Why Couples Stay Together Despite Toxic Behaviors

Whoever said relationships were like breezy Sunday picnics probably never had to decide who gets the last slice of pizza.

Reality check: relationships can be more like navigating through the wilderness, with fewer manna showers and more miscommunication downpours. However, they’re still worth every misstep, especially when God’s at the helm.

We’ve all had our share of dramatic showdowns that could rival any Old Testament battle. But when drama becomes a daily dose, it’s time to sit up and ask, “Is this God’s plan or just my desperation?”

Before we all start wearing hazmat suits to protect ourselves from relational toxicity, let’s first understand what it really means. Spoiler: It’s not always about who gets to control the Netflix queue.

a couple fighting with knives

Understanding Toxic Relationships

Defining Toxicity

Ever tried to drink from a glass of water that’s been left out too long? That first sip feels… off, doesn’t it? Kind of like when you sense something’s wrong in your relationship but can’t quite put your finger on it.

Maybe it’s that snide comment from your partner when you share about your promotion, or perhaps it’s the overly critical remarks about your new hairstyle.

It’s funny because the Bible is pretty clear about love being patient and kind (1 Corinthians 13:4), not about giving you unsolicited fashion advice!

While some toxicity feels like a tiny pebble in your shoe – mildly irritating but bearable – others can feel like you’re walking barefoot on burning coals.

From passive-aggressive comments to full-blown manipulation, these relationship pitfalls range from “eh, we can work through that” to “Houston, we’ve got a problem”.

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Remember, in Genesis, Adam and Eve were having a lovely time in the Garden of Eden, but just one bite of that forbidden fruit changed everything.

In the same vein, it’s important to recognize and address toxic behaviors before they evolve into something much worse.

Read: Opposites Don’t Attract: Debunking the Myth

The Cycle of a Toxic Relationship

Picture Adam singing a ballad to Eve under the apple tree, pure honeymoon phase vibes. It’s all rainbows, butterflies, and heavenly harmonies.

You feel like David, dancing before the Ark of the Covenant (2 Samuel 6:14), every time you get a text from them. But, much like that mischievous serpent in Eden, the peace doesn’t last forever.

Soon enough, you start to notice the building tensions. Maybe it’s little things like bickering over which disciples were the coolest (everyone knows it’s a tie between Peter and John), or big things like disagreeing on core beliefs.

Conflicts in relationships aren’t new – remember Abraham and Sarah? They had their disagreements. But when these tensions aren’t properly managed, it can lead to explosive confrontations.

Now, I’m all for a little drama (King David’s life story, anyone?) but when your relationship feels more like a soap opera episode than a romantic novella, you might want to hit pause.

But here’s where it gets tricky. Just when you think it’s all falling apart, suddenly you’re back in each other’s arms, promising it’ll be different this time.

That’s the reconciliation phase. It’s that moment when the Prodigal Son returns (Luke 15:11-32), and everything feels right again. It’s a beautiful part of the cycle, but only if it’s genuine and followed by real change.

I reckon Solomon, with his 700 wives, had his fair share of relationship cycles. And while we can’t sit down and ask him for advice over a cup of coffee, we can look to the wisdom and teachings of the scriptures to help us navigate our own relationships.

Be it Buddhism’s emphasis on understanding and compassion, or the Gita’s teachings on selflessness and duty, intertwining faith and values in relationships is age-old advice that’s still golden.

Read: High Maintenance Women

Unraveling the Reasons Behind Staying

The Single Scene Isn’t Always a Dance Floor

When Paul mentioned in 1 Corinthians 7:8 that it’s good for singles to remain that way, I’m pretty sure he didn’t foresee the 21st-century societal side-eye for the unmarried.

Everywhere you turn, there are questions. “Why are you still single?” “When are you settling down?” It’s as if solo folks have missed some divine RSVP.

And while finding your “Boaz” or “Ruth” sounds charming, not everyone wants unsolicited advice on their love life every Sunday after service. After all, isn’t being single like Jesus? Wink.

Going Down Memory Lane… Again

Isn’t nostalgia a sneaky little thing? Just like Israelites reminiscing about Egyptian cucumbers while wandering in the wilderness (Numbers 11:5), sometimes we romanticize the past.

We forget the tears and only remember the laughter. Relationships aren’t exempt from this. That concert you both attended or that awkward Bible study date becomes the anchor, making it harder to let go.

And yeah, breaking up feels like throwing away that mixtape you’ve spent years perfecting. No one said adulting in love would be easy.

Read: 10 Secrets to Keep Your Boyfriend Forever

Counting Coins and Heartbeats Together

If love makes the world go ’round, then money surely oils the axis. Proverbs 22:7 tells us that the borrower is servant to the lender, but who knew that would include relationships too?

Those shared Netflix accounts, joint bank accounts, or that couch you bought together on Black Friday? They’re not just material possessions; they’re intertwined lives.

Decoupling financially feels like trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube blindfolded. But then again, isn’t faith all about walking without seeing?

Mirror, Mirror, Who Defines My Worth?

If the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4) had Instagram, she’d probably be posting cryptic messages about self-worth and validation. Why? Because, like many of us, she sought validation from relationships.

We’ve all been there, seeking the “like” or the “comment” that assures us we’re loved. But when your relationship becomes the measuring stick of your value, red flags should be waving.

Remember, you’re God’s handiwork (Ephesians 2:10), not someone’s side project.

A Family Affair with a Side of Tradition

Adam and Eve didn’t have in-laws, but the rest of us aren’t so lucky, huh? Between Aunt Ruth asking about babies and Grandma Esther reminiscing about “good old values,” it’s no wonder couples feel the pressure to stick it out.

And while honoring your parents is a commandment with a promise (Ephesians 6:2), so is living a life of love and peace. Sometimes, you need to decide which scriptures to prioritize, preferably without setting the family WhatsApp group on fire.

Read: The Unspoken Language of Love

Holding onto Maybe and Maybe Not

He’ll change. She’ll come around. Sound familiar? It’s the soundtrack of hope and denial. Like Sarah waiting on a promised child (Genesis 18:10-15), we sometimes hold onto promises, even if they’re just whispered sweet nothings.

But constantly brushing negatives under the rug for those fleeting positives? That’s not faith; that’s turning a blind eye. The good book does say love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8), but surely, there’s a limit?

Navigating the choppy waters of love, with all its joys and pitfalls, can be daunting. But weaving the threads of faith, scriptures, and maybe a dash of humor, can light the way.

Whether you’re single, taken, or in the complicated realm, remember that the best love story is already written for you. And it’s got a happy ending.

The Biological and Psychological Underpinnings

Love: Nature’s Sneaky Cocktail

Ever wondered why you feel all giddy and floaty when you’re in love? Or why every rom-com suddenly makes perfect sense? Yep, it’s not just the chocolates or those surprise Bible study dates. It’s your brain releasing a flood of feel-good hormones. The culprits? Oxytocin and dopamine.

While the former is dubbed the ‘cuddle hormone’ (aww, right?), the latter is the ‘feel-fantastic’ neurotransmitter. Makes you wonder if King Solomon was high on these when writing the Song of Songs! But here’s the kicker: like any potent drug, love can be addictive.

There’s a reason Proverbs 4:23 says, “Guard your heart above all else…” because once these chemicals take over, it’s like trying to resist grandma’s secret cookie recipe.

Read: 15 Surprise Ideas to Make His Day

Stuck in a Tug of War: Trauma Bonding

Remember Samson and Delilah? Talk about drama and dysfunctional dynamics. Now, we’re not saying all toxic relationships involve haircuts and betrayal, but the intense push and pull remind me of something called trauma bonding.

It’s that confusing blend where mistreatment meets unexpected kindness. Think of it like eating a jalapeno-filled doughnut – spicy but sweet.

The Bible’s wisdom reminds us that “a gentle answer turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1), but what happens when the kindness feels more manipulative than genuine? Well, folks get attached, even to their abusers. It’s mind-boggling, I know.

It Started in the Sandbox: Attachment Styles

Ever thought about why Moses might have had some, um, hesitancy issues when God called him? Maybe it wasn’t just the burning bush that freaked him out. We all come with our baggage, and it often traces back to our sandbox days.

Your childhood plays a massive role in how you connect with others as an adult. Some folks are as secure as Noah’s ark in that storm, while others?

Well, let’s just say they’re more like Jonah – a tad bit avoidant. Our early relationships and experiences, whether with caregivers or first friendships, set the stage for future romances.

In the Gita’s words, “We are made up of our past.” And if you ever wonder why you’re always picking the ‘wrong’ partner, maybe it’s time for a sandbox flashback.

Read: True Meaning of Christian Love

Recognizing and Addressing Toxic Patterns

Buddy, Can You Spare Some Advice?

When Moses was overwhelmed leading the Israelites, his father-in-law, Jethro, gave him some game-changing advice (Exodus 18). Imagine Moses’ face light up, “Why didn’t I think of that?” But let’s modernize it.

Instead of venturing to the desert to seek counsel from a wise father-in-law, you might consider sliding into the office of a professional therapist. Yep, even the holiest of rollers can benefit from a bit of counseling.

And while seeking God’s counsel is paramount (Proverbs 3:5-6), sometimes, He sends wisdom through a friend’s late-night rant or mom’s “I told you so.” Embrace it!

Boundaries: More than Just a Trendy Word

Remember that time when Jesus took some me-time away from the crowds? (Mark 6:31) Even our Savior knew the importance of boundaries. In relationships, it’s not about building walls but setting respectful limits.

Like keeping your secret stash of anointing oil off-limits or not having your partner track your every movement via the “Find My Friends” app.

Saying no can be as holy as the 10 Commandments if it means preserving your peace and dignity. Because let’s face it, letting someone walk all over you isn’t exactly what Jesus meant by turning the other cheek.

Read: Christian Love Affirmations to Ignite Your Relationship

The Relationship Scale: Balance or Bail?

We’re not talking about a new reality TV show. Instead, think of Daniel in the lion’s den (Daniel 6). Was staying there a good idea? Spoiler: It worked out for him, but staying in a toxic relationship might not have such a divine ending.

Evaluating a relationship requires a bit of soul-searching, some late-night prayer sessions, and maybe a pros-and-cons list scribbled in the margins of your journal.

The Buddha once said, “In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.” Sometimes love means holding on; other times, it means gracefully letting go and trusting God with the rest.

Now, I’m not asking you to storm off every time someone forgets to put the cap back on the toothpaste. But it’s high time we, as God’s chosen people, prioritize our own well-being.

The Gita phrases it eloquently, “Change is the law of the universe. You can be a millionaire, or a pauper in an instant.” Why not change for the better?

Give yourself permission to chase after relationships that celebrate, not suffocate.

God bless, Amen.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why might someone repeatedly find themselves in toxic relationships?

It’s a complex concoction, like trying to decipher the ingredients in your grandmother’s secret stew. Factors can range from unresolved childhood traumas, patterns learned from parents, or an innate desire to “fix” partners. It’s also linked to self-worth; some folks believe they don’t deserve better. Others might misinterpret drama as passion, thinking the highs and lows are simply part of love’s rollercoaster.

How can one rebuild self-esteem post-toxic relationship?

Rediscovering self-worth post-toxicity is like the Prodigal Son’s journey (Luke 15:11–32) – coming back home to oneself. It starts with self-reflection, understanding the relationship’s impact, and leaning into supportive communities. Dive into personal passions, seek counseling or therapy, and remember the biblical truth: you’re fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). Baby steps, prayers, and perhaps a few therapeutic shopping sprees (just don’t break the bank!).

Distinguishing between a relationship’s rough patch and a toxic pattern.

Imagine your favorite rom-com. If you’re constantly at the part where they’re “on a break,” without the make-up kiss in the rain scene, it’s a red flag. Rough patches are like speed bumps – momentarily jarring but passable. Toxic patterns are more like being stuck in a roundabout, going in circles. It’s crucial to evaluate: Is the issue recurring? Is communication breaking down? Are mutual respect and love fading into the backdrop?

How do children influence decisions in a toxic relationship setting?

Kids, bless their innocent hearts, often become the unintentional anchor in toxic relationships. Many couples feel staying “for the kids” is the noble choice. After all, every child’s drawing has both mommy and daddy next to the house, right? But children are perceptive. Growing up in a toxic environment can influence their future relationships. It’s essential to weigh the benefits of a two-parent home against the potential emotional toll of toxicity.

Can couples therapy effectively mitigate toxicity?

Therapy can be the Moses staff parting the Red Sea of relationship issues. But, both parties need to be on board. If both partners are genuinely committed to change, therapy can provide tools, insights, and strategies. Remember, therapists aren’t miracle workers; they guide, while the couple does the heavy lifting.

Early signs to detect potential toxicity in a relationship?

It starts subtle – like that sneaky serpent in Genesis. Look out for consistent boundary violations, manipulative behaviors, excessive jealousy, or any signs of emotional or physical abuse. Another red flag? When your partner can’t stand your favorite worship song because it’s “too cheery.” Alright, that’s a joke, but trust your gut and lean on trusted friends for perspective.

Best practices for friends and family supporting someone in a toxic relationship.

Be the Aaron to their Moses (Exodus 17:12), holding their hands up during battles. Listen without judgment, offer a safe space, and remember – unsolicited advice can backfire. Pray with them, be patient, and ensure they know they’re not alone. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so make sure you stock up on tissues, chocolates, and perhaps a pillow to scream into.