I didn’t pull any punches here. Enjoy.
Many years ago we knew some folks who went to church regularly, loved their children and, although they had some issues, seemed to love each other. Small things began to bother us and in a relatively short time we determined that it wasn’t healthy for us to spend time with them. Over the course of our lives this has happened time and again. We encounter people in various ways, work, church, family and discover that sometimes spending time with them won’t work for us.
Do you know why? Because to us the relationship is poisonous.
“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” – Proverbs 13:20 ESV
Seems a bit harsh, doesn’t it. Let’s face facts. Many of us go about our lives, with days turning into months and months turning into years all the while slowly dying from the poisonous relationships we are in. I do NOT mean marriages here. Hear me clearly, among all human relationships the MOST important is that between a wife and husband. Any relationship that negatively affects the marriage relationship must either be cured or cut off. The question is how do we know when a relationship is poisonous and when it’s just a difference in personality? Let me give you a few indicators of a possibly poisonous relationship:
- When all or most of what you hear is negative.
- When the other person or couple overwhelmingly dominates conversation and whatever they say is always right.
- When one spouse talks about the other in unflattering ways, whether the other is there or not.
There are many others, but you get the idea. Your marriage can be directly affected by the types of relationships in your circle of close friends. According to an article on a study from Brown University which ran for over 50 years (the original group began in 1948), “about 9% of the adult children of the 1948 study group were divorced at least once. The findings suggest that the chances of divorcing increase to approximately 16% if a friend or close family member has been divorced — an increase of 75% over the overall divorce rate.”
If it seems a 16% chance of divorce isn’t high note two things 1) This was a 75% increase and 2) This is from the children of a 1948 study group…when divorce was very uncommon. It’s clear that those with whom you form close bonds can affect your relationship, both positively and negatively.
We spend a lot of time planning our schooling, our careers and even our vacations. But when was the last time you examined your relationships? You wouldn’t intentionally enter a room full of people infected with influenza, why do we therefore allow ourselves to spend our days with people who infect our minds with negative thoughts about their spouses and others?
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” – Proverbs 4:23 NLT
It’s important to note I’m not advocating abandoning people who are in difficult relationships and want to be helped. But that is the key, they have to WANT to be helped. If people are negative, if they are dragging you, your wife or both of you down then you have to either severely limit your time with them to the required minimum or cut them off completely.
Let’s wrap up on a positive note. Whereas negative relationships can affect your marriage in a negative way positive relationships can build you both up and draw you closer to God and to each other. Find some mentors, a couple who have been married longer than you and have a relationship like you want in your marriage. Happily married couples generally LOVE to help others!
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17
Do what needs to be done to protect your marriage.
Love you all!