We are designed to need other people, we are made for relationships – relationship with God and relationships with each other.
Sometimes the relationships we are in are great but most people will have troubled relationships too. Maybe you feel like all of your relationships are a problem and not working out or maybe it’s just a few particular people that are struggle to cope with. Perhaps you aren’t in a close relationship with anyone but you are desperate for a close relationship because you really want a good friend, a wife or a husband.
When we think about relationships that are going wrong, we need to think about the part we played in the relationship. There is rarely equal fault, as normally one side is the main culprit, but also there is rarely a side with no fault at all.
Often relationships break down when one or both sides stop listening and trying to understand and accept each others differences. Instead of seeking to see things from the other’s perspective people move into a cycle of shouting, arguing and trying to 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 is mixed with selfishness to make relationship breakdowns 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!
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 forced by where we are to act in a more controlled way – feeling 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 helped, 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, their role will be to 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.
It is easier to have a relationship where the thing that is most important to you is the same. What are your spiritual beliefs?
You are much more than just a physical body, you also have a spiritual side to you – 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.
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 again and 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.
Sometimes relationships become stale because after a while we begin to treat the other person casually and stop making the effort that we used to.
When a relationship begins we often make much more effort – we are more kind hearted, more gentle, more generous in our time, more caring and more forgiving.
It is also 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.