. . . And How To Avoid Them.
As a little girl I heard and fantasized about fairy tales that ended in “happily ever after.”
Then life happens along with seasons of busting through illusions. For some us, adult relationships are much like the merry-go-round we played on as children. We go around in circles and can’t get off.
Although we grow out of childhood stories and ways of thinking, many of us unknowingly keep attitudes that contribute to damaging relationships. Marriages deteriorate and adult children become estranged.
In the next few posts, I’ll focus on one attitude trap at a time and give examples. I’ll include how to be aware and avoid it along with suggestions for ways to begin repair in relationships that matter.
Here’s 5 attitude traps that destroy relationships.
Attitude of entitlement
Attitude of being the only truth-bearer
Attitude of disregard
Attitude of control
Attitude of being the victim
Attitudes of entitlement come in different forms and relationships. Here’s a few extreme examples.
- “I have every right to tell you what to do because I’m your mother,” a 90 year-old woman says to her 70 year-old son.
- “I deserve to have sex with you. It’s been three days!” an angry husband says to his wife.
- “I work hard for an income. I don’t have to tell you I’m buying a new car,” a spouse tells her husband.
- “If they were my children, I would. . .” a mother-in-law says to her daughter-in-law.
These may be severe illustrations for some and common for others. The point is this. Attitudes of entitlement are the opposite of loving relationships.
Entitlement means one has rights to certain benefits.
As American citizens, we are all aware of having certain and unalienable rights living in the United States. With other roles like employment, we have rights to receive a paycheck. When entering into an agreement such as marriage, we have rights to love, honor, and cherish our spouse.
Continual attitudes of entitlement through personal relationship interactions tear down and disregard the humanity of a spouse. It disrespects the ability of a young mom. It crushes the confidence of an adult child.
The opposite of entitlement is gratitude.
Even as a US citizen or an employee or a spouse, being grateful for the privilege of these roles makes life easier. It draws others into partnership. It invites connection.
An attitude of belief in another, and thankfulness may look like this:
- For the elderly mother toward her son. “I respect your decisions. I believe in you. I’m proud of the man you are. You have what it takes.”
- For the sexually frustrated husband toward his wife, “Honey, what do you need from me? How can I be a more loving husband to you?” (By the way, I’ve never known a woman to be drawn to making love with an angry husband.)
- For the spouse who wants a new car, “I value your opinion. The money I earn is ours. You’re just as important in this decision as I am.”
- For the mother-in-law toward her daughter-in-law, “You’re a great mom. My grandchildren are so blessed to have you as their mother. You’re doing a great job.”
Attitude of gratitude makes life full and nurtures relationships.
To avoid a “Polyanna” way of thinking, we recognize those in extremely difficult situations. Attitudes of gratitude may seem artificial and unrealistic.
Recognize that change is a process. Ways of thinking and believing are challenging. It may take years of practice toward gratitude to begin making a difference toward healing in a relationship.
Be encouraged that relationships are always changing. Growing out of an entitlement attitude can get us off the merry-go-round of the “happily ever after” fantasy.
I’m reminded of the truth of Scripture “in everything give thanks. . .” (I Thessalonians 5:18)
Next week, I’ll share about how the attitude of being the only truth-bearer contributes to destroying meaningful relationships.
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