Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Way Out Of Relational Tension

Relationships are hard. If you are breathing, you've felt it yourself. Every relationship brings with it some form of tension.

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Not to oversimplify the issue, but there are basically two extreme ways we respond during intense relational struggle.


When tensions are running high and emotions are spilling out, the most natural response is to back away. At all costs we must protect ourselves, so we leave. Not literally, although in some cases we do, but I'm referring to our hearts. We shut down and shut out the other person. We silence are heart so we can endure the pain. The goal is to eliminate the hurt altogether. While this seems to make sense in the moment, it's of no help in the long run. Walls go up. Division deepens. Communication weakens. Awkwardness sets in. Retreating from each other always makes it more difficult to reconcile, and worse,

it denies the reality of the relationship

It signals a walking away from the other as if to say, "we" never happened.


An alternative response does not walk away, it pretends as if nothing happened. The tense and uncomfortable issue is so painful that in order to spare yourself, you live as though it never occurred. You hold onto anything good in the relationship in order to block out the bad. Pretending that everything is fine brings some comfort, but it is a false sense of security and

denies the reality of the problem.

This unhealthy approach says things aren't really as bad as they seem.

A Way Forward

Thankfully, there is a way forward, but it is not the easy way out.

This option declares that we have a relationship worth saving, and, we recognize we have a problem. It is an honest response to pain and turmoil in a relationship. It does not back down or back away, but confronts head on the messy places our relationships stray toward. This approach embraces uncertainty. 

It commits to the other person while at the same time confesses the mess

It plows ahead, not by going around, but by going straight through the problem. It may require help from outside. A counselor, friend, or pastor can help bring clarity, perspective, and calm to sensitive and confusing conversations. Freedom awaits as you confront issues head on with honest commitment and confession.

There is a way out. It is possible, but it will take hard work. Commitment always does. It says, I'm not backing away and I'm not sticking my head in the sand. Together, we will find the way out.

Check out A Gospel Marriage Moment for more on relationships.

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