A Note from Kelly King: How do you recognize the signs of unhealthy relationships? How do you “untangle” the relationships that are unhealthy? Today, Deb Douglas continues to discuss this issue and how we can remain focused on establishing boundaries.
Life is messy, and it gets messier when it’s filled with messy entanglements.
What do we do when people we love, people we work with, go to church with, and watch our child’s baseball games with become involved in messy entanglements? Entanglements like affairs, consuming friendships, toxic relationships, or tangled-up family situations.
Or, what do we do when we find ourselves in one of those messy entanglements and we become involved in an unhealthy relationship that overwhelms our ability to minister to others?
Things get messy. The messy drama and trauma of it all steal away our focus and our purpose, leaving us feeling overwhelmed and drained of hope.
How do we untangle those relationships?
First, recognize the signs of an unhealthy relationship:
- An overwhelming desire to speak to, see, or spend time with someone other than a spouse on a daily basis
- Any relationship that replaces our relationship with Christ (becomes more important to us, more consuming, more needed) is a messy entanglement.
- Another person becomes more important to us than our children. We find ourselves constantly seeking out someone to care for our children so we can spend time with the other person.
- Seeking the advice of this person before seeking the wisdom of God
- Having an overwhelming need to be validated by this person
- Feeling it is “us against the world” when we’re with this person
- Any friendship that crosses the line into emotional dependency
Second, when it becomes obvious we are in a messy entanglement, it’s time to detangle that relationship.
- Confess and repent.
- Walk away from the tangled relationship.
- Apologize to those we have neglected or avoided.
- Place strong boundaries between ourselves and the tangled relationship.
Finally, determine to stay free from future unhealthy entanglements.
- Do not take on the drama of others.
- Walk away from unhealthy relationships.
- Seek out the company of more than one person.
- Put immediate family first.
- Spend quality time with your spouse; keep the relationship happy, fun, growing, and Christ-focused.
- Practice good boundaries. Have you read the book Boundaries by Drs. Cloud and Townsend? If not, do so immediately!
- Keep secrets. Not every thought you have needs to be shared with someone.
- Spend time alone.
- Seek godly counsel on how to stay tangle-free.
Becoming entangled in a messy relationship is a threat to everyone. Stay prayed up, growing, and determined to stay healthy to avoid the temptations of messy entanglements.
For more help and resources on ministering in the messy, check out Women Reaching Women in Crisis and Steps: Gospel-Centered Recovery or refer to the other articles in the Hurting Women or Ministering in the Messy categories.
Dr. Deb Douglas has served in women’s ministry for over 37 years. Now she spends her time working with Purchased Ministry, a ministry to women in the sex trade industry. Deb is also the Director of Biblical Counseling at First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA. She was the first to graduate from New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary with a Masters degree focusing on women’s ministry and has earned a Doctor of Education in Ministry degree from NOBTS. She is “Pearl” to 3 sweet grand babies, “Mom” to Jared Douglas and Katie Chavis, and wife/sweetheart to Paul Douglas.