“Put on your own mask before helping others.” Before every flight, we are reminded of this basic survival strategy. Take this as a lesson for family relations, too. When people are excited, afraid or angry, we can be most helpful if we manage our own emotions. When we can stay calm, the result is always better than if everyone keeps escalating. We call this being a “non-anxious” presence.”
Jesus was very good at being a non-anxious presence: Think of how he responds calmly to the angry mob around the accused woman. Jesus did not argue and accuse. He remained calm. Instead of launching into a confrontation, he defused the situation by stooping down and writing on the ground. All the combatants had time to pause and remember their own sins. The situation was peacefully resolved.
If one person in an emotional system can be a little bit different over a sustained period of time, the whole system will eventually change. Think “self.” Think about what you may have contributed to the problem. In a marriage, don’t ask, “How can I change this troublesome partner of mine?” Ask instead, “What is my contribution to this relationship pattern?” Practice bringing your own calmness to the situation. Rather than demanding change, ask questions to learn why people are acting that way. When things get tense or heated at home, someone has to be the adult. Let it be you.