Rebuilding Happy Families-Part 3

John H. Ogwyn

Trust and respect are elements at the heart of healthy relationships. Hurtful experiences in a sick family environment undermine proper respect and damage the ability to trust. But why are these elements so vital, and what can be done to rebuild them?

Trust and Respect

Trust and respect are elements at the heart of healthy relationships. Hurtful experiences in a sick family environment undermine proper respect and damage the ability to trust. But why are these elements so vital, and what can be done to rebuild them?

In healthy families, good communication is one of the most important tools. Knowing others' thoughts, ideas and feelings allows problems to be addressed and resolved. Using negative and hurtful words, and not listening attentively, will stifle attempts at communication. "But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife" (2 Timothy 2:23). Failure to show respect to other family members will undermine their willingness to express what is really on their minds. No one wants to be held up to ridicule or belittled. We only really open up to those with whom we feel safe. A dysfunctional family is not a safe emotional environment. As a result, its members do not learn healthy communication skills.

If you grew up in such an environment, then you must learn new and different skills if your current family is to have a different atmosphere than your family of origin. Much of this hinges on building an atmosphere of trust and respect (1 Peter 2:17; Hebrews 12:14). Trust is built up by consistently carrying through in many little things. People feel respect when they are paid attention to and treated with courtesy.

Concentrate on building trust and showing respect by both your actions and your words, even in times of conflict.

Your mate will never open up to you until he or she feels safe in doing so. How do you create this safe environment? First, you must ensure that private comments are never repeated in a way that embarrasses the person who confided them to you (Proverbs 25:9). Also, confessions of inner fears or insecurities must never be saved up as ammunition to be thrown back in the face of the one who said it the next time there is a disagreement.

Where there are people, there will inevitably be conflict from time to time. But when an atmosphere of trust and respect prevails in the home, that conflict will be resolved in healthy ways. Concentrate on building trust and showing respect by both your actions and your words, even in times of conflict (Philippians 2:3). With time, there will be tangible results. None of us can make someone else change, but we can choose to make changes in our own lives.

Rebuilding Happy Families - Part 1

Rebuilding Happy Families - Part 2

Rebuilding Happy Families - Part 4