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For Your Marriage

Married for 20 years and the proud parents of five children, Soren and Ever are co-founders of Trinity House Community, a Catholic nonprofit with a mission to inspire families to make home a small taste of heaven for the renewal of faith and culture.

Be it Resolved: Reduce the Friction or Resolve Now to Reduce Friction

New Year’s resolutions are all about fitness and diet, right?

Turns out, not so much. Thanks to recent releasesof the top New Year’s resolution-related searches, we now know that “mental health” tops the charts. This is real-time, urgent proof that virtually every American family struggles in profound and often unseen ways. 

What is going on here? There are countless reasons for this state of affairs—chief among them is our distractedness and addictive focus on things, work, activities, and entertainment. Our culture focuses on these things to the detriment of our relationships with God and our loved ones. But since people and our love for them and collaboration with them give life meaning, shunting our relationships to the periphery creates at best existential tension and can even lead to isolation and despair.  

What should we do about it? 

We can and should address mental health at every possible level. That includes being open to seeking help from professionals such as counselors and therapists. But ultimately, every parent knows that the best thing they can do for the current and future mental health of their children is to create a loving and authentically one-another-centered—not thing and activity and entertainment-centered—atmosphere in their home. 

Going a little deeper: By “atmosphere,” we’re talking about a home that is focused on ever-deepening “communion.” “The Christian family is a communion of persons,” we read in the Catechism (2205), “a sign and image of the communion of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit.”  

In the trenches of family life, “communion” translates into strong, healthy, generative bonds. No bonds? No blessing. Strong bonds that attempt to reflect the life of the Holy Trinity? Abundant blessings. 

Practically speaking: Family bonds are best reinforced through the kind of togetherness we find in the five Core Practices of a Trinity House: a Holy Sabbath; a weekly Date Night; a weekly Chore Day (or just an hour or two), a daily Family Meal, and One Outreach at a time to host or serve others as a family. 

Another big obstacle: So, let’s say we’re convinced that we need to spend more time on family bonding and less time on things, activities, work, and entertainment. Yes! But sadly, there’s a reason why we are so easily turned away from our loved ones. Let’s call it relational friction. Sure, some friction is inevitable even in a healthy marriage and family life. But as everyone knows, a cycle or pattern of unresolved friction can have almost immediate consequences for the atmosphere of communion in our homes, making it all the more tempting to retreat back into impersonal lifestyles. 

A deeper solution: If we take into account the family’s fundamental role in creating long-term mental health in our children, then we can see just how damaging friction is in the husband-wife bond or parent-child bond. Our bonds, said author and psychiatrist Dr. Kevin Majeres in an OptimalWork podcast (min. 11:12), are “one of the richest areas for resolutions” as we seek to be “the best for those” we “love most.” To paraphrase his advice on resolutions, we can ask ourselves three questions:     

  • What are your most important bonds?
  • Where is the most friction in those bonds?   
  • Can you make a resolution that addresses that friction? 

To sum up: Resolving to get to the heart of friction in your most important relationships might just be the best resolution you’ve ever made. Less friction. Deeper bonds. And, we pray for more wholeness, depth, satisfaction, peace, and every truly good thing for our families to enjoy this new year.