The story is told of the woman who, while making dinner one night, was asked by her daughter why she cut the end of the roast off before placing it in the pan to cook. “Because that was always the way my mother did it,” she answered. But it got her thinking so she called her mother to ask her the same question. “Because that is the way your grandmother always did it,” she informed her daughter. But that, in turn, got her to thinking so she called her own aged mother and asked, “Mom, why did you cut the end off the roasts before cooking them?” Her mother was a little surprised by the question but said, “Well dear, I had a small roasting pan so I had to cut the end off the roast for it to fit.”
We all bring enormous influences with us from our families of origin (as well as from other life experiences) into our own marriages and families. If only all those influences and habits were healthy and productive! But as much as our families loved us, most of us picked up some baggage from mom and dad and siblings that we now would just as soon not have.
We have previously talked about the fall of a great Mayan city due to allowing disease-carrying Spanish sailors inside their city walls. We compared that tragedy to that which afflicts many marriages and families as they allow negative influences into their sacred homes and relationships through the Internet and other media.
Fortunately, as we discussed in previous postings, every family can take preventative steps to protect themselves from many of these destructive outside influences. But what of those harmful traits that are brought into the home and relationship by family members in the form of attitudes, fixed beliefs, and habits?
- A husband brings with him from his family of origin a tendency to be harsh and even abusive toward his wife and children.
- A wife who observed her own mother’s lack of honesty now finds it difficult to be open and honest in her own marriage.
- Spouses whose own parents divorced have no clear vision of what a healthy marriage and family can be.
- Parents and children, bombarded with negative messages both inside and outside the home turn cynical and selfish with those who most deserve their love.
In our Marriage Retreats we do not encourage couples to get lost in blaming their past experiences (especially in their family of origin) for their current marriage troubles, but there can be some benefit in recognizing that, along with many positives, we all bring some harmful influences with us as we form the nucleus of a new family from two very different people.
We can control usage of the Internet and turn off the TV. But how do we deal with deep-seated fears, resentments, trust issues, and negative behaviors that lie within ourselves and our partners?
At a LIFE Marriage Retreat couples learn and practice the true principles and skills that define every successful marriage and life of meaning. They discover that as they make shifts in their perspective and pay attention to the results in their lives they can lay down the negative baggage they carry and replace it with beliefs, behaviors, and goals that keep them pointed toward their objectives of a healthy and happy marriage and family.
It is not always an easy process to overcome deep-seated beliefs and behaviors, but we see couples succeed in doing so at every Retreat.
Success will not come just by digging those harmful tendencies out and thinking the work is done. The real key is to see and believe in principles and practices that really work. It then becomes an almost natural process to allow those to simply replace the recognized negative influences within us.
As we take accountability for what we bring into our families and relationships the way will be cleared to make the changes that will bring us back on course to the higher and happier ground we all seek.