How to Have Healthy Relationships

All of us want healthy relationships.

Whether we’re married or not, we watch married couples and we think, “I’d hate that, I’ll never do that.” Or, “I like that.”

We watch parents, whether we have kids or not. We look at their relationships trying to discern what is working and what is not.

We then take those observations and apply them to our relationships.

Sometimes those results work, sometimes they don’t.

After decades of studying thousands of couples, Dr. John Gottman thinks he found the foundational, most important issue to a healthy relationship.


He said, “What I found was that the number one most important issue that came up to these couples was trust and betrayal. Can I trust you to be there and listen to me when I’m upset? Can I trust you to choose me over your mother, over your friends? Can I trust you to work for our family? To not take drugs? Can I trust you to not cheat on me and be sexually faithful? Can I trust you to respect me? To help with things in the house? To really be involved with our children? Trust is one of the most commonly used words in the English language. It turns out that when social psychologists ask people in relationships, “What is the most desirable quality you’re looking for in a partner when you’re dating?”, trustworthiness is number one. It’s not being sexy or attractive. It’s really being able to trust somebody.”

We know this, but what does trust look like in relationships? How do we keep trust at the forefront so we have healthy relationships?

Trust comes into play when we have relational hurt or relationships fall apart.

Repairing of those relationships is more likely if we have relational change with that person and we have built into that person’s love bank or emotional tank. If we are constantly making withdrawals, trust is hard to repair.

In Matthew 5, as Jesus looks at relationships, He raises the stakes.

The religious leaders looked at the command of murder and saw murder. That was the end of keeping that commandment, don’t kill anyone, which is good advice.

Jesus raises the stakes of righteousness (Matthew 5:20) by saying that anyone who insults someone, has anger towards someone, wants to retaliate against someone, is the same as murder.

Jesus uses an interesting picture in verse 25 of Matthew 5, of being in prison. When we don’t deal with relational hurt, we are in a prison. We hold grudges, are bitter, and we’re stuck. This describes many of our relationships and hearts.

Stuck. Bitter. Hung up. Not moving forward.

Let me give you four questions that I think help us get to relational health:

1. What am I hurt about? What am I really angry at? Can you define what hurt you? Why is that relationship broken and not healthy? It might be with a spouse, child, friend, parent or boss.

Define what you are hurt about. What did they say? Do? How did that make you feel? Name your feelings. It might be afraid, hurt, lonely, isolated, run over by them. That you couldn’t stand up for yourself, or you couldn’t meet their standard.

2. Do I have any sin in this? This is crucial because many times we are angry because of sin and blind spots we have.

Did we do anything to cause the relational rift we have?

When it comes to your reaction to someone or a situation, a great question to ask is: Is my reaction proportional to the situation?

3. Am I dealing with it or simply talking to others about it? Many times when we’re hurt, we talk to everyone but the person who hurt us. One person, a spouse, a close friend, yes, so they can tell you when you’re being irrational or help you see things clearly, but broadcasting it on Facebook, telling everyone you come into contact with, is not healthy.

In fact, that’s gossip.

Bryan Miles said,Gossip is taking your problem to someone who can’t do anything about it.”

4. What does moving forward look like? This is the goal. The goal is reconciliation for broken relationships, but reconciliation looks different for each relationship depending on what happened, what boundaries are healthy and what your heart can handle.

Why is this?

We are responsible for our part of every relationship we’re in.