"Have you tried putting yourself in another person's shoes?" asked Neil Antiquina, a Family Life Group resource speaker. "It's difficult, isn't it?"
Antiquina, speaking before dozens of migrants, was presenting ways of resolving family conflicts at FLG's "Pamilya Ko, Problema Ko, Magtulungan Tayo" (Let's solve our problems together) seminar last Sunday.
FLG is one of the most dynamic ministries of St. Christopher's Church in Taipei.
During the seminar, Antiquina and his spouse, Jenny, shared valuable tips on how people could positively resolve marital and family conflicts.
Presenting an action plan worksheet in settling family conflicts, the couple called on the audience to pursue five steps: Call for a time-out; think win-win; seek first to understand, then to be understood; find the third solution; and respect, dis-engage, and re-engage.
The worksheet was adapted from the book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families" by renowned author, Dr. Stephen Covey. (His books are available at major bookstores in Taiwan. - Ed.)
"Calling for a time-out" means taking a breather if one of you becomes emotional during a conflict, Antiquina said. This requires "recognizing your feelings about this conflict and towards the other family member; recalling your personal values; and behaving not based on your feelings but behaving based on your values," he said.
"Thinking win-win" means believing that the family member you are at loggerheads with is important to you.
"Seeking first to understand, then to be understood" means putting yourself in the shoes of the family member that you are in conflict with, Antiquina said.
"Mahirap gawin, di ba?" he asked. (It's difficult to do that, right?)
An individual who sincerely wants peace and love in the household will be able to accomplish that, he added.
According to the worksheet adapted from Dr. Stephen Covey's "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families," "Resolving any major conflict requires a deep understanding of each other's family member's feelings, values and needs. Take the initiative to first put yourself in the other family member's shoes.' Do not listen only to prepare to find fault in the other. Really listen to understand. Once he or she fully believes that you have understood him or her fully, then it is your turn to make yourself understood by the other."
Provided that one has an open mind and a genuine desire to solve a family conflict, finding a solution to a problem is not that impossible, Antiquina added.
The Reverend Joy Tajonera, spiritual director of the Family Life Group, underscored the importance of reaching out to a family member.
"For migrants, that's quite a challenging task," Tajonera said. "I, however, believe that if you truly care about your spouse, children, parents, siblings, and other family members, you will find a way to keep your relationship vibrant."
The FLG has been invited to give seminars and workshops in Taichung and Kaohsiung next year, the priest added.
"Migrants need to address issues concerning family, love, loneliness, and finances," said Tajonera.
Meanwhile, the Reverend Jerry Orbos, SVD has been invited to speak at an Advent Recollection session organized by St. Christopher's Church today. The recollection is scheduled from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The parish is also inviting everyone to celebrate Simbang Gabi at the church. The Christmas Novena will be held from December 15 to 23. All of the masses will start at 8 p.m.