According to family counselor Dr. John Gottman, family members’ need for affection, support, kindness, assistance with daily living tasks, acceptance, admiration, or encouragement are also deep-seated needs that contribute to overall family health. Families help us stay connected to each other, and they provide a haven where basic human needs can be met through one another’s love and support.
With family being so significant in our lives, it makes sense why family relationships should be prioritized above all others. If family relationships are healthy, family members will have a strong family unit overall.
Whenever family tension or disturbances arise, family therapy can help individuals learn how to handle these situations effectively that benefits the family as a whole. For example, there are frictions between family members around certain behaviors, such as family members not getting along with one another. The family therapist will encourage everyone to communicate their feelings concerning such behaviors and allow family members to decide what next step should be taken to improve the situation.
The following ways to strengthen family relationships may sound trivial, but when they’re practiced consistently, they can positively contribute towards optimizing family wellness:
- Create special traditions for the family throughout the year
Thanksgiving dinner is a tradition for most American families, but what about making a family rule that every family member has to spend one weekend night a month together without any devices or distractions? This can be as simple as playing games, telling stories, or taking a walk around the neighborhood.
- Complement one another more often
We often compliment family members on their appearance, but it’s just as important to do so on their inner beauty. For example, say one family member did something helpful for another family member. The family member who received the help can pay that forward by taking some time out of their day to complement the family member who helped them.
- Make memories together
The more memories family members make together, the more fondly they will look back at these happy moments whenever they are feeling low or blue in the future. This is why it is crucial to consistently create opportunities where family members get quality time doing activities that matter most to them, even if it means having dinner together every night at 6 PM sharp. Family traditions and rituals like these help family members feel emotionally connected.
- Avoid negative family talk
When family members gossip and talk negatively about other family members behind their backs, it only breeds contempt and animosity. Not only is this behavior disrespectful, but it can also be quite destructive to family relationships. It’s best to avoid this type of communication and instead focus on the good qualities that each family member has.
- Seek family counseling when needed
There will be times when family tensions reach a boiling point, and no discussion or negotiation will help alleviate the situation. In times like these, it might be necessary for family members to seek professional family counseling from a therapist who has experience dealing with family dynamics. A therapist can help family members understand their family roles and how they affect family relationships.
- Show appreciation for family members
Family members often take one another for granted, which can lead to resentment. When family members are more intentional about showing gratitude for the good things that family members do for them, it can help to improve family relationships. Saying something as simple as “thank you” can make a world of difference.
- Learn family communication patterns
There are family communication patterns that can help or hinder family relationships. If family members learn more about these communication patterns, they will better understand how they relate. For example, family members who tend to be avoidant by nature often withdraw when conflicts arise. In contrast, family members who tend to be dominating may shut out input from other family members. Learning about family communication patterns allows family members to address issues effectively that benefit the entire family unit.
- Spend family time outdoors
Fresh air and sunlight have a way of healing and restoring us so spending family time outdoors is always a good idea. Whether going for a nature walk, playing in the park, or visiting a nearby beach, getting outside is a great way to foster family unity.
- Respect family privacy
Just as we respect our friends’ privacy, we should also respect our family members’ privacy. This means not snooping through family members’ personal belongings or asking too many personal questions about their lives. Privacy is an important part of healthy family relationships.
- Show love and support for one another
Above all, family members need to feel loved and supported by one another. This means being there for each other in good times and challenging times. When family members show love and support not only to their family members but especially for one another, family relationships are bound to be stronger.
Family relationships are essential for a healthy family unit. When family members learn how to effectively communicate with one another, resolve conflicts, and spend time together creating memories, they can maintain a strong family bond that will benefit them emotionally and socially.