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Family Check-Up

By: Michael and Donna Martin

Healthy families are important because a family’s legacy is passed down from one generation to another.  People bring bad habits and good habits into their marriage based on what they have learned from their family of origin.  For example, if one spouse comes from a broken home that had no communication between spouses, then that spouse may have trouble communicating with the other spouse.  If one spouse came from a home that spent time with extended family, but the other spouse did not have extended family then that spouse may not understand the importance of interacting with the cousins and grandparents of the new family into which they married.  Couples need to communicate with each other about the practices that they have learned from their family of origin and decide together which practices to include in their new family and which practices they need to avoid.

Below are 10 traits of a Healthy Family

The Healthy Family….

1. Practices assertive communication instead of aggressive or passive/aggressive forms of communication.  These families are able to express their feelings in calm and appropriate ways.  It is uncommon for them to yell at each other.  They do not put each other down.  They listen to, respect, and calmly respond to the feelings and opinions of other people in their family.

2.  Believes that listening is as important and talking.  These families listen to each other even if they do not agree with what the other person is saying; they give that person a chance to express their feelings and listen to each other not only with their minds but also with their hearts.  They do not criticize and condemn.

3.  Can laugh at themselves.  They can play together and laugh together about funny things that have happened in the family.  The family members have a sense of humor and may even have private family jokes.

4. Does things together regularly.  They know how to have fun with each other.  They include a variety of activities and do things that all members enjoy doing together.  Members cooperate and get involved without complaining or criticizing even during the times that the family is not doing their favorite activity.  They plan regular vacations to build family unity.

5.  Develops family traditions.  They create special holiday celebrations, birthday rituals, night time rituals, vacations, etc.

6.  Has family values.  They all have a clear understanding the family values of what is wrong and what is right.  They work together to uphold these values.

7.  Has good conflict resolution skills.  They have fair and non-violent methods for resolving family conflicts.  They fight fair and do not put each other down or say hurtful things that they do not mean such as “I don’t love you anymore”, “I’m leaving”, “How could you be so stupid”, etc.  They do not avoid conflicts, but know that by working through them they can build a stronger family.

8.  Expresses love to each other.  They openly show love by actions – hugging, kissing, etc. and by words - saying, “I love you,” complimenting and expressing thanks to each other.  Even if they were not accustomed to showing affection in their family of origin, they overcome the discomfort they may feel at first and show affection because they know it will help build strong family ties.

9. Is committed to each other.  They will stay loyal to each other through good times and bad times.  They know that they can depend upon each other.  Spouses never mention the word “divorce”.  The children are told often by the parents that mom and dad love each other and are committed to each other for the rest of their lives.  The children feel unconditional love from their parents.  Everyone in the family knows that they will always be loved by the other family members no matter what may come.

10.  Goes to church regularly and worship God together.  They pray and have family devotionals. They talk about their religious beliefs.  The parents teach their children by word and example.

11.  Has concern for the well being of the other people in their family.  If one family member is ill or has a health issue the other family members do what they can to help that person.  For example, prepare healthy meals, encourage them to exercise, go with them to doctor’s appointments, and make them comfortable if they are ill at home.

12.  Helps each other.  In a healthy family each member contributes his or her part to helping the family.  Children learn responsibility by learning to complete chores and working toward goals.

13.  Has a fair and consistent method of disciplining the children.  Parents are united when it comes to the rules.  They do not make unreasonable threats that the children know they will not keep.  The parents do not use demeaning words when correcting the children. Disrespect of family members is not accepted.  Discipline is administered with love and not out of anger.  Unacceptable behaviors are calmly used at teaching moments.

14.  Does not allow abuse of any form - drug, alcohol, physical, verbal, mental, or neglect.

15. Lives within their budget and saves for unforeseen emergencies.  The parents are self-disciplined when it comes to spending money.  They do not get into unnecessary debt.  They have a good work ethic. They teach their children how to manage money.  More emphasis is put on building strong relationships instead of acquiring unnecessary things.  They are good stewards of the things that they have and the children are taught to not be wasteful and to take care of the things they have.

To schedule a “Happy Together” Enrichment event or inquire about the Individual Couple Assessment opportunity, call Michael at 940-735-1515. 

The Martins currently present “Happy Together” Marriage Enrichment Events for churches and organizations.  They are certified “Prepare/Enrich” Facilitators and are available to work with couples on an individual basis using the “Prepare/Enrich Assessment.” To schedule an event or inquire about the Individual Couple Assessment opportunity, call Michael at 940-735-1515.  They also publish a weekly “Happy Together” Blog about family and marriage issues.  You can order copies of their new books Dancing With Death and 366 Tidbits We Have Learned in 14,610 Days of Marriage, read, and subscribe to their “Happy Together” Blog by logging onto the Martin’s website at

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