Why Families Fail

family failI recently came across a quote by Alexander Schmemann in a book. Schmemann is an Orthodox theologian, and what he wrote stopped me cold.

He writes that the problem with our culture isn’t our lack of “family values.” Instead, it’s the idolization of the family. He says the following…

“It’s is not the lack of respect for the family… [but] the idolization of the family that breaks the modern family so easily, making divorce its almost natural shadow. It is the identification of marriage with happiness and the refusal to accept the cross in it.”

Don’t rush past that idea, because it’s deep.

His point is that the reason many of our families are failing is because we’ve assumed our families, our kids or our spouses are there to make us happy. And, we’ve made them idols to serve our own happiness. But, as soon as you state it that boldly, you realize how self-serving and selfish such an assumption is.

This is why he says that when we idolize the family, it will break down. Because if it’s about us and our happiness, whenever difficulty comes (which it will), we will then refuse to accept the cross in it – the difficulty, challenge, growth and commitment.

I write all this to challenge a simple assumption that Schmemann made so clear to me. My marriage, my kids or any other relationship isn’t primarily about serving my needs and personal happiness.

And, that perspective is one that I need to continually keep in front of me, because culture teaches me differently. But, I know that if I want a beautiful marriage, family and relationships, the centre of it can’t be me. So, now I’m asking myself if there is any cross I need to bear or sacrifice I need to make, because it’s not all about me.

Perhaps it’s worth reflecting on today if in any way your focus or perspective has shifted to yourself. Because, what I know is that anytime that happens, relationships falter. However, when that perspective changes, relationships thrive.

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