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Change My Relationship: 365 Daily Devotions for Christians in Difficult Relationship


We sat down with Karla Downing, M.A., MFT, to learn more about difficult marriages (and difficult relationships) and why she wrote a 365 daily devotional on the topic. Here is what Karla shared:

 

All of us have difficulties in our relationships, so what do you mean when you say your devotional is for Christians in difficult relationships?

All relationships have problems at some point, but difficult relationships have continual problems that aren’t resolvable because only one person is willing to work on them. These also include relationships that involve things like addictions, mental illness, narcissism, abuse, emotional manipulation, chronic irresponsibility and anger. The dynamics are complicated and confusing to navigate, and that’s why normal relationship advice oftentimes doesn’t work.  

 

You say it is harder for a Christian to be in a difficult relationship than a non-Christian. Why is that? 

All difficult relationships, Christian or not, are painful and have confusing dilemmas that need to be addressed. Christians struggle with additional questions such as, “What does God want me to do?” “What does the Bible say?” and “What does my church say?” These questions cause additional confusion, in addition to the lack of clear teaching about navigating difficult relationships in a biblical way. Christians find it hard to do what they need to do with confidence. 
  

You’ve said that Christians have misunderstandings about the Bible and what it says about their difficult relationships. What are some of the most common ones? 

For women in difficult marriages, it is how to navigate submission to a husband who is doing unhealthy things. Figuring out how to respect someone like a parent, wife, or husband who is behaving in ways that are disrespectful is also a struggle. Another is confusion over putting others before yourself and believing it is selfish to take care of yourself. These misunderstandings need to be corrected for Christians to confidently apply the biblical principles they are learning.   

 

Christians in difficult relationships struggle with setting boundaries. What makes boundaries so difficult for them?

Christians are not sure they can set them. They wonder if they are supposed to trust God to change the person instead of setting boundaries. Even if they know they can set boundaries, they aren’t sure what those boundaries should be because it takes a lot of clarity to figure out them out. They are also fearful, because difficult people don’t respect boundaries. Instead, they challenge them which requires a great deal of courage to follow through. 

 

You have written two books that have 10 Principles for Christians in difficult relationships.  How does this devotional complement those books and Principles? 

All of the scriptural and practical principles in “10 Lifesaving Principles for Women in Difficult Marriages” and “When Love Hurts: 10 Principles to Transform Difficult Relationships” are in the devotionals along with many more biblically-based practical tips. The format of each devotion is a Bible verse, reading, and short prayer. There is a topical index where readers can look up exactly what they are dealing with to get encouragement and practical ideas to implement.

 

Now that your book is finished and available to hurting Christians in difficult relationships, how do you feel?   

I am excited. This book is the culmination of everything I have experienced and learned both personally in difficult relationships and professionally as a licensed marriage and family therapist. Because I have been where the readers are at, I know what they feel and what they need. I know what works and what doesn’t work. I know the healthy principles they need and how the Bible supports every one of them. That is what makes my devotional so powerful.  

 

Wife Step: Do you have difficult relationships or know someone who does? Grab your copy today, here, and also get a bonus audio study titled, “Dealing with Difficult People”.

To get an advanced reader copy and receive the first three months of devotions, click here.

Karla Downing New

Karla Downing, the founder of ChangeMyRelationship.com, offers Christian marriage help and Christian relationship help as a speaker, author, counselor, and Bible study teacher. Karla grew up in a dysfunctional family and then found herself struggling with Christian codependency in her own difficult marriage. Through her personal struggles, she discovered biblical and practical principles, which she now teaches to others. She also trains counselors, pastors, women’s ministry leaders, church leaders, small-group leaders, non-profit ministry leaders, and individuals to minister to Christians in difficult relationships. Karla’s passion is to see individuals, marriages, and families set free from the chains of dysfunction, misunderstanding, and emotional pain through a correct understanding of what the Bible teaches about relationships.

Karla Downing is the author of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association 2004 Silver Medallion Award winner, 10 Lifesaving Principles for Women in Difficult Marriages. Her second book, When Love Hurts: 10 Principles to Transform Difficult Relationships, applies the same principles to all family members. Her third book, The Truth in the Mirror: A Guide to Healthy Self-Image, offers a unique and life-changing approach to looking at self-image. 

She holds a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy from Hope International University. Karla also holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Communicative Disorders from California State University, Fullerton. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a licensed Speech Language Pathologist. Karla was also the director of Friends in Recovery, a Christ-based, Twelve-Step recovery program.

Karla lives in Southern California. She has been married for over thirty years and has three adult daughters.

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