From Dr. Jane's Notebook
Who turned up the speedometer on life?
A mere half century ago, life in America
was considerably different. Families could survive on the salary of one parent,
the work week was approximately 40 hours long, most work was done on the day
shift, and many families were accustomed to having breakfast and dinner
together. While our society has made much progress over the past five decades,
we have also forfeited some of the most pleasant aspects of family life. As we
anticipate the next fifty years, here are a few more thoughts on the matter.
- Spouses need time together to form a team.
Marriage provides the foundation of the family. Husbands and wives start or
blend their families based on their love for each other. Marital vows are
statements of voluntary commitment and of assuming voluntary responsibility.
Unfortunately, many newlyweds feel the victim of “bait-and-switch”, when after
the wedding, they come head to head with the reality of life as a full partner
in the marriage. But whether they have worn rose-colored glasses during
courtship or not, it has always been much easier to get married, than it is to
live inside of marriage. After the wedding, those who wish to succeed in
marriage must learn to function well as a couple and solve their problems
- Parenting is also a dedicated partnership.
Research on marriage suggests that poor ratings as a parent by one’s spouse
seriously interferes with marital satisfaction. When spouses lack confidence
in their partner’s commitment to good parenting, they feel the need to take
more of the responsibility for their children, and this disappointment leads
to greater resentment and further distance in the marriage. To prevent this
deterioration, couples must communicate their expectations for each other as
parents, learn to function as a parental team, and solve parent-child problems
- Another key to close relationships is
synchronicity. While work often feels like a relay race, family life
is best approached in unison. This means that people eat, sleep, and work or
study at the same time. When we do not spend adequate time in the same place
doing the same things, it is easy to disconnect from our spouses and children.
Miscommunications thrive when we disconnect from each other, leading to wider
cracks in the family’s foundation. On the other hand, when families
synchronize their schedules, they find greater joy in their shared
experiences, and feel less threatened by changes as they face new projects
- Schedule your time around your family. Too
many of us have fallen into the trap of putting our jobs first. It is natural
to put work first when we fear the loss of our job, and when we work for
others who do not support family life, but beyond that, many of us fail to put
family life on our daily calendars. Once at home, many adults continue to
involve themselves in solitary projects which continue to exclude their
families. Unfortunately, isolation at home yields further lost opportunities
for intimacy with our mates and lost opportunities for closeness with our
Before computers and video toys, it used to
take two people to play most games. Before the explosion of television and home
movies, most activities required greater interaction between participants. While
these technological miracles have revolutionized our lives in wonderful ways, we
must not forget that the elementary component of our relationships is each one
of us. The fundamental contribution that we have to share with our mates and
children is our time. For that… there is no substitute.
©Copyright, 2004, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.
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