by Rosimeire Cavalcante
Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.Song of Songs 2:15
For over 6 years, I have worked with families in my city. I took on a radio program called “Consultoria Familiar” (Family Counseling), where I contribute with advice for families.
I have learned a lot from my thirty years of marriage. I lived many happy moments, others were very painful. I have also read a lot, observed many couples, and learned from my own mistakes and from the mistakes of others. I realized that small things, seemingly minor details, can strengthen or ruin a relationship, and today I would like to share some advice that can save yours:
1 – Criticism
At first, criticism can begin as something harmless, a joke even. But, as they say, every joke has a trace of truth to it. Many take advantage of the intimacy and freedom they have with their partner to subtly say something embarrassing they would otherwise never say. Over time, this becomes a habit, and, suddenly, these criticisms become public, further embarrassing the other person. This type of behavior tends to worsen with time.
At the start of a relationship, be it between friends or between a couple, establish limits. What seems harmless at first can become the reason for resentment and bitterness when often repeated. Avoid using words like pig, cow, dog, and other unpleasant terms used to joke about a person’s appearance, habits, or mannerisms. I once had to advise a sister in my church against using degrading terms when referring to her husband, and one thing I taught my daughter was to never accept nor ever criticize in this manner, even if in jest. This type of behavior can repeatedly destroy the mutual respect that must exist in a relationship. Swap this kind of humiliating criticism for edifying praise.
2 – Habits
One quality I most admire is organization and cleanliness. But have you ever considered that even this wonderful habit can become a problem for the entire family? I once witnessed a case in my family and in the home of others, where women obsessed with cleanliness destroyed their marriages and the relationship with their children. Husbands and children were constantly shouted at when they got home from work or school, “Take off your boots!” “Don’t mess up the bed.” “I just cleaned the couch!” “You’re getting the table dirty!” I’m not defending the mess made by husbands and children, but we need to run from exaggerations. Everything, when spoken with love and approached with affection, can be solved. But when home becomes an unpleasant place, it’s time to rethink our attitudes.
Children make messes, husbands rarely have the same sense of organization as their wives do, but that shouldn’t be a reason to make your home a place of disharmony. Our family is our greatest asset. The house you can clean again, the bed you can remake, but a broken relationship cannot always be restored. In fact, that was the case with the examples I mentioned.
3 – Keep nothing for later
My husband’s niece died at seventeen. I remember hearing my mother-in-law regretting the fact that her granddaughter had always wanted a room with curtains, rugs, and a quilt that had been a gift from her father (whom she had never known), but her mother wouldn’t let her. Yet, when she died, a lavish tomb was prepared with curtains, rugs, and the beloved bedspread she had always wanted to use.
Small details make a difference. Don’t leave for tomorrow what you can already use today. Your family deserves the best. Don’t keep plates, cutlery, towels to use on a special occasion that never comes. Let your family be reason enough to celebrate special moments on unscheduled dates. Prepare special meals on ordinary days, decorate the table, say you love them, and tell them how special your life is because of their presence.
In the words of Thiago Brado, “The past won’t return, the future we don’t have, and today isn’t over. So love more, hug more. Because we don’t know how much time we have to breathe. Talk more, listen more. It’s worth remembering that life is too short.”
Dear girls and women, my wish is that we are wise to build our home. God has given us an incredible ability to be an instrument of reconciliation in our families. May we know how to use this gift for God’s honor and glory.