What’s going on? How’s your family doing? Are you going through difficulties with your spouse, children or other family members? What you experience in your home overflows into every area of your life, and often, for the rest of your life. But you’re not alone, we all encounter conflict in our homes.
If a family is close, there’s a high chance of ‘sorting things out’, of peaceful reconciliations, rather than the inevitable cold silences or shallow conversations, which can often lead to family break-ups. The good news is you can find reconciliation, joy and peace in your family, it is possible!
Relationships, especially family ones can be difficult at times. So, I’d like to share some thoughts on 3 values that can hold, build and keep a family strong and healthy, through tough times.
Born into a family.
We’re all born into families. We are born with a need for our family members to be around us, for love and connection. And to give us meaning and purpose. It’s true that we’re not an island to ourselves – you might enjoy this now, but we were never wired that way. Instead, we’re wired right from the beginning to love, relate, know, learn and grow from, all within the family.
Just take a look at our senior generations, – our elderlies live longer and happier lives when they’re in amongst a community (if not family), doing something useful that keeps their mind active.
When you have to engage people, you’re keeping your mind and soul working and moving – kind of like during fitness where your body and mind are physically activated. Take a person whose in isolation and they’ll soon begin to wither … so we need family, we need others around us, even though we’re all imperfect.
Alas. hurt, pain, self-centredness and pride has separated family members, breaking up close relationships, and sadly for many, for a lifetime. It’s because happy, healthy families are not made, they’re intentionally built. However, we too easily accept that ‘this is what it is, that’s what my family’s like’. No, this can change, and it can start with you!
Love, honesty and trust.
Every family is different in their family dynamics. As for me, I believe the three strongest pillars we need in families are love, honesty and trust with one another.
Love prefers the other person over ourselves. Loving others is a selfless act. That’s why we would consider how our words and actions affects others.
Love also means affirmation, affection, encouragement and being respectful to each other. And because we love one another, we communicate, make time for each other, build bonds, and do things together, sharing our hearts. This all sounds easy to do, maybe more like a fairy tale to some – it comes down to choices we make.
Love is more than a feeling, it is a DECISION.
1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 is a great passage on love. It describes what love IS.
“4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.”
Can you see how love is all these different attributes?
One of the hardest “love” actions is to forgive the other person who has hurt us. But because we choose to love, we forgive, we let go of their wrongs done to us. “Love keeps no record of wrongs”.
Honesty means we depend on each family member to be honest and transparent with our feelings, thoughts, and reactions. Of course, creating a safe and open environment to do that in, helps the family to feel freer to express themselves.
If everyone loves one another, it’s easier to be honest with others. It works best when we all participate in honest and open communication. When we bare our most ugliest, we’ll still be accepted and not get rejected for it.
It’s hard to be honest if we’re judgeing, misunderstanding dis-respecting or just being plain mean to one another. No-one wants to open up to someone so hostile! If love isn’t in the family, it wouldn’t be natural to be honest. Saying ‘sorry I was wrong, would you forgive me’ would only be mere words, but if you’re truly sincere, then ‘sorry’ can reset and restart the conversation again.
Trust is built when we are act lovingly and honestly to each other. Trust is putting your faith or confidence in the other person. To be trusted, we are the same person to everyone, we’re consistent in our character. We keep our words, and do what we say we will do, even when we feel tired or don’t feel ‘like it’.
We are who we say we are. We are dependable and reliable, committed to our promises. When trust is broken, it needs to be re-earned, we need to prove ourselves to the other person in the area in which we broke the trust. This can take time – it may also take grace and forgiveness from the other person.
Love, honesty and trust in others creates happy people, thus happy families.
Strong marriages = strong families.
Parents have the very challenging, often difficult but rewarding role of raising their children. Even before the children, is the marriage. If the marriage relationship isn’t strong, neither will the family be. If I’m not right with my husband, nothing else seems to go right and the kids when they’re old enough can pick up on it easily.
So, love, honesty, and trust needs to be strong in our marriage, or we’re just pretending, just saying to our kids ‘do what we say, but don’t do what we do!’. They’ll just end up doing what we do. Of course, we’ve gone through pressure, disagreements, heartache, disappointments and more. These were all necessary relationship strengthening challenges that brought us closer together. Yes, that’s my perspective in retrospect!
Unfortunately, during tough times, some marriages and families break apart – is it because only one person or neither party is willing to be honest, to show love, or want to change?
What a huge responsibility on the parents.
From birth, a child forms their identity – who they are – from the family. The parents or people closest to them, how they relate, show love, honesty and trust to each other are all foundational to identity. The attitudes and reactions during tough times show what character and values the parents have, and the children watch it and catch it.
This huge responsibility of teaching and modelling rests on the parents. It’s a mammoth task, spanning a lifetime – I’ll still be a parent to my kids till I leave earth!
So, it’s pivotal how parents show love and care to their children. How the family members show love, honesty and trust in each other affects everyone and especially influences the children.
Meaning and purpose beyond the family.
Meaning and purpose in our lives is gained from us actively participating in not only our own families, but our communities as well. These selfless acts enrich our lives. There’s a life way beyond our family unit! We were made for so much more!
You can find ways to serve, give, help out, contribute, and to do your part where you can. It’s a joy to put others first – have you noticed how happy you are when you’ve done something for someone else and you didn’t expect anything back in return? It’s only when we tend to only think about ourselves first and what we can benefit from others, that we end up feeling miserable!
Taking up responsibility for how you respond to people, for how you live your life, is foundational to a healthy family life too. I’ve found that we need to be intentional in our family life too, with everything. Happy families and marriages do take a lot of work and time. Good, healthy relationships don’t happen by accident, they are intentionally built, over time.
Now, take a moment to think about your life. Are you in a family or community or mostly on your own most of the time? Can I encourage you to reconnect with a friend or family member today or join a community near you? It might mean you’re having to face a fear or to eat humble pie. You’ll be happier for it, after, cos we all need others.
What’s your family or community like? Are love, honesty and trust important in your family? Why or why not?