All relationships and families go through difficult times, and experiencing occasional problems and conflict in personal relationships is normal. However, sometimes these problems can become overwhelming. Problems can occur between partners, spouses, parents, children, siblings, friends and other important people in your life. If you’re currently experiencing family issues, this article is for you.
Common Signs of Family Issues
- Frequent arguing
- Breakdown in communication
- Angry outbursts
- Physical conflict
Common Triggers for Family Issues
- Differences of opinion, personalities, beliefs, values or goals
- Change in family circumstances e.g. new baby, divorce/separation, blending families
- Financial problems
- Issues relating to sexuality
- Alcohol or drug use
- Gambling problems
- The onset of mental health problems
- Natural disasters
- Lack of trust/respect in a relationship
The Impact of Family Issues on Family Members
Often family members are the most important people to you so relationship problems can be considerably distressing and can lead to:
- Negative emotions – anger, sadness, anxiety
- Feeling isolated, alone or withdrawn
- Lack of concentration
- Difficulty eating or sleeping
- Problems with friends, colleagues or your children
- Using alcohol or drugs to cope or escape
What to Do About Family Issues
Talk about it
Communication is the key to making your relationships work. Talking calmly and openly about your problems with your loved ones is the first step to finding a solution.
Accepting your differences
Even people who are very close sometimes have different ideas, opinions, and beliefs. Acknowledging that you may not always agree with your loved ones can help to avoid unnecessary conflict.
Have fun together
Even when things are tough, it is important to find time to do things you enjoy with your partner or family.
Develop a plan
If your family and relationship problems are mainly due to your circumstances, it can help to work with your family or partner to develop a plan for action that you all agree on. For example, if you are having financial difficulties, it may help to create a family budget. Having a plan can reduce stress and give you and your family common goals to work towards.
There may be times when you are not able to solve your family and relationship problems alone and need some external help. There are many types of assistance available, including family or relationship counseling, mediation and courses, and workshops in communication, parenting, problem-solving and positive coping skills.
People in supportive, loving relationships help each other practically as well as emotionally. Supportive partners share the good times and help each other through the tough ones. They are also more likely to feel healthier, happier and satisfied with their lives and less likely to have mental or physical health problems.
What Does the Bible Say About Problems in the Family?
Family problems are not a new thing. In this world, those we should love the most – our families – often become the ones we fight with the most.
The Bible doesn’t gloss over sin, and it records a number of family problems, starting with Adam’s blame-shifting, with his wife as the target (Genesis 3:12). Sibling rivalry crops up in the stories of Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, and Joseph and his brothers.
Jealousy among wives, one of the negative consequences of polygamy, is found in the stories of Hannah, and Leah and Rachel. Eli and Samuel dealt with wayward children. Jonathan was almost murdered by his father, Saul. David was brokenhearted by his son Absalom’s rebellion. Hosea experienced marital difficulties. In each of these cases, relationships were damaged by sin.
The Bible gives clear instructions about how family members are to treat each other. God’s plan is that husbands love their wives in the same way that Christ loves His church (Ephesians 5:25, 33). Wives are to respect their husbands and submit to their leadership (1 Peter 3:1). Children are to obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1–4; Exodus 20:12).
We can only imagine how many family problems would be solved if husbands, wives, and children simply followed those basic rules. First Timothy 5:8 says that families are to take care of their own. Jesus had harsh words for those who evaded their financial responsibilities to their aging parents by claiming they gave all their money to the temple (Matthew 15:5–6).
The key to harmony in families is not one we naturally want to apply. Ephesians 5:21 says to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Submission is in direct opposition to our flesh’s desire to rule and have its way. We defend our rights, champion our causes, defend our opinions, and assert our own agendas whenever possible.
God’s way is to crucify our flesh (Galatians 5:24; Romans 6:11) and submit to the needs and wishes of others whenever we can. Jesus is our model for that kind of submission to God’s will. First Peter 2:23 says, “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”
How Does the Bible Define a Good Christian Family?
The Bible defines a good Christian family is one that lines up with biblical principles and one in which each member understands and fulfills his or her God-given role. The family is not an institution designed by man. It was created by God for the benefit of man, and man has been given stewardship over it.
The basic biblical family unit is comprised of one man, one woman (his spouse) and their offspring or adopted children. The extended family can include relatives by blood or marriage such as grandparents, nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts, and uncles. One of the primary principles of the family unit is that it involves a commitment ordained by God for the lifetime of the members.
The husband and wife are responsible for holding it together, the current attitude of our culture notwithstanding. Although divorces are readily sought after and granted much too easily in our society, the Bible cautions us against it (Malachi 2:16).
Of course, the first requirement for the members of a Christian family is that they all be Christians, having a true relationship with Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Ephesians 5:22–26 provides the guidelines for husbands and wives in a Christian family. The husband is required to love his wife as Christ loved the church, and a wife should respect her husband and willingly submit to his leadership in the family.
The husband’s leadership role should start with his own spiritual relationship with God and then flow to instructing his wife and children in scriptural values, leading the family into biblical truth. Fathers are instructed to bring up their children in “the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
A father is also to provide for his family. If he does not, he “denies the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8). So, a man who makes no effort to provide for his family cannot rightly call himself a Christian. This does not mean that the wife cannot assist in supporting the family; Proverbs 31 demonstrates that a godly wife may surely do so, but providing for the family is not primarily her responsibility, it is her husband’s.
Ideally, a Christian family will have all members committed to Christ and His service. When a husband, wife, and children all fulfill their God-appointed roles, then peace and harmony reign in the home. But, if we try to have a Christian family without Christ as Head or without adhering to the biblical principles the Lord has lovingly provided for us, the home will suffer.
Christian Family Counseling
If you and your loved ones are currently struggling with family issues or problems that seems unsolvable or that have escalated well beyond what you are able to resolve, please feel free to reach out to me. Together we can discover what God’s plan is for your family.
Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. – Colossians 3:13
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