Casting off the “rerun” arguments. Many marriages have one or more repeating areas of friction. Recurring issues also come up between parents and children. Arguments are not bad in themselves. If both parties leave the argument having made points that the other person has acknowledged, and both parties take responsibility for changing an area of themselves as a result, the argument, while uncomfortable, was necessary for growth.
But if you find that there’s an area of your marriage or family life that is stuck in a negative pattern, with neither person ready to admit fault or take action, you may need to seek help outside the family.
“My wife and I don’t regularly go to a marriage counselor,” says Tim, a father of two who has been married 15 years. “But we’ve gone maybe a half dozen times in our marriage. We’ve learned that when we aren’t able to make a decision together or we feel like we are drifting, a few sessions with a counselor help us identify some underlying problems that we need to fix in order to be close again.”
Casting off denial. Ignoring a family problem in hopes it will go away rarely works as a long-term solution. Some parents, exhausted from the relentless nature of managing a household, choose to look the other way when confronted with evidence that their child or spouse is making poor choices.
Parents can also be in denial about their own shortcomings—a parent with an anger problem may reason that everyone loses her temper occasionally. “Last year, my husband admitted he was an alcoholic—and had probably been one for the last decade,” says Tammy, married 18 years with five children. “It was so hard. He cried when he told our teenager. But the months that have followed have been the best in our marriage. The lies are over. He is telling me his fears rather than keeping them inside and drinking. As a couple, we are stronger than ever.”
By Annemarie Scobey, from the pages of At Home with Our Faith, Claretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home. Winner of the Best in Class award in 2013 from the Associated Church Press, as well as a First Place General Excellence award from the Catholic Press Association for the past four years running. Here’s a sample issue.
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