Cohabitation Burnout: Being Overwhelmed by Family Relationships
Being overwhelmed by relationships is something normal that can happen in any family. That's why it's important for families to follow certain strategies and respect one another to avoid cohabitation burnout.
Today, what we call home can be understood as a refuge that offers a calm and understanding environment. However, it can easily turn into a place of confrontation when family members become overwhelmed and eventually suffer from cohabitation burnout.
When organizing a family vacation, we do so with the expectation of relaxing and having fun as a family. However, it’s common for arguments and differences to arise, creating tension, anger and a certain lack of respect within a family.
This cohabitation burnout comes mainly from the increase in time spent together, perhaps imposing on each member’s usual intimacy.
Gergen (1991) suggests that a phenomenon he calls the “saturated family” is on the rise. These homes are no longer a source of harmony, but rather a place of confrontation among people of different ages and genders.
In other words, cohabitation burnout, or saturation, takes place when day-to-day conflicts interfere negatively in a family, thus overwhelming its members.
“Mutual respect implies discretion and reserve even in love itself; it means preserving as much liberty as possible to those whose life we share.”
How can we avoid cohabitation burnout?
Communication and respect
Constant and opportune communication among parents and children is a vital part of family life. In his book Cómo mejorar las relaciones familiares (“How to improve family relationships”), Hernando Duque suggests the need for family relationships to base themselves on complementary and mutual support. Each family member needs to feel like part of the next.
To avoid future misunderstandings, it’s important to practice dialogue and active listening. Often, when we find ourselves in the midst of a dialogue with another family member, we only focus on what we want to say.
However, that’s a habit we need to avoid. Rather, we should make an effort to show interest in what others are saying.
At the same time, when we talk about respect within the family, we’re not only referring to acceptance and understanding. In our homes, we need to respect the individuality of each member.
For example, we must respect common spaces. Generally, conflicts arise due to not sharing these spaces in an orderly manner. At the same time, in spaces like bedrooms, each member has the right to express his or her own tastes and personality.
Furthermore, respect also means interest. In others words, showing interest in getting to know our children and our partner.
Strategies for improving family life
- Establish a time dedicated to family and make it part of your routine. Set aside an afternoon or evening each week to snack, play games or watch movies together. It’s important to create a space for your family to interact that is based on a sense of commitment among all the members.
- Make plans with the input of your entire family. If all of the family members participate in planning things like vacations, for example, then motivation and interest will increase significantly. This will help all family members feel more content with the plans you make and avoid possible conflicts and differences.
- Work as a team. For example, sharing household tasks with your children from a young age will contribute to their sense of belonging. At the same time, this helps them take on more responsibility in the home.
- Allow your children to participate in family conversations and decisions. Give them the opportunity to express their feelings and opinions. Their self-esteem will go up if they know you value and appreciate their input.
- Encourage your children to make their own decisions. Besides helping them strengthen their sense of responsibility, your children will put more trust in you. Allow them to decide how to arrange their rooms, what clothing to wear, etc.
To conclude, family life is a greater challenge now than ever before. Social media has a major role in the forming of one’s sense of belonging, which has a profound effect on family life.
Family relationships are becoming more and more complex, and the best ingredients to make them work are respect and good communication.
Furthermore, your children and partner need to feel your support, but that’s not all. They need to feel like they make up part of a family where all are important and all are valuable. Each member needs to feel irreplaceable.