What to Do When Relationships Fail: 4 Tips for Survival

Relationships are like glass. Sometimes it’s better to leave them broken than try to hurt yourself putting it back together. ~Author Unknown

A friend’s daughter just found out her husband is having an affair and wants a divorce. She and the kids (teen and younger) are devastated, shocked and angry. Sound familiar? My heart hurts for the people involved.

How would you cope with that situation? Or any situation when relationship falls apart? It could be death, loss of a job or position, a struggling marriage, or family estrangement. Even an unexpected illness can create severe stress in relationships. Suddenly, the world you knew has disappeared. It has been replaced with a mélange of emotional, mental, physical and financial roadblocks and dead ends.

It can seem impossible to cope, to get past the pain of betrayal and loss. Here are four tips to help you cope when relationships are strained or severed.

Release negative emotions.

You are complete in Him. (Col. 2:10) Complete means you need nothing that the Father has not already supplied.

Our tendency is to hang onto our self-pity and fear. We feel entitled to cry, rant and bemoan our situation. But looking at what you have lost will not help you move forward.

When my own marriage was struggling, I had to learn in my loneliness not to expect someone else to meet my emotional or physical needs. Instead, I practiced releasing my feelings to God, letting Him fill the perceived voids in my life. I had to take my expectations and pressure off of my husband, my daughter, my parents, my friends – and myself.

I learned to say, “You and me, God – You’re all I need.” It required practice (still does!), but you can learn – like I did – to set yourself free. Guilt, manipulation and threats will not hold a relationship together. Don’t immerse yourself in negative feelings. Instead, soak in the overflowing fountain of God’s love and provision. You can wallow or you can win. But you can’t do both. It’s your choice.

Ditch the guilt.

Have faith in God. (Mark 11:22) He is Redeemer and Vindicator. He will supply all your need (Phil. 4:19). He will give you peace that passes understanding (Phil. 4:7). Your only requirement is to trust Him. Hang onto His promises – by your fingernails if necessary!

Don’t assume that a relationship failure is your fault. Did you contribute? Then face that fact and move forward. But don’t beat yourself up or put yourself down. “What if’s” and “I should have’s” will not alter your present situation. Guilt, anger and unforgiveness hurt only you, not the other person. Replace those negative emotions with gratitude for the small joys and blessings in your life. The more you can find to be grateful for, the sooner you will overcome  

As God’s child, you are special, beloved. He still has a good plan for your life if you will stay in faith and walk in love. No matter how difficult your current circumstance, it is temporary. Continue to believe in yourself and in God. Remember, He told you, “If I am for you, who can be against you?” (Rom. 8:31).  He can protect you from every evil work (2 Tim. 4:18).

Don’t accept false responsibility.

Let not your heart be troubled (John 14:27).

Now, I’m not saying you can’t ever expect anything. Obviously balance is the key. The world works because we function together – meeting each other’s needs. The problem arises when your expectations and feelings become burdensome or trigger anger and frustration. That is a sign that you are placing your faith in the wrong thing.

Disappointment is rooted in selfishness. It discounts God’s love and care. He told us to cast all your care on Him, for He cares for you (I Peter 5:7).

Face forward.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end (Jer. 29:11).

The Bible declares that faith is substance, a powerful force that can change our circumstances and bring our hopes and dreams to pass (Heb. 11:1). Believe that you are strong enough to not only survive the strain of a failed relationship, but that you will triumph. Trust God to pick up the pieces of your life and turn them into something good.

The Apostle Paul knew a bit about a difficult life. His solution was simple. ” … forgetting those things which are behind, [I reach] forth unto those things which are before” (Phil. 3:13). The past is unchangeable. Your future is yours to design.

No matter what you are facing, you can learn to be strong. You can put your trust in God and be an over-comer. Day by day, you can practice faith and patience, love and hope. Then, like Job, you will know that “though [my] beginning was small, yet [my] latter end shall greatly increase” (Job 8:7).

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