You may be wondering how to build a happy family and it is not always the easiest feat accomplishing this, in fact we oftentimes commence our marriages with a very limited educational foundation. What is it that makes a family work or fall apart? Happy or constantly full of strife? Negative or focused on the positive?
How do we establish marriages that we actually enjoy, children that are joyful and who’s emotional needs are met while maintaining our reach as a family to others? There are a few reasons I have found that we may have such a high divorce rate in our nation or dysfunctional family lives (even when we do not realize that we are in such a situation).
My observations are based on the last ten years of ministering to both youth and adults coming from varying backgrounds including a two parent home, separated parents, divorced backgrounds and fatherlessness. My insight also comes from my own childhood upbringing in a two parent home, not perfect, but full of love and active Christian influence. To whom much is given, much is required; I believe much has been entrusted to me as someone blessed with such a family background and see this as the perfect opportunity to share what I have gained.
The first concern I have seen is that many people do not have modeling in what it looks like to have a two parent home or raise children in a healthy environment. I’m going to state right away that some may try to discount my authority to share on how to care for children when I do not have my own but I believe psychology has proven that seeing these behaviors exemplified for you actually does wonders in helping others accomplish the same upbringing.
We tend to do this subconsciously; in fact, my experience has proven that whatever people have seen in their childhood they begin to live out when in a similar situation as an adult.
We must know what a healthy family is before we can become a healthy family.
This begins with an understanding of how family began. In the Christian world we believe GOD created family starting with two people- Adam and Eve, male and female. He did this with three major purposes in mind- enjoyment, fruitfulness and multiplication. He wanted them to enjoy one another, the world He placed them in and the extension of their family- their children and grandchildren. He never meant for sin to come in and hinder their ability to have fun!
He also wanted them to multiply and be world leaders. This was always His plan for family- to influence, impact and determine the destiny of nations. There is an inherent power in the family unit that no one can deny nor alleviate when this institution is fully thriving.
Unfortunately friction arose when the family unit was broken down through deception, lack of commitment and blame. Adam and Eve began to blame one another, pointing the finger wrongfully instead of taking responsibility for their own actions. Their children were then influenced by their negative behaviors and thus you have generations of dysfunctionality arise. This is unfortunately what we have inherited as humankind.
How do you reverse this?
Through developing a strong Biblical foundation and determining from the onset that your family will be a GOD Family, you are able to break the trends seen in each family unit. These trends look like verbal abuse, infidelity, communication issues, disrespect, neglect and anger. But they do not to continue in our lives if we are aware of the problems and actively applying the Gospel to heal these deep wounds.
The problem comes in on the question of “How.” How do you create a Biblical Foundation for your Marriage and Family Life? How do you Actively Apply the Gospel to heal Generational Patterns?
This is where both expertise and wisdom come in to aid us in really being successful, not simply sounding authoritative nor knowledgeable but having the practical tools needed to be successful.
The springboard of everything we need to know on how to do this is found in this key truth:
Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.
Taken from Psalm 127:1, it is clear that only the LORD can do this, not us alone. When this is out of order and we are taking our family’s development into our hands without His help we are destined to fail. It is only when we really learn to take this seriously and how to live it out in our daily relationships that we are able to grow.
If you are in a situation where your family has not been built on this Scripture, please know that you are able to start over today; your past does Not have to determine your future success.
We can simply ask and then receive. Sitting down as a husband and wife, asking GOD to build your house, inviting Him in through prayer is a very powerful act of control. You may feel like you have lost control over your family’s destiny but this does not have to be the case. You can win this battle beginning with a simple prayer of faith.
Then you will know that all of your hard work is rooted in Someone Greater and More Powerful than you. He has more resources and experience than you; so you are destined to have victory in this area.
You can also sit down as a husband and wife, beginning with a few primary Scriptures. Below is a list of Seven Scriptures I have compiled to help you get started:
- LOVE: We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19
- HUSBANDS: In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. Ephesians 5:28
- MUTUAL SUBMISSION: Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:21
- WIVES: Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives. 1 Peter 3:1
- FORGIVENESS: Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Colossians 3:13
- CHILDREN: Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. Psalm 127:3-5
- FAMILY BLESSING: Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Genesis 28:14
Intentionally, I have not commented on how children should respond to parents because I will address this later in this text. At this point, I would like to add a few guiding principles to help those desiring to accurately apply these truths:
- Husbands are required to love and cherish their wives as their own bodies. This oftentimes can become hidden in the same passage requiring wives to submit to their husbands. Husbands and wives are to mutually submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21). This is a partnership, not a dictatorship!
- Wives are to both love and submit to their husbands. This is much easier to accomplish when men love their women the way they should; submission is many times undesirable because of our experiences with the abuse of this principle or the challenge of an oppressive situation. But in a balanced way this should also not be the reasoning for being a nagging or disrespectful wife (Proverbs 14:1). Verbal abuse can occur both ways. The key word here is balance.
- Children are a blessing, not Yet Another Liability. We live in a culture where we are taught to see children as an added weight, but the Bible describes them much differently- as a Blessing that will bring us both Joy and Victory! They are to be loved not used.
Keeping all of that in mind, we can begin to access how to live these Scriptures out through practical steps in our relationships. If you are about to be wed, this is a great list to keep in your Family Development Account, if you are already wed, this is a great tool to keep as a reminder and if you do not have children/already have them these tools will prepare you for creating a Wonderful Family Environment.
There are a few actual steps you can take to be and remain healthy (spiritually, verbally, emotionally, physically) meeting everyone’s needs in your current (or future) household:
- Marital Devotions- Every marriage needs GOD in the middle of it for it to be it’s Best! Having daily times of focused prayer and reading of the Bible (when both partners are Christians) is key to maintaining a strong marriage. If you do not know where to begin there are plenty of marriage devotionals. Here are a few I personally recommend:
- Date Nights- Spending time with one another before marriage is a given but oftentimes can be forsaken within marriage. This must be intentional and a high level of commitment needs to be in place for this to actually Happen. Corey and I have been dating every week for the last ten years; find a weekly, bi monthly or monthly date pattern and Do It, even if 101 other reasons not to date come up. Committing to this will help solidify the romance you long for in a good marriage.
- Family Devotions- Praying together and reading the Bible together as a family is very important. This may or may not have been a part of your childhood traditions but you can start it in your family’s traditions. Children love hearing Bible stories, asking them what they have learned in church and discussing how to apply the principles in your devotions to your family life will leave a lasting impact on every family member. A few ideas: Target a Scripture and focus on it, share examples from the Bible on a particular topic, buy children’s Bible stories and read them daily or weekly to your children, actively listen to your children regarding what they are learning/questions they may have.
- Family Time- Having enjoyable, creative and fun times together as a family is worth the investment. Watching t.v. or every member of the household having separate times of enjoyment is fun, but be sure to also include undistracted time with one another. A few ideas: If you watch a movie together, talk about the principles everyone has learned from the movie and how you can apply it to your family. Get into each member’s world by creating a pool of ideas each family member would enjoy then doing it together. Establish family traditions that your children can pass onto their children for birthdays, holidays or other significant parts of the year. Eat dinner together daily recapping one another’s day and praying for one another.
- Family Exercise- Working out together is very important to the physical health of your family. You can buy a gym membership or save money by going to a local park. Even your children seeing you exercise consistently will impact them in the years to come. Don’t forget to explain Why you workout- Because you are a temple of GOD and want to live for years to come!
- Active Listening- Listening without distractions (i.e. cell phone, tv or text messaging) is very valuable to each family member. Take time out to listen to your husband, your wife and your children on a daily basis. Then respond to their thoughts or concerns with visible interest.
- Apologizing- One of the most impactful moments of my life was when my father took time (not once, but multiple times) to sit down on my bed or drive hours away just to say “I’m sorry,” “I was wrong” and “This is what I learned.” This humility speaks volumes, impacting your loved ones lives and teaching them that apologizing is a natural part of life. It is also extremely healing to any relationship.
All of these tips will aid in you creating the family life I’m sure you aim to obtain. It is more than an institution creating itself and simply happening as a bi-product of life. It is an experience that you and I have been given the exciting opportunity to initiate. Hats off to a beautiful family experience and years of memories you will leave with one another for years!
In addition, here’s an extra bonus for children in a family unit:
Children are to obey and respect their parents but they also need to know they are Valued and Not Provoked to Anger. This is done by how parents model positive behaviors to their children beyond their own words. Parents can also speak affirming words to their children to build self esteem. How can children be both a blessing and be blessed?
- Children must know they are valued as an important part of the family beyond what they do; they are valued for who they are. This ideally happens before inception in the heart of both parents.
- Children must know they are valued as an important part of the family for what they add to the family in personality, actions and expectations. At a certain point in a child’s life they need to be verbally and emotionally affirmed for what they add to the family (i.e. You are so brilliant! I love your creativity! You did great on your exam today!) When children do not hear affirming words they wonder how well they are doing; ignoring their positive behaviors or having no expectations for them can be very detrimental to their development.
- Children must be given expectations, but know they are loved even if they do not always meet these expectations. Telling your children why you expect them to behave, love others or be kind should originate from the Bible, not your own opinion. When they understand how this makes GOD feel it will last beyond your years.
- Children must learn that at some point they are not here for themselves alone, they are here for the greater good of the community– instilling ways they can give to others, even at a young age is key to them maturing into a giver as an adult.
- There are many other ways children can grow or learn but these are a few principles to lay in your foundation.
Stay tuned for future articles on “What is Not a Healthy Family: Avoiding the Common Pitfalls Causing Families to Split Apart.”
Did you enjoy this post or learn anything new? How do you plan to add creative or fun family times to your household? Maybe you have more tips than I could ever fit into a few paragraphs, Come on…Come out of your shell and share some of your secrets with us! There just may be someone who can learn from your experiences.
A Family Prayer: Father, please help my marriage grow and mature into what You have ordained it to be from the beginning of time. I pray for the future of my marital relationship, that it will blossom, be rooted in Your Truth, that love will abound through the many hurts of life and we will cherish every moment together. I pray against the fear of failure and failure itself; that we will live by faith as loving partners, seeking to do Your Will. I also commit my children and future children to know, asking for Your wisdom in guiding them to the Word of GOD, loving each other and becoming wonderful citizens wherever they live. Thank You for the grace to put You first, my marriage second and my children after my marriage- committing to pour out blessing into every person in my family unit. In Jesus’ name. Amen!