Apr 282014 8 Responses

Why Some Relationships Succeed and Others Fail

She said she would do it.

He assumed she meant it.

She forgot it.

Now there is a problem.

This is why some relationships—marriages, friendships, working relationships, companies, etc—make it and others do not. The determining factor is not the original mistake. There will always be original mistakes. People forget things. They fail to do things. Whatever could go wrong will go wrong. (See: You Won’t Change Until…)

The determining factor between relationships which succeed and those that don’t is not whether mistakes happen, it’s how mistakes are handled.

In successful relationships, mistakes are confronted in an honest, helpful, merciful, and reconciling way.

In unsuccessful relationships, mistakes are ignored, denied, or avoided.

Notice the twist. One would think that avoiding difficult discussions would lead to more peace, happiness, and satisfaction. But just the opposite happens.

When issues are avoided, they build up. The offended party who does not confront the person who let them down, probably does complain to other people. (See: Only Tell Your Problems to Two People) They expect the offender to realize their mistake and bitterness grows. Meanwhile, the offender often doesn’t even realize they have offended, but they can feel the rising tension. With no explanation of what is causing the tension, they are left to dream of a thousand different scenarios which could be the problem—none of which are the actual problem. Because issues are avoided, no one ever learns to handle conflict properly. Because issues are avoided, no one ever admits they are wrong or stands in need of forgiveness. Without needing forgiveness from others, we are less likely to give forgiveness.

So the unhealthy marriage, family, or workplace devolves into a collection of bitter, entitled, people who believe everyone else makes mistakes but they rarely do.

Contrast this with a healthy relationship. (See: Drama Addicts or Why Your Best Friend is Always Stressed)

The same number of mistakes take place, but because they deal with them when they happen, the mistakes don’t build up. Sometimes I’m wrong; sometimes I’m wronged. By being on both sides of the equation on a regular basis, I’m quick to seek forgiveness and make amends when I make a mistake. And I’m quick to give forgiveness and grace when someone else makes a mistake.

Because mistakes are confronted when they happen, a healthy relationship becomes skilled at dealing with mistakes. Since they regularly have the opportunity to deal with mistakes, they become skilled at solving problems. They aren’t surprised when they arise; they don’t blow them out of proportion; they deal with them in context and move on.

As a pastor dealing with a variety of situations, I’m often struck by how common the basic issues are. In marriages, families, and workplaces, few people are dealing with truly unique issues. For most, the basic issues are the basic issues. The differences between peace, contentment, happiness, security and health compared to strife, bitterness, unhappiness, insecurity, and dysfunction is often times the responses we make when life doesn’t go as we expect.

Emotionally healthy people learn the skills necessary to handle adversity. (See: Two Steps to Solving 90% of Relationship Problems)

Emotionally unhealthy people do not. When mistakes happen, they make it worse. (See: What to Do When Life Falls Apart)

Today you will make a mistake which will hurt another. When you do, will you admit it and correct it or will you hide it and avoid it?

Today some will make a mistake which will hurt you. When they do, will you recognize it and confront them or will you deny it and avoid it?

Only one way will make things better. Only one way will create the relationship you truly want.

Have the courage to choose the healthy way.

8 Responses to Why Some Relationships Succeed and Others Fail
  1. heartbroken Reply

    Hi pastor do you think that these are good reason to get a divorce…my husband want to get a divorce for these things…

    -Dealing with the past emotional baggage
    -Afraid of to completely let your partner in
    -Communication problems
    -Afraid of moving out to another place
    -Asking for help to third people (parents, Pastor, Friends) to save your marriage
    -Trying to contact your husband when he is giving you the silent treatment

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      They do not seem like good reasons for me. My hope would be that both partners would seek counseling and work through these issues.

  2. […] Why? (See: Why Some Relationships Succeed and Others Fail) […]... kevinathompson.com/drill-rest-drill
  3. […] 1. Denial. A complete unwillingness to confront issues which create tension is not true peace. It mi... kevinathompson.com/the-mirage-of-a-good-marriage
  4. […] But some things never change. (See: Why Some Relationships Succeed and Others Fail) […]... kevinathompson.com/in-marriage-some-things-never-change
  5. Dwain Reply

    Hi would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re working with?
    I’m looking to start my own blog soon but I’m having a difficult time selecting between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
    The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most bloogs and I’m looking for something completely unique.
    P.S Sorry for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

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