When Relationships Explode

relationships explodeExplosions

When relationships explode, fizzle out, or sizzle with emotion or anger, it is a sure sign there’s been a leak in the dike, or a crack in the armor. Oftentimes, we don’t see the leak or the crack and assume everything is okay. When there is a relationship eruption, we’re shocked because we never saw it coming. Could it be that we merely cover up or avoid the small leak underneath and pride ourselves in how well we get along, or how close we are, or how much better our friendship is than others?

Explosion of relationship

When relationships explode, it’s because they were already in a turmoil, only the turmoil was under the surface. A turmoil is actually a sign that the armor was not as tight as we said it was. Tension and friction are not the result of a specific moment, but rather a sign that there’s been a leak underneath for a long time, or certainly for more than awhile. Even in situations where a blast knocks something loose, the fact remains that the surrounding areas were not as free from irritation or bulging as we assumed.

Tension and friction exhibited in moments show us what is really underneath. Share on X How we respond to situations shows us what is really harbored under the seemingly great exterior.

relationships explodeProtecting the dike

There is a story within a story that is found in the book The Silver Skates. This story is about a Dutch boy who saves his country by putting his finger in a leaking dike. In the morning, villagers find him still standing at the dike, plugging the hole. The villagers repair the hole in the dike. It is a fictional story, but one with a lesson of unselfishness and service.

A dike is a long wall or embankment to prevent flooding in an area.  It can be a barrier to prevent passage of something undesirable. In this fictional story, a young boy discovers a small hole in the dike. He knows that water pouring through that hole can destroy his town, so he uses his finger to plug the hole. The breaking of the dike is the same as when relationships explode, and the boy knows he has to keep that dike from breaking.

Recognizing the hole

I admire the courage of the young boy who stood all night, using his finger to protect his town. He knew that the leak, left unchecked, would soon overtake the village in which he lived. He did what needed to be done: he stopped the leak.

At the same time, he could not stand there forever. When the villagers found him, they repaired the hole. To do otherwise guaranteed loss of the village and loss of life. Too many times we forget to repair the hole that we know is there. We know there’s a rift in a relationship, but we do nothing about it. It’s either too hard, too messy, too frightening, or takes too much time. We just avoid the hole or ignore the crack in the armor and forget that time will make it larger, not smaller. If we are honest, fixing the hole might cause a rift in another relationship, and we are not about to sacrifice one relationship for another.

Sometimes we would like to fix that hole, but we can’t get close enough to the person to get in the messy of fixing it. There really are times when there’s an unseen, unhung flag warning anyone to come close. You can try all you want, but the moat is out there, preventing anyone from getting close.

Nixing the possibility of having relationships explode

Folks can go years of seemingly getting along. Family tensions remain at a minimum when everyone agrees about things. Employees work together because they must, even though there’s a fire simmering underneath. Sometimes churches meet together for worship while members harbor resentment or ill-will. No matter the situation, it’s easy to put on a front, or to assume that our “front” is genuine and real. Life is good, and we don’t want to deal with messy.

Suddenly, something happens and relationships explode. The “something” is not what causes relationships to explode. The actual cause is what is hidden underneath: the silent leak or the small shift in the armor. 

The root produces fruit

We can’t correct the explosion unless we delve down underneath, recognize the real problem, and work together to fix it. That involves getting messy, doing the grunt work, and tunneling through to the other side. It take time and commitment to work things out. It mandates communication and honesty. We must lay down our pride and listen to others to find out where we are wrong. True humility causes us to admit where we are wrong. The other party must do the same. We must also be willing to forgive and allow trust to be restored. When trust is broken, forgiveness paves the way for trust to build. Building trust can sometimes take months or years to build. One cannot force trust, so don’t expect others to be ready to assume you have changed. Time proves growth. 

Sometimes we need friends to come alongside and plug the leak in the dike while we gather tools to rebuild. Other times we need to get counsel from people who know how and can help us plug that leak. Always, we must recognize how the leak started in the first place and take steps to shore up the relationship so it need not explode again.

Relationships don’t need to explode, and they won’t – if we maintain the moorings underneath. When they do explode, there is no other way to bring restoration than to go deep to the source of the problem and fix the leak. That’s how to stabilize a relationship – by identifying the root of the problem and taking the steps are necessary to bring redemption.

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