A friend of mine was dealing with a challenging stretch in his marriage when he found out an in-law was encouraging his spouse to exit the relationship. My friend was so disappointed as he thought this in-law supported the couple as a unit. While the responsibility of keeping healthy boundaries around a marriage ultimately lies with the individuals in the relationship (i.e. “leave and cleave”), it is significantly more difficult to mend what’s broken and grow as partners when the cheering section in your ear is only rooting for you.
I’ve seen this dynamic too often among people I know. It saddens me that many in our culture lack the maturity to see a bigger picture. It can be dangerous to assume we know what goes on inside another’s household, especially when only receiving a limited perspective from one person. Of course there ought to be a place for confidential processing or even occasionally just venting to someone we trust, but we need to be careful who we choose to lean into in this way. Sadly some folks may seem like they are in one's corner yet, from their own woundedness, they end up misusing what’s been divulged to promote their agenda… or they simply don’t have the capacity to think compassionately beyond the immediate moment. After all, it’s easy to encourage someone to do something destructive when we’re not the ones who have to live with the consequences or the fallout of that choice.
When needing to talk about our personal relationships with another may we be discerning. May we intentionally seek someone with wisdom and experience, someone who sincerely has the best interest of all heartbeats involved rather than someone who will just inflate our egos and embolden our worst instincts. May we take care to find someone who expresses love and support not merely by siding with us, but by gently holding up the mirror to us and bringing into our consideration the other's perspective — someone who champions healing and reconciliation. And when an individual reaches out to entrust us with their relationship struggles, we too can rise to the occasion. We can be the kind of confidant who knows how to hold the vulnerability of a marriage and family with the reverence it requires. Together we can challenge one another to evolve into our best selves, loving bigger and better than before.
Let us protect our relationships and help them succeed by surrounding ourselves with people who will root for the team.
May you be inspired!