What keeps us from living a life of family priority?
Activities of children
Failure to see the importance of family
All of these things (and more) can keep us from maintaining our spouse and family as the highest priorities in our lives. So what can we do to live a life of family priority?
1. Define the relationship you want. Someone said "A problem well defined is half solved". It's that way with priorities too. Define what you want your family to be like, specifically, in writing. Most of us make shopping lists or to do lists, but we never take the time to sit down and think about-and put on paper-what we want our family to be like. So begin the process with some prayerful consideration of what you want your family relationships to be. Something like this:
I want to have excellent communication with my wife.
I want to know my children well and what friends and activities they are involved with and in.
I want our family to eat dinner together at least twice a week
I want our family to attend a worship service together once a week
That just gets you started. Talk with your family members and come to an agreement about what you want your family to be like.
2. Make decisions consistent with your family definition. If you want to have dinner together twice a week, you may need to plan the meal in advance, leave work on time (or early?) and inform all family members which days of the week you're having dinner together. You won't do this perfectly every week, but if you persist, you'll begin to see your goals realized by staying at it.
3. Tell others of your commitment. We animate our actions when we speak words out loud. Tell people at work, in your neighborhood, in your family, that you are going to make your family a priority. Some people are scared to do this thinking, "What if I fail? I'll look foolish!" First, people will be more forgiving than you think about any failures in this arena. But telling others DOES motivate you to follow through. When I started training for a sprint triathalon I decided to tell people what I was doing. At first, I was a little scared to say it out loud because I might not follow through. What if I quit? What if I putzed out? But as others asked me how my training was going I felt more enthused. Plus, I decided I HAD to go through with it since so many people knew about it. Do the same thing with making your family a priority and you'll find others will respect and reinforce your decision.
Are there any potential risks in making your family a priority? Sure. Not working all that overtime and weekends might cost you a promotion. Some people will think you're not committed to your business or job. So be it. You will be promoting something better than yourself-you'll be promoting strong family relationships. Ultimately, they are the ones that matter. No one, on their death bed, ever whispered "I wished I'd spent more time on my job" but plenty have whispered "I wish I'd spent more time with my family".
Don't wish it. Make it happen!