I’ve always had a natural understanding of relationships. I was raised in a family where my parents had (and still have) a lot of love for each other. They have always had a healthy relationship, and something that happened to me when I was only six made me realize the difference between a healthy and unhealthy relationship.

I used to visit my friend Maria’s house on a regular basis. From an outsider’s point of view, her family seemed to be the average happy family. Even I believed that they were the average happy family. Just like other parents, theirs argued and bickered, and often they tried to keep it discreet but, seeing as I visited so often (we lived on the same street), it was inevitable that sometimes I would be around in the midst of one of their many arguments. So, you may ask, “So what, they fought? Who doesn’t?” Well, the fact that they argued is not that strange, and neither is the fact that they sometimes happened to argue even when I was over.

However, there was something that so strongly distinguished the difference between one of their fights versus one my parents might have. At that time, I couldn’t quite put my finger on what this difference was, but now, many years later, as I passed their old house the other day and was thinking of the family that used to live there and of the good times I spent playing with Maria there, I finally realized what it is.

When they fought, they had a complete and utter disrespect for one another. There was swearing involved, and the way they looked at each other was as if they were appalled and disgusted with one another. Furthermore, instead of tackling the problem at hand as a team, they completely disregarded what the problem was, opting instead to target each other’s issues and weaknesses, thus causing hurt feelings and wounds that went so deep that permanent scars were guaranteed.

On the other hand, when my parents argued, they would often discuss and dissect a problem and instead be voicing their opposed opinions on how this problem came to be and what would be the best way of solving it. They did not swear at each other or insult each other. They would not say things that they would later regret. They would be mad, and sometimes they would raise their voices, but this heated argument would later end, and all of our lives could resume like normal, knowing that a solution has been found.

Sadly, my friend Maria’s parents got divorced when she was about 10, which does not surprise me. How long can one live a life where he insults and is insulted by the person who he is supposed to love most? How about issues that don’t get resolved, just because both parties are too busy stabbing at each others feelings to actually focus on the root of the problem and the meaning for the argument to begin with?

A relationship needs patience, understanding, love, goodness, faith, and God.

It’s funny how as a young child of just 6 years old, I was able to tell the difference between a healthy and an unhealthy relationship by comparing the types of arguments these two parties had. It is entirely psychological, and you can feel the negative energy all around you. You don’t have to hear the words, but you can tell when you are in an environment where hatred, jealousy, and sinfulness are present.