Basis for Family Relationships (chapter from “How to Get Twice as Happy” by V.O. Ruzov)

DSCN2299At the moment, we can see two types of family around the globe: 1 – a family with cultural values and 2 – a family without cultural values. Of course, this division is quite rough, but it is important for understanding the processes within small social groups like families. A value-oriented family has at least a minimal vision of life purpose. Both a husband and a wife understand what is good and what is evil and share the same moral outlook on what is black and what is white. They both accept a spiritual and cultural idea as a single unifying philosophy of their family life and try to follow it to the extent possible. They have something in COMMON which gives the possibility to build a steady and solid relationship.

It is common knowledge that there are no families without conflicts. But normally, small interpersonal conflicts taking place within one cultural and philosophical field are easily resolved. This is because a conflict is not between morals and values as such. Rather, it occurs at the level of their application to real life. This type of conflict doesn’t go too far; hence the divorce rate is not too high. For example, if a family has potatoes for lunch, a disagreement about how it will be cooked – fried or boiled – is not really a conflict. It’s just an ordinary collision of personal desires and preferences.

The situation is conceptually different in case of a family of no cultural values. Since nobody has a clear vision of life purpose, each family member carries his/her own philosophy and is forced to defend it with all one’s might. It sparks the deepest level of cultural and philosophical confrontation between family members. Tensions result in deep misunderstanding. How often do we hear one and the same “you don’t understand me” phrase? Indeed, how can one talk about mutual understanding, if there’s no common cultural language, no shared notion of good and bad, black and white, benefits and harms…?

So, what do we have? If there’s no confrontation between the members of a value-oriented family (where everyone is guided by the same value system, and conflicts have the nature of discussing and applying shared values to real life), in the non-value-oriented family, confrontation does exist. It shifts to the level of ideology, life purpose, and finally, to the personal level. In one’s own family one finds an enemy with an alien ideology who seems to contemplate ‘ruining my life’. Things I don’t accept he declares the meaning of life. And vice versa, my opponent offends and disregards my values. As a result, everyone starts feeling frustrated and offended.

And the war starts off. We try to stop it with the help of rough psychological techniques, but that doesn’t work. It’s because the problem is not in relationships between personality types. The problem lies in the very foundation of life – absence of common values and cultural platform. On one hand, it enables one to create a family with any person on the planet. Cultural differences in the world just disappear. Especially during the last 30 years we can see how satellite TV has dissolved the differences between the cultural features of separately taken cultures.

It might seem fine, but increasing divorce rates nullify this globalization achievement. The system falls apart when it’s not backed up by the strong foundation. We have learned to build houses, but we forget to lay the solid foundation once too often. As a result, the whole construction idea turns into slums. Everyone has his own house of cards blown away by the first hurricane, no matter how hard one tries to keep it safe.

Hence, the most urgent task facing modern civilization is not just to find psychological ways for family conflict resolution. It’s necessary to restore a common value system that would provide the basis for any type of relationship, be it a family, friendship or cooperation. And this task requires compulsory cooperation between representatives of spirituality and science. Spirituality has accumulated a thousand-year experience of teaching common values. We need to appreciate this experience and put it at the service to society under current conditions. A thousand-year experience requires correct interpretation and estimation from the point of view of what type of platform it really can strengthen. If a certain spiritual culture can strengthen the very foundation of human life, by setting a proper goal of life, this is the most important experience one should never miss.

Scientific approach always deals with finding out the prime cause. We may go a lot of trouble to discern the cause of origin of universe, or unravel the mysteries of the big bang theory. But we should take no less effort to study the fundamental meaning of human life. After all, this is what differs a human from all other living beings on this planet. Only a human being can switch off from looking for food, a place to sleep and a mating partner, and start thinking about the reason to live, and perform all of these activities. What’s the point of all this, if everything will be destroyed in the course of time?

If we understand the spiritual and moral aspect, we can comprehend the nature of all other processes taking place within human consciousness. We’ll be able to understand the nature of relationships; love, friendship, hatred, anger and greed. In a word, if a house wobbles, first and foremost, one should check the foundation. Lack of a strong foundation is the major problem facing the world today. Modern representatives of spiritual culture are often unable to impart it in an understandable fashion, without hurting one’s feelings on account of national, gender and religious affiliation. The meaning of any spirituality is to explain the concept of the soul as the eternal essence. It does not depend on gender, national or religious identity of the body the soul is situated in. If we manage to restore this deep spiritual and cultural understanding of a human as a combination of a body and soul, it will lay the solid groundwork for any social structure, whatever complex and destroyed it may seem at the moment.

It should be noted here that presently we’re going through a period of transition, when a family of an old type is gradually being replaced by a new type of family. The old type of family is a family where everyone’s duties are strictly defined. Everyone clearly understands his/her role and bears responsibility for his/her clearly defined duties. A husband is a breadwinner, a wife is a housekeeper, kids are subordinates.

But today traditional husband and wife roles are dissolved and become easily interchangeable. A wife can easily be the breadwinner, and a husband the homemaker. Children aged 11 years are already beyond control. None of the family members has a clear idea as to his/her duties, hence, the natural sense of responsibility is lost. At the same time, in the background, there remain demands spouses make of each other based on the old pattern. For example, a financially successful wife is likely to blame her husband for making less. And the husband is likely to blame his wife, if she fails to perform her household duties. Parents attempt to keep children under control even after they become more dependent on external relationships, rather than interfamilial ones.

We may not draw a direct link between all these, but as a result of these changes, and changes in society, divorce rates have risen sharply over the last 100 years. They’ve leaped from 2-3% to 70-85%. The speed of family disruption has also increased. If 20 years ago marriage breakdown took place in the first 3 years of marriage, now it’s a common occurrence in the first year of marriage. Baby birth used to strengthen family relationships in the past, but now it becomes cause for divorce. Children in small families lack relationship experience with younger siblings, and when they themselves face childbirth, they are not ready for that and consider it an obstacle to living a life of ease.

In a nutshell, a righteous, well-educated, sensible family is a family that can distinguish a temporary crush from true selfless love. This requires that the science of love be taught, or more precisely, that it be learned at mother’s knees. This should be the priority task of the state, the primary goal of spirituality, science and culture. Otherwise, we won’t hear the end of wars, divorces, conflicts, crimes and disappointment in life as such, which leads to all other vices, like drink and drug abuse, and other ill habits of mankind.



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