Sunday Special, The Constituents of Family Glue

I hear so often today of break-ups of relationships that I started questioning in my own mind why such a high proportion seem to fail. I am not trying to preach, nor criticise, just analyse what it takes for one-time total strangers, with different aspirations, different backgrounds, even different customs in some cases, to choose to live together in the most intimate of ways, and what it takes to hold them together.

My credentials for the analysis are twofold; when I was eight years of age my parents separated and I never saw my father again. Today I have been married for almost 63 years, with a burgeoning family of great-grandchildren. Most people are aware, especially those that have experienced it, that the break-up of families has long-term repercussions inducing loneliness, insecurity, a loss of self-confidence, and in some, not all, an aggressive outlook. An examination of the glue which holds some families together successfully would seem therefore to be worthwhile. It is expensive in self-control, understanding, courtesy and consideration of others, and requires a good deal of unselfishness. Within a short time most of these attributes become routine, but as each is as essential as the other, and many I have not enumerated, at times it can be like crossing a stream with small steppingstones set at long intervals. It is then that you need the long view, the wide perspective, and mutually cool heads.

Fortunately those first months of marriage, or association, are so heady, such fun and without need for restrictions, that the process of melding, easing the rough corners, teaching and learning subconsciously, grows without notice. This is the period of building a nest, which, like in nature, is psychologically necessary because not only is it fun, one begins to find more and more about each other, their tastes, their likes and dislikes, their attitude to money and relationships outside the immediate family. This is all part of building up the glue, providing the memories, and looking forward to the aspirations. Some children of wealthy families are denied this experience because the nest has been bought and provided for them, including the car and holidays in the country seat. I believe, sincerely, that having to overcome paucity of cash, perhaps accommodation problems, and all the other pinpricks which are part of creating a family, are the strongest part of the glue. That is when one learns self-control, understanding, and consideration. Without these, friction is inevitable and that is a solvent that destroys the glue.

Part of the understanding and consideration is to sieve outside influences, some of which can be corrosive, to assess the true value, and the effect they might have on the relationship within the family. These influences often come from the wider family. Nothing in this world, even the world itself, maintains a steady and placid progress, so family life will have its ups and downs. These will test the strength of character of the participants who must learn as they live. The advent of children to most of us is the second part of the glue, those early years when every day is a revelation have as much or more to do with the binding of a family than any other aspect. It is therefore essential that young parents can devote a lot of their time to bringing up their children, for the sake of the children and for the creation of the glue. Love, family love, is the super-glue. Generating super-glue takes time and patience, and is well worth the effort.

Categorized as General

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