Every family struggles, to some degree, with arguments and stress. When different personalities and different ages live together in one house, it isn’t hard to imagine how personal interactions can go wrong at times. Add in the challenge and blessing of creating a blended family or bringing your in-laws to live with you, and you may be experiencing a heightened level of stress in your home. But there’s hope for how to navigate these stressful times and bring peace to your home.
In our family, the tumultuous teen years were fun yet also frustrating and stressful at times. My son and I, in particular, found it hard to get along and to understand each other. Tempers flared, and there were plenty of outbursts and slammed doors.
At one point, I remember crying to a friend that I thought my son didn’t love me anymore. After we talked, I realized that the more important thing was that he felt I still loved him, not whether I felt loved.
When we present unconditional love and make ourselves approachable, even in times of stress, we are showing the utmost of grace. As Hebrews 4:16 tells us, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Besides offering unconditional love, here are three more ways to help bring peace and understanding in the midst of your family fights.
1. Express Your Feelings
It’s best to express your feelings in a way that doesn’t accuse the other person. You can say, “I feel hurt when you do/say …” This provides a way for you to properly vent while not alienating the other person. Try to soften your tone of voice when you do this.
When we take the time to express our feelings, instead of bottling them up and then later exploding, we reaffirm that everyone can be heard, regardless of whether it is a pleasant or unpleasant feeling we might need to express. This sets the standard in our families for open hearts and open conversations.
2. Express Your Intentions
In a family quarrel, it’s important to let the other person know that you really want to get back to a state of peace and understanding between the two of you. You might say, “I really would like to resolve our problem. Can you help me understand what the main issue is?”
Be sincere when you share this hope of yours to build a bridge between the two of you. Then listen, carefully and patiently. Look for ways to understand them and resolve the situation instead of ways to place blame.
3. Express Your Plan
After talking things through and hearing the other person’s complaint or concern, express your plan for how to improve the situation or the reoccurring pattern. Ask them, “What would you like to experience with me instead of the pain/stress we’ve been experiencing?” Maybe it’s taking a bike ride together weekly, going on a marriage retreat, attending their soccer games more often, or not bringing the phone to the dinner table. The possibilities for how to regroup or recreate together can be fun to discuss, and you can end the conversation on a positive note with plans for how to improve the situation.
Families that love each other will express their joy and their pain (often out loud) in healthy ways and sometimes not-so-healthy ways. You don’t have to feel like this is all necessarily negative. When we channel our complaints into conversations that are bathed in prayer and empathy, we create moments where situations of stress can turn into conversations of grace, healing and insight. You may even look back with a smile on those experiences where you all grew together as a family. Peace can reign in your home, ultimately, because love is already there.
You may also be interested in Forgiveness In Families: How To Heal After Being Hurt By Loved Ones