Here are couples ideas that would greatly increase harmony in homes and marriages. This is very important to me, because there is nothing more stressful and economically costly than an unhappy marriage or childhood. For me, when I try to mediate between arguing people, it is difficult because people are complex and generally not solution-oriented. So I understand if you are dealing with mental illness in a child, parent, or partner, but acknowledge what you are up against. Solutions have to meet this reality. We have to work within the parameters of what is with people, not what we envision. Harmony and effectiveness should be of primary importance. With these concepts in mind, homes can be a place of peace, a secure base from which to live purposefully and peacefully.
5 Easy Ideas:
1. Work within reality.
Avoiding control (because of idealization, anxiety, self-righteousness) or manipulation (going behind someone’s back, bringing up topics at inopportune times, checking out). Developing skills of diplomacy and solution-orientation. Recognizing how people are and what solutions/communication style would be preferred. Writing things down if people are forgetful or if people are long-winded. Including people in decision-making if they are checking out, to prioritize their values.
2. Clarify solution.
Developing good communication skills: both sides are considered in resolution and egos are brought down to resolve conflict. Action usually favors the more aggressive person. The more controlling person needs to be fair and put the passive person’s values at high priority. Controlling pushes people toward manipulation (hiding, checking out). This does not create harmony or long-lasting peace; people have to feel considered. If you are anxious, paranoid, controlling, or pessimistic, not justifying this, but examining behavior. Seeing behavior objectively (checking out, physical touch – is it for something in return or for only yourself?). Lead by example.
3. The power of one.
One problem is dealt with at a time. No backlog of problems, no pettiness. If one person is presenting a problem, nobody else gets to present a problem on that day. The second person has to wait until the next day, so their comments are not retaliatory.
4. Stay focused.
While venting is fine at therapy or with your spouse on another day, on days where conflicts are being mediated, then monologuing or having emotional outbursts are not productive and should be avoided. These make finding a solution almost impossible.
5. Exhibit harmony.
Not dealing with petty problems. Having the ability to be as unbiased as possible to see what is creating the problem. Having a teamwork mentality, not an us versus them, or a me orientation.
People can get caught in marriages for 20-30 years and start giving up, so they check out, or they start on a backlog of problems or focusing on petty issues (the way someone places donuts down on the counter, which I saw at a house once). Getting to the root of problem is essential, and that’s not possible if people are clinging to their ego or emotion, if they are talking down to another person. The controlling person has to make the other feel valued, and the passive person needs to acknowledge the logic or at least anxieties if there is no logic, of the more controlling person.
A Better Future:
Childhoods where there was neglect, inconsistency, or abuse leads to (1) people trying to prove themselves – monologuing, always working, (2) frustration/controlling/perfectionist tendencies, (3) other difficulties like paranoia or anxiety, and (4) inability to truly listen or articulate well (ambiguity). Therefore, it is incumbent on those from difficult childhoods, to make sure that they are not an extension of the difficulty they left.
What we model sets the baseline for children for what is normal. It shows them what is valuable, how to handle conflict, if one should care for their own agenda (an agenda that is noble) over listening to others. We want to give them a healthy baseline. When it comes to interpersonal relations, kindness matters far more than anything else.