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Why happy eras in your life can be the most dangerous time
Life is good. In fact, you can use the current, positive state of your household as motivation to work even harder to strengthen family bonds and make your relationships with your spouse and children even better. - photo by Daniela McVicker
Life is good. There are no sticky issues within your marriage. Your relationship with your kids is nearly conflict free. The kids are even getting along with one another. There's nothing to do, but coast along and enjoy the peace and harmony. Right? Maybe not.

Of course you should enjoy the fact that your family is getting along with one another and your marriage is in a good place. That's a wonderful thing. What you don't want to do is become complacent. Families require work, and that work cannot stop simply because there is no conflict.

In fact, you can use the current, positive state of your household as motivation to work even harder to strengthen family bonds and make your relationships with your spouse and children even better.

Here are 9 ways to do just that:

1. Create Family Traditions

Families need traditions. They provide something positive to look forward to, and guarantee regular periods of togetherness. A family tradition can be something as elaborate as an annual trip to the beach or as simple as a horror movie marathon on Halloween.

2. Institute a Family Night

Forming strong family bonds is more than a matter of being nice to one another when you happen to be in the same place. It requires making a commitment to spend time together on a regular basis, and then honoring that commitment. One of the best ways to do this is to have a weekly family night that is enjoyable for all members of the family.

3. Select a Family Project or Hobby

Families who share common interests and participate in activities together spend more time together. Take advantage of the positive relationships in your home, and encourage everybody to think of one or two pastimes that will be fun for everybody. This works especially well in families with older kids who might get bored if family time is just hanging around.

4. Eat Meals Together

It may not be possible to sit down together at every single meal, but it is well worth the effort to get together for as many meals as possible. If eating together is a new thing, you may get a bit of resistance at first, but if you keep the dining experience positive, everybody will come around.

Here are three pieces of advice on making family meal time enjoyable for everybody:

  • Don't use the dinner table to settle conflicts or discipline
  • Make sure that there is at least one dish on the table that each member of the family can eat
  • Be flexible! If dinner time rarely works as an option, get together for breakfast or even dessert.
5. Plan a Vacation as a Family

You don't need a lot of money to plan an enjoyable family vacation. Even a weekend at a local campground can be loads of fun and will create so many great memories.

If the entire family is involved in planning the getaway, each member will feel as if they have had some say in the plans. This ownership is a great way to motivate everybody to make the vacation as fun as possible.

6. Go on Adventures Together

Make it a weekly goal to go on a family adventure. One way to do this is to give each member of the family the responsibility for choosing the adventure and making the plans every week.

If you'd like, you can set a few ground rules. For example, you may establish a guideline that states that adventures can cost no more than fifty dollars in total. Then, sit back and see what each member of the family comes up with.

7. Focus on Your Family Members' Strengths

Too many people waste precious time with family members by using that time to argue, correct, lecture, and counsel. Yes, it is sometimes necessary to do these things, but remember that constant negative feedback does little more than make people feel bad. Instead, make a dedicated effort to focus on the positives and praise much more frequently than you criticize.

8. Give 15 Minutes

There is nothing more valuable that you can give to your family than your time. Not your presence, but your complete and undivided focus and attention. This doesn't mean spending hours interacting one on one. It simply means giving each member of your family fifteen minutes of your time and attention without any distractions.

9. Make a Monthly Date Night a Priority

Your relationship with your significant other is the core of your entire family. Unfortunately, it can be so easy to neglect this relationship for other obligations. It is so important for the good of your family to keep this relationship strong, and that takes work. This is why a monthly date night must be a priority.