Did you ever try to grow African Violets or any house plant? They need very little care, but without water, dead leaves and spent flowers removed and occasional plant food they will disappoint the gardener. As I outline in chapter 3 of my recent book, regular respectful communication is absolutely necessary to keep relationships vital. Dysfunction—tensions, anxiety and strain--often rear up via good and tough changes, like promotions, moves, medical problems, financial difficulties, a new child, different school, even new friends.
Even though people love each other, whether mates, children, relatives or friends, relationships quietly grow apart and experience instability—resentments (developing silently from unfulfilled expectations), angers, being super sensitive, disappointment, disrespect, inattention and loneliness. When communication runs dry, relationships wither just like the house plants. Do any of the following situations sound familiar?
She does virtually nothing with me that involve my interests.
He never compliments me on how I look; he doesn’t even notice a new hair do.
We don’t do anything fun anymore.
Combining homework help with toddler care is chaotic.
They come in from school and I am invisible.
She talks and treats me like I’m her kid brother who needs constant instructions.
Our kids only want to be with their friends. They resist visiting relatives.
He watches the news constantly or then sports. He wouldn’t miss me for days.
We never talk anymore. When we first met we stayed up all night conversing.
I feel taken for granted.
Family meals have disappeared.
My kids seem to be locked behind steel doors volunteering no information about their day, friends, school. All heads are bowed into phones or i Pads.
You could add many more.
Encouragement for Healing Dysfunctional Relationships
1. Identify issues that each admits they have. This requires courage on the part of children.
Making a list is a marvelous beginning because healthy communication is possible no matter what personality-types are united. Honor and appreciate the God-designed differences in personalities represented in the same home. Be helpful and kind to each other. Eliminate name calling and sarcasm. Our Coaching Kids book provides examples and suggestions on accomplishing this important part of parenting.
2. Developing and maintaining simple communication skills requires talking, listening, understanding, respect, appreciation and most of all creative compromise—humility in action. Each helping the other to reach his or her goal; each helping the other–including your children--to become the best person he/she can be. Trust and Respect are absolutely necessary.
3. After trust, understanding, appreciation, honesty and respect, a crucial element follows-- --T I M E together (without kids)- at least one date a week for mates for life. Invest in at least 20 minutes a day for spouse talk to keep abreast of each other’s lives. Provide pure listening time for each child individually. Institute family time once a week.
4. And for everyone, develop expertise in choosing non-offensive “I” statements rather than easier offensive, parental “you’ statements. Teaching your children to respond this way will equip them forever.
Your example will be an excellent teacher.
5. Fulfill spiritual needs by finding a church or synagogue that satisfies all. Praying together and privately for each other will sweeten your relationships significantly. Relationships like automobiles and computers occasionally need tune-ups from an expert. Go for help as soon as either senses the need.
6. All dysfunctional relationships are fixable if nurtured in time. But, repair is enhanced when more than one person acknowledges the deterioration and is concerned and willing to work toward restoration.
Like Ecc. 4: 9,10,12 says “two are better than one… If either of them falls down, one can help the other up…A cord of three strands (God) is not quickly broken.