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How to thrive in family life

7 Helpful Ways to Improve Your Marriage and Family

We all want to be have a happy and thriving home; and while family life is complex and there are no short cuts or quick fixes to improving upon it, the following practices have been instrumental in helping to invigorate my own marriage and family’s life.  

Some of the ideas involved are critical and involve physical action (like #1), others require mental and/or emotional action and are seemingly simple – but you’d be surprised how hard it could be to just “lighten up!” (#7).

I have a feeling that most Christian families are already practicing this; but if not, you may want to prayerfully consider the following…

1 – Attend Church Regularly

Coming together for worship is one of the single best things you can do for your family as believers in Christ.  The church is a place of encouragement, fellowship, inspiration, and accountability for Christians.  As Christians, we swim against the evil tide of the world.  At church, we are with like-minded believers in Christ who spur us on “toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). There are no lone rangers in the kingdom of God: “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12).  The church has always been a “Holy Ghost Hospital” in my life.  It’s there, that I have been corrected, loved on, disciplined, and prayed for.  If we want to experience abundant family life, we’ll first have to tap into the “abundant life” Christ promised (John 10:10).

“I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD” (Psalm 122:1).

2 – Seek Marriage or Family Counseling

If you’re struggling in your marriage or family life and you can’t seem to conquer that giant of (fill in the blank), you don’t have to go it alone!  Seek counsel from your pastor, or whomever he appoints to counsel you.  Ideally, this is the first step for Christians.  Don’t let your pride keep you back from disclosing whatever problem happens to be troubling your marriage or family.  Over the course of my marriage, hubby and I have received counseling several times. Thankfully, it was discovered that he was wrong in each and every case!  Ha! (Just kidding. :o) Really though, in each instance, our pastor (or the appointed counselor) took time out to listen and prayerfully offer counsel to help us resolve and get us back on track.  I love the family of God!  Also, there are “parachurch” organizations (like Focus on the Family) which provide counseling as well, or can direct you to paid counseling in your area.

 “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14).

3 – Solicit Feedback on Your Marriage/Family

Now that we’re on the topic, seeking honest and critical feedback from your pastor is not just for when you’re struggling.  Any healthy family that is zealous about growing can ask their pastor about what he perceives as their strengths and weaknesses.  (I learned this in a parenting seminar – I think).  The thinking behind this is that none of us are perfect; so, there are no perfect marriages or families.  Asking your pastor to weigh in on perceived strengths and weaknesses so that you can prayerfully evaluate his feedback and auto-correct (or keep up the good work!) where necessary can help any family grow.  If you don’t have a high regard of your pastor’s opinion, or you don’t see him as someone who is qualified to speak into your life, why are you going to that church?  He should be the chief person at your place of worship that you can get an “accurate read” from when it comes to your marriage and family.  Even if he doesn’t know you personally, he would have suggestions to help you grow.

4 – Join a Small Group or Bible Study of Interest

Many churches offer small groups (or cell groups) and/or a mid-week service to provide discipleship and fellowship.  Such groups may be targeted toward newlyweds, singles, moms, dads, or teach on specific Bible topics like baptism, etc.  My homeschool group offers encouragement and discipleship through a variety of fellowship opportunities such as mom’s breakfasts’, mom’s night out, recipe swaps, etc.  Surprisingly, it’s been the primary source of women’s fellowship in my life.  Women’s fellowship is a necessary nutrient for me – like coffee!  Of course, this would not replace your regularly scheduled day of worship.

5 – Fellowship Outside of Church

Take the fellowship outside of the church!  Be brave!  Invite a “mentor” family over for good food and fellowship.  Seek couples that have a strong marriage and/or an exemplary family to break bread with.  Your home doesn’t have to look like a magazine for you to feel comfortable entertaining.  Just put some food on the table!  Or throw it up in the air and let your kids show off their incredible skills of catching food with their mouths – at least your company will know where you stand! :o) Seriously, if you try that they won’t come back (don’t ask me how I know this).  So, just threaten your kids and demand that they be on their best behavior.  Somewhere over the course of the afternoon you would have enjoyed good food and fellowship and would have gleaned some wisdom from another couple or family.  Remember, church folk only bite some of the time. :o)

6 – Get Perspective & Give Thanks

Other people may appear to have it all together, but none of us do. Christian are sinners saved by grace; we are all imperfect and flawed so we all have imperfect and flawed marriages and families.  Yes, some of us have healthier marriages and family relationships than others, but as long as you’re still in the race (alive and breathing air) there’s always room for improvement!

Marriage and family life is a complicated tapestry, and God is expert at weaving something beautiful out of it!  Stop comparing yourself to other families.  The grass is not always greener.  Give thanks for what you have and for where you are, and continue to work towards something better.

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

This one is so simple, yet sometimes so hard to achieve…

7  – Lighten up! 

Don’t be so “holy” that you don’t enjoy your husband or your children.  Spend some time relaxing with your husband and watching his favorite TV shows, gamming with him {think Xbox}, or being his caddy on the golf course!  Don’t make up weird and ridiculous reasons why your children can’t participate in certain activities, dress a certain way, or listen to certain kinds of music in the name of religion.  If your conviction is authentic and scriptural, then fine.  If not, scrap it!  Comparison is a joy-stealer.  Allow your family to be authentic; even especially in Christ.  Don’t let other families determine your spiritual barometer – that’s the job of the Holy Spirit!  Spend ample amounts of time laughing together and enjoying each other.  Joy is an excellent witness for any wife and mom.

What about you?  This list could be a mile long!  What life-giving practices would you recommend?  

Tiffiney xoxoxo

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