Author Topic: How do I learn to love my family?  (Read 7493 times)

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Offline Porter ODoran

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How do I learn to love my family?
« on: May 27, 2014, 12:37:34 AM »
I don't mean how do I feel emotions of love toward my wife and little ones -- I am saturated with feelings. I mean how do I learn really to desire to spend time with them, look them in the eyes, always be learning to know them.

For about two decades I was a bachelor. I married at thirty-six. During those years I spent all my time alone, mostly reading or sitting in a brown study -- these things became settled habits.

So what is happening now is that I am always wishing to be reading or thinking, and my family is invisible to me or irritates me. I do not live out love for them. This is harming us -- I won't describe all the ways how.

Is there hope for me?
In love did God create the world; in love does he guide it ...; in love is he going wondrously to transform it. --Abba Isaac

Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity. --Climacus

Offline mikeforjesus

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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2014, 04:24:29 AM »
I am in the same boat but I'm not married and have no kids

Offline katherineofdixie

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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2014, 08:38:45 AM »
Same here. I much prefer reading and being by myself. I think a lot of it has to do with personality type. If you are an introvert, you draw energy from within. Extroverts are energized by being with others.
That said, love is more a choice or action than an emotion - for family and friends especially we need to make that daily even hourly choice to be present for them. The trick ISTM is to act "as if" - to make the choice to put others' needs and welfare ahead of our own, even if you're not feeling particularly "loving" at the time.. This is what the whole loving your neighbor thing is about.
 Oh, and get up before everyone else, so you can have a little alone time! ;)
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Offline hecma925

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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2014, 09:12:22 AM »
There is always hope.  Keep praying, but also seek to spend more time with them.  The more time you spend, the more chances that you will have good moments with them.  Eventually, it is less about those good moments for you, but for them.
Happy shall he be, that shall take and dash thy little ones against the rock. Alleluia.

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Offline WPM

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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2014, 12:38:29 PM »
Just do what you have to ... There isn't anyone to tell you how to live your life. (Try family prayer) ..
« Last Edit: May 27, 2014, 12:40:03 PM by WPM »

Offline biro

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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2014, 12:41:23 PM »
Praying.

Lord have mercy.

Most Holy Theotokos, pray for us.
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Offline primuspilus

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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2014, 12:49:05 PM »
You love them, now learn to like them.

PP
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Offline LizaSymonenko

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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2014, 12:57:08 PM »

The more time you spend with them, the more you will love them.

What if something, God forbid, happened to them?  Would you miss them? 

Do you worry when you walk in and see one or the other in tears?

What if your child has a fever in the middle of the night, do you get a cool cloth for them, water, meds, and pray they get well....or do you just roll over and go back to sleep?

You DO love them....you just don't know it.

You need to be able to not put yourself and your desires last.  What you want, can wait.  Your kids will grow up and leave the nest, and you will have peace and quiet and nothing to do but, read books.

Prioritize.  Play with the kids.  Get them to bed....and then read.  Get up early on Saturday when they sleep in and read.  Or get them to bed early on Friday and read  late, knowing you can sleep in on Saturday.

Find something you love about each one.  The little girl purses her lips when she's upset...it's so cute.  The middle one can't pronounce "family" and calls it the flamily room.  The wife manages to get everything done, wipe up spills, put bandaids on owies, make dinner and still look beautiful.

Just open your heart...and your eyes will see just how much there is to love around you.
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Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2014, 02:18:28 PM »
Thanks everyone. This has moved me to tears.

You love them, now learn to like them.

PP

This really hit hard.

Please keep praying for me. One detail I left out that's rather important is that at this point I'm a "stay at home dad."
In love did God create the world; in love does he guide it ...; in love is he going wondrously to transform it. --Abba Isaac

Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity. --Climacus

Offline primuspilus

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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2014, 02:23:36 PM »
Thanks everyone. This has moved me to tears.

You love them, now learn to like them.

PP

This really hit hard.

Please keep praying for me. One detail I left out that's rather important is that at this point I'm a "stay at home dad."
Maybe its just burnout. Maybe you need a vacation or something that gets you out of the huse everyday (like a hobby, or take a class, etc).

Lord have mercy.

PP
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Offline xOrthodox4Christx

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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2014, 02:25:53 PM »
Liza is right on the kids. They need you more than you need them.

Interact with your wife more, focus on her troubles, and her life and ask her about her thoughts and she'll open up to you more.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2014, 02:28:10 PM by xOrthodox4Christx »
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Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2014, 02:27:56 PM »
...

Just open your heart...and your eyes will see just how much there is to love around you.

Very moving.
In love did God create the world; in love does he guide it ...; in love is he going wondrously to transform it. --Abba Isaac

Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity. --Climacus

Offline hecma925

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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2014, 02:38:20 PM »
Thanks everyone. This has moved me to tears.

You love them, now learn to like them.

PP

This really hit hard.

Please keep praying for me. One detail I left out that's rather important is that at this point I'm a "stay at home dad."

My dad was in the Army and there were times when he simply was not around.  The times that I got to be with him are still so special to me, even though I know I annoyed the crap out of him.  We laugh about it now.  Every moment with dad is special...your children will think so.
Happy shall he be, that shall take and dash thy little ones against the rock. Alleluia.

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Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2014, 03:51:57 PM »
Maybe its just burnout. Maybe you need a vacation or something that gets you out of the huse everyday (like a hobby, or take a class, etc).

Lord have mercy.

PP

If only this were true, but this is an attitude I brought into the marriage. I had to give up my study (room) because I was afraid I'd never come out of it. So what I'm fighting is (I think) an addiction.
In love did God create the world; in love does he guide it ...; in love is he going wondrously to transform it. --Abba Isaac

Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity. --Climacus

Offline primuspilus

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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2014, 11:07:40 AM »
Maybe its just burnout. Maybe you need a vacation or something that gets you out of the huse everyday (like a hobby, or take a class, etc).

Lord have mercy.

PP

If only this were true, but this is an attitude I brought into the marriage. I had to give up my study (room) because I was afraid I'd never come out of it. So what I'm fighting is (I think) an addiction.
I think you need to have a serious talk with a professional. Get everything out.

PP
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Offline biro

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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #15 on: May 28, 2014, 12:37:27 PM »
Maybe its just burnout. Maybe you need a vacation or something that gets you out of the huse everyday (like a hobby, or take a class, etc).

Lord have mercy.

PP

If only this were true, but this is an attitude I brought into the marriage. I had to give up my study (room) because I was afraid I'd never come out of it. So what I'm fighting is (I think) an addiction.

Lord have mercy.

St. Joseph, pray for us.
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Offline yeshuaisiam

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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #16 on: May 28, 2014, 01:09:39 PM »
I don't mean how do I feel emotions of love toward my wife and little ones -- I am saturated with feelings. I mean how do I learn really to desire to spend time with them, look them in the eyes, always be learning to know them.

For about two decades I was a bachelor. I married at thirty-six. During those years I spent all my time alone, mostly reading or sitting in a brown study -- these things became settled habits.

So what is happening now is that I am always wishing to be reading or thinking, and my family is invisible to me or irritates me. I do not live out love for them. This is harming us -- I won't describe all the ways how.

Is there hope for me?

Sometimes we have to sacrifice ourselves and desires to care for others.  I have a ton of interests (I'm just one of those people).  I can't even tell you how many times I've had to stop, look up, and realize that I once again and delving into what I like to research/study.  You have to sometimes stop and be with the family brother.

Find interests.  Wrestle with sons or play ball.  Jump on a trampoline with them.  Go fishing with them.  Use a telescope with them.  You may be very surprised that THEY may be interested also in some of your interests.  (Telescope for me)

Even theology.  A 5 year old honestly can understand a lot more than you think about it....

Try involving them in your interests, and try to find "new things" you may like with them.  Your wife seeing this will most likely join into the family fun!
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Online Cyrillic

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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #17 on: May 28, 2014, 01:14:56 PM »
I don't mean how do I feel emotions of love toward my wife and little ones -- I am saturated with feelings. I mean how do I learn really to desire to spend time with them, look them in the eyes, always be learning to know them.

Your question was "How do I learn to love my family?" Well, you obviously do love your family, but you don't express it in a stereotypical way.

and my family [...] irritates me.

You should work on that.

I do not live out love for them. This is harming us -- I won't describe all the ways how.

If you're introverted they should learn to accept that. Discuss it with them. Introversion is something you can't change. "Either kill me or take me as I am, because I'll be damned if I ever change" to quote a notorious French writer. Your wife probably shouldn't take that quote too literally :D
« Last Edit: May 28, 2014, 01:24:11 PM by Cyrillic »
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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #18 on: May 28, 2014, 01:20:10 PM »
double post
« Last Edit: May 28, 2014, 01:20:54 PM by Cyrillic »
"April is the cruellest month, breeding
lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
memory and desire, stirring
dull roots with spring rain."
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Offline JamesR

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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #19 on: May 28, 2014, 05:56:29 PM »
Well Christ says to hate them, or something along those lines.
...Or it's just possible he's a mouthy young man on an internet forum.
In the infinite wisdom of God, James can be all three.

Offline biro

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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #20 on: May 28, 2014, 06:22:55 PM »
He also said, "Love one another as I have loved you."

St. Paul said, "He who loves his wife loves his own body."

It's not always easy. I'm praying for Porter and his family.
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Offline Yurysprudentsiya

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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #21 on: May 28, 2014, 07:10:29 PM »
I don't mean how do I feel emotions of love toward my wife and little ones -- I am saturated with feelings. I mean how do I learn really to desire to spend time with them, look them in the eyes, always be learning to know them.

For about two decades I was a bachelor. I married at thirty-six. During those years I spent all my time alone, mostly reading or sitting in a brown study -- these things became settled habits.

So what is happening now is that I am always wishing to be reading or thinking, and my family is invisible to me or irritates me. I do not live out love for them. This is harming us -- I won't describe all the ways how.

Is there hope for me?

I can empathize with this.   I've had similar problems.  The root cause is selfishness.  But you can fight it. 

If you love them, and I believe you do, you must live in the moment and show it there.  Think of what life would be like if they were gone, you lost them, and you were the cause. 

Anticipate their needs and plan fun time together.  And pay close attention to what they like and don't like.  Plan surprises.   Splurge a little, the return in love and relationship building makes any such effort more than worthwhile.   

Eternity is a relationship with God.  If we don't have this relationship with our family, whom we have seen, how can we have it with God, whom we've not seen?   To paraphrase scripture.   Your family will be your salvation if you let them.  Think about that when you feel like ignoring them for a book.  It should make you excited to spend time with them. 

I know whereof I speak.  I learned a lot of this the hard way.  I'm also praying for you. 

Offline Dan-Romania

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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #22 on: May 30, 2014, 06:50:32 PM »
Look at your family like to a book.
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Offline yeshuaisiam

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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #23 on: May 30, 2014, 11:35:34 PM »
Well Christ says to hate them, or something along those lines.

Heh, it's important to quote correctly.  The only things I can think of what you are saying is that he identified his brothers and sisters as his followers - in which case family can be that.

He said that he came to turn certain family members against each other (spoken in context as faithful vs. not).

He also said that you have to love Christ more than your family or you are unworthy of him.

Are these the things that you are talking about?
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Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #24 on: May 30, 2014, 11:42:52 PM »
Quote from: Luke 14:26
If any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother and wife and children and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
In love did God create the world; in love does he guide it ...; in love is he going wondrously to transform it. --Abba Isaac

Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity. --Climacus

Offline LizaSymonenko

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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #25 on: May 31, 2014, 12:08:09 AM »
Yes, but that "hate", is meant as a reminder to love God above all else.

In the OP's situation, I don't think the issue is a choice between loving God, or loving family, but more a choice between loving family, or loving oneself.

Big difference.

Proper order of degrees of love and sacrifice:
1. God
2. Everyone else (family, enemies (hopefully they are not one and the same), friends...)
3. Yourself
« Last Edit: May 31, 2014, 12:08:45 AM by LizaSymonenko »
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Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #26 on: May 31, 2014, 11:20:44 AM »
Proper order of degrees of love and sacrifice:
1. God
2. Everyone else (family, enemies (hopefully they are not one and the same), friends...)
3. Yourself


Jesus
Others
Yourself

It's better than GEY.  ;)
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Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #27 on: May 31, 2014, 02:18:20 PM »
Proper order of degrees of love and sacrifice:
1. God
2. Everyone else (family, enemies (hopefully they are not one and the same), friends...)
3. Yourself


Jesus
Others
Yourself

It's better than GEY.  ;)

Busting a gut laughing here. :)

... Very good advice, Lisa, thank you!
In love did God create the world; in love does he guide it ...; in love is he going wondrously to transform it. --Abba Isaac

Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity. --Climacus

Offline wainscottbl

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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #28 on: June 03, 2014, 11:31:52 PM »
First, I'd say realise and learn that love is not an emotion. It's not always how you feel. You love them, you just have a hard time excercising it sometimes.

Second, do it in a way that is not foreign to you or unnatural for you. Don't try to do things that you just don't do naturally. For example, if you are an introvert maybe buy your wife flowers once a week--there is the story of the old man who bought his wife flowers every week from the time they were married, years. Every Monday. And so he continued it when she was in the grave, putting the flowers on the grave. Maybe cook dinner or help clean up after dinner.

Third, give yourself some time so you do not get annoyed. Have a place to go to where you have some privacy. You gave up that study but there must be somewhere you can go. Does not mean you will not be interrupted.

Fourth, continue talking to your spiritual father. Pray the Jesus Prayer whenever you feel yourself falling in somewhat.
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Offline TheTrisagion

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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #29 on: June 03, 2014, 11:37:23 PM »
I am very much an introvert. When I come home from work, the last think I want to do it associate with anyone, family or not.  I have found that by establishing a habit, it becomes less stressful for me.  I often take 5-10 minutes to myself to collect myself, I then eat dinner with the family, play with my daughters until their bed time at 7:30 and then I take a good 2 1/2 hours to be by myself.  I then catch up with my wife around 10-10:30 and go to bed at midnight.  Obviously, you have to work out your own habit, but don't be afraid to be by yourself in quietness. We need that just as much as we need relationships.
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Offline wainscottbl

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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #30 on: June 04, 2014, 03:48:41 AM »
Yeah, a bedtime is good if the kids do not have one, even on weekends. I remember when we went to spend the night with my cousins it was the weekend of course, but we still have to go to bed at 10. Of course the adults were still out there talking and doing adult things. My sister and I got to stay up without a bedtime on weekends at home. I hated that bedtime thing at my cousins but now I realise it is a good thing for the adults.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2014, 03:49:39 AM by wainscottbl »
True patriotism sometimes requires of men to act exactly contrary, at one period, to that which it does at another, and the motive which impels them — the desire to do right — is precisely the same.

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Offline Quinault

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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #31 on: June 04, 2014, 05:40:38 AM »
I think you need to start at the beginning.

How old are your kids? Because honestly, when you have just young kids it is HARD, really hard to be a stay at home parent. You spend all your waking hours with people that need-need-need-need and you feel depleted. That isn't sinful, that isn't selfish.

Right now being a mother of 6 is far and away easier than what it was like to be the mother of 1 or even 2 children that were young. Right now we have 12.5, almost 9, 7, almost 5, 2, and 1 year old children. That sounds like a lot of work, and in a way it is. The wonderful part is that I don't spend my day just wiping bottoms, wiping noses, and doing housework. I can have engaging conversations while doing all those things! :police:

Cultivate hobbies and dedicate time to them in a structured way. Have time for you, and only you each day. Everyone has different ways that they recharge, find out what yours is and start doing it. You won't get to spend as much time as you might like, but don't neglect it just because you can't do it very long. My husband enjoys throwing knives in the backyard, spending 15 minutes a day doing that helps him tremendously. I enjoy knitting, and do it in the evening after the kids fall asleep. I find that losing a little sleep to knit is more beneficial than getting a solid night of sleep.

What you are feeling isn't necessarily sinful, or even awful. Be honest with your family that you need a little space to reset every day. Being the stay-at-home parent is a 24/7 job. Not to be sexist, but it isn't a role that is normally done by men either. So you aren't going to have much support. If stay-at-home moms don't fell real supported, how much less supported are stay-at-home dads going to feel? Don't fall into a trap of trying to prove your worth and have everything perfect.

Step back a bit, take a deep breath, and repeat "this can't last forever" while sipping a rum and coke. Childhood is fleeting, try to look past the mess a bit more so you can enjoy it.

The greatest and most important parts of my days are the conversations that are started with my kids. My husband will come home to a house that is a mess often. But he also comes home to children that have asked deep questions that were answered in the best way possible the moment that they were asked. The dishes can wait when my 9 year old wants to understand why God allows suffering to exist. The laundry can wait when I need to calm the fears and raging hormones of a tween. I would rather have happy children than a perfect house.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2014, 05:43:29 AM by Quinault »

Offline Quinault

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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #32 on: June 04, 2014, 05:48:35 AM »
Thus far, our kids still like us. Thus far they have felt that they could come and talk to us about anything. That could change of course, but my point is mostly that your kids see where they are on the priority list based upon how you treat them. If the dishes are more important than a good snuggle and chat on the couch it isn't necessarily something that you can just make-up for later. Those snuggles and chats are available for a small window of time. The time we spend with our children when they are young, sets the foundation for when they are older. I can have a perfect and clean house when my kids move out. Right now, my kids are more important than having everything perfect in the house.

The reality is that you have have a perfect home, or you can have happy children; you can't have both.

Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #33 on: June 04, 2014, 02:46:57 PM »
Thank you for all these insights, friends. May God bless and reward you. Thank you for your prayers. Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner. St. Joseph the Betrothed, pray for me.
In love did God create the world; in love does he guide it ...; in love is he going wondrously to transform it. --Abba Isaac

Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity. --Climacus

Offline katherineofdixie

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Re: How do I learn to love my family?
« Reply #34 on: June 04, 2014, 03:23:11 PM »
Thus far, our kids still like us. Thus far they have felt that they could come and talk to us about anything. That could change of course, but my point is mostly that your kids see where they are on the priority list based upon how you treat them. If the dishes are more important than a good snuggle and chat on the couch it isn't necessarily something that you can just make-up for later. Those snuggles and chats are available for a small window of time. The time we spend with our children when they are young, sets the foundation for when they are older. I can have a perfect and clean house when my kids move out. Right now, my kids are more important than having everything perfect in the house.

The reality is that you have have a perfect home, or you can have happy children; you can't have both.

I often think that one of the greatest gifts my mother ever gave me was the idea that there were always more important things than a clean house (as long as you didn't get cholera and your feet didn't stick to the kitchen floor.)
"If but ten of us lead a holy life, we shall kindle a fire which shall light up the entire city."

 St. John Chrysostom