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Hold Harmeless

12 Above all, my friends,

do not use an oath when you make a promise.

Do not swear by heaven or by earth or by anything else.

Say only “Yes” when you mean yes,

and “No” when you mean no,

and then you will not come under God's judgment.

James 5:12 Good News Translation (GNT)

Have you ever read a contract and saw the "Hold Harmless" addendum? Its intent is to offer additional safeguards against lawsuits if one of the involved parties calls, "Foul" and implications of wrong-doing are made.

In the old days, your word was your "bond," meaning once you "gave your word" you were expected to keep it. In the world of business today, everything must be written down in a contract as words are not binding, and in marriage you word is worth even less. Or is it?

In relationships, some people think they have the right to verbally abuse, manipulate, and treat others poorly because people can make "mistakes" and you "shouldn't" hold them responsible for their choices.

Manipulation and abuse are two ways someone presses on another their opinion, wants, and desires. The other person has a choice of leaving (often divorce) or staying in the relationship only to be further abused, controlled, and manipulated. This is called "Emotional Abuse." It's when another person forces you to acquiesce (comply) to their wishes by pressing one into a corner through criticism, shaming, blame, and verbally assaultive behaviors (screaming, arms waving, throwing objects) to a place where hopelessness lives. A spouse can do this to their partner, but it can also be seen in parent-child relationships. Entire families can live in a constant state of fear and trauma when a tyrant is out of control.

Through therapy, I help people see that they are responsible for their choices, their attempts to manipulate, and for their poor behaviors. They also are responsible for the consequences of their choices. This is the hardest thing for people to face as they can come to a place of understanding the cause of their grief as being their own, but they want the knowledge and ultimate apology to be the end of the problem, "Can't we just move on?" Many times marriages end, even when the couple is in counseling, because the consequences have been building up for a long time and the other person is unable or unwilling to forgive and try "again."

Conversely, it is all too often in therapy that I find clients who don't know what they believe. They stand on a foundation of self-doubt looking at a track record of failed relationships. Uncertainty and fear influence the deciding factors to their every move. They say what they mean, then recant their statement to avoid conflict. Often, they just "go along" with the other person's opinion because they don't have one of their own. This makes them vulnerable to someone else's preferences, which may not be based in truth or in their best interest. A perspective is not necessarily honest or based in fact. It often is based on personal preferences, a need to be right, or to have their own way.

If you are finding ongoing conflict in your relationships call Encouragers Counseling and we can give you a fresh perspective on relationship contractural agreements.

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