accumulating? Be honest with yourself about them and put things in perspective.

Second, be honest with yourself about the problems. I repeat this counsel because of its importance. We tend to blame our mate, shift responsibility and minimize our part in the problems, taking our focus off the Game Plan. This attitude will not help you win your mate back. Put on your critical glasses and take an emotional X-ray of the relationship.

Third, formulate the problems. Sit back, perhaps with a trusted friend or trained marriage counselor, and give form to the problems, leading to a Game Plan. Why did he leave? What are the issues that led up to him leaving? What is your part/ his part in them? What are the possible solutions? This is a time to be very prayerful for wisdom in sorting out what happened and why.

Fourth, fix your part of the problems. Many people, distraught and overwhelmed with emotion, fail to make an effective plan to fix problems. Begging a mate to come back won’t work. Flooding them with emotion, gifts and promises are usually ineffective. What is needed is a Game Plan, and this requires an honest appraisal of the problems, taking responsibility for your part in them, with a clear plan for change. Again, you will likely need a leader to guide you through this process.  

Finally, invite your mate to a Therapeutic Healing Experience. Guided by a skilled therapist, this is a highly orchestrated session, focused on healing the relational wounds, with no expectation as to outcome. While the rejected one certainly wants things to turn out well, hoping against hope to save the relationship, the focus here must be on healing the wounds of the relationship. When this is done effectively, you stand a much better chance for reconciliation.  

mrcAre you experiencing a broken relationship? Do you need expert guidance with the possibility of a Therapeutic Healing Experience? We are here to help. Please go to our website, www.marriagerecoverycenter.com and discover more information about this as well as the free downloadable eBook, A Love Life of Your Dreams, including other free videos and articles. Please send responses to me at drdavid@marriagerecoverycenter.com and also read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on our website. You’ll find videos and podcasts on sexual addiction, emotionally destructive marriages, codependency and affair-proofing your marriage.

Publication date: November 12, 2013