I want to share with you something that is true about every relationship, whether it’s a marriage, a business partnership, a friendship, every relationship goes through four stages, and if you don’t understand these stages, and deal with them correctly, your relationship will eventually die.
STAGE 1: DELIGHT
The first stage is what I call the Delight Stage. This is the stage that’s usually called the honeymoon stage in a relationship. It’s where you feel like you’ve married the perfect person. It’s where you feel like that business partner shares your philosophy to the tee. It’s really a pretty band-aid covering up much deeper issues, and eventually, the pretty band-aid starts to get a little gross. It starts to fade away because it reveals what’s really underneath, dysfunction.
STAGE 2: DYSFUNCTION
This is where you realize the person you are relating to is dysfunctional because we are all dysfunctional to some degree. Dysfunction will never destroy a relationship. Dysfunction not dealt with will destroy a relationship. We are all dysfunctional, and there are three sources of dysfunction that every one of us brings into our current relationships. Family issues, personality conflicts and self-centeredness. When you boil it all down, the root cause of most relational problems is just two people trying to get their way.
STAGE 3: DISEASE
When dysfunction turns to disease, there is a noticeable illness in the relationship. Everyone around can start to see it. Now, what you want to do is cut the disease out early on. Every relationship experiences some disease, and you want to catch it early. If not, it’ll spread throughout the whole relationship, and it’ll end in death. There are three symptoms that show disease in a relationship. I call them the triple A symptoms. First is avoidance. This is where you never really talk about deep issues. You just always talk surface issues. The second A, is arguments. Arguing over and over, over the same surface issues and not getting anywhere. The third A, is animosity. Animosity is bitterness, and it just starts taking over relationships. It’s a cancer that can kill any relationship.
STAGE 4: DEATH
The next stage happens, if you don’t deal with it. DEATH. You go from delight to death, and it can happen so quickly. Relationships are dropping like flies. The problem is we are always trying to put band-aid solutions on these deep wounds. We’re trying to solve these deep relationship issues with just band-aids, and it never works. I want you to think about where your relationships are because every one of your relationships is in one of these four stages right now. Maybe it’s the delight stage where you can’t even relate to this message right now. But you’ll see the dysfunction. You can’t hide it for long. That band-aid will wear off. For some of you, you know you’ve got disease in the relationship, and you don’t know what to do about it. Some of you have experienced the death of a relationship. The good news is this. We have a great physician who can diagnose the root cause of the problem, and He can cure it. He specializes in resurrecting dying loves. We’ve seen it so many times here. God bringing marriages back together, families back together, parents and teenagers back together. He specializes in resurrecting dying loves.
What stage are your closest relationships in? How can you make sure they don’t end in death?