If you revisited a struggling relationship 6 months from now, there is a 90% chance that the couple will still be struggling.  Why?  Because we are masters at majoring in symptoms.  
This is not new news for those that are going through it.  In fact, if your relationship has been struggling for any length of time or you’ve been repeating the same old struggles, your relationship is probably suffering from symptom solving hell. 
It is what it is.  You’re not alone.  It’s more common that you think.  If you ask the average couple why their relationship is struggling they will give you 100 reasons but almost every one of those reasons will be a symptom and not the actual problem.  
Few of us have had relationship role models that gave us the blueprint for solving relationship problems. The symptom is the effect or the result of the problem, the problem is the why — cause and effect.
For example, let’s say you and your mate have had a long standing issue with trust.  If I asked you why, you would probably give me examples of behavior that cause trust issues. And no doubt they do but not coming home, lipstick on the shirt, disappearing, not answering the phone or whatever the behavior is, it is a symptom of a problem. In other words, the symptoms, or behavior, cause distrust but the problem, or the root, is the why behind the behavior.  You follow me?
Christians have a tendency to think that because we believe in Jesus, prayer by itself will fix the problem — prayer won’t fix the problem unless after you get up from prayer you apply faith to commitment, resolve, attitude and actions that fix the problem. 
Put This In Your Spirit: Faith is the wind beneath the wings of work. Problem solving is hard work — that will challenge every fruit on your spiritual tree to grow: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).
Don’t waste time trying to hit a bulls eye if you’re not aiming for it. Trying to solve a problem by fighting over symptoms is like trying to fix a flat tire by putting more air in it. If the tire is flat because of a hole, putting air in it might fix the symptom but it won’t fix the problem. Right?  After a while, the tire will go flat again.  This is what makes symptom solving unproductive and sets the relationship up to keep repeating the same arguments — which causes relationship fatigue.
Write this down — “AAA.” This is for folks who want to do their work.  Acknowledge.  We cannot solve what we cannot acknowledge. Agree. After we acknowledge that there is a problem, we have to agree to solve the problem and stop fighting over symptoms.  Address. After we’ve acknowledged and agreed, we have to address the problem by being committed to doing the right work to kill the root.
Digging up roots is usually ugly in the beginning, difficult in the middle but in the end it puts the devil in check.  The devil needs an open door to come into any relationship — kinship, friendship or partnership. Unresolved, unaddressed roots are open doors.  As long as they stay unresolved, the devil will wonder in at will, bring friends, and have a party in your house (Matthew 12:43-45).
A problem usually has layers. The top layer of the problem might be insecurity, low self-esteem, depression or addiction.  The second layer might be an unresolved emotional trauma, an open wound from a history relationship, dysfunctional upbringing or a toxic nurturer — a parent or relative.  The symptom of these might be relationship insecurity, jealousy, lack of intimacy, poor communication, distrust, obsessive need for affirmation and attention — in and outside of the relationship, aggressive behavior or even cheating.  You get the point?  Digging up roots is about cause and effect, and unless we dig deep enough we’re just putting air in a flat tire.
Men, this is usually harder for us but in order for any relationship to be a safe place to be vulnerable and truly connected soul to soul, everybody has to be willing to get naked and commit to creating and maintaining a safe environment to be vulnerable. Without vulnerability, there is no intimacy — emotional intercourse.  
We usually learn lessons from losses or after we’ve burned our relationship house down — “if we only knew then what we know now.” Alternatively, we can learn from others and prevent the need for learning the hard way.  Invite God into this fight, pray ready, be prepared to get naked and real, and go to work.  
Share with someone you love and be blessed.
Pastor Patrick
Senior Pastor, Faithhill Church


  1. Shameka Critton Grider says:

    Great examples and makes perfect sense I definitely agree brotha!!

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