(Lucas, Genevieve, & Ari – Q4 2020)

One day, as listed on the Gregorian calendar, we’re born. Anywhere from ages two to seven we recall our first memories. Assigned to a family we never met, selected, or touched before. We start to form thoughts and feelings around what it means to feel connection at home. Today, the modern family can be seen as a nucleus of individuals tied only by last name. With multiple factors and stresses at play, there will be things that drive a family closer together or blow a family apart. My personal wish as I see couples get married, is that they stand hand-in-hand—ready to take on a journey to build their new family team. There’s a new world to explore when you say “Yes” when opening up a new chapter of marriage.

Lauren, there are multiple definitions of “family” and how people define what’s real about it and what’s not. How do you define, show up in it, and what lessons do you think family teaches you?

Profit, everyone has a different experience with family, so it makes sense that people would see it in a kaleidoscope of ways.

Family is something we’re born into. And family is something we create. It happens to you and from you. We’re tied by blood and covenant to people, and that whole concept can be loaded for so many. There is beauty and darkness to be found in the roots of every household, and I think it’s safe to say that everyone has seen both the light and shadows that their family has brought forth.

While we can’t choose the family we’re born into, we can choose our spouse, and we can shape the culture within our immediate family as we start to have kids. When you get married, you’re starting a brand-new family—a branch in your lineage that has never existed before. You are starting something fresh, and the beauty of it all is that you get to choose what you take from your families of origin into your new marriage and what you leave behind.

More than anything, it’s important to dive deep into the topic of family when you’re engaged. It’s likely that both the bride and groom will be entering into oneness with a bit of baggage and knowing what things you might be apt to take into your marriage from your past is a good and healthy thing to disclose. Of course, premarital counseling is a great place to unpack your past in how it relates to your spouse, but at the very least, take some time to grab a coffee and talk about the hurts and gems you want to leave behind and bring with you as you start this new season together.

In our culture, we’re cultivated to uphold the individual in a lot of ways, and this mindset looms over the modern family too. Media portrays families as “there for each other” but also running every which way to all the extracurriculars and drama. Life doesn’t slow down when you have a family, but you do get to be the one in charge of things like how busy you’re going to be and how you’re going to pour into these family ties.

So how can we build a family that’s flourishing? Here are a few ideas.

Healthy families are in touch with each other’s needs. Another way to say this is that they make regular time for face-to-face conversations with one another. When problems or disagreements crop up among family members, everyone takes time to discuss what’s going on, and everyone comes together to solve the issue.

In order to communicate face to face, you actually have to be together in the same room, so spending time together as a family is a natural necessity in order to keep communication lines open.

Repairing Damage
There’s no getting around it. We’re all going to hurt and be hurt by the members of our family at one point or another.

What’s most important is that spouses are willing to come together to fix the damage, admit wrongs, and forgive. It’s equally important to model that to your kids, so they can see what it looks like to be humble and repair a relationship.

Adventure Together
Having fun together doesn’t have to cost gobs of money. There are simple joys like taking nighttime walks with flashlights or heading to the lake with a picnic lunch. Going on adventures together will create meaningful memories, and spending time as a family unit can also keep the conversation flowing about what’s happening in your lives and how you can all care for each other in the best way.

Everyone’s Valued
We all bring different gifts and abilities to the table in a family. In a well-functioning family, every person is made to feel valued, important, and respected, and that happens through avoiding comparison and making an effort to offer encouragement.

Love languages is a great way you can individualize the way you show love to the different members of your family and showcase how your relationships are unique and valued amid the collective whole.

Routines and Needs
Everyone needs a sense of security and belonging in their family, and regular routines alongside healthy attention to physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs is a must among family members. Predictable day-to-day routines provide structure and knowing you can count on your family members to meet basic needs is certainly a marker of a properly functioning family.

While there are certainly other things that can alert you to the health of your family relationships, the most important thing is that you and your future spouse are on the same page (for the most part) with a lot of the plans and ideas you have around family.

You will, of course, surprise each other after you’re married, and you try to function (perhaps accidentally) in the same way you did in your family of origin. Keep communicating about your expectations and values, and slowly, you’ll see that while building a new family is hard, it is good and beautiful work that will lead to a new generation—and perhaps a lineage—of flourishing.

For more context about this blog post, read the first in the series “Relationship is a Dance With Tension.”

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