Good morning everyone!
After more than two decades of counseling individuals and couples, I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing more disheartening than the sickening feeling of being in a dysfunctional relationship. Dysfunctional Relationships are relationships that do not perform their appropriate function; that is, they do not provide the necessary support, foster good communication, nor respect appropriate boundaries. Depending on the degree of dysfunction, these relationships can take a tremendous toll on your spiritual, emotional, and even physical well-being. Today, I want to share three classic signs of a dysfunctional relationship.
1. There NEVER seems to be a resolution to your problems. People in dysfunctional relationships typically have the same recurring arguments over and over again. And yet, nothing is ever resolved. In a dysfunctional relationship, you don’t sit down and discuss issues like adults, but you talk "at" one other rather than talking "to" one another. Conflict resolution in a dysfunctional relationship was once described to me in this manner. "We are like two boxers in the ring swinging at each other with all our might. But, the problem is there is never a bell or final decision. We just keep punching and punching away at each other until one of us has no more strength to stand." Genesis 4:8 describes this type of dysfunction relationship in this manner, "Now Cain said to his brother Abel, let’s go out to the field. And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him." There may never be physical abuse in a dysfunctional relationship but the verbal abuse, inconsiderate actions, and unresolved issues can certainly kill the love and passion in a relationship.
2. Everything is always your fault. A dysfunctional person seldom, if ever, takes responsibility for their actions. In Genesis 3:12-13, we find a classic example of the blame game, "The man said, the woman you put here with me, she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it. (13)Then the lord God said to the woman, what is this you have done? The woman said, the serpent deceived me, and I ate." A dysfunctional person will blame you for everything that goes wrong in your relationship. If you are not careful, they will make their unhappiness, not only solely your fault, but they will also make it entirely your responsibility to fix it. Before long, you will find yourself constantly apologizing for things you didn’t do and things you know aren’t your fault.
3. Your relationship is in a perpetual state of tension. It is not a healthy relationship, when you find yourself constantly walking on egg shells around the person. It is almost as if you are in a relationship with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. There is so much uncertainty in the relationship that you never know who you’re going to get when you interact with a dysfunctional person. One moment a dysfunctional person is on top of the world, the next moment they are mad at the world. This is way the Bible warns us in Proverbs 22:24, "Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered."
Yes, dysfunctional relationships can take a tremendous toll on your spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being. But our God is able to do anything but fail. Lean and depend on Him. Allow Him to give you the grace and wisdom needed to plan your next move. I want to leave you with a final piece of advice found in Romans 12:18, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Blessings!!!
Pastor Cornell Maltbia is senior pastor at True Holiness Saints Center in Conway. He serves on various nonprofit boards throughout his tenure of community service. For more information or to contact Maltbia, log onto trueholiness.net.