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We are designed to need other people, we are made for relationships – relationship with God and relationships with each other. Sometimes relationships we are in are great but most people also have troubled relationships. Maybe you feel like all of your relationships are a problem and not working out or maybe it’s just a few particular relationships that are a struggle to you. Or perhaps you are wishing that you were in a close relationship because you really want a good friend, a wife or a husband.
We all have a part to play in a relationship
When we think about relationships that are going wrong, we need to think about the part we played in making a mess of things and also about the need to communicate, the need to talk and explain. Often relationships break down when both sides stop listening and trying to understand and accept our differences – instead choosing to shout, to argue, to try and justify ourselves and blame someone else. In most relationships we all do something wrong, none of us are great all of the time, we all have baggage and hangups that we bring from previous experiences and then this mixed with selfishness make relationship breakdowns common and not unusual. Some relationships are abusive and one sided but most are a mix of two people struggling to get their needs met by someone else who is wanting to have their different needs met!
Talk to each other
When was the last time you talked and listened to each others point of view? Sometimes we need to go somewhere public, like out for a coffee, so we are more inhibited and controlled and feel less able to scream and shout at each other. Arrange to have some time to talk, genuinely seek to listen and understand, to explain why you feel like you do – what is hurting and how things could be different. Each of you should speak while the other just listens and doesn’t argue back – then swop over and let the other one speak, then back again. Try not to use emotive terms and phrases like “you always”, and “you never” – because normally the truth is a little less extreme, and words that exaggerate enable the other person to feel justified in saying that the accusation is not true.
If you have tried to talk it through and it hasn’t worked then you have a choice. If it is an important relationship that needs to be kept open and ongoing then ask someone that knows you both to sit in on the next chat and help you both understand each other. If the relationship is not one that has to continue then sometimes it is okay to just agree to disagree with each other and move on – friendships come and go as we change and age, and although sad, this is a common thing to happen.
Are your aims the same?
It is easier to have a relationship where the thing that is most important to you is the same. What are your spiritual beliefs? We are all more than just a physical body, we also have feelings, emotions and a spiritual side to us – if you have the same spiritual aims as someone else it is easier to be better friends even though in other ways you may be very different. This is true because your overall aims and hopes are the same, your beliefs have an external reference point about how you should live and what is really important in life. We would love to chat with you about finding new, important spiritual aims and purpose. Find out about Jesus.
Often an important part of restoring relationships is forgiving the other person. If you are being abused then this is not suggesting you should stay around and continue to be abused over and over again. But in non-abusive relationships forgiveness is normally needed for things to sort out. We often feel that someone needs to deserve forgiveness or earn forgiveness but the Bible talks about forgiveness being given as an undeserved gift – find out more about forgiving other people.
Do something special
Sometimes relationships become stale because after a while we begin to treat the other person casually and not specially. When a relationship begins we often make more effort in many ways – we are more kind hearted, more gentle, more generous in our time, more caring and more forgiving. It is good to make time to do things together that you both enjoy – make a plan, agree in advance and then spend time enjoying something you both like.