Doors, doors, and more doors. Everyday we walk through doorways…revolving doorways, automatic doorways, office doorways, garage doorways, backdoor doorways…. Not only do we walk through physical doorways, we walk through relational doorways, those doorways to intimate moments or disastrous conflict.
In family relationships, we open at least four doorways that provide an opportunity to nurture family intimacy. Although it may only take about 15 minutes to walk through all four doorways, you can enhance the intimacy in your home by going through each one mindfully.
The first doorway is the “Good Morning Doorway.” We open this doorway every morning as we start the day. I have learned that I have to get up a little early and spend time alone before opening this doorway to others. Only after some time alone can I open it gently with a simple “Good morning,” a hug, and a kiss. As you walk through this doorway, show interest in other family members and honor them by asking how they slept. Offer to help prepare breakfast or pour a drink. As you go about this simple breakfast routine, share some of your plans for the day and ask your family what they plan to do. While you are at it, notice something positive about each family member. Compliment them on their clothing, good taste in food, or hairstyle. Thank them for some task they completed yesterday or earlier in the week. Whatever it is, find something for which you can praise or thank them. These simple conversations express honor and respect…and, loving interactions let each person start the day feeling valued, loved, and important.
The second doorway is the “Good-bye Doorway.” Every day, family members go their separate ways…work, school, out with friends, grocery shopping, etc. The moments when family members take leave of one another represent the “Good-bye Doorway.” How you walk through and close this doorway will be the last impression you leave with your family until you see them again. So, don’t let it slam shut behind you. Open it carefully and close it cautiously. You can gain intimacy through this doorway by sharing a simple hug and kiss when you say good-bye. Tell each family member that you love them. Show them how much you care by letting them know when you’ll be back and even where you are going.
The third doorway is the “Honey, I’m Home Doorway.” When we reunite after having gone away, we walk through this doorway to potential intimacy. Take time to greet one another at this doorway. Stand in the doorway and give a “hello hug and kiss.” Take the time to greet one another rather than bombarding with information, demands, requests, or complaints. Simply welcome one another back into the safety of a relationship with you. Talk about the day and allow each person to transition back into home. Ask about one another’s day and support one another as you share your “ups and downs” of the day.
The fourth and final doorway is the “Good Night Doorway.” The “Good Night Doorway” may well be the most important doorway of the day. This doorway offers us the final opportunity to resolve differences, share words of encouragement and love, and share moments of affection before drifting into the world of dreams. Make good use of this doorway. While standing in the “Good Night Doorway” you have a great opportunity to share things you enjoyed about the day, things for which you are grateful, and things that made you happy. The threshold of the “Good Night Doorway” also offers an excellent opportunity to gently resolve any disagreements or tensions that arose during the day. Share any apologies necessary and offer forgiveness to restore relationships. As the door gently closes, share a good night hug and kiss…then enjoy a peaceful sleep with the knowledge that you have successfully navigated four doorways of growing intimacy today.