What To Do When a Relationship Goes Bad

When a relationship goes bad, some of us FLEX OUR MUSCLES, blow up, yell, get angry and try to win.  This is always the WRONG APPROACH.  Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely hate it when I am misunderstood.  More than that, I despise it when people understand me but don’t think like I think!  This is when tension happens in our families, marriages, workplaces and yes even in the church.  It’s happened to ALL of us.  None of us are immune to a relationship that goes bad for multiple reasons.  Depending on our personality, maturity and even circumstances or time of the day, we all will handle a relationship going bad differently.

The question is not will a relationship have conflict, but how will you react to conflict? 
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A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”   John 13:34

Just because we disagree with someone doesn’t mean we don’t love them and vice-versa.  No matter what you want to accomplish in your life you will have to develop people skills.  This is the ability to deal with others respectfully to find the place of peace in your relationships.  Most of us think we are better at conflict than we really are and even when we feel like we have done all we can, it can still GO BAD.  Let me preface these 5 words with this one:  WILLINGNESS.  If you aren’t willing to fix the problem, stop reading now.

5 Words When A Relationship Goes Bad…

#1 Listen –  The most frustrating thing you can do to a person is talk over them.  Before you draw all your conclusions, listen to then.  It is impossible to listen while speaking.  And remember, you aren’t listening to be polite, you are listening in order to understand that you might love the person.  As you listen, you may discover something broken in your own thinking  (Proverbs 19:20) “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.”

#2 Space   Not separating forever but for a season.  Sometimes you just have to get away from the person for a short period of time.  It is always best to mutually define the terms of a relational separation as well.  There is a difference in calling a timeout during a game vs. walking off the field.  Feel free and call one, but don’t abandon the relationship.  This even happened among the apostles at times: (Acts 15:39) “And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus.”

#3 Compromise What I have discovered over the years is that people love the IDEA of compromise but not many really want to do it.  Usually this is based out of fear and resentment.  When you meet in the middle ground you win.  Some of the most brilliant, highly thought of people understand how to lose and yet win.  If you have to always be right you are a prideful and hurting person.  If you can see the problem from their perspective you can find a middle ground. 

#4 Mediators –  Many times you won’t be able to see eye to eye, but don’t give up; ask someone to help you.  This doesn’t mean you necessarily have to see a professional counselor, but maybe there is an unbiased friend who you can both trust to help you through.   Usually with counselors and mediators there will be rules of engagement and they will help you both to see ways you are either manipulating the conversation or projecting things on the other person that simply aren’t true.

#5 Forgive – Yep, you knew it was coming to this.  Maybe your perspective was wrong?  Maybe they got emotional and said something they didn’t meant to?  You have to be willing to forgive.  Then believe the BEST about the person’s intentions going forward.  Just because you forgive someone doesn’t mean you have to go on vacation together, but here is a warning if you don’t think you have to forgive: (Matthew 6:15) “but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”   OUCH!  So in the end it’s WORTH IT to fix the relationship.

What words would you add to this list?  What input would you give to someone caught in a relationship gone BAD!  Post your comments below.



Join us at 217church this week for our summer series #JERSEYFRESH! #Summer2014

August 17th – Fresh Love – Cultivating the heart of God

August 24th – Fresh Patience – Learning to wait

Jersey Fresh Clean 2


We are the church that meets at the theater!  Join us at 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 9:30 & 11am and Starplex Cinemas in East Windsor, NJ at 10:15.  Our new East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information.

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8 thoughts on “What To Do When a Relationship Goes Bad

  1. A good friend of mine pointed me to a book (also available as an audio book) “Love & Respect – The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Deaperately Needs” by Emerson Eggerichs. This book is nothing short of amazing and also refers to scripture and how it applies to these two concepts in a relationship.

  2. Sorry I had a typo. The title should read “Love & Respect – The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs” by Emerson Eggerichs.

  3. Patience….sometimes we are praying for the situation to get better & if and when it doesn’t happen right away or in the time frame we expect, then we can lose hope. Trust that God is working ALL things out for both people (if you love the Lord & are called according to His purposes- He really does this). Remind yourself that He disciplines those He loves & that means He cares for everything about you, so consider it joy when trials come your way bc they produce endurance & are maturing you for your heavenly home

  4. So maybe it’s four things….Patience, trust the Lord, don’t lose hope & don’t ever give up praying Gods will.

  5. That is a great scripture from James on the difficulties that we must endure in relationships. Especially in marriage I’ve had to realize sometimes we are going to hurt each other. Patience is critical. Thanks!

  6. The words, God will never give you something you can’t handle are so true. I try to keep it as a motto when things are going bad. If we can just trust that He is teaching us through trials we can get through anything. Keep up the good work Josh. Loved this article…