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When a relationship is too damaged to rebuild

Relationships today are under a great deal of pressure, often because the couple is isolated from their support network – their tribe. They find when they hit bumps in the road of life, there isn’t anyone else to turn to, a shoulder to cry on, a few words of comfort, someone to take some of the strain, take the children off their hands to give them a break.

Why a community can fill those gaps.

One person cannot meet all our needs, it’s unrealistic to expect one person to fill the needs that in past western generations were provided by a whole community.

  • A support network

  • Love

  • Friendship

  • Advice

  • Childcare

  • Financial support in times of need

...................... there are many more.

In some cultures, as in Indian communities, they is just that. A support network, which can ease the load. However, with it often comes with their demands, the expectation that you will support them in return. You owe them.

Unrealistic Expectations in relationships

Because families in the western world have become spread out, sometimes living in other countries there isn't that level of support. Grandparents are often consumed with their own lives. Families are smaller, mainly due to better birth control and couples wanting a different life rather than just bringing up a family. Women want more than to be housewives and caregivers. People want more in life, bigger cars, houses, holidays abroad etc. That means they have busier lives, often working long hours, and juggling work, childcare, chores, family commitments, as well as their relationship.

Resentments build up as one or other find their expectations aren’t met by the other. Maybe they feel they have been burdened with more than their fair share of responsibilities, or even that they are resentful because they can’t do things they want for themselves, shackled by the responsibility of trying to live up to the real or perceived expectations. As a result, often couples drift apart, feeling however many times they complain to their partner, they aren’t heard. Instead, they are met with complaints from them, that their life isn’t great either. The arguments get more frequent, the silences longer, bitching, and snide remarks become more personal.

I have lost count of the number of times I have heard this story, and sadly too often the relationship falls into such disrepair that it’s too far gone to rebuild it.

They try to ignore there is a problem, distracting themselves with work, alcohol, drugs, retail therapy, affairs, porn, gambling, hobbies. Anything to fill the void they feel within their relationship. Hating the feelings and emotions that emerge when they stop and think about it. Believing that if they appear to be doing all the right things from the outside, others will think they are ok, and in turn, they convince themselves. But they are trying to fool the most important players in this game – their partner, their children and most of all themselves.

How to start on restoration – or avoid it completely

Start by paying attention to each other.

Boundaries – Routine - Ritual

Create a boundary around your relationship, give it the care and attention it deserves.

Routinely, set aside a time each day, and don’t say you don’t have time because everyone has 5 – 10 minutes in their day to carry out a small routine. Just like you do to shower, and brush your teeth. Create such a ritual, making time for each other by having a cup of tea or coffee with each other, and checking in with each other, and asking the simple question -

‘ How are you?’

(Not about the irritating driver who cut you up, or the customer who was rude to you, it’s asking each other how they are. Maybe they feel angry because of something that happened during their day, but getting in touch with those feelings is what you are interested in. Not just the story.

This doesn’t have to be over a cuppa, it can be –

Walking together

Sitting on a bench

In the bath

Checking in with each other is something that brings energy to the relationship. By making eye contact, a touch, a kiss – all of these are reassuring, relaxing, and calming, making that connection with each other. This also makes it easier to talk about things that are bothering you about your relationship.

Just a with a building, small repairs are simpler, quicker, and easier to deal with,than trying to complete;y reconstruct when there is major damage, and the foundations are affected. At those times, it can feel easier to completely abandon and walk away.

If you are affected by anything I have written about, do get in touch at

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