Drama is great on stage and onscreen. Not so in relationships. Drama in relationships is draining, overwhelming, and debilitating. When there is drama in relationships, it destroys your focus, impacts your work productivity, pulls the puppet strings on your emotions, and freezes you from making any progress of any sort. When there is drama in relationships, you go to bed sleepy and wake up tired, go to work and hate coming home. Plus, there is no resolution when the drama is continually stirred.
One of the most troubling statements that I heard recently from a fairly newly married couple was that they were told that drama came with the relationship. With every fiber of my being, I tried to compel them to absolutely discard the incorrect advice they’d received.
I am unclear on whether or not this well-meaning informal advisor was only attempting to provide the couple with a more balanced perspective that relationships require work and could involve moments of tension and stress. But whatever their intent, the takeaway was absolutely off-base. Relationships may have issues to work through, but that does not mean drama has be a part of those concerns.
Relationship drama is when there are malicious and devious attacks not just on another person (and may include that), but on their character and identity. Drama involves degrading the person’s core personality and striking at destroying the person’s spirit. Unfortunately, anyone with any level of integrity and character would not wish unrestrained drama on their worst enemy. Drama is reckless and unbridled. It is irrational and uninhibited. There is no common sense approach to navigating a relationship with a person who thrives on drama. Counselors and psychologists would suggest that there are much deeper emotional, and possibly mental, circumstances around this awkward appetite. Nonetheless, the goal is to keep your cool and maintain your character.
As I considered the number of relationships that I have personally encountered in which drama is the norm, I have attempted to think through what could make one of these relationships transition in the right direction. Below are a few ideas, among others, that may help serve as a compass for a relationship that is drifting in rough waters.
1) Remember, Drama Isn’t Normal and Doesn’t Have to be the Norm.
The reality is that many people have not been taught or even exposed to a mature way of dealing with conflict. Their norm is that conflict must include being dramatic. What these individuals haven’t figured out is that drama has little to do with control, progress, or maturity. Make no mistake about it, relational drama should NOT be the norm. Although it is normal for some, that should not be a prescription to begin to acquiesce and accept it as okay. The ultimate goal is to eliminate the drama from a relationship and strive towards honoring one another as a person, who is loved by God.
Relational drama should NOT be the norm.
2) Tell the Right Somebody and Bypass the Wrong People.
One of the worst things that can happen when a couple has conflict associated with drama is for one (or both) of those individuals to engage in sharing these things with hot-headed family members and friends. Indeed, you need wise people in your life to help provide safety (Prov. 11:14) and perspective on how to handle life’s curve balls. But you have to be careful on sharing certain issues with individuals who have no paradigm for handling conflict in a mature manner. This will only be a breeding ground for life’s situations to be impacted negatively, in a long-term way.
One of the worst things that can happen…is for one (or both) of those individuals to.. [share] these things with hot-headed family members and friends.
3) Resist the Urge to Retaliate.
When you’ve been wronged, you immediately want to get even. It is a natural reaction. And while this is a natural reaction, it is not a fruitful action. Lots of scriptures and wise individuals have shared that repaying evil for evil is worthless. The Bible even takes it a step further and invites us to do something good for those who meant to do us harm (1 Peter 3:9).
4) Commit to Sincerely Praying for the Drama King/Drama Queen.
It is really hard to hate someone whom you are authentically praying for. And one of the high (and hard) calls that Jesus issues to His followers is to keep the right heart towards people even when they participate in your demise. Although, you are running for your life and need to be in a safe space, it is still appropriate and necessary to pray to God for them. As the truth is told, at some point, someone probably did it for us as well.
5) If Necessary, Get Some Space.
There are times in which taking a small break from the major stressors is absolutely healthy. A time apart, spent with wise advisors, counselors, and mentors, is a healthy way to rebuilding and re-calibrating the issues at hand. Sometimes being too close to the fire hinders our ability to think in a balanced, healthy, and clear way. Creating some space allows us to mentally and spiritually breathe and refocus on what God may be saying and what God may want to do. If necessary, ask your mentors to help you create a strategy for how this space may need to be approached.
Sometimes being too close to the fire hinders our ability to think in a balanced, healthy, and clear way.
At the end of the day, the goal is to live the kind of life that Jesus offers to us: “life and life more abundantly” (John 10:10). Anything less is uncivilized.