There are many positive ways to keep relationships healthy. We will look at just a few. First, setting realistic boundaries and expectations can keep the relationship on track. In their book Boundaries, Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend share that:
Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins leading me to a sense of ownership.
Boundaries need to include how much time you will spend with the other person as well as how much involvement you will have with that person. It involves each person being responsible for himself. Expectations should be realistic as they help to define the depth and intensity of the relationship.
Second, maintaining open communication in your relationships can be critical. Three principles of healthy communication are:
1. Speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Speaking the truth in love brings unity and stability in our relationships with one another. A key element in expressing the truth with others is to have an understanding of where the other person is coming from. To gain that understanding, we need to learn how to listen effectively to one another.
2. Expressing anger appropriately (Ephesians 4:26). It is crucial that we have our anger under control when relating to another person. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to help us sort it out; confess it to the Lord and ask for His forgiveness as well as seeking reconciliation with the other person; and channel our anger into something productive by expressing it appropriately.
3. Practicing caring words and attitudes (Ephesians 4:29, 32). Our speech should be edifying and encouraging not just reporting the facts. Express compliments and thankfulness to one another. Good communication takes patience and practice.
Third, praying for each other and with each other will bring your relationship with both God and each other closer together. James 5:16 encourages us to be honest with one another and to bring each other before the throne. In Galatians 6:2 we are exhorted to carry each other’s burdens.
Finally, keeping each other accountable means forgiving one another and extending an apology when we have wronged another person. (Colossians 3:13) It requires care-fronting or speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). And accountability is based on loving one another as Christ loves us. (John 13:34)