Relationship Issues Question and Answer Part 2

Table of contents for Relationship Issues Q&A

  1. Relationship Issues Question and Answer Part 1
  2. Relationship Issues Question and Answer Part 2

Dr. Henry Cloud, PhD, one of my favorite authors, is a frequent guest speaker for the Family Series event hosted by Bill Hybel.  There are some excerpts of one of his talks. Dr. Cloud is a noted psychologist and author of “Boundaries,” “How to Get a Date Worth Keeping,” and “Safe People.” You can listen or watch the full talk by Dr. Cloud at this link (Part VI on their page).

This is a continuation of a 2 part post. If you missed Part 1, use the above series link.

These are paraphrased excerpts from Dr. Cloud’s question and answer session on some of life’s toughest relationship questions. Please use the link below to watch or listen to the full video or audio. The insights will greatly benefit yourself, your friends, and family.

5. With regard to blended families and step families, how can a parent continue a close relationship with a child who is living with the other re-married parent and both parental roles are already being fulfilled in the child’s life?

This is a painful scenario and there is no way to go through this without feeling some loss. However, the first important step is to remove from your thoughts the concept of “either/or” because you are both in the child’s life. You don’t have control of when you are not there, but you do have 100% control of the relationship you have when you are together with your child. First, if you are nurturing, warm, and positive and do great stuff together, yet have requirements and expectations that he live by your rules, even if the other parent is a non-structure type, kids deep down eventually gravitate toward structure. You will face fights and some “prodigal son” moments, but continue to be the best person you can be in regards to loving and discipline. The child will develop an attachment to you based on that.

The second important point is don’t poison the other relationship with the step parent or the one with your ex. You want the child to have as many positive relationships as possible.

Third, have a transcendent desire, one that transcends any wounds, and can come together to work on what is best for the kids. It is so easy to get caught up in rehashing old hurts and wants. You can still come together, agreeing that “These are our issues. We will never get along on these points, otherwise we would still be married.” Then carve out a space where you can come together solely to work on what is best for the children.

6. What is your advice for a couple whose interests are so different that they never spend any time together?

Something is wrong if you only spend time pursuing your own personal tastes/interests. There are vital things in life that we all should be interested in, unless we are living a life only to ourselves, an ego-centric life that does not transcend our own interests. You and your spouse should be involved in some universal interests, like reaching out to the poor or extended family, doing activities with your kids, community service involvement, spiritual activities at the church. So, first find universal things to be involved in that have nothing to do with person tastes.

Second, move past your own interests to the interests of others [in your mindset and lifestyle]. Cross the fence and become of student of your spouse’s heart, mind, soul, strengths, and passions. [Dr. Cloud then gave the example of a man who hated art but loved going to his wife’s art exhibits because he realized he was able to see another part of her, a part of her life’s passion and talents that he could not see otherwise; it was another part of her person that he could fall in love with as he immersed himself in watching her in her element.

7. As a clinical psychologist, what are some of the key elements to get right with our families?

If you do the most important one, most of the others will fall into place. Go back to the original design of how God designed marriage to work. The formula God gave of leaving parents, cleaving to your spouse, and becoming one [Gen.2:24] contains life-changing dynamics.

The leaving must take first before the cleaving. When a person doesn’t do the “leave” part, it is because of not wanting to stand up to the parent’s control issues–wanting [the grown child] to stay forever or wanting intrusion rights– or because [the grown child] is still in a dependency relationship with the parent emotionally, financially or desiring approval. The Hebrew word for leave is brutal; it means utterly forsake. This does not mean to abandon your parents, because we are supposed to have intergenerational ties and relationships. However, what you forsake is that child role from your family of origin; be an adult and now cleave to your spouse.

The next step in the formula is two whole people become one. The oneness is created by two whole people coming together. Here is the typical problem, though; if you are not a complete person as an adult, if you are a half person looking for another half person to make a whole, ½ x ½ = ¼! When we bring brokenness into brokenness, we get reduced to less of a person than we were to begin with and we just want out so that the pain will stop.

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To make a relationship work, the key is that both spouses must be on a path to become whole, mature, complete people. It does not mean perfect people, but that you’ve worked out the stuff so [when a crisis occurs], you don’t whine like a two year old; you get up and solve the problem. Men need to be in groups of men who will give them the support they did not get from their families of origin, and the same with women, see your [counselor] or whatever you have to do so that both people are becoming whole persons and then establish a family, and pass that wholeness on. This is the best thing you can do.

Last , you’ve got to have a strategic plan for your family and do it with intention. The rule of life is that the urgent will always crowd out the vital. Carve out purposeful times that are going to be reserved for you, and for the support groups. We also have a family meeting every week where we talk about “What can we do better this week? What do we want you to do better this week? What do you want us to do better this week?” We are working on things and we’re growing together. When you do that, if you are getting good information and you are growing, you are going to succeed.

To make full use of the vital information Dr. Cloud has provided, please use this link to watch the video or audio. Click Part VI on their play list.

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