Build A Home, Not Just A House

By David Kan

“I never expected this would happen to me …. I ‘ve either got the wrong partner or made the wrong choice! I’ve thrown my whole life into this stew; and if this family isn’t the worst mess of rotten chaos I’ve ever experienced – well, I just want to give up!” This bitter blast spurted from a 40 some lady who sought counsel in our office recently after 15 years down the holey road of marriage and motherhood.

Despite living in an affluent society established with economic and technological excellence, social problems still exist, and have been increasing throughout the years. For example, the
(i) current awakening realization of the rising aged population and how to integrate elderly individuals in the mainstream of society, (ii) emotionally-wrecked victims of family violence/abuse as well as (iii) youth crimes and aggravating trends of delinquent behaviour. Why are their lives different from us? Are these people given a chance to function like everyone of us here in the society?

Perhaps the rough and static marital account of the domestic lady was never an event of prediction that anyone wished to enter into the speculative itinerary.

‘Marriage’, someone said, ‘is made in heaven. But living it out on earth could be hell.’ Some might have given up already. Others are set for separation and the feeble are holding on tight to the rope of Fate. The clouds of disharmony that hovers shattered families of our gasping 21st century culture are multiplying at alarming rates. The possibility of Making Up is always there – if both want it bad enough.

On our wedding day, my wife and I were so relieved that we could eventually recite the marriage vows that we’d meticulously rehearsed and guarded in our memory banks for months before. However, upon reflecting this nervous yet life-bounding experience, I reckoned we were too naïve and presumptuous to understand the full impact of our vows. Then came the mutual awareness of personality differences, adjustments of social-philosophical values and gradual acceptance of each other’s unique idiosyncrasies are all part of the hard work it takes to make a marriage successful. Consider the ‘genesis’ of family life in learning to live together differently from pre-family days to the arrival of the first new addition, they thrill us, fulfill us and yet they could possibly exert a huge tension on the marital relationship as the demands and stresses flicker the flames of devotion.

With an adrenaline pumping dateline to hit our monthly sales quotas and production targets, what about sparing adequate thoughts on the overall picture – how far have we gone in developing our family? The blessings and bliss of domestic relationships could outweigh the Blisters of raging conflicts when we chart the course of marital efficiency and fostering family ties. This is the heartland of life, beyond the house, car, job and status.

No question about it, rearing a family properly is a biggie; it is physically and emotionally exhausting especially for working parents. Has the passionate spark in the family been lost? Is there a sense of disorientation and disillusionment taking over where you may have second thoughts in your commitment to your spouse.

It’s the Recreation trip we need to take – Time to relax, reconnect and opportunities to recoup our strength and energy.

Here are 3 purposes of recreation we need to weave into the fabric of our families :

1. Adds Vitality And Zest to Life
The art of enjoyment seems to be lost in the hustle and bustle of daily routines. In years
to come, what will our kids remember us for? Your nose in a book? Your face hypno-
tized by TV or the Internet? Flying out the door to another meeting?

Instead of just being around them, be involved with them. Carve out hobbies and forms
of entertainment that the entire family could enjoy cohesively. Keep up those joint
interests that help to ‘desensitize’ ourselves from uptight situations and toxic disputes.
Parents ‘getaway’ whenever babysitting aid is offered by siblings or in-laws would have
their adult needs met and recharge their readiness in attending to their children’s needs.
Get alone for a weekend every bi-monthly preferably, take pleasure in each other’s
company take it easy on each other. Don’t toil over small matters and work on plans for
your family, future and your retirement together.

2. Relieves the Tension of Life
Recreation means renewal – a process of brightening the often dull routines and
burdensome responsibilities inevitable to modern life. We live in a society which is
over-stimulated and under-exercised …. What a Combination! Pressures build and one
must let off some steam . Work does not kill but unrelieved pressure does.

Do little things that are almost effortless such as activating a smile that brings so much
joy to our spouse. Have moments of couch time daily, learn to listen to each other
without taking offence and surprise each other with different forms of birthdays and
anniversaries celebrations. Let’s not wait too long for our spouse to cheer us or brighten
our day, make the first move!

3. Unites the Family
Too many teenagers, when I ask them in counseling sessions to describe their home
relationships, tell me mostly negatives; not nearly enough remember happy, enjoyable
scenes of family functioning. Every family needs a department of the interior to
cultivate “loosening up.” It requires the lubrication of recreation to renew and smooth
out its inner workings. Family recreation and fun-times can be pulled down off the top
shelf of “things I’d like to do someday” and put in working order if we make time.

Sprinkle some recreational spice into your family’s living patterns to kick off a whole
new ball game!

Domestic difficulties often stem from our insistence on looking at the picture of our
homes as an undeveloped negative. We see only the problems in big black blobs.

Where but at home can you find a ready-made “fan-club” when you are honored, when
you achieve?

Where but at home can you talk about the little things that bother you and get a response that “tells it like it is”?

Where but in the home circle can you be loved for yourself alone, in strengths, weaknesses
and potentials?

The home marks a child for life. There is no second force in the life of a child compared with the impact of his home.

Let’s remember Life is too short to fret and fume. In fact, life is too short to fight and stay mad with our family loved ones.

David Kan is the Co-Founder, Programme Director and Senior Family Counsellor of Family Life First (FLF), a non-profit Voluntary Welfare Organisation (VWO) set up since 1996 providing family life education cum counselling services and marital enrichment programmes to the community-at-large. He holds a Masters degree in Organizational Psychology and a Professional Diploma in Human Resource Development and Training. He is a certified Seminar Director and Counsellor of ‘PREPARE/ENRICH’, a diagnostic couple relationship assessment inventory tool, a qualified & licensed practitioner of Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) psychometric personality profiling tool and accredited practitioner of Positive Parenting Program. He is also a registered clinical supervisor with the Australian Counselling Association’s College of Counselling Supervisors and an accredited member- certified master supervisor level of the Association of Psychotherapists & Counsellors (Singapore).

Championing Hope As A Family

by Christopher Chee

There is the 70’s song, ‘Lonely People’ sung by the pop-band group, America:

‘This is for all the lonely people.
Thinking that life has passed them by
Don’t give up…………’

‘This is for all the single people.
Thinking that life has passed them by
Don’t give up…………’

Whether young or old, there are many out there with the feeling, thinking and believing that life has passed them by. Many wrestled with the sense of hopelessness in the face of personal crossroads. No matter where we live, it’s probably safe to assume our community at large — is full of needs: the poor, sick children, single moms, the elderly, the lonely and hurt. And no matter how well we plan, problems and challenges will pop up.

In a paradoxical strain, professional experts have suggested that a self-desensitising technique to stress relief is to shift one’s attention from intense problem-afflicted moods to initiating acts of kindness to the needy and less fortunate.

Rather than being immobilised by our disturbing circumstances and interpersonal tensions, family members can gear themselves up together and stretch their ‘do-good’ reflexes to help somebody and kindle the flame of hope to the neighbourhood.

There’s something special, even intimate, about serving those in need. It connects you, softens you, slows you down and helps you appreciate all the blessings you have. Above all as a family, you will start to cherish each other’s giftings, talents, presence and unique existence in building a household of love and support.

There are many charitable organisations through which you can attend to the distressed and downtrodden by lending your ears to them and walking them down the path of encouragement.

Christopher Chee is the Community Care Director at Family Life First.