Who doesn’t want true happiness in family life? Who doesn’t want a satisfactory and fulfilling marriage? When I was dating my now husband one of the things that kept coming to my mind was the quote from the family proclamation saying:
“Happiness in Family Life
is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect,love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.”
Although at that time in my life it read more “successful marriages are established on principles of…” I used this quote from the family proclamation to pattern my attitude during courtship. Since then I have strived to apply the same quote to our marriage. I have a testimony that marriages and family really can find happiness in this life and in the world to come when we pattern our lives after these principals and constantly work for a happy marriage and family.
Forgiveness is an essential part of the equation to create lasting happiness. I think forgiveness within the family is something many people don’t want to address or admit to. Why? It is the most difficult. Perhaps, we also don’t like to talk about this because that means we must admit that we are hurt by the ones we love. The wounds that come from our loved ones can hurt the most. They are who we trust the most and should be the ones that don’t hurt us. So when it does happen it can be truly devastating.
But for that very reason forgiving one another is essential. Forgiveness encompasses many different steps and at times must be aided by a helpful bishop and most importantly the Savior. One thing that can aid in our ability to forgive is honest and open communication with those that have hurt us. Communicating through hurts and misunderstandings can be difficult and unnatural. Forgiveness can be even more difficult.
A couple of months ago my husband and I experience a little miscommunication…
We use a laptop as the family computer and have a case that goes with it. While the computer was in use I would neatly place the case under the computer, but for some reason I would always find it on the floor. I would return it to where I preferred the case to go. Then one day I noticed my husband remove it from where I had placed it and put it on the floor… “Why would he do that?” After confronting him about it, I realized he didn’t like it under the laptop because it could make the laptop overheat…(something I had never considered) I also explained to him that I didn’t like it on the floor as it created a mess. We were able to work it out and find a place for it that we both liked.
Ok I know…super silly story right. Who cares where it goes. The funny thing is we find ourselves in these situations all the time. We just don’t think about what the other person wants or needs. We go through our day “missing each other”. We could very well have just added that to our list of ever growing pet peeves from our spouse but instead we were able to talk about it. As we learn to communicate with our families and with our spouse we will be more ready to forgive.
Here are 5 things we strive to do in our family to work through misunderstanding and communicate better:
1. Avoid Defensiveness and judgment: This may be a personal thing, but I find it is very easy to get defensive when someone comes to me and tells me I have done something wrong. It is also easy to pass judgment on someone that has hurt me and assume the worst in them. This is something my husband and I speak about openly when we are discussing problems is whether or not we feel we are defensive. Sometimes I will say “I can’t talk about this right now…I’m too defensive” This gives me some time to step back and re organize my attitude toward the situation before talking about the issue.
2. Hold a weekly companionship inventory: This is probably my favorite thing that we do as a couple to communicate. We set aside a time every Sunday afternoon to discuss the week, our relationship, things we liked, and things we can improve on. I love it because I can be mentally prepared to discuss problems that happened during the week. It also gives me the opportunity to remember and express all the good things that my husband did. (and of course to hear him express thanks to me.) I also think this is really helpful because it means we don’t have to figure everything out in the moment. We can wait till comp inventor and be prepared to deal with difficult things in a more calm and planned environment. But I also know that we will talk about it and don’t have to fret that a problem will never be solved.
3. Include family business portion once a week during FHE: This is more directed to the family. We hold a family business portion at the beginning of family home evening each week to discuss our plans for the week. At this time we only have a toddler but I imagine as our children get older this is where we will have our “family inventory”. Where we will do much of the same things as our comp inventory but more tailored to a whole family setting.
4. Make time for open communication: Turn off the electronic devices or set aside the project: Communication can be difficult because it involves sacrifice and time. Often times when my family is having a lot of miscommunications or not connecting well it is because we are too distracted with media. Setting goals and boundaries around electronic devices has helped us communicate more effectively. We try to use devices for personal use on a planned ahead basis and use them only spontaneously when we want to have a family activity that includes them.
5. Be Considerate of the other person: when we are offended by someone it is easy to want to push them away physically or emotionally or do something that would lose their trust. We have both set an argument boundary for ourselves as husband and wife. First that no matter how upset we are we still maintain the trust of the other in our actions. (As in just because I’m mad I won’t go blow all his secrets or talk about how awful my husband is.) Second is we are still willing to connect to the other person emotionally or physically. (So we are willing to express our feelings and to still touch the other). Even if it is just a little touch of the hand or on the leg. I notice that it can help me to soften my heart and let my spouse know that I am actually willing to work things out.
Learning and practicing communication can help immensely in the forgiveness process. However I believe that even if someone is not willing to communicate with us we still need to forgive that person. Forgiveness can be extremely difficult and in extremely difficult situations we should seek help from our bishop and in some cases a counselor to help us through these times. Some talks that and guidance that I have found extremely helpful can be found in the links below.
Free printables on forgiveness:
Hey, my name is Megan Willis. I am first and foremost a wife to my best friend in the world and love writing our life story together. I am a mother to one beautiful little boy and his soon to be little brother or sister. Being a mother is the most important and fulfilling work I could do! It fills my heart with joy to be part of heavenly fathers plan in such a way. I graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho with a degree in Health Science. I love learning and often find myself studying up on food, health, birth, and of course the gospel. I love design and art. I blog at One Willis Family where I share my crazy thoughts, life lessons, printables, and church ideas. I also have an Etsy store where many of my designs are available for purchase.
Don’t forget to visit We Talk of Christ to read what article Jocelyn is sharing for the Family Proclamation celebration!