By the Rev. Joye Cantrell
Posted January 9, 2013
The triangle or triangulation has a different meaning in the psychological world. It is most commonly used to express a situation in which one family member will not communicate directly with another family member, but will communicate with a third family member, which can lead to the third family member becoming part of the triangulation. Triangulation can also be used as a label for a form of “splitting” in which one person plays the third family member against one that he or she is upset about. This is playing the two people against each other, but usually the person doing the splitting will also engage in character assassination.
Those who study systems theory say that families, schools and churches all work the same way. There are healthy ways that we deal with each other and there are unhealthy ways. My grandfather and his two brothers had an argument and for the last twenty years of their lives two of them only “spoke” to each by way of the third brother. Now how ridiculous is that for three Presbyterian elders.
It is always best to speak directly to someone when you have a problem. My daughter’s kindergarten teacher always said do not believe everything that your child says that we said here at school and we will not believe everything that she says you said! How teachers hate it when the principal gets a call about something that the parent has not addressed with the teacher first.
If you have a problem with something done at church, then make an appointment and go talk to the person. If you disagree with a sermon, then speak to the person who preached it. Often times what we think we heard was not what was said. Speak for yourself and speak directly to the person that you have a problem with. But for the sake of a healthy church, do not make triangles. Triangulation is not good in families, schools or in churches.