Seeing the Signs: Healthy vs. Unhealthy
One of the hardest things I think about relationships is knowing what is healthy/normal versus what is unhealthy. Where is that line? How do we find that balance? Well, of course everyone needs to judge this for himself/herself, but there are some guidelines to help in figuring that out.
Every relationship requires work, compromise, and grace. If you think that you are going to find “Mr.Right” or “Miss Right,” and you will go off skipping in fields without a care in the world or an issue to work out, then you are headed for disaster. Relationships, especially marriages, require a daily dose of work, effort, love, and grace. On the other hand, before you get married, a relationship shouldn’t be a complete sacrifice of self.
That brings me to the first thing to make sure is happening in the relationship – equal effort. A one way street is not healthy and should only be a one way street out of that relationship. Relationships have to be both people giving 100%. Of course how we contribute in a relationship differs because we are two different people and two different genders, but both people have to be putting forth 100%. If they aren’t doing it now, they aren’t going to do it later. While sometimes in a marriage, one person ends up carrying the marriage through a rough patch here and there, this is the exception not the rule. If you want a happy, thriving relationship of mutual fulfillment, one person doing all the work just isn’t going to cut it or work. Both people have to working hard at the relationship for it to be the best that it can be. Most of the time, people put in their greatest efforts before the marriage, so if they aren’t doing it now, then be assured it’s only going to get worse. Summary: Unhealthy – One way street, 1 person doing all the work; Healthy – 2 way street of mutuality & reciprocity, 2 people giving 100% each
Something that I personally struggled with big time and that got me in trouble was the concept of “love covers.” As a Christian, I thought that true love just covered for everything that my significant other did. While the concept of grace and love covering is important, it’s a fine line. Grace cannot equal a relational doormat. There are times where showing grace is so important, but discretion is essential in when to show grace and when to stand firm. There really isn’t a set criteria for when something is over the line. That being said, watch out for manipulation, intentionally hurting you, abusive behaviors (physical, mental, emotional degrading), controlling, acting carelessly and without regard of you, showing no remorse, etc. Sometimes people are better at behaving badly and covering it up, but try to discern if this person is considering you in how they live their life daily. If they are, then show them that grace when they misstep or maybe hurt you. Some examples are: they told you they were going out with some friends, would be back at 12:00, but then didn’t get back until 1:00; they were at work and forgot to call you when they said they would. If they aren’t, then don’t just ignore that and be their doormat. Hit the road because you deserve better than that. Some examples are: you go over to visit him/her, and they aren’t there because they decided to go out with a bunch of people including a girl/guy you don’t feel comfortable with. They didn’t tell you, don’t bother to call you at any point in the night, and never even mention it to you; their ex keeps calling them, and they are hanging out together a lot. You bring up the concerns and are just ignored. Again, each situation has so many variables, but make sure to use discretion. Don’t be paranoid, but don’t be naive either. If someone is consistently “screwing up” and doesn’t really seem to care or change – be wary! If someone is just human and slips up from time to time with something that is of minor repercussion (and it’s usually something you yourself could do or may have done), then that is the time for grace. Summary: Unhealthy – disregard and disrespect of you and the relationship, constantly misbehaving, gut feeling that you can’t trust them, being a doormat; Healthy – constant care and concern for you and the relationship, effort to be considerate & thoughtful, no red flags going up in your gut, displaying grace when appropriate.
As I said before, relationships all require work, grace, and compromise. It’s when that relationships is just zapping you of all your energy, grace, and trust and is leaving you being a doormat that you need to walk away. Often times we have those gut feelings that something is off, but we ignore them because we think we are being paranoid. Don’t just shew them off, ask yourself where they are coming from and why. If you are getting them a lot, it might be time to bow out. Unhealthy relationships are often plagued with those lingering gut feelings, being disrespected and disregarded, selfishness, misbehaving, and unhappiness. Healthy relationships are about reciprocity, happiness, working together, showing consideration and care for each other, and respecting one another. Use discretion and caution.