Family Relationship Health

Circumplex Model
Circumplex Model

How healthy is your family relationship?

How cohesive is your family relationship?  Are you disengaged, enmeshed, or somewhere in between?

How flexible is your family relationship?  Is it chaotic, rigid, or somewhere in between?

If you have a guess to these answers, how can you know if that means your family relationship is healthy or needs some level of rework?

Why should you care?

  • Understanding your family’s location on this model can help you target specific areas for improvement.
  • When you are having troubles with teens, evaluate the level of cohesiveness and flexibility.  Are you disengaged but have strict rules and family roles? Perhaps growing your relationship with your teen would make those rules seem more acceptable.
  • Are you and other family members slowly growing apart from each other?
  • Is one or more family members feeling squashed and in need of more “Me” and less “We?”
  • Is someone in the family desperately lonely?
  • Are the kids confused about who is in charge?

My Family 3 Years Ago

We were not in a happy place.  Our youngest had been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (Autism – basically).  I was obsessed first with finding a cure (although I didn’t realize it at the time) and then with finding ways to help him.  Communication between hubby and I was like communication between roommates – not like two people in love who share parenting.  We were firmly planted in the Structurally Disengaged section, which is not the healthiest but also not the worst.  That spot works well for some families and not so well for others.  It was not working for us.

Room for Improvement

So, what was NOT working for us?  Were we too structured or too disengaged?  Where did we want to move on this chart?  We never sat down and specifically talked about that, but your family may like that approach.  Based on LOTS of conversation over the past 8 months or so, we determined that we were too disconnected.  We were two independent people with little loyalty and little closeness.  This left the door open for major family and marital problems to happen.  We needed to move into the Structurally Connected or the Flexibly Connected section.

Where are we now?

I’m not entirely sure, but I do know that we are no longer Disengaged.  It started with hubby and me moving more and more into the connected realm.  I would put the 2 of us in the Structurally Connected region.  We spend a lot of time together now, whereas 3 years ago it was me & the kids and hubby took off for various hobbies on his own.  We have a much higher degree of loyalty to each other because now we talk about things instead of pretending nothing is wrong.  We make a LOT more decisions together now, especially regarding family.

Where We Are Moving

We may never move out of the Structurally Connected region, but we still have work to do on where we are as a family.  We are slowly working on our individual relationship with our kids and working on whole family relationship.  We have a significant amount of time where we are unplugged in the late afternoon and a large chunk of the weekend.  This helps us do more things together, thereby increasing our connection.  Here’s pictures from a recent rocket launch we had as a family.

The Boys!
The Boys!
Rocket Prep
Rocket Prep
Post Landing Recovery!
Post Landing Recovery!
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