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After the happily ever after… 3 ways to achieve your ‘happy family’ goals

I vividly recall that day, back in June 2015 when I dragged my husband for a Bollywood film, ‘Dil Dhadakne Do.’ (Let your heart beat) He’s not much of a movie buff whereas the 70 mm screen and I am best friends. It was a glamorous movie about a wealthy family on a voyage of self-discovery. The movie deals with the importance of marital / family bonds and how relationships suffer when communication takes a back seat. The film revolves around the classy elite and the challenges and problems they face.

Unfulfilled relationships, troubled marriages, self-image, and esteem issues come to the fore in this film which results in fractured families progressively soiling the collar of a household. Although they go about doing their job, looking clean and pristine for everyone on the outside, on the inside, the dirt and grime just sit there, eating into the weave of the domestic fabric.

Many personal hardships and hurdles later, the family members decide to do something about it. Then comes the big breakthrough moment. That aha moment of realization. When they realize that what they stand to gain (peace of mind, love, trust, support, loyalty, happiness, reliability, honesty, etc.) is far greater than what they stand to lose (ego, pride, bitterness, reputation/image, societal acceptance, approval, etc.)

This is where the movie ends. In fact, that is where most movies end… the perfect happy ending.

However here is only where the reel ends. The real work begins then.

Fixing a damaged husband and wife relationship takes much effort from both parties, to say the least. Dealing with relationship trouble and/or renewing your identity and individuality is oftentimes a hard-upward climb. Washing out your dirty laundry is a process. Much like when you switch on the washing machine, you now need to go through the cycle.

This is when you need the most help. To stay grounded. Stay committed. Stay motivated. Stay with it till you achieve what you’ve set out to overcome.

Here then are three ways to achieve your happy family outcomes. These will give you a positive head start in the right direction.

Let go.

Most important. Get everything out on the table. All your feelings, hurt, pain, sadness, frustration, anger… whatever it may be. The good, the bad, the ugly. Speak your truth and then forever let it go. Start your ‘let’s fix this’ journey on a clean slate. If you continue to harbor negative feelings towards each other, you won’t get far before all that you’ve shoved under the carpet will resurface at the next slightest hiccup you may face.

Ask for forgiveness. Repeatedly if required. Thereafter always remember that you are all different individuals; regret/repentance may not come to you in the exact package you desire. That does not mean they don’t mean it. Have a heart. Let off. Your conscience is a good judge to decipher if your partner/family member is making a genuine effort.

Forgive the past. Remember the lessons though.

Communicate.

How can I stress this enough?! C-O-M-M-U-N-I-C-A-T-E. Does this help?

Talk to each other. Really listen to what the other has to say. Make time to spend time together. There may be setbacks; stick with it. Give time, time. Pay attention. Give attention. Share your worries. Appreciate your triumphs. Hug each other when you agree and disagree.

Communication (verbal and non-verbal) within the family is extremely important because it enables members to express their needs, wants, and concerns to each other. Open and honest communication creates an atmosphere that allows family members to express their differences as well as love and admire one another.

Set short term goals.

Not all of us can see the big picture from Day 1. It just seems too far away. Unattainable from such a distance.

Instead go as far as you can see; when you get there, you will see further.

Set short term goals. One week, a fortnight, or one month… what will you do differently in this period of time to see the results you desire?

A good way to do this is to imagine your ideal relationship on a scale of 1–10 with 10 being the most ideal. Where are you now? Say 2? Together decide on a number that best describes your current status. Now ask one another what we can do for each other over the next month to move from 2 to 3. Get creative here. Based on the problem you wish to overcome come up with interesting and innovative things to do for and with each other. For example, a family that has had no time for each other could decide to eat one meal a day together (without cell phones or TV) or a couple that has lost their spark could surprise each other with something special be it cuddling in with a movie, a handwritten love letter or a romantic dinner.

You know best what makes you and your significant other happy in your relationship/family. If you don’t; communicate. Ask. Constantly endeavor to keep the relationship alive.

Back then, in June of 2015, my husband had playfully joked on the way home, “Babe, happily ever after is just a fairy tale.”

With a loving smile, I had looked him in the eye and replied, “Happily ever after is not a fairy tale. It’s a choice.”

Tasneem Kagalwalla @tasneemkagalwalla

Life Coach & Lifestyle Blogger

SHE Magazine USA

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