Relationships can be a great source of comfort, or a great source of pain. How we interact with others has the potential to leave an indelible mark—for better or for worse.

Reflecting on all of my current and past relationships with family, friends, significant others, and acquaintances, there was a lot I learned along the way. Not all of the learning was pretty. Sometimes experiences were downright uncomfortable. Nonetheless, one lesson has held true for me.

No relationship is free of dysfunction, whether from conflict, misunderstandings, or assumptions. How we handle these problems determines whether a relationship survives, thrives, or dies.

Communicate

Communication is key to problem solving. Since God didn’t bless us with mind-reading powers, we have to voice our ideas aloud to others. That means expressing how much we appreciate them, and also letting them know when something hurtful happens.

Compromise

Never tell someone the old saying, “It’s my way or the highway.” Don’t even think about it.

Relationships are forged between two people. Thus, relationships function when both people function. If the relationship is dominated by one person’s perspective, then there is no relationship, just one person’s thoughts and feelings projected onto another.

The Scriptures encourages us to reconcile, reason, and otherwise respond well to each other.

Commit

The second great commandment from Jesus was to love others as we love ourselves. Jesus knew the human condition, he knew that people are naturally inclined to take care of themselves. Imagine a world where all the love we show ourselves, we gave to our neighbors.

In relationships, especially a marriage, God has asked us to unify ourselves with one another.

When we decide to commit ourselves to any sort of relationship, whether in the form of fidelity to a lover or loyalty to a friend, we are making a promise to that person to love them as we love ourselves. If we can take care of our needs and wants day to day, we should strive to do the same for those we care about.

Forgive

Forgiveness is essential for reconciliation. Reconciliation is needed whenever we have conflict. Unless we sweep our problems under the rug. At some point though, that lump in the rug will trip us.  So do the needful, learn to forgive.

Trust

Trust is best reserved for those closest to us. Even still, relationship dysfunction may lead us to second guessing our trust in a particular person. Whenever you experience this confusion, there is one person you can turn to for guidance.

Whenever trust comes into question, we can count on God to help us make the right decision.

God is the only entity we can trust without any reservation. With people, who inevitably fail one another, trust must be built.

Love, Love, Love

There aren’t enough television shows, songs, or Lifetime movies to discuss the subject of love. Everyone has their right or wrong idea that guides them in relationships. The best we can do to honor God, others, and ourselves is to express an unending and unyielding type of love. Love is considered greater than hope, and faith.

Clearly, love is something we should strive to perfect everyday.

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