Do you struggle with speaking the truth in love in your relationships? If you answered yes, this biblical truth and tip will help you. Difficult relationships have lots of issues to deal with. There are disappointments, hurts, unmet expectations, irresponsible choices, unacceptable behavior, resentments, and fears. Poor communication makes all of these issues more complicated, because they are not able to be resolved or focused on to make changes.
Difficult relationships typically have one person who wants change, the codependent, and one who does not, the one with “the problem.” It is the codependent who is struggling with the issues and trying to figure out what to say and how to say it to get change. The one with the problem usually doesn’t want to deal with the issues and will do things to avoid discussing them. The codependent typically tries all types of tactics to get change including lecturing, nagging, yelling, threatening, complying, and withdrawing.
One of the misconceptions is that communication about “the problem” has to include a boundary that has a bottom line. Because of this, people are reluctant to talk about the issues and how they are affected by them until they feel emotionally ready to set a boundary and follow through with a consequence if the boundary is not respected. Boundaries often include consequences like separation, divorce, cutting off money, cutting off support, moving out of the house, ceasing doing a particular thing, and cutting off relationships. These are obviously serious and only used as a last resort. It takes a lot for a person to get to the point that they are ready to do these things.
Boundaries need to be carefully set when you are ready to follow through. There is a step you can take before setting a boundary. You can talk about the problem and let the person know how you feel and how you are affected and what you are considering doing as a last resort. This way, you state your truth but you don’t have to be ready to offer a consequence. A spouse or parent of an addict can say: “I am struggling with your continued alcohol/drug use. I am worried about you. I am struggling with supporting you by offering a home/financial support, because I feel like I am allowing you to continue this harmful behavior. I just need to let you know that there will be a time that I cannot support you while you are doing this. I hope you will choose to get help. I love you and care about you. I just can’t live with this indefinitely.”
The benefit of this conversation is that you can give the person a chance to hear your truth before you are setting a boundary and you will feel better after expressing yourself. The Apostle Paul dealt similarly with the Corinthian Chrisitans: “I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children” (1 Corinthians 4:14, NIV).
Thinking you have to have a boundary, consequence, or bottom line every time you deal with a difficult issue keeps you from communicating your truth. It is okay to just share feelings and thoughts. Only share boundaries and consequences when you are ready.