What I Learned About Improving Family Relationships in Spain

Posted on 27-01-2017 , by: Dr. Tim. Hogan , in , 0 Comments

Spaniard families hold a powerful scheme to forge deeper family connections. It’s time for us to start applying it.

Spanish families spend more time with each other during times of the day when their brain has more capacity to experience loving connection. 

I learned this because I got to live this. I just returned from Spain, where I spent a combined eight days leading a couples retreat and doing intensive marital work. I ate Spanish food, entered their daily rhythms, took siestas, and spoke very bad Spanish.

Here’s their secret: Family time is a priority for the Spanish. So, they come home every day for a big lunch, eat together as a family, then take a siesta. Everyone is there. Parents are home from work. Kids are home from school. Only after this quality family time do they head back to their offices and classrooms to finish up the day’s work.

Compare this to American families. We spend most of our days at work and school, burning up most of our precious brain resources. By the time we get home at the end of each day our brains are exhausted, depleted, and used up. We have neurochemically-based high irritability, lower concentration and poor impulse control. This makes meaningful human interaction much more difficult. We give our best brain chemistry to work and school and our families get the leftovers.

So, how do we integrate this Spanish scheme for deeper family connections? Well, starting today I’m making two meaningful changes. First, I am prioritizing family interactions to earlier in the day on Saturday and Sunday. We are recommitting to family breakfast on Saturday mornings and after church on Sundays. Second, I am now setting aside my lunch breaks during the week to slow down, take a short nap, and reach out to family with phone calls and texting.

These are small steps, but they will give me more time connecting with my family when my brain is at its best.

The people of Spain have learned a secret of maximizing family connection: Spend time together when our brains are refreshed and strong. It’s time to learn from the Spanish.

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