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Harmony At Home

'Of all modern notions,' wrote G. K. Chesterton, ‘the worst is this: that domesticity is dull. Inside the home, they say, is dead decorum and routine; outside is adventure and variety. But the truth is that the home is the only place of liberty, the only spot on earth where a man can alter arrangements suddenly, make an experiment or indulge in a whim. The home is not the one tame place in a world of adventure; it is the one wild place in a world of rules and set tasks.'

Many times people enter married life expecting for never-ending happiness, and in their disappointment they complain that it is so hopelessly dull. Of course marriage is not expected to be a big bag of sugar drops, but neither is it sadly bland. It can be an enjoyable experience, if the husband and wife are capable enough to make it happen.

Marriage in our culture has been taught as a very grim joyless affair. Couples should avoid slipping into tedious, predefined, husband-and-wife roles and taking each other for granted. Marriage should be a continuation of the romance of dating each other and the excitement of knowing each other.

Testing ground for personal efficiency

Happiness and harmony at home and in the family would result if there were more tenderness, courtesy, sociability, loyalty and honesty between marriage partners, and understanding and fairness between parents and children.

George Hagmaier says that three reasons stand out for many of today's unhappy homes. Strained emotional relationships between husband and wife underlie all three: lack of reasonable compatibility, refusal of the partners to recognize personality differences and inability of couples to communicate with each other.

Sometime ago, a sense of duty often gave marriage its permanence and cohesion; today this attitude does not generally prevail. The speed and tension, the mobility and shallow values in much of modern living have changed all that.

A happy marriage needs a lot of understanding. Men and women feel different about things. Shiela is unhappy that her husband spends much time with his friends. 'I know my husband loves me and the family very much,' she says, 'but I feel deserted and unwanted when he spends every Saturday evening away from home.'

Shiela's attitude baffles him. He can't understand why she feels the way she does.

Shiela must learn to accept her husband's need for male companionship, she must overlook her non-wanted feelings. By making herself and her household as attractive and appealing as possible, she may stir in him a greater desire to be at home.

If it is essential for a husband and wife to learn to tolerate emotional qualities peculiar to each, it is even more important that they be able to talk about their differences, to communicate more. It is a sad fact that many couples have certain subjects they never discuss which perpetuate hidden rancors and subtle mistrusts.

The field of dialogue is another testing ground for personal efficiency, for it certifies to the genuineness of the couple's openness, poise and spiritual freedom.

Love in marriage is of basic importance

In any marriage conjugal affection is intimately bound with sexual affection. A marriage can seldom be unified, affectionate and mutually satisfactory, if the sexual experience between the partners is not unified, affectionate and mutually satisfactory.

The sex instinct is one of the most powerful human instincts. Like every other instinct, it is meant to serve some fundamental need. The satisfaction of this natural need makes it possible to discharge the psychic tension that rises from the instinct.

In a well-adjusted and healthy marriage, sexual needs are satisfied with due regard for their proper place in hierarchy of procreation. Normally sexual satisfaction among adults takes the form of sexual intercourse which must be tender and gentle and yet at the same time powerful and challenging. Habit, routine, too great a sense of security are trials for married love, and sexual intercourse runs the risk of losing its spontaneity and ceasing to be a free gift that comes out of love.

A happy marriage implies permanence of the relationship; it implies a deep communion, of both flesh and spirit, between husband and wife, and it requires, too, the full emotional maturity. The partners should each be realistically aware of the fact that psychological personality adjustment contributes more to love and happiness in marriage than does sexual compatibility.

The human sex act should never take place between a man and woman who are not in love with each other. This does not mean that it always needs to be accomplished by the great passion of love which is the hallmark of romanticism. For the purposes under discussion here, such love need be, basically, no more than the fruit of mutual respect or a feeling of tenderness and affection. What counts is the fact that two hearts, and two bodies, go out toward each other. Obviously, the closer this union of hearts, the closer also and the more dignified and human will be the physical embrace of love. Every time a man and a woman complete the sex act without love, they are merely copulating, which is to say that they are becoming more like animals, losing something of their human dignity …the mere physical act always leaves something unsatisfied and frequently painfully so…. And in the woman, much more explicitly than in the man, love is indissolubly bound up with the sex impulse: if love is missing, there will necessarily always be something really missing in the physical experience as well.

When love and affection are true they are capable of serving as perfect counterbalance to the anarchy of sex instinct. Lack of love and mutual understanding involve real danger to mental health. Many men have become prematurely impotent in their married relation. And this impotence quite often gives rise to neurosis, leads to a loss of interest in work and presents an obstacle to all his undertakings.

Children are an essential element in the success of any married life. 'God sends children for another purpose than merely to keep up the race – ' writes Mary Howitt, 'to enlarge our hearts; and to make us unselfish and full of kindly sympathies and affections; to give our souls higher aims; to call out all our faculties, to extend enterprise and exertion; and to bring around our firesides bright faces, happy smiles, and loving, tender hearts.'

There is this story about two English explorers who opened some time ago an Egyptian tomb.

'The tomb was shut by the iron silence of three thousand years. When they opened it, they found an exquisitely carved sarcophagus of a little child, and over it this inscription: “Oh, my life, my love, my little one, would God I had died for thee!” They uncovered their heads and with dim eyes stepped into the light. Then they sealed the tomb and left love and death to their eternal vigil.'

Affection is the fertile ground for efficiency

Homes in which display of affection is rare can be called anything but healthy and happy. A family is much happier when its members get excited about one another, when affection is shown as a part of normal life. Some persons are virtually unable to show affection; others prefer to show their love in less obvious ways. Many would like to show affection, but do not know how. Such a lack of ability to show affection is in part an inherited tendency.

Such people or families should develop the habit of showing affection, learn the technique with a conscious effort.

Plan doing things together. Husband and wife, often with children can work together at the same thing at the same time.

Be together, develop like interests. Develop same likes and dislikes and make them mutually enjoyable. Of course, some sacrifices on the part of each one will be necessary but both parties should really enjoy what they are doing together. Don't run home to mother with your troubles. Solve them together.

Be quick to praise. Everyone likes to be praised for something he or she thinks has been done well.

Be quick to admit if you are wrong. If you have an argument, don't insist on your way, give in or compromise even on little things.

Discuss your problems and interests with each other, but don't make a bore of it.

If you are a husband, your job, your work's problems, hobby or do-it-yourself projects.

If you are a wife, the children, the housework or house expenses.

Express appreciation of gifts. Sincere appreciation for the thoughtfulness, even if the gift is insignificant, can be expressed in all honesty. It will do wonders in transforming a home that lacks affection, in making it warm and happier. Each member will have more time to enjoy, reflect and ponder on each one's task and thus plan it with greater efficiency.

Resolutions for husbands

1. Take the lead in the religious life of your home, family prayer.

2. Work at making your marriage happy - as hard as you do at your job. It's your vocation as well as your wife's.

3. Avoid taking your wife for granted – take her out, bring gifts occasionally, telephone her, thoughtfully pay her a compliment.

4. Strive to complete and perfect your wife through affection, security, consideration, forgiveness, especially in marital relations. Cooperate with her by eating without ugly comment the meals she prepares.

5. Discuss your work, budget, insurance, hopes and plans for the future with her.

6. Avoid the martyr complex when you help out with putting the children to bed, doing house work, going to school events, changing the baby's diaper, etc.

7. Treat your wife's relatives and friends graciously - as you would treat your own. Use your good manners at home.

8. Give your wife some money to spend on anything she chooses herself, the children, something foolish. Don’t make her account for it.

The source of efficiency

Home permeates every aspect of human behavior and has lasting effects both psychological and socio-economic. Home is the resort of love, of understanding and joy, where the family bread-winners can find a nook for rest, relaxation; where they can find time for thinking, planning or discussing - ingredients so necessary for personal efficiency.

Home life provides ways by which its members can cope with their basic physical needs and makes possible the attainment of security. Home offers parents countless chances to invite the children to join in responsible experience where the children can learn to enjoy participating in a common enterprise, where each will grow, in mind as well as in body, toward self-reliance, skill and generous contribution.

The success of the parents is the efficient child. It is the responsibility of the parents to provide, first of all, for the gratification of its natural desires for security, warmth, dignity and personal worth. Without this the home becomes a building, a flat, an apartment where one eats and sleeps.

The parents must provide a framework of wholesome interpersonal relationship which makes possible to develop character and personality and see to it a certain amount of discipline is observed, and a certain amount of liberty is enjoyed.

As Wordsworth said, the child is the father of the man; the man is molded in his childhood.

If he lives with criticism he learns to condemn.

If he lives with hostility he learns to fight.

If he lives with fear he learns to be apprehensive.

If he lives with pity he learns to feel sorry for himself.

If he lives with ridicule he learns to be shy.

If he lives with jealousy he learns what envy is.

If he lives with shame he learns to feel guilty

If he lives with encouragement he learns to be confident.

If he lives with tolerance he learns to be patient.

If he lives with praise he learns to be appreciative.

If he lives with acceptance he learns to love

If he lives with approval he learns to like himself.

If he lives with recognition he learns that it is good to have a goal.

If he lives with sharing he learns about generosity.

If he lives with honesty and fairness he learns what truth and justice are.

If he lives with security he learns to have faith in himself and in those about him.

If he lives with friendliness he learns that the world is a nice place in which to live.

If you live with serenity your child will live with peace of mind.

Be cautious

If a worker fails on a job he can be either changed to some other section or discharged. By and large the business will not seriously suffer, nor will the individual. But when a parent fails, it is not a merely personal failure affecting one person, but it affects many, carrying its effects into generations yet unborn. He makes many lives unhappy many homes become battlefields, many hearts broken with untold misery.

Everyone knows that a proud, haughty, vain, selfish, domineering woman cannot be a good mother; and that a drunken shiftless or cruel man could not possibly be a good father. But what is not so well-recognized is the fact that a couple who are honest and religious and concerned with providing the best they can for their children, may actually be colossal failures as parents.

Efficiency in educating children and making them the efficient men and women of tomorrow demands that they provide adequately for their needs which are manifold in the physical, mental and moral order.

Love, foresight and caution protect parents from slipping in the wrong direction. Unfortunately caution often enslaves parents, forbidding them to do what they would like to do.

Caution must be flexible and make possible new enterprises, considering that any new path is not bound to be the wrong one. Parents must also avoid the nagging worry about their children's health, about some vague tragedy that might happen.

Such cautions provide fertile soil for habitual anxiety.

Budget your money

It is hard to be efficient without a sense of security which in part comes from financial stability.

Many scoff at the idea of budgeting their money; they have no spending guide. But a person or a family that maintains a budget is far more happy and efficient.

A budget is a forecast of the future, having for Its base the past and present expenditure – list of upcoming monthly and yearly expenditures. It won't, of course, solve your financial problems, it will merely chart your course of spending money wisely and will help your saving. It helps buy the item you want whenever you can get it at the lowest possible price.

A budget is simple. All you need to know is your income and your outgo. Be sure that every conceivable expenditure is entered: such as rent and utilities, food, daily expenses, fuel, clothing, unforeseen expenses and finally saving.

Food can be a weekly budget's consideration, other expenses are monthly or yearly.

Determine how much you spent last year in each category, and this will give you an idea of what kind of expenses to budget for the coming year. Difficulty recalling where last year's money went may be the very reason for financial trouble now and proof why you need a budget.

An expense which usually overtakes the family without a budget may appear to be an 'emergency' without really being a bona fide emergency at all.

For example, life insurance hits a family, say in January. Suddenly there is perhaps a $480 insurance bill – and no money. One simple solution is to budget $40/ -per month. Or set up a fund of $10/ - per week. A budget forecasts your yearly expenditures ahead of time. You can then plan your payments and have the money saved in advance.

If you make your budget a family project there is healthy interest from all the members of the family. Let the children become part of the team.

Keep your records simple. Budget is not for castigating yourself unduly.

The amount allotted for savings should not be decreased unless for unavoidable contingencies.

Do not make the figures so arbitrary that anything from a cent to a hundred dollars can go unaccounted for.

When you cannot match the requirements of your budget, if you cannot increase your income the only alternative is to save on expenses.

Society | Self-Help


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