Family therapy? You said we were going out for frosty chocolate milkshakes.

Family can be an amazing thing. A bunch of people who stick it out together, whether they like it or not, for the simple reason that they’re family. Well, that’s the basic idea anyway. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

Seems like more often lately it doesn’t work. I wonder how much of that is simply our selfish, individualistic attitude at work. Half of all marriages fail because we don’t really understand the commitment required. We’re more concerned about our own happiness than our spouses, which is really the goal of a marriage. Relationships rip and pull as selfishness rears its head, and the family comes tumbling down. Children learn by example, and when they seek their own gain, you shouldn’t have to look too far for the cause.

Family is just hard work. Which is another thing we’re bad at. Not only do we look after ourselves, but we don’t want to do a lot of work. We want the easy way out. The easy way is my way. The easy way doesn’t include putting up with the irritating little foibles we all have. The easy way doesn’t want to have the hard conversations that come before a shouting match. The easy way would rather hold a grudge than talk it over and let it go.

I’ve seen families fall apart, I’ve seen families stubbornly stick together — no matter how painful it may be — and I’ve even seen families come back together. With all the possibilities and with failure so prevalent, it makes me wonder about the future of my own family. There’s so many stupid things that can get in the way: tiredness, bitterness, laziness. A simple clashing of schedules or interests can make things impossible. Washing the dishes or doing the laundry can so easily sow discord, and while a kind word can do so much, the slipped word can do so much worse.

I’m not looking to be a TV family where the kids do cute things and the grandparents stop by for special holiday guest appearances. I want a family where we love each other enough to do things for one another. A family that isn’t selfish. A family that isn’t bound by intergenerational barriers and can actually communicate. Maybe that’s not possible. Maybe it requires more sacrifice than I give. Maybe that’s exactly what I find so difficult.

And sometimes I wonder why I’m even thinking about my future family. It’s a strange, not-quite-real concept, like recordable DVDs or hybrid vehicles. I know they can exist, but I haven’t seen them for myself, and it doesn’t seem quite true.

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