Avoiding barriers to a healthy relationship

I’ve been thinking about what causes a healthy mentoring relationship to fragment and fall apart. And that led me to consider what causes barriers in any relationship.

Think about it. What creates a wall in your own personal relationships – whether with your spouse or child/grandchild, or a friend?

In this, and the next issue of Fingerprint, we’ll look at some barriers to healthy relationships and what we can do about them. Needless to say, there’s a lot more that can be said than what there is room for here. But let’s take a stab at it.

To simplify our discussion, we’ll identify barriers as either Situational or Relational and address the Situational category first.

Situational Issues involve the environment or circumstances surrounding a specific concern. For example, flexibility, freedom, and change would apply here. Let me use change to explain.

From time to time we all face circumstances that require change. The challenge is that some of us approach change with excitement while others struggle and may even be afraid of it. Here are two steps we can take to deal with change and keep it from developing a barrier in our relationships.

1. Anticipate and adapt

Planning well means that we anticipate the possibility of change. And being open and adaptable to change requires that we have a go-with-the-flow attitude. This double-sided approach to a circumstance like change contributes to our growth and the growth of the other person in our relationship. However, no matter how well we plan, the unexpected can happen. In that case, it’s up to us to choose. Do we see it as an interruption, an inconvenience, an opportunity, or an adventure? If we don’t anticipate how we’ll deal with a change in circumstances or adapt to changes when they come, barriers will develop in our relationships.

2. Be open

When we walk through change with someone else, it’s important to understand the difference of perspective that they may have about change. I have a good friend who cringes at the suggestion of change. Knowing this fact enables me to introduce change gradually and in bite size pieces that she can handle. As a result I’ve seen tremendous growth in her perspective on change. Does that mean she will always get excited about change like I do? Not likely. But then – she has been known to surprise me. Never underestimate the value of understanding someone else’s perspective and the value of taking baby steps – even if you are a giant step taker.

Are you more likely to anticipate or adapt to circumstances in your life? How could you learn to do both? Who in your life needs you to be open to where they’re at with change?

Hope you’ll share your thoughts in the section below.

Next month we’ll look at Relational Issues that create barriers in relationships..