A guide for how you can grow a little bit closer every day.
The family is the most beautiful school of love, but sometimes, in the whirlwind of daily life, it can be difficult to love one another. Here are a few tips to cultivate that love no matter what.
1Love is patient
St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians 13:4 is a great line to meditate on during weekday afternoons, just when the baby starts to cry, the older brother refuses to do his homework, and the little ones have transformed the bathtub into a swimming pool. In a situation like this, what mother hasn’t felt like she wants to escape to a desert island for a while?
We could easily extended this example to other areas. The first form of patience to which we are called is that of daily patience that permeates the little things. So before we enter the bathroom or approach the uncooperative student, send a little SOS up to Heaven:
Lord, grant me your patience!
This prayer lasts one second and changes everything.
2Love is helpful
The family is the primary school of service. If we encourage our children to serve — starting by setting an example — it is not only because it makes family life more enjoyable and easy, but because through the many favors we receive from one another we discover that “serving” is not about doing as many good deeds as possible, but about being helpful.
If love demanded only that we serve, we could feel affection for each other after a certain number of favors. However, it is through all those services, however humble, that we are asked to give of ourselves. And we will never get to the end of that giving.
3Love doesn't get angry
In family life, there are so many opportunities to get angry at each other! Don’t be surprised, that’s normal. Let’s not pretend that we never feel angry: feeling angry is neither inherently good nor bad. “Like all feelings, we don’t have the option to feel it or not. It’s just there,” says psychiatrist Dominique Megglé, who writes in her book Être heureux en famille [Being Happy in the Family]: “I’ve seen extraordinary, silent, murderous hatreds in families where it was forbidden to feel angry.”
It’s all about what we do with our anger: if we let it explode in any way, if we allow it to dictate our behavior, then it becomes toxic. Growing up in love means learning to manage our anger, not to let ourselves be carried away by the energy it mobilizes within us.
4Love holds no grudges
It is sometimes difficult to discern what we have to forgive, especially when it is a matter of tiny, seemingly insignificant offenses. We tend not to address them, if only out of pride: it is very humiliating to recognize that we have been offended by something so trivial! But accumulated petty matters are more likely to stifle love than serious faults. When it comes to love, nothing is insignificant, and if we do not take care every day to forgive each other as a family, even the smallest things, we will cut ourselves off from each other, imperceptibly but surely.
5Love finds its joy in truth
It is commonly said that “love is blind.” Amorous passion, perhaps, but not love. On the contrary, love sees the other in their truth, which is not necessarily revealed through appearance. To love the other is to remain attentive to what he or she is deep down and to find our joy in it. We know that routine is the worst enemy of wonder. When we see our spouse and children every day, we risk only looking at the surface of their being: those little quirks that annoy us, those personality traits that we well, those words and attitudes that no longer hold any surprise for us.
But this is not how God looks at them: He sees the depth of their being, the beauty that He has put in them. It is He who teaches us to look at our brothers and sisters in truth, with wonder and gratitude. Let us take the time to look at our spouse, our children, in the light of God. Let us take time to give thanks for all the wonders He has placed in them.
How to foster peace in your family