Oftentimes the people we find the most difficult to get along with are those who we are closest to – our families. Our feelings for each other run so deep, and our shared history is so long and complicated that opportunities for conflict are always present. How can we minimize these conflicts?

Jesus provided a superb example of taking care of family. Even on the cross He took time to acknowledge the importance of His mother and ask His friend John to look after her.

“When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her into his own home.” – John 19:26, 27

The Bible also has advice about how husbands and wives should interact with each other within marriage.

“Live joyfully with the one whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun.” ~Ecclesiastes 9:9

In other words, choose to be happily content with the woman or man you married. In addition, you can be the person your partner longs for – loving, responsible, fun, strong, gentle, and loyal.

Our society is suffering from a disintegration of marriages. Affairs destroy the lives of too many couples. How can we affair-proof our marriages? By carrying God’s love and warnings within our hearts.

“For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching of light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life, to preserve you from the evil woman [or man], from the smooth tongue of the adventuress. Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes. For a harlot may be hired for a crust of bread, but an adulteress stalks a man’s very life… He who commits adultery has no sense; he who does it destroys himself. Wounds and dishonor will he get, and his disgrace will not be wiped away.” ~Proverbs 6:23-26, 32, 33

When a couple follows God’s commands, it protects them from the misery adultery brings. In fact, that’s the whole point of God’s commandments: to stop suffering, increase freedom, nurture peace, and deliver joy.

A massive study of 90,000 teenagers across the United States collected data to determine the factors most likely to protect them from harm and help them enjoy an abundant life. The one word that summarized the research above all the others was connectedness. Teens who felt connected to family, church, school and their community were far less likely to participate in behaviors that put them at risk.

“She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness.” ~Proverbs 31:26

“Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” ~Colossians 3:21

J. Allan Peterson writes about “teaching a lesson” to children.

“I read about a small boy who was consistently late coming home from school. His parents warned him one day that he must be home on time that afternoon, but nevertheless he arrived later than ever. His mother met him at the door and said nothing. His father met him in the living room and said nothing.

At dinner that night, the boy looked at his plate. There was a slice of bread and a glass of water. He looked at his father’s full plate and then at his father, but his father remained silent. The boy was crushed.

The father waited for the full impact to sink in, then quietly took the boy’s plate and placed it in front of himself. He took his own plate of meat and potatoes, put it in front of the boy, and smiled at his son.

When the boy grew to be a man, he said, ‘All my life I’ve known what God is like by what my father did that night.’”

The Bible counsels us not to “provoke” our children. When someone we love and admire treats us harshly or berates us verbally it leaves lasting scars of discouragement. But when parents always respect their children and each other, this multiplies the security and health of the entire family.