Relationships require selfless service to survive. Although there are multiple reasons people cite for their relationship dysfunctions, from infidelity to arguments, relationship problems usually all have two things in common: dishonesty and selfishness.
According to The Institute For Family Studies, the leading causes of divorce are: infidelity, incompatibility, drinking or drug use, growing apart, a lack of commitment, and too much arguing.
In my own studies of families who are working to overcome dysfunctional family relationships and fractured family bonds through Teaching Self-Government parenting services, I’ve noticed that the main causes of broken or damaged family bonds can be grouped into a handful of reasons. These reasons include: lack of communication, laziness, not valuing family, arguing and fights, lies and manipulations, excuses for bad behavior, disrespect for parental authority and position of the child, losing common values, and only being concerned with one’s own feelings and wants.
Every reason listed for divorce, as well as every reason parent/child bonds fail, are all selfish and many of them also involve dishonesty. For instance, when a person argues a lot, they are only thinking of themselves in that moment. While in power struggles, they are also focused on manipulating the other person in order to win the battle either emotionally, psychologically, or physically. Manipulating to win arguments is a dishonest behavior.
For a person to be fully honest, they have to always be analyzing their own behaviors and adjusting to align with truth and principle when communicating to others. This type of communication is always calm, patient, planned, open, humble, and strong.
Fixing the Problem
Even if a person could get hurt feelings because they don’t like hearing criticism, family members and spouses owe it to each other to start to heal by being open with each other about problems. In order to fix dishonesty or selfishness, which is rooted in the lie that the individual is the most important, a person has to start with the truth.
The first truth to start with is this: for each individual to find happiness, they have to improve their connection/bond with their family unit. No matter how far we run or try to hide from our families, they are always there as a part of us, and we need to turn our hearts toward them, even if they aren’t perfect. So, put family first. This will open the door for you to seek to understand others. Note: this doesn’t mean that you have to take mistreatment or abuse, it just means that healing any relationship starts with healing your own heart toward your family, even if it is healthier to keep a safe distance from them.
The second truth to align with is that relationships are worth sacrificing for. This means that we shouldn’t find it a burden to serve the people we love. There are so many negative dialogs and paradigms that get passed around which draw parent’s hearts away from their children and isolate spouses who really do love each other. These negative paradigms lead to laziness, entitlement, and an over-all lack of service to our loved ones.
Tell yourself to get up, to stand up, to walk over there, to give time to listen, to be the person they need you to be for them. The beauty about service is that it’s contagious, unless you’re dealing with a narcissist. This means that the majority of people will feel loved by your helping hands and open heart and will reciprocate the loving and caring behavior to you and others.
The third truth to focus on living is open communication. It brings out the truth and the love, even if it hurts for a minute. Once you have recognized that you are part of a family and that the family unit should be the priority over self, and you have aligned yourself by embracing sacrifice as a part of a loving relationship, then you are ready to humbly engage in productive, open communication.
Open, calm communication about problems and lies is the only way for them get resolved. Truth must be brought into the light and embraced, even if someone was mistreated, offended, or needs help. This type of communication and relationship healing requires maturity and honesty which not all people are ready for. If your loved one isn’t ready for your honest communication, keep working on the first two truths. As you work on those two truths, your heart will soften even more and you will be laying the foundation for good open communication in the future.
Don’t be concerned if your loved one is offended by your loving and open communication. If they can’t talk openly and calmly without being offended, it’s usually a sign that they have felt the fault that they have in the problem and have been hoping not to deal with that truth. Hopefully over time they will acknowledge the truth to themselves so that they can change their heart and behavior, too. But, a change of heart can take time. This means that you will likely not be there to see the change of heart in your loved one. Just trust it can and will happen at some point, so long as you live according to truth and keep selflessly serving them.
I wish I could say that healing broken relationships was as easy as 1-2-3, but it isn’t. Embracing honesty and selfless living takes time. But I can promise you that when you embrace these truths, you will never be the same, even if the other person needs a bit more time.
If you need calmness help, try Nicholeen’s free Calm Parenting Toolkit here.