How happy are you family? On the surface it’s an innocent enough question. But the answers can often be vexed.
“Oh they’re just great”, “We all get along like a house on fire”, “Just wonderful”. It seems these are some of the standard obligatory answers. Shame then that they aren’t true.
Admittedly there are exceptions. But in the bigger scheme of things families go through highs and lows, and the slumps can indeed be tough.
People clash. We expect better but settle for “Whatever!” Life’s requirements place pressures on us all and often those most close cop the worst of our response.
So there’s a big fat lie behind playing happy families. When many a home hides a seething stew of emotional tension, disappointment, and resentment, the term gets said sarcastically. And that itself is damaging because it breeds contempt.
Yet, despite the chicanery and deep disappointment that it conceals happiness in family life needn’t be the preserve of a select few. Though the term “happy families” is a tainted label, family happiness is indeed possible in even the most “average” of families.
It starts with a shift in thinking. Instead of expecting that everyone has to be shiny-faced and perpetually smiling, happiness ought to be broadened to include a sense of togetherness.
Though it continually surprises many folk I talk to, real happiness needs to have room for unhappiness too. Otherwise contentment merely becomes somewhat bizarre and artificial.
So what then does family happiness look like? Well, you can expect serious attempts to communicate, forgive, and find compromise as a flipside to pain, frustration, and misunderstanding (at least sometimes).
Far from being wrong, living with a whole range of feelings is actually good, natural, and indicative of a full life.
With these criteria I suspect many families can indeed find happiness together. Not perfect, not neat, but real, and determined to make love work.
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