What Is a Healthy Relationship?

healthy relationshipsIn this article Chad Flowers defines healthy relationships. He answers the question: how do we know if we should continue investing in a relationship? and offers guidance on setting healthy boundaries.

We were created for relationships. They are not optional. Jesus said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35, NKJV). We quickly discover the undeniable truth that everything important in life revolves around relationships: children are in relationships with parents and siblings; students with teachers and classmates; and employees with bosses and coworkers.

The truth is we are most productive and fruitful when we are dependent on God. Click To Tweet

In his book Necessary Endings, Dr. Henry Cloud says spiritual sickness occurs when life experiences cause people to falsely conclude that they are responsible for meeting their own needs.

We were created for relationships.

The Bible clearly states, “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory” (Philippians 4:19). The truth is we are most productive and fruitful when we are dependent on God. Most of life’s problems come from either the brokenness or fallenness of humanity: we don’t do what we should do, or we do what we shouldn’t do.

Problems exist because we are trying to live life misaligned from how God designed us to live.

The Practice of Investing and Divesting

Ecclesiastes 3 states, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.…a time to plant and a time to uproot…a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing” (verses 1–2, 5, NIV). This passage speaks of investing and divesting. The Bible says these investments and divestments must be purposeful and intentional.

God wired us with the ability to invest and divest, but because of the Fall we are broken. Some of us have difficulty investing in relationships because we have learned to protect ourselves through emotional detachment and avoidance. Others may have problems divesting themselves from negative relationships, or “uprooting” and “refraining from embracing.”

How do we know if we should continue investing in a difficult relationship or situation? If we have hope, we can invest more time in that relationship or situation. Hope comes from the objective belief that spending more time on something will yield a better result.

Setting Healthy Boundaries

And how does compassion fit in? We sometimes confuse compassion with enabling. We compassionately set boundaries, communicate expectations, and outline consequences. If we simply tolerate unwelcome behavior and remain silent, we unintentionally enable the behavior to continue.

A Healthy Relationship Defined

Healthy relationships mutually edify both parties and glorify God.

What is a healthy relationship? To put it simply, healthy relationships mutually edify both parties and glorify God. In H. Norman Wright’s Relationships That Work, he describes the four pillars of relationships: love, trust, respect, and understanding. These four pillars exist in every type of healthy relationship, and they can only remain strong when there is frequent, open communication. Paul encouraged this kind of communication when he wrote, “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another” (Romans 12:10, NKJV).

Remember, we don’t get to choose if we will participate in relationships, but we do determine how we will handle them. Will you help or hinder the relationships in your life? Author and speaker Dr. Gary Smalley summed it up best: “Life is relationships; the rest is just details.”

Chad shares this article on behalf of the UPCI Family Ministries Council.

Resources and Links

The Apostolic Family: Insight for Living in the Twenty-first Century