How the Absence of Purpose Can Hurt Relationships

Wow! The title sounds pretty serious, doesn’t it?

I believe—and it’s been my observation— that without feeling a sense of purpose in one’s life, a relationship can suffer.

Friendships may become strained without even understanding the cause. If one person is bored or feeling empty inside, he/she may end up fighting resentment or envy toward a friend who seems to be living a joyful and fulfilling life.

I think spouses need to be especially in tune to each other. Feeling like your only purpose is to cook, clean, and drive the car pool—or to bring home the paycheck that provides opportunities for the rest of the family—can lead to feeling unappreciated and depression.

I’m not saying those things aren’t good and necessary! I’m also not saying there isn’t cause to take pride and a sense of great accomplishment in them. I was privileged to be a stay-at-home mom for some years, and I wouldn’t give up that precious time with my daughters for anything.

But what happens when a spouse is experiencing success in a career, consumed by hobbies or volunteer responsibilities, or just busy with the family? The other person in the marriage may start to feel less and less—overshadowed.

Without purpose—without a sense of personal fulfillment—it becomes harder to resist temptation. We’ve all seen it many times. In order to eliminate the emptiness inside, people crave something to fill it. Some may expect more attention from a spouse or friend than one could possibly give. Others may look to food, drugs, or alcohol; others have affairs. Any of those can be destructive in relationships with friends, family members, or spouses. It can happen to anyone, even Christians with strong faith.

However, when someone feels a sense of purpose, its easier to handle difficult situations. It can also feel rewarding to cheer others on when our own self-esteem is in a good place.

What can we do to help protect our relationships?

First, it’s important that we’re aware of times when we feel a lack of purpose and how it may be affecting us and those around us, as well as times when loved ones are feeling a little lost in that area.

Second, pray for direction. Take time to explore some interests and don’t be afraid to try something different. Look for opportunities that will make other people’s lives better. Give it some time. The rewards will come, but probably not overnight.

Third, support our friends and loved ones if they’re seeking something new in their lives, and don’t downplay the frustrations they may express along the way. Pray for them—encourage them.

Please share any other suggestions. How have you dealt with situations where a lack of purpose and/or low self-esteem has threatened to harm a relationship?



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