August 23rd, 2009 15:43 EST
World Peace Begins at Home
"I`ll tell you the secret as to why couples get divorced....selfishness" -- Brother King
A recent news story suggests that wives who speak their minds to their husbands, tend to live longer on average, and it sites specifically that they are less likely to die from heart disease or strokes. This makes sense to me, because my intuitive sense tells me that it is better to let out frustration and anger than to keep it bottled up.
So how can you have peace in the home, if wives are confronting husbands, every time they have a beef with them? The answer, I believe, is that it varies with each home. What I mean is that there is not a one size fits all kind of answer. Each couple has a different way of relating to one another, and if you add children into the mix, there is going to be a fairly unique set of relational dynamics.
This is why I think that self-help books, that claim they have the answer to all your problems, more often than not, fail. Many people go from one book to another and one seminar to another, even to the point of getting hooked. This is not to say that the self-help industry is all bad, or does little good. What I am getting at here, is that each of us, need to examine our lives and our activities with a critical eye. What you read, and what you hear, needs to be filtered through your own set of criteria, based on your particular experience and situation.
This brings me back to confrontations between husbands and wives. I sometimes feel a little guilty when I have an argument with my wife in front of the children. It helps me to realize that this is normal and even healthy, up to a point. I feel that as long as each party is "playing fair," i.e. not using physical violence, or threatening it, and not, for example, going so far as to threaten divorce as a routine way to manipulate the other, then it probably falls into the range of healthy bonding patterns.
Of course, I cannot categorize every example of relational discourse into what is healthy and what is not. Ergo, my earlier mention of using your own critical thinking process; each of us has a brain for a reason, no? I will share something that has helped me as a husband and father, especially early on. It is the idea that I came up with, that there comes a point when one is trying too hard. As many have observed, children usually end up O.K., often in spite of difficult circumstances.
Another important factor that I have found in marriages that work is good communication. Men seem to be less inclined to talk to their wives, and another common complaint from wives are that their husbands don`t listen to them. I think that this is a plague! We, both men and women, need to listen more, and do a better job at it. I`d like to point out here, that men often want to fix any problem that their wives share with them. They think, well if I fix it, then it will go away and everyone will be happy...got to fix it and fix it fast. Some women do this too. An example is that of a husband who complains about his job and the wife feels so much anxiety about this, that she urges him to find another job right away. She is really trying to relieve her own anxiety and isn`t even aware that she is doing this.
Another funny thing is that in many cases, both husbands and wives think that the other party doesn`t appreciate what they go through. Often men think that their wives have the "easy part," and the wives think that the men have it easier. Or the man thinks that his wife doesn`t understand what he goes through from day to day, and vice versa. Who is right? It doesn`t really matter who is right. The point is, there is a lack of connection, of appreciation. This kind of envy and self-pity leads to blaming, and that only puts up walls and destroys intimacy.
I almost want to recommend to couples, myself included, to do an exercise with each other. That is to each spend a week "shadowing" their spouse. To follow them all day (keeping out of the way) for a week. Then the next week, the other will do the same. I bet there would be quite a few surprises for both of them.
So how does one find peace in the home, when spouses and children are constantly demanding of you, society offers little help, and you have your own unresolved issues stretching back to your childhood?
At the risk of appearing to cop-out, I will begin with the clichÃ© that peace (in the family) begins in your own heart. The pathways to peace are many. Some people find it in nature, some with religion, some with meditation, some with social connection, some with counseling, some by reading or traveling or exercising, and some with a combination of these and many other venues. Even life itself may find a way to make you slow down; unfortunately this is too often through a disease or some other catastrophe.
Our world currently works against the family...pervasive drugs, violence on television, real violence, porn on the Internet, a media machine that makes us feel bad if we don`t have the perfect body or life, corporations that ask, "what have you done for me lately. It seems, that the battle is so up-hill, that we don`t stand a chance. We give up, and live a life of reaction, rather than taking control of our thoughts, emotions and actions.
But when a father is at peace, he is accepting of his children, and wife. He has confidence in them and their ability to find their own way. This kind of acceptance and faith permeates the family and comes back to him. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I urge you to do whatever you can to get to this place. Read books, go to self-help groups, visualize what a life like this could be like, keep trying different approaches until you strike gold. It will be worth it, believe me! If one family can do this, others can too.
Remember the barrier of the one minute mile? When it was finally broken, the flood gates were open, and many other athletes began to run it also. Some families are doing this already, it can be done. It may take you years, or you may be there already. If so, congratulations, spread the "word." "Home Grown Peace." Pass it on! It will come back to you in the circle of life.