Question: What do curbside trash pickup and building healthy family relationships have in common?

Answer: Just like we haul our unusable items to the curb for disposal, we can and should get rid of useless, unhealthy family dynamics and relationship habits that clutter up our home life.

Bulky item pickup

It’s bulky item pickup time in a nearby city, so people, of course, put their large trash items out on the curb for pickup.  Obviously, normal trash goes out every week, but bulky item pickup is somehow even more notable, or at least it was to me, today, as I drove through the city.  I snapped the picture below because this was an especially large pile of trash.  Somebody had done a lot of work to gather these items, haul them across their lawn, and then neatly position them for pickup.

Being a metaphor person, and having just written a “DIY” family relationships book with my friend Dr. Gary Chapman, I couldn’t help but think about how this picture is a great metaphor for the not-so-great family relationship habits that families are working on (or would like to be or should be working on) at any given time.

curbside trash pickup and building healthy family relationships

Curbside trash pickup is a fun, helpful way of thinking about building healthy family relationships.

Think about it…

Your specifics may differ, but these common family struggles may sound familiar:

  • You’re tired of your kids fighting over who gets the couch or who gets to pick the movie.
  • You and/or other family members are short-tempered, or there are other communication issues that dampen the mood at home.
  • You feel like your partner and you are at times living as roommates rather than lovers—perhaps you and they are not effectively filling each other’s love tanks.
  • Or, maybe your family in general is doing fine, but work and school keep you and them from getting to spend as much quality time together as you’d like.

What if instead…

You “hauled out” unproductive or negative circumstances to make more room for increased kindness, improved communication, more loving behaviors and attitudes, and more quality time and meaningful connection?  Doesn’t that sound great!  Selfishness, disrespect, apathy, and busyness…all intentionally labeled as “trash,” hauled across the yard, positioned neatly on the curb for disposal??

Of course, we don’t literally discard family relationship issues like we do actual trash, but it’s a fun and helpful illustration.  You and I both know some of our family’s ways just aren’t working.  So, let’s do something about it.  That’s the main point of The DIY Guide to Building a Family That Lasts—you and I have to DIY!  If we’re intentional and strategic, then little by little, we truly can get rid of old attitudes and behaviors to create the home life we long for!

Start planning

What attitudes and behaviors are you ready to haul to the curb?  Are they little habits that could go out with very little effort?  Or, are they bigger, “bulky” relationships issues that need a little extra effort but promise to be all the more spectacular at “big reveal” time?

One small step

Ok, now that you’ve identified one or two areas of improvement, what’s one small step that you could take right now that would simply be different than what you did yesterday?  Going back to the hypothetical scenarios above… Maybe you could require your children to keep a chart of who gets what choice when.  In response to communication issues, perhaps you could call a family meeting and talk about how each of you might be even a tiny bit more positive with communication.  What if you just out of the blue spoke your partner’s love language, “just because.”  Or, what if you asked your children to pick a fun, cheap, family activity that you and they could do together tonight after dinner?

I don’t know what your specifics are, but I’m guessing you’ve got some “stuff” to haul to the curb.  Think on it.  And, get busy!  The curb is calling!

If your load is too heavy

You may feel like the load is too heavy and that there’s no way you and your family can make lasting change.  My encouragement is this…make the small changes you can make and celebrate those small victories.  Also, explore counseling options in your community.  Sometimes we need extra help with the “heavy lifting” required to get rid of some of our “bulky” family relationship issues.  I think the old adage applies here: “many hands make light work.”  Let a professional help you.  And, yes, take a look at our book in case that might help you with jumpstarting your DIY efforts.

Your DIY coach and fellow DIY’er,


PS1: You’ll find Gary and me on social media at @DrShannonWarden and @DrGaryChapman.  Also look for us on social media at #DIYFamilyBook.  And, please share your thoughts on the DIY Family Book by posting a review on Amazon, Walmart, and other bookstores’ websites.  Thanks for helping us get the word out in these ways!!

PS2: I really appreciate you making time to read my Hope to Build On blog!  If you’ve not joined my email list, I’d love for you to join.  I don’t send out a lot of emails, and I absolutely never will share your email address with anyone else.  So, join, ok!

PS3: Watch my YouTube series, Family All the Way with Dr. Shannon Warden.  In it, I show you the process of my family’s house being built, and in each episode, I talk about how building a house and building relationships is similar.  Thanks for watching!