In the past few weeks, I have read a lot about New Year resolutions and goals for the year ahead of us. Some bloggers are just starting, some have already dropped their resolutions, but most have their eye on some type of improvement for the year ahead.
While the goals are wide ranging, many of them fall into a few categories: fitness, finances, and organization. People want to become healthier, more financial secure, and learn better ways simplify and organize their lives. Out of these resolutions, I noticed a trend of what is excluded. Very few people are focusing on their marriage and their family. There seems to be an underlying belief that if we are healthier, more organized, and have fewer financial concerns, then our family will be happier. Our marriage will be stronger. Our home will be less chaotic and we will feel better about ourselves. But is that really true? Yes, many couples face stress due to finances and many people may feel in a fitness rut, but are those the core issues or just a symptom of a deeper problem?
I would argue that the real heart of marriage and family issues centers on two areas: communication problems and conflict avoidance. Financial issues are stressful but they are less taxing on your marriage if you work together to plan and budget. A chaotic home life can use organization but you have to be able to identify why the chaos began. Being overweight or practicing unhealthy habits warrants a change, but you need to acknowledge the reasons for your lack of motivation or lower self-esteem.
Many of our bad habits begin when we are avoiding the true problem and not communicating on a deep enough level.
What if, instead of investing in a new treadmill, you invested that money in counseling? What if, instead of taking the time to fill out a new planner, you sit down with your partner to have a real conversation about how the house has been running? What if, instead figuring out your own budget, you sit with your partner to get on the same page about your spending?
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t invest in your health, organizational, or financial habits. I am saying that in addition to fixing the problem at hand, you should also be looking at what got you to this point. Without addressing the core issues, you are in fact just creating band-aids: A short-term solution and goal that many people drop within a few weeks or months.
If you want this year to be different, then you need to approach the situation from a different angle. You need to dig deeper and do the hard work now in order to have the true change you are seeking. Learning how to effectively communicate with your spouse is the heart of working together for the good of your family. Learning how to face conflict in a healthy manner will produce longer-term results than if you try to instill another method or system into your family life.
This year, resolve to uncover the real issues, concerns, and resentments that are holding your family back. Dedicate your time and resources to building a strong core so that when stressful situations arrive, you are able to tackle them as a team.