Are you in a dysfunctional relationship with a family member or friend?

(Notes – not necessarily quotes – taken in my 2017 journal from Dr. Cloud’s “Never Go Back“)

These notes are from my 2017 Journal, after I had taken my husband back multiple times but he continued to be unfaithful. I thought I could love him into changing. I was wrong. But I didn’t know why this was not working and perhaps it could have worked, if he had wanted the change himself. But as I have shared before, it didn’t matter how much I loved him or took him back – in the end – he still chose to leave. These notes helped me make sense of it all. So, while these notes may not be applicable in your marriage, they may be helpful in another difficult relationship you may be in with a parent, sibling, co-worker or friend.

Everyone Has Dysfunctional Patterns

Everyone has brain patterns and because of sin, everyone has dysfunctional brain patterns.

People that are stuck call these patterns – problems. Do you have patterns – or problems that need changed?

The only way to change is through a wake up call. But some people don’t answer the call. People who successfully break patterns have wake up calls. They have awakenings where they get it! Then, they develop new patterns and let go of their old patterns. These new patterns make them forever changed.

What I’ve Learned

While we all want to believe that we are self-sufficient and can change on our own, usually we need a source outside ourselves to experience lasting change and a change of patterns.

This is what repentance does. When we repent we change directions. We do a complete 180 and instead of going backwards – we start going forwards.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5:17

Are you in a dysfunctional relationship with a family member or friend?

There is always some good in a dysfunctional relationship. That is why we are in that relationship. It offers something we want or need.

If there is pain in a close relationship, we need to try to resolve that pain point. It’s worth pursuing resolution because there is good that comes along with that pain. So we know with change, it can all be good again.

So we try. BUT if it’s not resolved, your relationship may end. Once that relationship ends, we naturally miss the good that that relationship held.

When we miss the good – we start to forget the pain.

When we miss the good and forget the pain — that leads to letting that person back in our lives again.

Now watch this – this is where the unhealthy cycle begins.

With the good that you regain from getting that relationship back – the pain returns as well. If that person did not change – the pain will be too much and you will separate again.

And so the cycle continues unresolved.

To go back into a close relationship with someone who has not changed – you are destined to repeat the same cycle over and over.

So what should we do?

We cannot go back until the variables have changed. Something must be new about the other person or different or we will repeat what has already NOT worked.

You cannot change other people. You can not change something you have no control over. You can only change yourself and your responses to the person that is hurting you.

If the other person feels no need to change – they won’t change and it will never work. The reality you need to face is that you want this relationship more than they do.

Every single one of us has dysfunctional patterns because we all sin.

We all make mistakes. And so it’s important that we self-reflect and be sure we are not part of the problem.

Dysfunction comes when we exert effort to solve a problem and the problem gets worse. As we try to solve problems – we end up further from each other rather than closer. This hurts. And sometimes we have to stop trying and give it to God in prayer.

But what about love?

As children of God, we are always to love – love our neighbors and love our enemies. But we are not called to trust everyone or be in a close relationship with people who knowingly hurt us time and time again.


1.) Do not try to be close to someone who is hurting you over and over unless something is new or different in that relationship.

2.) You cannot change someone else but you can be a change agent in their lives.

3) An open system brings change – meaning – bring in the Lord and new people, new coaches, new counselors, new paths, new principles and new patterns.

4.) If someone is not open to bringing in the new and has a closed system – meaning – they will not turn to the Lord, a pastor, see a counselor, read a new book, or be open to new paths — they will not change.

Are you in a dysfunctional relationship?

You cannot change someone else so…pray and ask the Lord to help you understand the patterns in your own life that are causing pain. Let this be YOUR wake up call to create new patterns and new paths in your own life. Ask God to help you change and then get to work changing yourself!

If you need help with that…I’ll be posting more here – so be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any of the posts!

Keep walking with the King,

Courtney 🙂

11 thoughts on “Are you in a dysfunctional relationship with a family member or friend?

  1. Thank you, Courtney. This has been soo helpful to me. I pray it will be a blessing to all reading these notes. 🙏

    1. Ellen,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment as I start this new journey here! I appreciate the encouragement!

      Much Love,
      Courtney 🙂

  2. Thank you so much for posting this, Courtney! It was extremely timely. I was just talking with my best friend last night about how my automatic thought pattern is to blame myself for my husband having an affair and leaving us. This article really set me free on some things. I can NOT change someone else, no matter how much I try to love them to Jesus. I am not the Holy Spirit, and I am not my husband. Only he could have chosen to change. <3

    1. Oh I know how you feel. But someone having an affair is a character issue. That really doesn’t have anything to do with us. What I mean is if the same opportunity was presented to us to be unfaithful – even if our marriage was struggling – I would hope that because of our love and obedience to Christ – and because of our integrity and character – that that would keep us from stepping outside the marriage into an affair. Instead – character turns toward the spouse and says let’s work on this. I believe that I may be 50% responsible for the break down of our marriage (although I had no idea there was a problem because he never told me) but he is 100% responsible for having an affair. That is not on you L. Don’t carry that weight. Release it to the Lord and keep following him. God loves you so much and he is faithful! <3

      Lots of Love,

  3. I have been in a dysfunctional relationship for 15 years. I suggested counseling, so this is where we are at for now. My spouse has narcissistic tendencies and after realizing this has opened my eye to so much as to why this relationship has been sooo difficult. Thank you for your insights and transparency because of all you dealt with. Blessings to you with your beautiful family and new life!

    1. Hi Jenny,

      I’m so sorry for what you are experiencing. I am praying for you and your marriage now. Even if he does not go to counseling – it may be good for you to go because even just one partner changing can bring a new dynamic that could lead to new and healthy things inside your marriage.

      Stay Strong. God loves you!

  4. Thank you Courtney, my Husband and I will be married 19 years this October. We were almost divorced about 7 years ago, he was leaving me. I also have 2 children and homeschool. He has been trying to leave me since we were married. He has very destructive patterns and daily is angry, using language and shouting. Me and the kids are heartbroken by this behavior. He has never cheated on me to my knowledge but never changes to make things better. My boundaries have been crossed countless times. I stay because I don’t want our marriage to fail and I have been trusting that vengeance is mine, says the Lord, I will repay…I know he ultimately is in control. Obviously my Marriage is unhealthy in so many ways. Sadly he even lost it with me (recently) after church in front of others. He has threatened to leave me if I ever bring it up to the church about what is going on, so I say nothing. I hate for the kids to grow up without seeing a healthy marriage and godly leader as a Father. I think it may only be a matter of time before others at church intervene…I really just want to lead a quiet life. I am afraid to make any moves and am concerned for our future with no income if he does end up leaving. I feel like I am waiting for God to move somehow because I don’t want to break the vow I have made to Him.

    1. Oh Becky, this breaks my heart. After watching my mom stay with someone for 27 years (plus play his games to placate him to keep him paying spousal support) because she was stuck financially and felt it was better for my brothers to have their dad, her biggest regret is not leaving sooner. No matter what it took. It didn’t benefit my brothers. And it broke her. She likely won’t marry again (she’s 65) and she’s struggled financially since the spousal support ended but overall she’s happy now. I hope that you can find the courage to stand up to your abuser. I may be wrong but I think there is more than one way to be unfaithful. And abuse is not faithful. 💔

  5. My dysfunctional relationship is with my parents. Between their refusal to admit that they bear any burden in the dysfunction and the cycle getting worse, my husband and I decided that going no contact with them was the best way to safeguard our child and our home. Their response confirmed that we made the right decision, even if the consequences hurt. It is very similar to grieving their death, because I don’t see how reconciliation is possible (and, to be honest, I’m okay with that). Too many bridges have been burned. God has been with us, and we’ve had a godly older couple step in to fill the grandparent gap.

  6. Thanks so much for this gift. I am raising my 18 year old Grandson. This helps with the ” parenting an adult ” situation In my life😂😂😂

  7. Your faith in the Lord and openness to be teachable in the face of such heartache is a testimony to me and others. Thank you for sharing, Courtney. 💜 I have walked in an extremely disfunctional relationship in the past, amd am free from it now. But reading through this post brought more understanding to what I did and felt back then.

    God bless and keep you as you build a new life and love. I’m so very happy for you.

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