Maintaining the Family Bond

Jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “A mind stretched by a new idea never regains its original dimensions.” Few life experiences stretch our minds, beyond the point of no return, like the joys and challenges of family relationships. It links us to others’ destiny and has that uncanny knack of stripping away the veneers of pretention, allowing us to be appreciated for who we are, not who people expect us to be.

Comedian Jay Leno once went to his studio audience to find the most embarrassing first date a woman ever had. The winner was a lady whose memorable moment took place in the winter, when she and her date went to the ski slopes near Salt Lake City, Utah. They had never met before and the day was pleasant, but uneventful, until they were headed home late in the afternoon.

How Do You Spell Relief?

As they were driving down the mountain she realized she had one too many lattes without stopping at the restroom. She shared her discomfort with her date who encouraged her to hold it, as there were no restrooms and the conditions were making progress slow. Finally, she asked him to stop the car, less she ruin his leather upholstery. Getting out in the snow and to steady herself, she sat against the bumper for blessed relief. This lasted until she realized the old tongue on the flag pole phenomena – that her exposed buttocks were super-glued to the bumper of the car!

Her date called discreetly from inside and asked how she was. She replied, “I’m freezing my buns off.” Finally he got out and she, with her sweater pulled over herself, looked up at him helplessly as he burst out laughing, along with her. Realizing the only way to free her was by pouring warm water (which they did not have) over where she was stuck, she turned her head as he unzipped his fly and provided a steady stream of 98.6º liquid which liberated her. How did it end? He was next to her in Leno’s audience, as her husband.

Best In the Long Run

Making that relationship work over the long haul is no easy task. But here are three things that will help.

  1. Learn to laugh with each other, but never at each other. Laughing at someone is simply a curse veiled in humor, delivering a stinging barb along with a convenient escape clause… “I was just kidding.”
  2. Love beyond the feelings. We understand this with our children, but it is equally true with our spouses. One person described the contemporary view that, “Love is a feeling that you feel when you feel you’re going to have a feeling you’ve never felt before.” Well feelings tend to diminish, but real love is able to make a stable path through the mountaintops and deep valleys of human relationship.
  3. Hold on to the mystery of promises. This is really what marriage and family is about, promises. Lewis Smedes said, “When a person makes a promise, he stretches himself out into circumstances that no one can control, yet he controls at least one thing: he will be there no matter what the circumstances turn out to be. With one simple word of promise, a person creates an island of certainty in a sea of uncertainty. When you make a promise, you take a hand in creating your own future.”

A respected author and speaker, Eric Wright is the assignment editor for SpaceCoast Business magazine and the founder and pastor of Journey Church in Suntree.