When looking in from the outside, it can appear that many families have it all together. With their flawless Instagram smiles and spotless houses, they must be living carefree perfect lives. But if you were to look beyond the surface of any of these families, you would be able see that worry, stress, and imperfections are things that everyone has to deal with on a daily basis.
Rather than let these stressors take over, realize that it is possible to work toward improving these areas that are especially hard to manage. In particular, areas such as finances, busy schedules, and disagreements, are sources of stress that can be overcome.
Stay on Top of Your Finances
Money is one of the main sources of stress for many new couples and families. When combining two individual lifestyles or adding a little one to the mix, finances become more complicated and difficult to keep under control.
The first step is to create a budget. This will allow you to keep track of exactly what is being earned and spent on a monthly basis. It’s easy to mindlessly swipe a credit card and not realize how quickly expenses are adding up. It’s also important to stay on top of the loans that you are responsible for, making sure that you are not spending large sums on paying back interest.
In the Resource Library, you can download the template that I use for my family budget and the strategy that we use to pay off our debts to minimize interest payments.
If you do need to take out a loan on a large purchase, take the time to compare personal loan rates and make sure you are getting the best deal possible. Avoid getting trapped in a bad financial situation by not doing your research. Alleviating financial worries is a crucial step in creating a more worry-free home.
Don’t Become Trapped by the Day-to-Day
Life can seem like a never-ending loop at times. With multiple schedules to juggle and so many things to do in the day, the growing to-do lists can become a big source of stress. Although there are certain things that have to be done, there are ways to make these tasks more efficient. For many, particularly those with young children, keeping the house clean can seem like an impossible goal. Check out this post for tips and a free cleaning checklist to help you make the process a little bit easier.
Another important thing to remember is that saying yes to every event or activity is not beneficial to you or your family if it is causing stress and burnout. Reevaluate the things that your family participates in and determine which ones have the highest priority. It’s okay to eliminate things that are no longer contributing to your family’s overall happiness.
With the additional time you are able to gain from clearing out unnecessary items from your schedules, be sure to set aside sufficient time for you to spend by yourself and with your partner. As a mom, I have to constantly remind myself that I need to take care of myself first before I can adequately take care of my family. It’s also imperative that I make my role as a loving and attentive wife a priority and temporarily relinquishing my role as a mother. The parents’ relationship is the foundation of the family unit, and it requires time and effort on a consistent basis.
Keeping the Peace
Arguments are unavoidable. And arguments with family, the people we love the most, often become the most brutal. A healthy relationship is not measured by how well both people are able to avoid arguments, but rather how disagreements are handled when they occur.
Here are a few simple reminders on how to have constructive arguments.
1. Know your own feelings.
Seek to grow in self-awareness. Being in touch with your own true feelings is essential before you can constructively handle anger or conflict.
2. Anger is an emotion – neither right nor wrong in itself.
There is no morality to feelings. Try to understand what prompted the feeling. Morality comes into play when you take a destructive action as a result of a feeling.
3. Negotiation and compromise are essential in any marriage.
During a calm, clear moment agree that neither partner should “win” a fight. If one wins, the other loses and builds resentment. In effect, both have then lost because the relationship is damaged. Even when one spouse is wrong, permit him or her salvage self-respect.
4. Stick to the subject.
When a number of issues seem to be accumulating, present them one at a time. If you have not resolved past issues, put them on a current or future agenda. Make sure both of you go beyond skirmishing, insult rituals, or angry displays. Shooting broadside like a roaring cannon prevents resolution.
5. Don’t hit below the belt.
Everyone has vulnerable areas. Don’t use your confidential knowledge of your partner’s weaknesses and sensitivities to hurt him/her.
6. Don’t label.
Avoid telling your spouse that he/she is neurotic, depressing, or a bore. Rather, try, “I’m tense inside, honey, because you seem moody and depressed. I’d like us to talk about it.”
7. Grant equal time.
Agree that no resolution of an issue can be presumed until each partner has had the chance to express his/her feelings, ideas, and information.
8. Feedback and clarification.
If the fight is emotional and heated, slow it down by starting a “feedback loop.” One technique is to paraphrase back to your spouse what your heard. For example, “Honey, what I hear you saying is that I’m boring you because I have no outside interest. Is that right?” The other then responds by either confirming the accuracy of your statement or clarifying it.
9. Implement changes.
Follow anger with a fair, firm, clear request for a change or improvement in whatever brought on the fight. Each partner must be clear as to what he/she agrees to modify or improve. Be specific and realistic. For example, it would be agreed that whenever the husband seemed tense, the wife would encourage him to tell her about it, instead of their old pattern of both keeping silent.
10. Handling anger in front of children.
When anger and conflict initially erupt in front of children, also try to resolve these feelings in front of them. You may need a cooling-off period first, but they need to learn about negotiation, discussion, and compromise by watching you do it constructively. Apologizing for excesses in front of children also teaches them about reconciliation.
Always maintain open communication when it comes to your partner and all other family members. Many arguments occur due to misunderstandings and can be avoided. In many cases, both people have good intentions, but they are not interpreted that way. For me, giving my loved ones the benefit of the doubt and changing my perspective are two ways that I am able to keep the peace in my household.