Healthy relationships take work. Healthy marriages that people want to stay in don’t just happen. Although we think they do. We think two people magically just work together, never fight, never have an issue or disagreement to work through, but they do.
So, where do things go wrong? How can a friendship that was working so well, a marriage that seemed so right all of a sudden seem all wrong?
Here are 5 ways relationships go from working to broken:
- It’s too much work. Healthy relationships take a lot of work. It means being patient, listening, hearing someone out, putting your wants and privileges aside. That’s work.
- It’s hurts too much to face their past or do the hard work. As we’ll see later, almost every fight in a relationship is not about what you are fighting about. You are fighting with a past incident, a hurt you haven’t dealt with, a person you see in the person in front of you. They remind you of your dad, your mom, they said words similar to an abuser or someone who you were supposed to trust. Healthy people face their past and in the power of Jesus see it redeemed. Unhealthy people use their past and stay the victim instead of finding healing. This is hard work, this can be incredibly painful. Any argument you have to ask the crucial question, “Are we actually fighting about this? What are we really fighting about? Who am I really fighting with?”
- They’re lazy and selfish, they want the other person to do all the work and all the changing. Just like #1, being lazy and selfish in relationships is easy, serving, putting in the work, putting the other person’s needs and wants first takes work. Often too, we want the other person to put in the work to become the healthy person while we stay unhealthy. I’ll hold on to that incident and bring it up whenever it suits me. I’ll remind them of my hurt instead of dealing with my hurt.
- They think they are better than their spouse or the other person. Sometimes people are in an unhealthy relationship because they think they are less sinful than the other person. They look down on them. They wouldn’t say this but they hold the other person’s sin in contempt, thinking, “How can they not see that? Why do they struggle with that?” They turn their noses up at the thought of putting in the hard work to reconcile with a spouse or a friend. They will say it is the other person’s fault but deep down, they are the less sinful person they know.
- Confuse what reconciliation means. Reconciliation doesn’t mean you are friends with everyone, you might need to protect yourself from an abusive situation, and you may need to protect your kids as well. Reconciliation does mean that you don’t hold it against the person anymore; that you don’t bring up the past, you stop saying, “Remember…?”
So what do you do?
Be honest. Many people are not honest about their past, about their hurt or even where their marriage or relationship is. Almost on a monthly basis I’ll have a couple tell me, “We never fight.” That’s a lie. They are avoiding relational health when they think this. They are putting off the hard work of changing for a facade of peace.