Repairing Relationships

This comes from a series of emails I sent out in 2010.  

PART 1

Before I start I’d like to make a disclaimer.   I know these thoughts come from my perspective and my background.  There will be other temperament combinations in a relationship that are not as obvious—maybe both are introverts or perhaps both may have extrovert traits.   I think the principles are true, but it always takes listening to the Holy Spirit’s guidance to see your areas that need honesty and transparency.

This is my thinking and our experiences….but please remember I’m not God nor the Holy Spirit.    This is to consider!

When it comes to repairing relationships think details, not big picture!

I don’t think it’s an accident that the following verse is in the Song of Solomon Chapter 2, verse 15 says “Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vine, for our vines have tender grapes.”  (emphasis mine)   The Wesley Study Bible note says, “Possibly a precautionary measure:  keep the things that could spoil budding love from destroying it.”

It’s the little things that undermine relationships.   “Oh, that’s not worth talking about.  It will just upset both of us.”  “I can handle this…it’s not worth the stress.”  “I’m embarrassed to even say that this bothers me, it’s such a little thing.”  “Surely I’m grown up enough to not let this bother me!”  etc.  etc.

However, that little thing becomes a “brick” in a wall between you and someone else.  And given time, even small bricks will develop into a huge wall.

To be continued…

PART 2 

These thoughts are something to seriously consider…

Verbal extroverts (Cholerics, Sanguines, Type A personalities, Lions, Otters, etc), as maturing adults, often need to go back and un-say or un-do what’s been said or done.   How wise for verbal people to open the door and invite one person at a time to share just one hurt they may still have in their heart from their relationships with them.  (Current issues of course, but especially past situations with spouse, children, friends, etc.)  It’s wiser still to continue that practice until nothing is left between them and the other person, no matter how far back into the past they have to reach!    

Quiet introverts (Phlegmatics, Melancholies, Type B personalities, Golden Retrievers, Beavers, etc.), as maturing adults, usually need to go back and say or do what’s been unsaid or undone!   It’s nice if someone else opens the door—but if they don’t, it’s your responsibility to bring up the subject.  Take the emotional risks.  Face your deepest fears.  Don’t let the emotions of fear paralyze you!  If you don’t take these risks, you’re robbing yourself—and your family and friends!!!

As an introvert, I was a “stuffer” of my feelings.   Looking back, I see now that the women in my life never felt emotionally safe enough to express their feelings, so as a young wife I didn’t either.  It wasn’t a choice; I didn’t know how to do otherwise.

After 10-15 years of marriage, I was like a pressure cooker ready to blow, for there is no way you can live together as two entirely different people and not have issues you need to work through.   I had stuffed feelings until there was no room left for another feeling.  But because of my personality, rather than exploding, I think I would have imploded—the danger being that I could have emotionally withdrawn from John permanently—which would have left both of us empty.  (I feared crossing a line with John, but I was the one who could draw my line (out of fear) and cut someone off.  Maybe that’s why I feared this with John so much….!

To be continued…

PART 3     

If an extrovert is wise and decides to take the risks of asking someone else to share a painful memory, don’t be surprised if at first the other person starts out by saying “Everything’s fine.”   But don’t stop there.  Probe a little bit.  Give them permission to bring up the past.  “If you were to answer, what might be the first thing that comes to your mind…even if it’s from years ago….”

The following suggestion is especially important.  Invite introverts to write their memory and their feelings about it.  Introverts are not always verbal people.  Tell them you will listen and will think and pray about it before responding.   Then consider responding in writing, especially if you’re feeling defensive and emotional!  However a written answer is not always key to communicating with introverts.  It’s most important that they feel free to use writing.  Somehow when writing/email/texting, etc. are used, you can avoid much of the negative reactive emotion…and body language….that goes with being open, honest and transparent with each other about hurtful actions or attitudes.

Why would introverts hesitate before being honest with an extrovert?  For one thing introverts are testing your reactions.  Do you really mean this?   How safe are you really going to be?   Are you really going to listen to me?    Or am I just setting myself up to be hurt or disrespected again?  Introverts open up slowly.

The second reason is most of us usually move from the least painful to the most painful when working through memories.  Maybe we get stronger as we go… I’m not sure.  I just think it’s true that we work back to the most painful memories.  So it’s important not to stop too soon.

It’s also important to do one memory at a time.  Both sides need time to test God’s leadership out.  As we obey, we find out that each obedience has a positive result and that gives you courage to try again.

However, be aware that memories and/or crazy cycles never get easier to tackle.  The same depth of emotion is there each time. The same feeling of risk is there.   However, your head remembers that good has resulted from the other risks you’ve taken in obedience to God.    So hopefully you will ask for courage and pray, “Lord, please help me again!!” 

To be continued

PART 4

Why should we deliberately bring up the past?   Introverts need to understand that when extroverts are stressed or bothered, they say what they’re thinking and it’s over for them.  They likely will never think of it again.   But the bricks are left in the relationship, although an extrovert may have no clue they are there.   The person who knows the brick is there needs to bring up the subject.  Even the smallest brick!!   Start with what’s current and work your way back.  You don’t have to worry about “picking out” what needs to be worked on.  A hurt or an issue will naturally float to the surface when it’s time to be healed.  God, the Holy Spirit, will lead you step by step as you ask for grace!!!

Extroverts need to understand that introverts will get more and more depressed if they stuff feelings and avoid truth in their relationship.   The more disconnection they feel, the less motivation there is to try and the greater the threat of separation—of setting their one and only boundary of separation and divorce—rather than risk taking care of details!

Why do all this painful work?  Because when the details are taken care of, the big picture will take care of itself.    Every memory you work through and resolve sends you UP the emotional spiral one more step.  It releases the internal pressure just a little more!  The day will come when you know in your heart there is nothing left between you and that is such a wonderful feeling you don’t want anything to ever be between you again!

It took serious pain for me to be motivated to tackle my relationship habits.   This is a prayer I wrote down and have read over many times that came out of a time of deep painful feelings.  “Lord, if this is the only way to change me, please let the pain become greater than my fears.  Help me to care!   I want you to make my stony heart flesh!”  (Referring to Ezekiel 36:26)

To be continued…

PART 5

I’m saying all this because it has worked.  Yet also remember that decisions have to be made daily.   It will always be my temptation, my nature to hide feelings.    If I give into what comes naturally to me and withdraw, then I start down the spiral in my relationships again.   If, by asking for God’s grace and by trusting and obeying, I decide to be open and honest, I reverse that, and start back UP the spiral.

When I have revealed a wound or a boundary violation to John, I have deeply hurt him every time because hurting me was never his intention.  The behavior was a natural emotional reaction, either inborn and/or from training by role models.  Neither have I ever meant to hurt him with my actions or attitude of disrespect or distrust.  The behavior was natural emotional reactions.

I would see the pain I was putting him in and I’d think, “This is it.  I’ve crossed the line.  He’s going to cut me off!  He’s going to say, “That’s so stupid!”  What you’re saying is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard of!”  “ I don’t believe that!”  “Big deal!  Get over it!”

But he never did.  And we would painfully work our way through whatever issue had come up.

Now I’m not implying that during that time our relationship was “peace like a river”!  It was more like entering wild “rapids”.  Emotionally you are afraid you’re going to go under, maybe for the last time!   You come up, catch your breath, and then you may be hit again with some of those stuffed feelings from years ago!  J

But as we kept on plowing thru the rapids, we always came back out into the calm.   And with the calm came the rewards—closer connectedness, emotional intimacy, a deeper trust in one another and the sure knowledge that “this issue” was forever behind us.  We’d talked it out until there was nothing left to discuss or feel.  You know when there is nothing between you any more.

I’m not going to lie to you.  God didn’t lie to me.  Be aware that this is not a one-time event.  Depending on your past, it could be a longer process—it was a five year process for me.  Good counseling and intentional reading and learning can cut down that time quite a bit!!  But it does take time to process emotion.    It takes time to take care of the details.

Neither can you do this on your own.  You need God’s help and leadership.  You need your Christian friends’ involvement.   You need good instruction from counselors.   If you are an adult child of alcohol/drug-using parents or an adult survivor of abuse, you almost always need professional Christian counseling by someone who specializes in that area.   But it starts with you!   Good things are waiting for you!!!

I’m telling you a truth.   God’s ways work.  And God’s ways satisfy our deepest needs!   But it takes faith to believe His leadership before the fact!!   Obedience precedes understanding!  It takes faith and trust to let go of our control and to risk jumping out into the unknown!   But even if our faith is as small as a grain of mustard seed, good things start happening.

To be continued

PART 6

I believe these principles are true for our relationship with God als

If we have a wall of disconnection between us and God, in this case it’s all on our side.  God has already made the decision to be in relationship with us.  God is completely healthy, unselfish and trustworthy.  There is nothing “fallen” about Him.  We are the ones who need to correct ourselves and to choose to be in relationship with God!   WE are the ones to figure out the lies we have believed about God.

Start with the “detail” that comes to your mind.  Work thru it by obeying.  This will probably involve practicing unselfishness or it will likely involve putting trust into practice and letting go of control.   The problem is it’s not easy for us to see ourselves.  Our pride is always there to interfere!  It takes obeying God first, then the understanding comes!   That’s why the Christian life is called a life of faith!!!

This is also why it’s important to confess details when we want to have a personal relationship with God, and not give in to a blanket big picture confession.   We are clearing up relationship offenses one by one.  This works.

When we know there is nothing left between us and God, that open and transparent relationship is so wonderful we don’t want anything to ever come between us and God again.    That’s what gave me strength to face my own pain and failures.   It was a matter of obedience to God.  God would speak to my heart, “You have to be honest with John about your hurt feelings before you go to bed.”   Change happened because I wanted to be in relationship with God more than I wanted to protect my emotions!  My procrastination would put it off and put it off until the last minute.  There were a couple of times I even woke John up.  “Do you remember…..?  That really hurt my feelings…”   “What?!  What are you talking about?!”   But God helped us.  I talked and he listened.  Neither of those reactions came naturally to us—that was the grace of God working in us!!!   God’s grace is there waiting for every one of us!

Obeying God one step at a time even though it meant feeling a lot of negative feelings brought me to the sure knowledge that God my Father cares about my feelings, unlike some of my male role models from childhood.    God never tired of me.  He never told me I was foolish for feeling the way I did.  None of my unbearably painful emotions ever overwhelmed Him!   God didn’t stop my pain…but He walked with me through it!

A clear conscience is a gift from God!!   It leads to closeness with people and with God.

It’s true I’ve been thinking primarily of marriage relationships, but I believe these principles are also true for parent/older child relationships, adult siblings, friendships, church relationships, office relationships, etc.     For those behind me…start out now practicing honesty and openness in your relationships.  Intentionally and consistently learn what is true about relationships!!  Keep the little foxes out of your vineyard!   The more both of you practice this, the easier it is to recognize the bricks for what they are and to do what it takes to remove them.

Remember: 

Verbal extroverts, as maturing adults, often need to go back and un-say or un-do what’s been said or done.  

Quiet introverts, as maturing adults, usually need to go back and say or do what’s been unsaid or undone!  

Take care of the details…. “Don’t let the sun go down upon your wrath” from hurt feelings on either side that come from offenses, disrespect, boundary violations, etc. …. and the big picture will take care of itself!

 

 

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Remembering the “whys” in the choice of our spouse

Several years ago, I used the book Finding the Love of Your Life by Neil Clark Warren as the basis for a series of classes for the teens.

One chapter was especially interesting to me even as a married woman because it helped me understand my own process of selecting who I married.

Warren gives ten general dimensions that we should carefully think about in selecting our mate.  These are:  personality, intelligence, appearance, ambition, chemistry, spirituality, character, creativity, parenting, and authenticity.

By ranking those ten characteristics from most important to least important, you can see which qualities are “absolutes” to you and which ones you are willing to compromise on.

Do you know how I have benefited most from prioritizing my own “list”?    It has helped me to not “sweat the small  stuff” of everyday living!    When I get irritated about some action or non-action that may be grating on my nerves, I try to remember all those wonderful “absolute priority” traits that my husband has–those characteristics that caused me to want to marry him in the first place!

Am I really going to let some petty frustration, which for us almost invariably comes as a result of our temperament differences, control my attitude toward my husband?   Or do I want to remember all those qualities which are the rock solid foundation of our relationship?!

Some issues really are not all that relevant in the big scheme of things!   Some irritations belong at the bottom of our priority list even though we may have to force them to stay there by refocusing our minds frequently on what really matters!!

I’m not talking about ignoring or denying issues that need to be discussed!  I’m talking about areas where he is just different from me!   Really!  Is it more important that he puts things right back in its place or that he is a man of integrity and selflessness!!     Let’s remember those absolutes that we love about our spouse!!

I’m speaking as a woman, but this goes both ways!   It could even be a useful exercise in relating to our children or friends!

I hope these thoughts might be one more “strategic plan” in a personal arsenal that can be used when your own perhaps pms-y emotions would love to battle out the small stuff on certain days!

Our emotions are to be disciplined to conform to truth!    It is not good when our feelings alone determine our actions!!

 

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Book Recommendation–The Power of a Parent’s Words by H. Norman Wright

I would like to suggest a book that I’m reading right now:

The Power of a Parent’s Words by H. Norman Wright

This is the “Conclusion: A Brief Overview”  (by the author. p 247)

“I encourage you to keep moving steadily toward the satisfaction and fulfillment that comes from being a nurturing parent by applying the guidelines in this book.  Perhaps you would be helped by a brief review of some of the most important steps:

  • Tailor-make a blueprint for each child’s character development. Be flexible, and remember that each child has his own free will.
  • Give your child a legacy of love by empowering him to maturity. Help your child transfer his dependence from you to himself and then to God.  This is real maturity!
  • Identify the myths of parenting that may be contributing to your frustration as a parent. Identify and clarify your expectations for yourself and your child.
  • Identify the roles that are developing in your child. If they are healthy, rejoice.  It they are dysfunctional, a course correction may be needed.
  • Put a permanent ban on the toxic verbal weapons of judging, belittling, blaming and fault-finding. Begin to employ nurturing communication which builds, supports and cares.
  • Don’t allow anger and frustration to trigger verbal abuse.
  • Replace subtle, destructive, discounting messages with positive, affirming, nurturing messages. Learn to communicate verbally and nonverbally “I love you for who you are.”
  • Discover the unique design and learning style of your child. Understand his birth-order characteristics and personality preferences.  Affirm and encourage his uniqueness.
  • God has created each child to be a specially unique and fascinating individual. You have the opportunity to grow, change and learn to enjoy and nurture your child.  As you do, the pieces of the puzzle will come together, and you will see your frustration as a parent melt away.”

End quote.   Each chapter is full of excellent material!

More than anything I want to be healthy–especially emotionally and spiritually.

If I don’t even know what is healthy, then I have no plumb line to help me recognize what I’m doing that has been or may presently be unhealthy! What we grew up with feels right but it may not BE right.   In addition, knowing truth will also help me to discern what to hold onto!!

Remember, just because we may be a Christian doesn’t mean we know everything or that God has automatically healed us or matured us  emotionally and/or spiritually!!   We have to work to learn emotional and spiritual truth…and then put it into practice!   It likely may be the hardest work we’ll ever do…and yet the most rewarding and definitely the most beneficial for our family!!

The truth will set us free!!!      Again, I’ve not arrived, but neither am where I used to be!!  I want to stay on this healing path!!!

 

 

 

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Exploding Truth–a thought based on a devotional by Dennis Kinlaw

I shared this thought with a friend the other day and decided to share with other friends in case someone is in the middle of doing the hard monotonous work of repeatedly putting yourself in the place of “receiving truth”.

I think this is what we’re talking about when we speak of doing the hard WORK of emotional and/or spiritual growth!!   This “work” could be consistently putting yourself in church and in small groups, reading good books on the subject you’re struggling in, listening to informative programs, talking to people further up the road than you who are going in the direction you want to go…..and praying, thinking, mulling, and meditating!!

This is from Dennis Kinlaw in This Day With The Master, October 18.   “Exploding Truth”.   He is speaking in a spiritual sense but I also have experienced what he’s saying in an emotional sense.

Quote:

“Truth comes first, and then personal experience.  John Wesley preached the gospel a long time before his heart was transformed….. Wesley’s beliefs did not change after his conversion; those beliefs exploded into his life, becoming a burning passion within him instead of intellectual baggage….. It is not enough only to have intellectual truth.  The truth must break into our lives in a deeply penetrating and intimately personal way.  Then we can say, “He is not only the Savior; he is my Savior…..”

End quote.

That is what’s been my experience, not only spiritually, but also emotionally and relationally.  God started drawing me to truth…and I experienced some good things from it.  But it was the constant putting of emotional and relational truth into my mind through books, programs, people, and prayer, etc. that eventually allowed those truths to “explode” in a wonderfully freeing way in my inner self at distinct points in time!  It’s not overnight… some things take a much longer time…but over and over we will experience that after much “seed sowing”, truth will explode in our mind, heart and life, and we KNOW we’ve grown and matured more!!!   That is a reward in itself!

I love reading different authors because they can so often put words to what I have experienced but don’t know how to say!!

Don’t ever let Satan sidetrack anyone into thinking…”No one else does this kind of hard work, no one else spends this much time learning emotional truths!”   No, most people don’t.   But when WE do our hard work, we have truth to give out to other people when suddenly they are in crisis!!  We have moral authority because we have LIVED truth out and we KNOW it has worked!!   That give us confidence!

My point is:  make it a life time goal to constantly and on purpose put emotional and relationship (and spiritual) truth into our mind!!!  Those seeds will bring forth good fruit given time!!!  Experiencing truth that suddenly becomes light to us is a wonderful gift from God!!

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Core Fears Test –from The DNA of Relationships by Dr. Gary Smalley

This is very helpful information for the serious student of themselves and their own relationships.
Appendix B from the book The DNA of Relationships by Dr. Gary Smalley
Identify Your Core Fear
1. Identify the Conflict: Identity a recent conflict, argument, or negative situation with your spouse, friend, child, neighbor, coworker, etc.—something that really “pushed your buttons”, or upset you. Think about how you were feeling and how you wished the person would not say or do the things that upset you.

2. Identify your Feelings: How did this conflict or situation make you feel? Check all that apply—but star the most important feelings:
___unsure ___uncomfortable ___frightened
___apathetic ___confused ___anxious
___puzzled ___worried ___horrified
___upset ___disgusted ___disturbed
___sullen ___resentful ___furious
___sad ___bitter
___hurt ___fed up
___disappointed ___frustrated
___wearied ___miserable
___torn up ___guilty
___shamed ___embarrassed ___other

3. Identify Your Fear: How did this conflict make you feel about yourself? What did the conflict “say” about you and your feelings? Check all that apply, but star the most important feelings.

___rejected The other person doesn’t want me or need me. I am not necessary in this relationship; I feel unwanted.
___abandoned The other person will ultimately leave me; I will be left alone to care for myself, the other person won’t be committed to me for life.
___disconnected We will become emotionally detached or separated; I will feel cut off from the other person.
___like a failure I am not successful at being a husband/wife, friend, parent, coworker; I will not perform correctly; I will not live up to expectations, I am not good enough.
___helpless I cannot do anything to change the other person or my situation; I do not possess the power, resources, capacity, or ability to get what I want; I will feel controlled by the other person.
___defective Something is wrong with me; I’m the problem.
___inadequate I am not capable; I am incompetent.
___inferior Everyone else is better than I am; I am less valuable or important than others.
___invalidated Who I am, what I think, what I do, or how I feel is not valued.
___unloved The other person doesn’t care about me; my relationship lacks warm attachment, admiration, enthusiasm, or devotion.
___dissatisfied I will not experience satisfaction in the relationship. I will not feel joy or excitement about the relationship.
___cheated The other person will take advantage of me or will withhold something I need; I won’t get what I want.
___worthless I am useless; I have not value to the other person.
___unaccepted I am never able to meet the other person’s expectations; I am not good enough.
___judged I am always being unfairly judged; the other person forms faulty or negative opinions about me; I am always being evaluated; the other person does not approved of me.
___humiliated The relationship is extremely destructive to my self-respect or dignity.
___ignored The other person will not pay attention to me; I feel neglected.
___insignificant I am irrelevant in the relationship; the other person does not see me as an important part of our relationship.
___other_______________________________________________

1. Identify Your Reactions: What do you do when you feel (__insert the most importabt feeling from question # 3)? How do you react when you feel that way? Identify your common verbal or physical reactions to deal with that feeling. Check all that apply, but star the most important reactions.
___withdrawal you avoid others or alienate yourself without resolution; you sulk or use the silent treatment.
___escalation emotions spiral out of control; you argue, raise your voice, fly into a rage.
___try harder you try to do more to earn others’ love and care.
___negative beliefs you believe the other person is far worse than is really the case; you see the other person in a negative light or attribute negative motives to him or her.
___blaming you place responsibility on others, not accepting fault; you’re convinced the problem is the other person’s fault.
___exaggeration you make overstatements or enlarge your words beyond bound or the truth.
___tantrums you have fits of bad temper.
___denial you refuse to admit the truth or reality.
___invalidation you devalue the other person; you do not appreciate what he or she feels or thinks or does.
___defensiveness instead of listening, you defend yourself by providing an explanation.
___clinginess you develop a strong emotional attachment or dependence on the other person.
___passive-aggressive you display negative emotions, resentment, and aggression in passive ways, such as procrastination and stubbornness.
___caretaking you become responsible for the other person by giving physical or emotional care and support to the point you are doing everything for the other person, who does nothing to care for himself or herself.
___acting out you engage in negative behaviors, such as drug or alcohol abuse, extramarital affairs, excessive shopping or spending or overeating.
___fix-it mode you focus almost exclusively on what is needed to solve the problem.
___complaining you express unhappiness or make accusations, you criticize, creating a list of the other person’s faults
___aggression or abuse you become verbally or physically aggressive, possible abusive.
___manipulation you control the other person for your own advantage, you try to get him or her to do what you want.
___anger and rage you display strong feelings of displeasure or violent and uncontrolled emotions
___catastrophize you use dramatic exaggerated expressions to depict that the relationship is in danger or that it has failed.
___numbing out you become devoid of emotions, or you have no regard for others’ needs or troubles.
___humor you use humor as a way of not dealing with the issue at hand.
___sarcasm you use negative humor, hurtful words, belittling comments, cutting remarks or demeaning statements.
___minimization you assert that the other person is overreacting to an issue; you intentionally underestimate, downplay, or soft-pedal the issue.
___rationalization you attempt to make your actions seem reasonable; you try to attribute your behavior to credible motives; you try to provide believable but untrue reasons for your conduct.
___indifference you are cold and show no concern.
___abdication you give away responsibilities.
___self-abandonment you run yourself down; you neglect yourself.
___other __________________________________

2. Look at the items you starred in response to question 3. List the three or four main feelings. These are you core fears.
Core fear #1__________________________________________________
Core fear #2__________________________________________________
Core fear #3__________________________________________________

Remember that most core fears are related to two main primary fears:
1. the fear of being controlled (losing influence or power over others).
2. the fear of being disconnected (separation from people and being alone)

More men fear losing power or being controlled, and more women fear being disconnected from relationships with others.

3. Look at the items you starred in response to question 4. List your three or four main reactions when someone pushes your core fear button.
Reaction #1________________________________________________
Reaction #2________________________________________________
Reaction #3________________________________________________
Your responses to these exercises should help you understand your part of the Fear Dance: your core fear button and your reaction. Remember that it’s very common for your reactions to push the core fear button of the other person in the conflict. If the other person can figure out his/her core fears and reactions, you will see clearly the unique Fear Dance the two of you are doing. But even if the other person isn’t able to be involved in the process of discovering his/her part of the /fear Dance, you can take steps to stop the dance. (See chapters 4-8)

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Trust–information from Beyond Boundaries

Broken trust is a huge barrier to our relationships. The more truth we learn about it, the more we can be set free! “The truth will set you free.”

The following is taken from the book Beyond Boundaries by John Townsend, chapters 1,2 and 7:

You and I are “drawn” to seek out relationships with others. This isn’t really an option. We are simply designed this way by God. Our draw to relationship can be for companionship, business, love, or romance. The draw is strong and compelling. But it is not always well-informed, healthy or full of good judgment.

The Trust Piece
For the draw to work as it should, any good relationship must have trust at its core. Most of us can handle relational problems, such as messiness, irresponsibility, or even high control. But when trust is not part of the equation, you simply don’t know who is sitting in the chair across from you. It is the problem that must always be dealt with first.

Trust is the ability to be vulnerable with another person. When you trust someone, you feel certain that person will keep your best interests in mind. You believe that they are who they say they are. You feel that the deepest parts of you will be safe with them. You expect that they will be there for you no matter what and that they will love you even when you are not so lovable.

Such trust is not a luxury, it is an essential. Without trust, relationship cannot flourish.

Perhaps you are regretting you ever trusted the person who caused your relational problem. If so, don’t do that. You may have missed some warning signs, (which will be discussed later in the book) but understand that your draw to relationship is a part of you—a good and divine gift. You can mature it, educate it, and train it, but it doesn’t go away. Your best and highest situation is to be drawn to people and to also have clarity on the character of who you’re drawn to at the same time.

A break in trust in relationship is when you no longer experience or believe that the other person will always fundamentally be there for you, and you doubt that they are who they say they are. When that happens, you have lost trust.

The two trusts
There are two types of trust in a relationship—functional trust and relational trust.

In functional trust, you feel you can depend on the other person’s behavior and commitments. There is no discrepancy between words and actions. Functional trust is essential; it means you can be away from the other person and know there will be no surprises, ethical issues, or indiscretions in your absence. You don’t have to monitor or check up on each other.

The second type of trust, relational trust, goes deeper. Relational trust refers to how safe it is to trust the other person with your vulnerabilities and feelings. For example, what does the other person do when you admit a weakness, reveal a need, admit a mistake, have a failure, or talk about trouble from your past? When these issues manifest themselves in a relationship, the other person should understand that it was a huge risk for you to talk about them in the first place.

Because it is deeper and more personal, a break in relational trust is a more serious problem than a break in functional trust. A financially irresponsible person—someone capable of breaking functional trust when it comes to money—may yet be trusted for how he feels toward you. You wouldn’t want to trust him with your finances, but you can trust his concern for you in other areas.

However, the reverse is not true. Someone who is responsible in areas related to functional trust but isn’t safe with relational trust—responsive to your feelings and needs-is simply not someone you can safely get close to.

Sooner or later, the passage of time unearths the flaws or weaknesses of the people in a relationship. These flaws cause a rupture in functional trust when someone lies, becomes irresponsible, or reveals a behavior or a secret that causes problems. Flaws or weaknesses cause a break in relational trust when the person becomes emotionally disconnected, controlling, critical, or self-absorbed.

When Trust Is Damaged
Trust—functional or relational—is the thread that holds two people together. When trust is damaged, the thread is severed and the disconnection begins.

When you can no longer be assured that the other person is truly for you and relational trust is broken, several things happen that impact how you experience life.

1. Withdrawal—You become careful instead of careless. You are more reserved about discussing personal information. You avoid situation s in which you might feel vulnerable, open, or exposed. The experience of feeling safe enough to share your needs has been distorted, so you don’t take relationship risks. In some cases, the withdrawal progresses from feelings of loneliness to actually feeling dead or frozen inside. You feel nothing, or you have the sense that something is broken inside.

2. Movement to task—If your trust is damaged, you may also over invest in tasks related to work, career, school, activities, hobbies, and service. That is, you stay active in the world, but you find it much safer to “do” than to “connect.” You may pursue good goals, but stay away from the personal end of life.

3. Unbalanced “giver” relationships—It is common for a person to be the “giver” in all relationships and to avoid the “receiving.” That is, he or she will listen, help, guild others but keep away from bringing his or her own needs to the table. This often includes codependent relationships as well, in which you rescue and enable others instead of letting them take responsibility for their lives and choices. Rather than 50-50, usually when trust has been damaged, it swings toward the 10-90 ratio, as a way for the person to stay safe from being vulnerable.

4. Bad habits—Trust issues can often lead into troublesome behavior patterns. These can include eating and sleep problems, obsessive behaviors, or addictions.

Fortunately there are situations in relationships in which trust can be reestablished relatively quickly. For example, if the offending person does something hurtful, but it is not too serious and is a rare or one-time event, all it takes is for the person who experienced the offense to call attention to it. “It made me angry…. My feelings were hurt when ……” Those sorts of statements, plus patience and concern, will prompt the other person to see what they have done, mend their ways, reconnect, and move on. These are usually glitches, events that aren’t a character pattern.

Unfortunately, there are also times when the person’s inner character is not what it should be, when the patterns are deeper, and when the trust damage is more serious. These are situations in which appeals for the restoration of the relationships may go ignored, and conversations don’t work. That is when you must draw boundaries—for your interests, for the sake of the relationship, and for helping the other person as well.

A couple of comments from Chapter 7
You may have heard that you become like those you’re with and take on their characteristics. The psychological term for this is fusion

We all have some kind of response to our formative environment. Sometimes we take on the troublesome characteristics we grew up with, and sometimes we react against them. When it comes to relationships neither approach offers real solution, though the person who acts in opposition can at least identify that there is a problem to solve. But neither response by itself will fix the root problem. This is because both stances are fear-based, not growth-based.

Fusion is about fear. It occurs when a person adopts the family dysfunction out of fear of going against one’s parents and or disagreeing with them.

Reacting in opposition to family dysfunction is also fear-based. She is afraid of being swallowed up and engulfed in a sick system, losing herself, so she does a 180 degree turn away from the patterns of her parents.

It’s not a blame game nor is it disloyal. It is an attempt to understand what is going on at a deeper level so you can grow, forgive, change, and heal.

Take time to connect the dots between your past and your present. It takes work and often courage, but it is well worth the effort.

(cp: No parent is perfect. There comes a time when all of us have to recognize and forgive our parents for their failures, some of which are much more serious than other parents’. Otherwise we get stuck.)

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Filed under Fear, Growing up, Love, Maturity

A Big Picture Of Emotional Healing

A quote from The Patriot Post, 8-26-2011:
“I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.”
John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, 1780

This sounds very familiar to me….but rather than cultural development, I’m thinking about emotional healing from the natural downward progression of the sins of the fathers being passed on to the 3 and 4th generation.

To change the direction of the spiral, the first generation (grandparents) must do the hard things, break the cycles, confess and humble themselves in order to break the bonds to actual factual sin….so that….

The second generation (parents) can work on the emotional fallout that came from the parents’ or grandparents’ sin(s) which robbed and hurt them, especially when they were vulnerable little children ….so that….

The third generation (children) can put into practice healthy balanced principles that their parents have taught them from their own experiences,(often following the parents’own parenting years) ….so that….

The grandchildren can grow up in a healthy balanced atmosphere during their formative childhood!!!

It requires trust in those teaching us and in God who is guiding us!!

Now the cycle is completely broken!! But if any of us drops the ball and goes back to making sinful self-destructive choices which will start a downward spiral again, then the healing process must starts all over again. May God help us to quickly see ourselves and repent and ask God the Holy Spirit to help us turn and start up the spiral again!!!

I’m so thankful that my grandparents and my mother started me on the right road. They broke some cycles! It’s my job to keep headed in the right direction, so that my family members can positively build on what the generations ahead of them have done!

Our individual decisions will start or keep our children going up or down the spiral! I want to keep our family’s spiral headed up!

This is reality. It’s easy to quickly tear down and destroy. It takes time to rebuild.

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Filed under Dysfunctional traits in families, Growing up, Knowing ourselves, Living emotionally only, Maturity