Most people are familiar with the Biblical maxim about a family that prays together but in today’s world, most people are unaware of the strength in a family that plays together!

Families are the most complex of all social groups: while some want to give theirs to charity, others would give an arm and a leg, and just about everything in between to get one.

Have you ever strolled down a crowded, sandy beach and seen in one little corner, a family laughing, playing, and being silly? It’s the most beautiful sight in the world isn’t it? In that instant, Mom forgets that Dad refused to help her with the chores last night; Dad forgets that Mom faked a headache last night and he didn’t get any; and the chubby-cheeked kids forget that Mom/Dad/both yelled at them on the way to the beach.

Family life is not removed from everyday life and as such is subject to all the attendant ups and downs, but the tension would be better relieved if on top of everything else we learnt to let down our hair and laugh a lot, and just be silly and happy ¾ at least with this select few. So if you are wondering how to preserve that family of yours , overcome your conflicts, and bind them together against all odds, then here are a few suggestions:

1. Communicate
Communication in today’s technology-ridden world, is taking a backseat. Now, we just like” or “unlike” every comment and move on; monosyllables and slangs are the response of choice as we ‘lol’ a lot or simply refrain from comment. It is not only sad, but also pathetic when two people who were once so feverishly in love, decide to ignore each other relegating one another to the same level of importance as, say the family butler! When siblings, spouses, or couples become polite strangers, that relationship is seriously on a one way ticket down the drain! So yes, even though taking a few minutes away from watching that football match or filing your nails seems like torture, I suggest that you do it anyway, and do it smiling!

2. Play
When it comes down to it, if a family must stay together, it must on top of everything else, play together! Divorce rates are off the charts, infidelity and separation are not far behind, domestic violence is attaining new heights, and general disillusion is creeping in on the married state. Time was, when those who did not want to get married were those headed for the monasteries or convents but now, getting married is fast becoming the exception to the general rule. If you are reading this and can't remember when last you played a naughty prank on that mum or wife or girlfriend of yours, then you need to do something about it pronto.
3. Laugh together
Every good relationship begins with the ability to share humour; every relationship can only be sustained if we retain that ability to laugh at the world together! Studies have shown that humans are naturally attracted to persons who make them laugh because, in layman terms, laughter releases 'feel-good hormones'. So when you leave it up to another man or woman to bring laughter into the life of your significant other, please know that you can only blame the person you see in the mirror when that special person walks off with his/her new buddy.

4. Spend time alone
No don't panic. I don't mean time alone with yourself - although I don't see how that can hurt - I mean time alone with the other party: sibling, spouse, parent, whoever. And by time alone, I mean time just spent together in a relaxing environment talking or just enjoying the joys of nature together!

5.Take care of yourself
Yes that's what I said. Being in a relationship, of any sort really, is not just about the other person. Sometimes, taking care of yourself is the best thing you can do for the other person. Look at it this way: If you let yourself fade away into nothingness by neglecting yourself how does that help?

There are few things better than a happy family. Yours can be one too if you really want it to.

                                                                                      Sherina Okoye

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