Have You Ever Wondered—
What Can Keep Families Together?
FIFTY years ago an author described an ideal home in this way: “Home, sweet home; for there the heart can rest.” Don’t you agree that is what a home should be like? But, sadly, family life today is often no longer such a haven where a person’s heart and mind are at ease.
HOW SERIOUS IS THE PROBLEM?
Thousands of families are breaking up. In some countries, for every two marriages there is one divorce. Also, in many homes there is a lack of communication between husband and wife and a generation gap between parents and children. So even in some families that do not actually break up, the relationship is often cold or strained.
“The family used to be a place where you went to have stress alleviated. Now the family itself is becoming a source of stress,” said one authority on domestic life. How true are her words! In millions of homes, love, respect and family discipline have dwindled to the point that some even ask: “Can the family survive?”
Perhaps you have seen some of these things in your own neighborhood or among your own relatives. You may remember a time when family life was better and families stuck together. But things are different today.
WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?
We live in an age when persons have been taught to think of self first. This attitude has had devastating effects on family life. “Egotism, or self-centeredness,” said one study, “is one of the great wreckers of family life.”
Haven’t you noticed that many persons today are quick to put their own desires and feelings ahead of those of others? In years past people put the interests of the family group above their own. Now it’s different. In many places each member of the family views himself as an individual entitled to personal self-expression. To some extent this is good, but often it is not.
For instance, a husband may feel that his needs should be cared for first—“After all, I’m the breadwinner!” Yet, more and more women are working outside the home and becoming financially independent. They may reason that their needs are just as important. The children have likewise been influenced by today’s “Me Generation.” Selfishness disrupts many homes.
Did you realize that this attitude was foretold long ago in the Bible? It says: “In the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men [and women] will be lovers of themselves, . . . self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection.” (2 Tim. 3:1-3) The self-centered life-style of millions shouts convincingly that this Bible prophecy is coming true in our time. That means that we now live in the “last days” of a selfish world. We are now near the time when God is going to make needed changes for the better on our earth.—Ps. 37:10, 11.
Are there things we now can do to have a happy family? Many families do not split up. What makes the difference?
WHAT IS THE BASIS FOR A REALLY HAPPY FAMILY?
The Bible explains that marriage and family life were instituted by God. As its Designer, he knows what will keep it together. “Clothe yourselves with love,” says the Bible, “for it is a perfect bond of union.”—Col. 3:14.
This love that is a “perfect bond of union” provides added strength to romantic affection. It is an unselfish concern for the good of another, for the Bible counsels: “Let each one keep seeking, not his own advantage, but that of the other person.”—1 Cor. 10:24.
‘Each person seeking the good of the other’—such action is just the opposite of the selfishness that is wrecking many homes. This is the kind of love that, if applied, can really make a person’s family life happy.
Naturally, it is far easier to talk about showing unselfish love than it is to practice it. One housewife gave her opinion: “Anyone who says that it is easy to be married to one person for a lifetime is living in a dream world.” True, it may not be easy, but with love it can be done. But just how can you practice such love? What realistic steps can a family take to improve?
HOW CAN FAMILY LIFE BE MADE HAPPIER?
It requires knowing how to show genuine love and trying hard to do it. Many who say they want a warm homelife don’t seem to know what they can do to make it possible. The Bible gives positive direction that has helped millions of families. Notice a sampling of its practical counsel: “Let each one of you individually so love his wife as he does himself; on the other hand, the wife should have deep respect for her husband. Children, be obedient to your parents in union with the Lord, for this is righteous. And you, fathers, do not be irritating your children, but go on bringing them up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah.”—Eph. 5:33; 6:1, 4.
What a difference it would make in the life of many families if these suggestions were really applied! Yes—the husband treating his wife with the same tender care with which he treats himself; and the wife being always respectful and upbuilding to her husband; and children who are willingly obedient. Don’t you agree that such a homelife would be delightful?
We recognize that in two pages it is impossible to include all the answers to solve family problems. Whole books, such as Making Your Family Life Happy,* have been written containing excellent Bible-based suggestions. But what has been discussed here should show that Bible principles, if applied, can enrich family life. Why not ask Jehovah’s Witnesses to help you and your family to learn more of these principles? Your family has everything to gain by such an investigation.
Published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.