Enrich Your Family Life

A


small-town newspaper included the following classified ad in its Monday edition:

"FOR SALE: R. D. Jones has one sewing machine for sale. Phone 958 after 7 p.m. and ask for Mrs. Kelly who lives with him cheap."

On Tuesday: "NOTICE: We regret having erred in R.D. Jones' ad yesterday. It should have read: One sewing machine for sale. Cheap. Phone 958 and ask for Mrs. Kelly who lives with him after 7 p.m."

On Wednesday the ad was confused again. Finally, on Thursday the ad read: "NOTICE: I, R.D. Jones, have no sewing machine for sale. I smashed it. Don't call 958 as the telephone has been taken out. I have not been carrying on with Mrs. Kelly. Until yesterday she was my housekeeper, but she quit."

Following are several helpful suggestions for enriching your family life and greatly improving interpersonal relationships:

Improve family communications

Faulty communications cause innumerable problems. This is especially true in the home. In fact, one of the first steps to improve family relationships is to improve family communications.

Family members need to talk meaningfully to each other every day, to show an interest in each other, to give constant understanding and approval, and to share and accept each other's feelings.

Communication ... involves
not only talking but
listening creatively.

Each member also needs to be given a say in family matters. When this is done, practical compromisesóthe oil for smooth family livingócan be worked out.

Communication, of course, goes two ways. It involves not only talking but listening creatively; that is, listening to the real message behind the words.

Sometimes family members will say one thing when they mean another. For example, Dave asks June, his wife, if she'd like to go out for dinner. June is tired and doesn't want to go, but feels Dave might be hurt if she says no. So she agrees. Then she feels resentful because Dave didn't know how she was feeling. As a result, the dinner date was a flop.

If Dave is listening creatively, he may detect when June is saying yes but means no. However, it is important for all family members to say what they want and not leave others to guess.

Avoid inflammatory words

It is also important to avoid inflammatory words such as, "You never" or "You always." Such statements are rarely true. Put-downs also need to be avoided. They are thinly veiled expressions of hostility. It is much kinder to admit when you are feeling hurt or angry.

In his book, An Answer to Family Communications, H. Norman Wright tells of a study that compared happily married couples with unhappily married ones. The study showed that the happily married couples:

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