In the last 20 years practicing therapy, most of my patients want a “quick fix” to mend their problems and make them disappear. But I try to explain to them that in real life there is no such thing as a free lunch – you get out of it what you invest. I explain that you have to work hard on yourself before you can try to work on others.
This is the age of technology, high demands, and work pressure. We have to strike a balance between keeping up with the competition of our job requirements while maintaining our profiles. Families are struggling between job pressure, family obligations and personal satisfaction. How can someone with that lifestyle manage their career, marriage, and family life?
First, let me begin by saying that we teach others how to treat us. Beginning with dating to courting to marriage to having kids and raising them. A family built on trust, love, guidance, support, and sharing is going to be successful in most of life’s journeys.
According to Stephen R. Covey, the author of “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” he reveals that fairness, integrity, honesty, and human dignity gives us the security to adapt to change. Covey also says those traits give us the wisdom and power to take advantage of opportunities that change creates, like success and wisdom.
Secondly, evaluating your priorities and balancing your lifestyle can be keys to solving conflicting issues among family members, children, your job, friends, and social life.
Third, many married couples face conflicting roles, which can lead to fear, anxiety and insecurities of the children. Providing structure and openness will create conversation and nix mixed messages. You should discuss roles and spousal boundaries, just not in front of the children.
Fourth, try to avoid intergenerational gaps between grandparents, parents, and children. Keep up with time and accept the fact that your children are getting older. They need you as a friend, not a dictator.
Fifth, exaluate areas of disagreement, such as: money, recreation, friendship, children, conflicting personalities, in-laws, religion, politics and sex. Try to work on these objectively and rationally without threats or intimidation to get your point across.
Lastly, I recommend going back to the basics. The family that eats and prays together, stays together. This warmth and camaraderie provides a comfort zone.
All this is easier said than done. How can we juggle so many things these days? Let alone face obstacles with our jobs, kids, professional growth, and achievements?
I believe quality not quantity can satisfy family needs. Make sure you’re not too tired and stressed when you spend time with the family. Find a place and space where you can provide a healthy environment to grow emotionally and bond. Give love, attention and support constructively in order to communicate. Try not to criticize, judge, pry or advise when a family member is reaching out to you. Validate the person with praise and approval in order to develop trust and confidence. If it’s feasible, rely on extended family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc) to help you with their own insight and wisdom drawn from their experiences.
In order to have a sound family structure, you must have the following: passion, vision, perspective, balance, discipline and self control
Finally, pre-marriage preparation is critical to maintaining a rewarding marriage and successful family. Consider the following elements for a solid family structure: mate selection, social and cultural factors, religion, family structure (rigid versus enmeshed), self-esteem, maturity, and wisdom. Never allow your emotions illogical/irrational behavior to rule your heart and destiny.
Six areas of marriage that need to be addressed before marriage are: sex relation, career options, children upbringing, spending, social activities, in-law relationship, religious activities and mutual friends.
If a couple manages to work through these important issues fairly and cooperatively, then the marriage is likely to succeed in a fair, positive, and successful environment.
Hoda Amine, PhD., MSW, DCSW, is the Director of Arab Violence Intervention Program for Dearborn Counseling Services. Dr. Amine works at Apex Behavioral Health in Westland.