It was easy for Tanya to blame the breakup of her marriage on Trey. Alcohol and drug abuse mixed with angry outbursts were obvious to everyone. Her friends were quick to add, “He is a mess. You can’t trust him. He doesn’t deserve you.” Trey’s bad behavior was undeniable, but it also ran the risk of blinding Tanya to her contribution to the demise of their marriage.
Two People Falling Short
Tanya has reluctantly concluded she has a tendency to be attracted to someone who she can be critical of. She didn’t deliberately decide to be this way, but her childhood experience in a critical home encouraged an emotional need to be in love with someone who deserved to be corrected. Trey was so easy to criticize that it never occurred to her that she was actually attracted to this kind of behavior.
Now that she is single again, the need to have people in her life who deserve to be criticized has gone dormant. Her friends talk about her as a supportive, compassionate and faithful friend who always has an encouraging word and helping hand. It has been hard, therefore, to admit the breakup of every marriage (including hers) is the result of two people falling short. Although Trey had the major role in the failure of their relationship, she was by no means blameless. Fortunately, she is now asking, “How do I avoid getting into another situation like this one?”
Recognizing What Went Wrong
It does no good to look back in order to cultivate a sense of guilt, but statistics say you will repeat the same patterns in future relationships unless you become aware of your contribution and follow a plan to make changes. So, how can Tanya recognize and rework the tendencies that helped create an unhealthy relationship with Trey?
Colossians 3:5-10 is a courageous road map for anyone who wants to sow the seeds of success for the future. The road map has three turns to steer you away from destructive habits so you can merge onto a healthy relational highway.
- Turn away from anything that tries to be more important than God in your life. “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” (Colossians 3:5) Tanya had relied too much on Trey to feel secure, stable and valued. When Trey failed to live up to her expectations, she would grow critical.
- Turn away from reactions you know from experience don’t work. (Colossians 3:7-9) “You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices.” For Tanya, this was the hardest step. She was drawn to Trey because he seemed to need her, and it appeared they were on a growth track together. He would ask her lots of questions and trusted her answers. Little did she realize these were the seeds that would grow into her disappointment in the future as he stayed in a place of needing her guidance rather than rising to the challenge of building a mature life together.
- Turn toward habits that are based on God’s design. (Colossians 3:10) “. . . put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” Tanya hated to admit that she was more attracted to needy men than men who were secure in their relationship with God. She decided to take note of men who didn’t seem to need her and deliberately spend time talking with them at church. She needed to get comfortable around people who didn’t need her!
Tanya didn’t enjoy being this deliberate about her relationships, but she was determined that next time, her relational contribution would be different! Have you owned your role in your last breakup? How are you changing things to be better the next time around?
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[…] and blame the other person for acting out, but in all relationships there are two parties, and you play a part in the relationship, too. Determine what broke down between the two of you. What parts of your relationship were left […]