Several years ago, my wife Janeen and I began the process of opening our home to foster children. And after going through countless hours of training, it became apparent there was one overarching theme… safety, both emotionally and physically. These foster children coming from challenging environments needed to instantly know they could feel safe. Our house went through a physical inspection requiring us to lock medication in cabinets, plug electric outlets, and have a fire extinguisher on the premise. Emotionally, we had a script of what to say, how to say it, so we could instantly let a young child feel safe.
While the analogy isn’t perfect, it got me thinking about whether or not we create a safe environment in our home for our spouse. Our world’s increasingly unsafe demands on our time at work, the pressure to produce, pending layoffs or looming deadlines beat us down on a regular basis at home. The exaggerated expectations to have the best behaved, most well-rounded, highly skilled children cause us to overload our schedules, creating undue stress on everyone. So what do we do?
Here’s four simple ways to make your home a safe place:
First, slow down. We all love excitement, but stress kills, literally. Stress erodes our patience, our ability to give our spouse our best, and our health. If we’re honest with ourselves, we can usually find ways to make our lives less stressful. So do it!
Secondly, reduce the complaints and increase the compliments. When we reinforce positive behavior, we get more positive behavior. Reinforce negativity, and that’s what continues. Make a concerted effort to give multiple compliments every day.
Third, provide financial security. This doesn’t mean you need to have $1,000,000 in the bank, but it does mean you need to understand your finances and live within your means. Create a budget, stick to it, and reward yourselves for the hard efforts to fight materialism.
And finally, demonstrate unconditional love. I John 4:18 says “Perfect love casts out all fear”. This is a love that accepts imperfections, doesn’t hold grudges or keep a marriage scorecard, forgives freely and focuses on your spouse’s best interests. If you work on these four, you’ll soon find your home a haven of rest, love and security.