There is nothing better in this world than that man and wife should be one mind.
(Homer - Odyssey - 800 BC)
Unity builds love. Parental unity gives consistency in the key messages you give your children. Above all, it means you show your children how to love: by the way you back each other up, by the way you live for your spouse and make service to others the lynchpin of your family life. Try to give constant example of this. Give a living example of round-the-clock-love, love that never gets fed up or runs out of patience. Be on the same page. Share this as a major parenting priority. So much depends on it.
In your own life model the habitual kindness and service that underpins true virtue. Know how to come to decisions that you both are happy with.
Admire each other’s strengths; don’t get fixated on faults. Back up each other’s decisions and listen to each other. Work together as a team. Complement your spouse’s personality. Ensure that calm and common sense prevail… by open and honest communication. It probably does not surprise us that Aristotle, who explained the doctrine of virtue, and who made obvious efforts to raise his son in virtue, was also deeply united to his wife. It must not pass us by that this intellectual colossus was universally regarded as a kind and affectionate man. His will referred to the happy family life he had enjoyed, and in it he provided with solicitous care for his children and servants. He honoured Herpyllis, his wife, for the ‘constant love she has shown me’
- Do your children know how much you think of each other?
- Do you compare notes each night about the children?
- Do you have an agreed signal to avoid bickering in front of the children?
- For dads. What can you do to better support your wife at ‘peak hour’ when there are children to be fed and bathed?
- For mums. Do you show how much you are thinking of dad during the day?
Percy and Florence Arrowsmith made the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s longest married couple, 80 years. When asked what their secret was, Flo said ‘Never go to be without making up’. Percy said the secret could be summed up in two words ‘Yes Dear’. ‘They were still very much in love with each other’, the congregation was told a few weeks later at Percy’s funeral. He died at 105. Flo died two years later at 102.
When we show and receive affection, when we feel secure and at peace, our bodies release the hormone oxytocin. This hormone seems to help with better communication during the inevitable conflicts of a relationship: more eye contact and a readiness to be more open. Less cold shoulder and silent treatment, and more effort to give support pays off.