Thursday, 11 July 2013

Destructive Relationships

Dr. Tim Clinton, head of the American Association of Christian Counselors, was interviewed by In touch Magazine.  The topic was “how does a Christian go about managing an unhealthy relationship?”  As you might suspect there are no easy answers.

An unhealthy relationship can take many forms.  In addition to abuse, threats, lying, and stealing, there are irresponsible behaviors, i.e. laziness, addictions, etc.  If you are in such a relationship you may feel stuck.  As a Christian you feel compelled to turn the other cheek, to love unconditionally, but that’s not working.  You are also aware that God hates divorce.

Sometimes we are in a difficult situation that we cannot get out of and in those cases we need to ask God for the strength to endure.  Such an example would be living with a partner suffering from dementia.  There are other times however when our failure to address a situation just perpetuates it and doesn’t bring honor to God. 

God has given us a good mind which He expects us to use.  The loving thing to do in some situations is to set boundaries, to stop enabling the other person’s irrational, self-centered behavior.  When we continually overlook and/or make excuses for the other person’s behavior we are enabling them to continue to abuse themselves or someone else.

Perhaps you are a parent of a grown child who has moved back home.  You hide from your spouse the fact that your son/daughter is involved in destructive behaviors because you are afraid your husband/wife will ask the child to leave.  Maybe it is your spouse who has an addiction, i.e. gambling, sex, alcohol, etc. and refuses to get help or admit there is a problem.  To allow these behaviors to go unchecked is not the Christian thing to do, nor is it the loving thing to do.  Spouting Bible verses will only turn them off and away from God.

You need to establish a boundary and when you do you must be prepared to follow through.  You lovingly tell the person that you want them to seek professional help and that their failure to do so will result in the following consequence, i.e. you will leave and not return until they’ve sought help; they must leave the home and not return until they have sought help; etc.  In some cases an intervention is necessary.  This entails a kind of “surprise party” for the errant person.  You gather the people who the errant person most cares about, who will confront the person for their own good.  Each person takes a turn pleading with the errant person to get help.

Doing nothing is not the best way to show your love.


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