Monday, October 24, 2011

Working Toward Functionality: Clearing the Air

For the personal finance class that I'm taking, there are, in some lessons, optional reading selections.  I just ran across a GREAT one.  I thought I'd share it here.

It seems that we, for the last number of years, have been engulfed with the words "dysfunctional family."  This speech that I've linked to, though, talks about the opposite--the "functional family."  Maybe if we took our focus off of the dysfunctionality of everybody else's homes and started to work more on having functional families ourselves, life would be so much easier.  It just seems that taking personal responsibility to be a functional person individually and encouraging others by our examples.  I wonder if this might change our world.

I am not asserting here that my family is completely "functional."  I would also submit that we're not 100% dysfunctional either.  I believe functionality requires that each person who contributes to a home consciously decides and works at being a responsible individual and recognizes the part he/she plays in what makes up the family.

Point #1 from Mr. MacArthur's speech is this:

"THERE IS AN INVITING, COMFORTABLE, LOVING ATMOSPHERE IN THE HOME AND FAMILY. It is somewhat intangible but is at the very center of the family soul. It feels good and it feels good to be together. The atmosphere is 'easy' and 'not tight.' People like to be there. It feels like 'family love is in the air.' When you walk into it—you feel it. It is kind of like ice cream—you can't seem to get enough of it!

"As we talk about the other characteristics of the Functional Family—you will see that it is because the other characteristics are happening in the family that the atmosphere in the home is what it is."

I will be the first to admit that my home is NEVER spotless and rarely, if ever, wonderfully clean, but there have been times when friends have come to our home and have commented that they "like the way it feels."  I would assert that it's the feeling of those that live in the house toward each other that flavors the feeling in the home.

Last night was not one of these "ice cream" type of times at our house....

I took one of my children to a choir practice, and when I returned, there was tension in the air.  It was clear.  It has been here for awhile, but for some reason, last night I decided that life is just much too short to have our home feel like this for even one more minute.

I walked into the front room and found two individuals in the room that have been at odds for a good long while.  I decided I couldn't take it any longer, so I put my nose where it didn't belong and said, "Wow!  I'm surprised to see you both in the same room.  Have you fixed things?"

One of the parties looked at me with complete surprise on his face, and I said, "C'mon.  Don't tell me you didn't know he's been mad at you for weeks.  Have you talked it out?"

I was surprised that neither was mad at me for butting in, but they said they hadn't.  I said a few more things and got the ball rolling.  I knew if I didn't, it would be a cold day in someplace unpleasant before they took that bull by the horns.  I don't know if,  by the time they were finished, things were fixed, but I believe they were well on their way.  At least they understood each other, and it sounded like they were both aware of the things they needed to work on.  Now we'll just wait and see if they both do them.

It surprises me how quickly we can accept disharmony and make it part of our skin.  For them, I guess it was just easier to be unhappy than to talk it out, but once the dialog began, the air started to clear.

I remember hearing, when the Warden and I got married and people were asked to offer us advice, that we were never to go to bed unhappy with each other.  We heard it so often that it became a trite saying.  I still cringe when I hear people say that.  But, more than not going to bed unhappy as husband and wife, I'd say, never go to bed with an unhappy teenager in the house.  A committed husband will still be there in the morning; an angry teenager might not.  They know just enough to be dangerous.

So, there you have it.

The first goal for a functional family is to clear the air.

If there's unhappiness in your home, maybe it's time to swallow some pride and be the first to open your mouth and bring it out.  One thing I saw last night was that you have to be completely honest, but be kind in your honesty.  Be prepared to hear some things that might not be comfortable, but be willing to accept that you're not perfect and everyone needs to change--even you.  I mean, if you're being a jerk and everyone else is aware of it, wouldn't you rather know so you can stop and make a change and become a more functional person?

One final note....You can do NOTHING to change the other person.  You can do all in your power to make them aware of what's bugging you, but it's really up to that individual to take what you've offered and choose to do something with it or not.  The only person you can control is you, and that's okay.


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