Relationship Challenges -- Family Communication Issues the Essay

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Relationship Challenges -- Family Communication Issues

The high divorce rate in the United States (and elsewhere in Western nations) is one indication as to the fact that good communication -- or any communication at all -- is absent from relationships. Certainly there are always challenges to any relationship, but couples should be going into marriage and long-term relationships with the understanding that they will have challenges and without training or background into how to communicate effectively, their chances for success in a relationship are reduced. This paper reports and examines those issues based on the available literature.

As difficult as some relationships can be, given different personality types and social / family distractions that come into play, in nearly every instance there are answers as to why relationship challenges are either met or not met. Because there are identifiable solutions to many challenges that partners and spouses face, couples should seek advice and counsel as to how to achieve solutions to challenges prior to breaking up or launching divorce proceedings.

Key concept / personal interest in the topic -- Importance to family communication

The problems that married couples have -- as well as those cohabitating -- are often related to a failure to communicate effectively. Communication isn't simply a matter of talking to one another -- although that is a pivotal part of it -- but rather communication suggests actually sharing honest feelings and interacting with candor. Too often, according to the literature, people go into marriage and into relationships with unrealistic expectations. But given that the literature is rich with appropriate, positive relationship-sustaining information -- and there are counselors skilled in helping to mediate differences between couples -- it is a black mark on society that so many couples part before truly exploring communication that resolves problems.

Challenges for Immigrant Families

In the peer-reviewed journal Social Policy & Administration the authors go into great detail pointing to the many challenges that immigrant families have -- in particular first-generation immigrant families -- have when settling into Western European countries. The reasons the authors offer for the difficulty that first-generation immigrant families are important to the issue of family communication. For example, because the care of children (often very young children) is high on the list of needs for families, the husband and wife must rely on each other for that child care given that there is generally an "…absence of close kin networks to support childcare" (Wall, et al., 2004, 591).

To wit, when a family migrates to a new country, bringing in a totally different set of cultural values and lifestyles, and there are no other families from that family's ethnicity -- nor are there cousins or uncles or grandparents to help rear the immigrant's children -- there must be some strong communication going on within the family in order to sustain the family. There are enormous challenges for a family that has made the decision to leave their home country and migrate to another country -- another country with a long list of unknowns.

Wall reports that there are the "strong pressures" that come from the economic issues facing first-generation immigrants. Those families need to put in "…long working hours" with "atypical timetables" (the only job an immigrant might qualify for will be minimum wage and it might be on the "graveyard" -- all night -- shift) (Wall, 592).

The authors conducted interviews with 19 families in France, all of which came from Africa. Two of the families managed work and care through "…negotiation within the family" which means that the mother and father had to communicate (and cooperate) very well with one another in terms of who will work during certain hours and who will remain at home with the children. The "…work/care balance is achieved through the negotiated, mutual adjustment of couples' working hours and care responsibilities" (Wall, 595). Among the families interviewed were those who felt great pressure to emigrate from Africa to France; their challenges included the "…long periods of waiting for legalization, followed by entry into low-paid, unqualified jobs" (Wall, 597).

The pressure on a married couple that has waited for perhaps years but finally been officially accepted as legal immigrants into the French society -- and now must "struggle to train and work at the same" time so that a job may be found that provides sufficient income to support children -- is almost too much to bear (Wall, 597). Moreover, in a situation like this, good communication between parents must be maintained in order to get past the roadblocks (including the possibility of racial antagonism due to their African heritage) that immigration can present.

In summary, it would be hard to imagine a more difficult situation for an immigrant family from Africa to experience than going to a Caucasian country with few skills, several children to feed and raise, and the need to earn enough money to survive. On the other hand, there may be some horrifyingly troublesome situations in Africa (civil wars, disease, abject poverty and scarce natural resources) that make the possibility of creating a new life in France very appealing. Still, good communication for the immigrant couple settling into France is an absolute imperative for survival and ultimate social success, and this links well with the thesis of this paper -- that is, there are solutions, and they can be found and adopted by immigrants.

Challenges when a child has serious mental disabilities

A scholarly article in the American Journal of Psychotherapy presents the issues that parents face when they have a child with serious mental disabilities. Families that have to deal with mental illness often experience "…disruption of the family's life cycle" and moreover, there is a profound sense of "isolation" for that family (Abrams, 2009, p. 305). Additional pressure is experienced by the parents because societal attitudes towards mental disabilities -- including what Abrams calls "…ambivalent and marginalizing at best and shunning at worst" -- is unfair and unfriendly (Abrams, 305).

Given this situation, in which families with children who are mentally disabled feel "shamed" (as though they somehow deliberately created a child that doesn't fit in to the mainstream), "…communication problems" within and without the family can be expected to develop. Indeed, in some families -- due to the "pain and stigma attached to the disorder" -- go through a period of denial, Abrams explains on page 306. In these instances, any discussion about the problems facing their family "…is discouraged," and so, how can good communication flow when no one wishes to talk about it? (Abrams, 306).

As a rule the relationships within the family tend to become strained, Abrams explains. But the relationships between siblings can be positive because through his or her siblings, the disabled child often learns to "…interact with peers" as well as try on "different roles, manage disagreements, handles rivalry and learns to share secrets as well as belongings" (306). Abrams spends a good deal of this article discussing how important siblings are to the welfare of the mentally challenged -- and in between the narratives about the siblings of mentally imbalanced children the parents' inconsistencies vis-a-vis their children's needs -- both social and family-related.

An example of poor communication shown by parents can be instructive in this context. For example, on pages 311 and 312, Abrams alludes to Justin, the younger brother of Alexandra, who had "…behavioral, learning, and emotional problems." Justin was often ignored by his parents not because they didn't love him, but because they were "frequently unavailable to fulfill Justin's needs" due to his big sister's needs. They expected him to behave because they were immediately drawn to Alexandra's "constant crises" and hence didn't have the time for Justin (Abrams, 312). Obviously, whatever communication the parents had about their children was centered on their troubled daughter, much to the chagrin of Justin.

While parents' motivation in a case like this is to protect the child with the mental handicap, a "…common belief is that not talking about something prevents it from being painful," Abrams reports on page 314. A remedy for that is for parents to communicate first with each other about the need for family understanding; "…talking is useful because it minimizes isolation and exclusion" (Abrams, 315). "Lines of communication need to be established" between parents and between all members of the family, Abrams continues, and by "opening dialogues about these unspoken topics" will facilitate solutions (316). Having conversations to break the silence is tantamount to doing what the thesis of this paper suggests: there are remedies and there are solutions -- they simply need to be embraced.

Relationship challenges between transsexual couples

In the Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing the author delves into the challenges that transsexual couples face on a daily basis, and they present a qualitative study that identifies specific relationship "…maintenance activities" that keep the couple together (Alegria, 2010, p. 909). Looking into this article initially, an alert reader could surmise that given the existing difficulties between known…

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