December 3, 2004
Transitions through the Family Life Cycle
Strengthening Your Marriage & Family Relationships, & The Future Of Your Family
Strengthening your marriage and family is a life-long process. It may start at age 20 when you begin looking for a mate and then finish at age 75 when your life ends – that is a 55-year process. Talk about a long time! A couple could spend a large amount of time strengthening their relationship at the beginning, but even that does not guarantee a successful marriage or happy family later in life. Although it is never too late to start rebuilding a marriage, and therefore benefiting your family, there will be issues from earlier in the marriage that will still have to be dealt with. The two institutions of marriages and families are a lot of work. They can turn your day into something you had not planned. They can leave no time for you and your personal needs. And despite the happy moments, they can ruin your day. When your child has just remembered they need a school supply for the next day and the dog has had an accident on the floor right after an argument with your spouse, will you prioritize this as something more valuable than daily problems? When you have so many things to do and the projects or problems keep piling up, it is not easy to set the less important things aside and spend a minute or two caring for someone you love, but it is the only way to strengthen your marriage and family.
Time: we all wish we had just one more hour in the day or just one more half hour. It is greatly valued, but is it valued in the right areas? Prioritizing your time in favor of your marriage and family can be a big challenge but is part of the process. In the following paragraphs, topics will be discussed that deserve the most time in your family’s process to strengthen it no matter what curve balls are thrown your way. These issues will take time and patience as they are not easy, but they should be top priorities.
If possible, the best way to start a strong family is in the beginning with a strong marriage. The husband and wife are a role model for how the children will communicate and problem-solve. The PAIR Project has proven that actions in a couple’s courtship are indicative of the future marriage (Huston & Melz, 2004, pp. 949-950). It is extremely important that an engaged couple look as objectively as possible at their courtship in order to prepare for the process ahead of them. Gaining more popularity, an approach to this is pre-marital counseling which can provide lasting benefits. A good marriage is necessary for a good family, and a couple about to be married should pay attention to the warning signs that may be present, as they most likely point in the direction the marriage is heading. Since the PAIR Project’s longitudinal study occurred over fourteen years, the results are very trustworthy. It was a case study on those who failed to see, or ignored, warning signs before marriage. Couples’ courtships were classified as one of three categories: rocky-turbulent, sweet-undramatic, or passionate. Rocky-turbulent courtships would be classified because of feelings of jealousy, independence, a fear of the uncertain future, and selfish love. Sweet-undramatic courtships have attitudes of service, sensitivity, and understanding. Passionate courtships are considered rash, sexually-based, and living in the moment. Both the rocky-turbulent and passionate courtships often became unhappy marriages while the sweet-undramatic courtships became relatively healthy marriages (Huston & Melz, 2004, pp. 943-958). According to the PAIR Project, a relationship’s mood is determined in the beginning of the marriage. Characteristics of placidity and caring can form a foundation of a happy marriage. Although a couple may be very affectionate and have high levels of sexual activity, they do not necessarily have low levels of conflict. This study...
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