Archive for February 26, 2011
Family, A Haven in a Heartless World
Going the Distance in the Family Marathon
- Slow down to increase endurance. Slow the pace of your life so you can spend time with your family. Just hang out with individual family members or with your family as a whole. Have meaningless conversations. Spending time expresses value for the one you choose to be with. Family members consider you presence a sign of enduring love and care.
- Fill your speech with kindness. Kind words have tremendous power to build an enduring family. So, encourage one another. Say “please,” “thank you,” and “you’re welcome.” Go the distance-keep your words kind and polite, even when irritated, angry, or tired.
- Every day, list at least one way you saw each family member make a positive investment in your family. Keep the list in a notebook or on your calendar. This will demand that you maintain a relational focus and keep your eyes open for positive contributions, even when you start feeling tired, angry, or begin to lose focus. Find a way to thank them for their contribution to the family on at least a weekly basis.
- Every day, list at least three things you appreciate about each family member. What character traits do you find endearing? What mannerisms do you enjoy? What do you admire about them? Keep that list each day and tell them one thing from that list each day.
- Make weekly goals about how you will show family members how much you value them. How will you show your love for each family member this week? How will you let them know how valuable they are to you? Once again, you will build endurance as you find creative ways to express this value week in and week out. It will demand some variation and creativity on your part; but, the results are amazing.
- Each year write a letter to your spouse and children telling them how much they mean to you. Include 2-3 things you admire about them and an example to support each of those traits. Areas of admiration may include personality, areas of growth, or other things about them that have special meaning to you. After writing the letter, share it with that family member. Make the sharing a special occasion, an opportunity to spend time together talking, reminiscing, and enjoying one another’s company.
- Ask your spouse and children what you can do to improve your family relationships. The following questions might help. The answers to these questions can be difficult to hear. However, we grow through constructive feedback. Asking for feedback shows your desire to grow personally and as a family. It shows how much you value your family and family member’s opinions.
- What can I do to make you feel more loved? Respected? Secure? Understood?
- When you think of me, what is the first thought/image that comes to mind? How do you think of me?
- What do you think I value most?
- Is there one characteristic you would like me to develop? An area you want me to work on improving?
- What are some things I can do to show you how much I value having you in my family?
- How do you envision our future together? What can we do to achieve that goal together?
Becoming A Master Hugger
When members learn to hug their children physically, verbally, and “mindfully,” they become Master Huggers, members of an elite group of men and women changing family generations…one hug at a time.
Michelangelo is quoted as saying, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” I love that quote. Researchers describe a Michelangelo effect between spouses when one spouse brings out the best, the angel, in the other. My wife is my Michelangelo. Other people look at me and see a slab of rock; but she sees something more. She looks into that slab of rock and sees a statue waiting to take shape, dreams and aspirations waiting to emerge, an ideal self waiting to be set free. At times, I think she believes I am more like that ideal person than I really am. She compliments me like I’ve already achieved more of my ideal than I really have. Not only does she see and believe in my ideals and dreams, she actively helps me reach for them. She supports me and even assists me in reaching my goals. All the while, she talks about how much she enjoys doing things with me.
Don’t get me wrong. She still recognizes my limits and shortcomings. In many ways, she compensates for them. When I feel frustrated with so much bureaucracy, she handles it. When I become overwhelmed with all that needs done, she takes some of the burden. Sometimes I become obsessed with worry and she “talks sense to me.” Other times I prepare to jump head first into the mix and she brings needed caution and forethought. All the while, she encourages and compliments.
Yes, my wife is my Michelangelo. She has taken a slab of stone and helped find the statue inside. She did not decide what statue she thought I should become. Instead, she realized the ideal self I wanted to become and encouraged that ideal. She recognized my dreams, accepted those dreams, and supported me in reaching for those dreams. In the process, she lovingly chisels away at the fears and inhibitions that interfere with my dreams. She helps add shape and substance to my dreams and makes me a better person for it. I only hope I can do the same for her.
So, to my wife I say: “Thank you for being the Michelangelo to my slab of marble. Thank you for honoring me enough to envision the ‘angel in the marble’ and patiently, lovingly helping to ‘set him free.'”