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Dr David Christian Marriage Advice

5 Ways to Heal Broken Relationships

5 Ways to Heal Broken Relationships

Do you ever feel like you’re always in conflict with someone? Do you wonder why it is that you cannot get along with people, or why some people always get under your skin?

If you are married, live in a family or work with other people—that should cover everyone!—you know the challenges of being at peace with them.

Having just experienced significant family distress from the loss of a loved one, and having spent considerable time with adult siblings and extended family members, I remembered once again the challenges of living in peace with others. Different personalities often breed differing points of view, differing emotions and potential conflict.

I’ve always been challenged by the Apostle Paul’s words:

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).

These are incredible words. Let’s tease this apart and look more closely at his admonition.

If it is possible. At first I want to scream, “It’s impossible, Paul. I cannot live at peace with everyone. I’m not sure I can live at peace with anyone! What are you thinking?”

But, of course, it is possible to live in peace, because it always takes two to have a fight. Remember the quip, “You don’t have to attend every fight you’re invited to.”

As far as it depends on you. Ouch! If it takes two to tangle, and it does, and I opt out, then there can be no fight. I can choose not to respond to a provocative statement. I can choose not to retort with a sharp, sarcastic barb. I can choose to be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). Of course much depends on me.

I can choose, and must choose, to listen attentively. I must consider the other’s point of view. I must approach every situation with humility. If I do so, possibilities open up for living peacefully with others. 

Live at peace with everyone. Piecing this Scripture together, since it is possible, and taking responsibility for my part in any conflict, I’m told to live at peace with everyone. I’m not told to trust everyone or give everyone everything they are asking of me. But, I’m told to live at peace.

I can hear your rebuttals.

“But, it’s not my turn,” you say. “I apologized first last time. I wasn’t the one who caused the conflict or broken relationship.”

With hearts filled with pride and grandiosity, we think we’ve got it all figured out—but we don’t.

If you believe that everything must be fair, then indeed it’s not your turn. However, if you want to live by the Scriptural principle that as much as it pertains to you, live at peace with everyone, it doesn’t matter whose turn it is. This is irrelevant. Do you have the power to create peace? Does peace in any way depend on an action you can take?

Again, this Scripture rankles and challenges me. A family member may have hurt my feelings and everything in me wants to wait until they have done their part before seeking peace. I live with the tension, soothing myself with the fact that I believe I’m in the right. I rationalize my brooding resentment by convincing myself that the conflict was not caused by me.

Still, the Apostle Paul challenges each of us: “As far as it depends on you, live at peace.”

He talks to us, in his wise voice, that how others behave is not our concern. What is our part in this conflict?

I recommended the following to help cultivate the skill of healing broken relationships:

First, it begins with you. For as much as we want to point fingers, focusing on what the other person has done to us, cultivating peace begins with you. Things are not fair; it is not a 50/50 proposition. You are 100% responsible for your part of the conflict. Focus on clearing up your part of the problem.

Second, their issues are their issues. As you focus on you, make sure you draw a boundary in your mind, and in your speech, separating you from their response. You are not responsible for their response—they are. You are only responsible for your actions, words and emotions.

Third, peaceful actions beget peaceful responses. When we approach another person out of humility, owning our part of the conflict, the other person is nearly always responsive. We have the power to deescalate a heated situation by owning our part of the problem.

Fourth, collaborate to discover solutions. Considering what this other person needs to feel peaceful, do what you can to bring about peace. Look for solutions that meet their needs as well as give you some of what you need. It’s okay to ask for something that might help you find peace within yourself.  

Finally, celebrate your courageous changes that brought peace. Enjoy the peace that comes from settling a conflict. Scripture tells us, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity” (Psalm 133:1). It really is sweet when we do our part to live in unity with others. They are disarmed by our humility, often choosing to live in unity as well.

mrc2We are here to help and offer phone/ Skype counseling on issues related to this article. Please go to our website, 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 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: September 23, 2014