Wellness Wheel Area 1: Family and Friends
Today I wanted to talk about our first category of the wellness wheel (family and friends) and how strengthening relationships in this area of life can contribute to overall wellness. I talked quite a bit in the introductory blog about family, so my goal in today's writing is to keep it short, and to offer some practical ways to thrive in this category.
Let me begin by discussing balance. I think we all struggle to find balance to a certain degree (especially with our busy lifestyles) however, it is important to find balance in life amongst family, friends, and work. When I was younger, I often struggled to balance family and friends. I've said before that I'm far from a perfect person, and certainly I have made many mistakes in this area.
When I was first married, my focus was probably more on going out and partying with friends than on strengthening my marriage. Over time, I learned that if my marriage was going to last, I was going to have to shift my priorities. Through the grace of God, and much humility, I was able to turn towards my wife (and young children) and away from the excuses that "allowed" me to turn away. I'm sure most guys have used them: "I need some me time," "I just worked all day and need to relax," etc. If we're not careful, we can fool ourselves into turning away from our spouses and towards things of this world that do not last.
Unfortunately, the next phases of life can give birth to a marital enemy that is much more insidious - WORK. Jesus said "you cannot serve both God and money," yet this is precisely where I found myself. The truth is, the pattern was the same as the one discussed above - I was looking for excuses to not focus on the hard work of pouring into my family because it was easier to be gone all the time. So, using the excuse of needing to pay the bills, I took a job that valued time and commitment to the organization, over what I believe would be God's will: time and commitment to marriage and family.
This is how I found myself at Grace Wellness Center: an organization that believes that family is vital to overall wellness in life! In the last few months I have strengthened my family relationships and have been able to get to know my children again. So if you're thinking lucky you, I can't just up and change jobs, my challenge is this: find small ways to turn towards your spouse and your family.
Perhaps finding new employment is the only way to save your marriage or family, but that would be something to prayerfully consider. Instead, my belief is that if you put these steps into action in your life, you will hopefully find healing in your dearest relationships:
Step 1: find one on one "date" time with your spouse at least once a week.
Step 2: do one activity as a whole family at least once a week.
Step 3: find time to get together with friends (as a couple or family) at least once a month
I know many people probably feel that they would not have time or space to do the steps listed above, and so part of this challenge is to make it your own. Sit and talk with your spouse and modify the steps to what works for your family and then stick to them! My wife and I are rarely able to go out on dates, but sometimes will get together after the kids go to bed - and stay up just talking to each other. As a family, we might have family game night once a week - or go out for ice cream in the summer. As far as time with friends, we generally get together with others that have kids, as opposed to finding a sitter.
The important thing is that you are carving out time and being intentional about spending that time together. If you can take small steps in these directions, I know your family can thrive!
• Jonathan Held, LCSW
As always if you are interested in meeting with me or another counselor, either face to face or online you can email me at [email protected] or call our intake at 724.863.7223