When you hear the word “relationship,” what’s the first thing that you think of? Is it a relationship between you and your parents? Maybe it’s a relationship with your boyfriend or best friend. No matter what came to your mind first, it’s essential to have healthy relationships. In order to have a healthy relationship, first you must define “healthy relationship.” Proverbs 13:20 says, “Whoever walks with the wise will become wise; whoever walks with fools will suffer harm.” A healthy relationship is one that complements the character of one another while challenging each person to help them grow stronger and closer to the Lord. Healthy relationships aren’t harmful to any party involved. Here are some elements that establish healthy relationships.
Mutual Respect for One Another
You’re never going to agree with everything that someone else does. That’s why it’s important to have respect for anyone in which you have a relationship. Disrespecting others can cause problems in your relationship because it opens up opportunities to argue about things that don’t carry long-term significance. For example, you may not agree with your parents’ political views. Even if this is the case, you must respect their decisions. Though you may disagree with what they believe, it is important to avoid unnecessary conflict and establish authority with your parents. Even though they’re your authority, mutual respect means that they’ll honor your decisions as well.
You may be wondering, “How do I ever have authority over my parents?” When we say establishing authority with your parents, we don’t mean that you get to tell them what to do because you’re above them. Instead, you earn your place in situations like having serious conversations with your parents. When you have a mutual respect with someone, and serious moments arise, you have the authority in conversations.
The matter of authority isn’t just regarding parents. You need to know that your parents are an authority in your life, as well as many other people, like a teacher, counselor, couch or school administrator. But, let’s take a little closer look at what authority actually means so you can understand what proper authority looks like in healthy relationships. Authority is having the power to make decisions, influence others and enforce obedience because of one’s commanding manner or recognized knowledge. Yes, it’s about age, but it’s also about role, confidence and personal experience.
The position of who is an authority can and does change throughout life. Your parents are generally your authority, but may not be when it comes to a particular subject. A teacher or counselor has authority over you; however, once you graduate he or she no longer has authority over you, but still deserves your respect. Someone of the same caliber, such as a boyfriend or best friend, doesn’t have the right to be an authority over you, although they will have certain influences. And, just because you’re older than your siblings, it doesn’t mean you have authority over them (unless your parents have asked you to baby-sit and you’re responsible for their actions and wellbeing).
Biblically, God is our authority and the head of every authority, so if we follow His ruling in our lives then we’ll willingly follow the leading and direction of those God’s place in our lives to guide us. According to scripture, the Lord gives us authority for building up rather than tearing down (2 Corinthians 10:8). Romans 13 says that when someone rebels against authority, they are rebelling against God. Use your authority wisely and be discerning about the direction of those who have authority over you.
You can’t have a healthy relationship with anyone if there are fundamental trust issues. Trust is being able to lean and rely on someone, believing that they have your best interest at heart.
Much like not having a mutual respect for one another, not being able to trust can cause many problems. There will most likely be times in your life when you’ll question the actions and statements of a person you have a relationship with because they might have been dishonest with you in the past. If this is a reoccurring event, then it’s not a healthy choice to stay in this relationship because it causes unnecessary stress. However, if you see that the person is working toward being trustworthy, then give them the time needed to mend the relationship. Trustworthiness takes time to establish, so don’t end a relationship just because someone wronged you if they’re working to make amends. If there’s no sign of healing, then it’s unhealthy to maintain such a relationship.
If they make choices that you might not agree with, say being friends with someone who drinks alcohol and tries to influence them to do the same, then use the respect that you have for them and trust that they are making the right decisions. You do not know the entire situation, may not understand the circumstances in which the other person is acting, or you may not have the experience or knowledge to know why a decision is being made. Depending on the situation, you may need to demonstrate your ability to trust the other person by allowing them to follow through regardless of your understanding. It is often appropriate to share how you feel about the situation at hand. Your sharing may open the eyes of the other person, allowing them to see things that they didn’t realize themselves previously. Trust can be demonstrated by obedience. You can see if the other person trusts your judgment if they follow your guidance.
Similar to trust, honesty is just as important. It’s crucial to always be honest with the person you have a relationship with. Even though you should have respect for the person, and you have to trust their choices, it’s important to be honest with them when appropriate. Honesty is being truthful, real, in many cases, vulnerable. It’s saying something to protect the person you care about. Honesty isn’t just sharing your opinion; it’s supporting those you love with information that will help them prosper. It’s not embellishing or leaving out information. It’s being honorable to other people involved. If they’re doing something in which you strongly disagree, it’s OK to let them know in a respectful manner. Provide your observation on whatever the situation may be. For example, if your best friend is dating someone that you think is bad news, let her know why but don’t tell her that she must break up with him or else you can’t be friends anymore. Just tell her your concerns. Chances are she’ll hear out your worries, even if you don’t think she will. Just remember that if you’re honest, you’ll be trustworthy and respectful because honesty brings pleasure and joy while deceitfulness and lies bring insecurity.
Everyone knows the saying, “communication is key,” and as cliché as it is, it’s true. You can’t have a relationship without having a strong communications channel. Communication is the backbone of all relationships. Without communication, you can’t have honesty, and without honesty, it’s hard to have trust. There’s a systematic approach to good communication; first, you must be open and informative, then you need to listen to the other individuals ideas and express that you understand what they’re saying. Next, you must demonstrate that you recognize the issue at hand by following through or obeying. Finally, you need to actively expressing your feelings and emotions on the matter. It’s essential to establish ways to communicate with anyone you have a connection with, or else the relationship can go sour.
Having these five elements creates the backbone of a strong, healthy relationship. If you don’t, there’s a possibility that the relationship will fall apart. If these elements aren’t present, and you want them to be, tell the other person. The worst outcome that can occur is that person saying they don’t want to work on their relationship with you. If that ends up being the case, then the relationship wasn’t worth having to begin with.