Happy? Tense? What's the atmosphere like at your house?

Dr Gary
By Dr GaryCA Latest Reply 2017-03-07 21:36:21 -0600
Started 2017-02-11 21:07:00 -0600

“If I was a fly on the wall at your house, what would I see?”

Now, think about how you might answer this question. I’m not talking about what you cook for dinner. But I am interested in what I – or someone else who didn’t know you – might learn about what your house is like from an emotional perspective. For example:

• Is everybody getting along or is the air poisoned by constant tension?

• Does everybody treat each other with respect and kindness?

• Can everybody express their feelings to each other and know they will be heard?

Why do I think it is important to ask these questions? Your home is a safe space. I know we hear that term a lot these days. But when it comes to your home, it’s important for everybody to be able to look forward to being there, to know that you can expect to be cared for, that you can be yourself, that you are surrounded by people who want the best for you. That’s what home is all about, right?

I recently posted an article on this topic. Here’s a link:


What’s the atmosphere like at your house? What do you do to try to keep things positive at your house? What gets in the way of having a health atmosphere? Any ideas to share? Need some help?


31 replies

w8chd 2017-02-23 18:17:38 -0600 Report

Tense? What an understatement. Pretty much on your own here. Not a lot of support when it comes down to it. I am used to it though, been doing really well with glucose control lately. I've been told stress can affect diabetes negatively. Guess I'm about to find out. As I am about to start divorce proceedings I'll probably have to be a bit more diligent with my health issues. Anyone who has done this, send bits of wisdom my way. So, yea, tense is the main word here.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2017-02-23 22:39:25 -0600 Report

Hi w8chd, nice to see you. Glad you checked in. But I am also sorry to hear you are in the beginning stages of a divorce. I am a therapist, so I know through my clients how stressful that can be. And yes, I agree. It will be important to make sure you take really good care of yourself as you go through the months ahead. Stay on top of your health. And I hope you will let us know how you're doing.

Corrie Jo
Corrie Jo 2017-02-19 23:41:05 -0600 Report

5 kids 8 to 20. 4 cats. 1 Yertle the Turtle. Hubby and I work at home in real estate. A million activities. Extended family. Church. Sports. Drama. Gymnastics. Etc. All adds up to controlled fun chaos. I live for Friday night and binge watching TV in fuzzies with everyone. What about your house?

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2017-02-20 14:31:01 -0600 Report

HI Corrie Jo. Wow, that is quite a crowd at your house. You must be incredibly busy. Fun chaos is right. My house is like pretty tame, maybe even boring, compared to yours. Thanks for sharing this!

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2017-02-19 22:22:06 -0600 Report

Hi Dr. Gary,

It is just my sister and I and our 4 legged 55 lb baby boy who is spoiled rotten to the core. We could be doing just about anything. We look out for each other. Since my Gall Bladder removal she constantly asks if I can eat something. She knew what I could eat before the surgery.

One of us is always on the computer, phone or tablet looking at new jewelry making ideas. We are both learning how to make Wind Chimes out of copper pipe so this is our next big project. Between making jewelry, we listen to music, watch TV, try a new dish, read, put together jigsaw puzzles and play with Riley. We are always talking to a neighbor or one of our cousins. We have family get together's and have concluded that if we all were with Dr. Phil, he would need therapy.

We are both involved in the community and that takes up a lot of time. More for me than her. We are also planning what we are going to plant in the yard. My sister had to give up her garden plot in the Community Garden because it is too much work for her since her heart attacks. She is going to do container gardening in the yard and I will be planting flowers.

We have a lot of fun together because we like mini adventures. It gives us something to do most weekends until the Farmers Market opens. We rarely have arguments because when she gets in one of her evil moods I just wait for it to pass. Otherwise, we are good 98% of the time.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2017-02-20 14:28:54 -0600 Report

HI Joyce! Yikes, 55 pounds! So great that you and your sister share a home. I think it's so important to have companionship if possible. And it's also so nice to hear that you share all of those activities. I am wondering if, as children or teens, you imagined that you would someday make a home together. I think it's so incredible when siblings get together as grown-ups and keep each other company. I am sure your garden will be amazing. Sounds like you know each other really well, and give each other space as needed. That's a key to a harmonious home. Thanks for sharing this.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2017-02-20 18:26:15 -0600 Report

LOL yep 55 lbs of Akita/Shepard who makes it a point of waking me up every morning by jumping on the bed and staring. He loves snuggling and is such a happy dog. His best friend is our neighbors 60 lb pit bull.

I think it ended up with us staying together once our parents got older and needed us to help take care of them until they passed away. Ironically, several of our cousins share homes with their siblings.

Even though we are together, we always did our own thing. She traveled a lot with her former job at one of the University's. Her job involved being an advisor with student organizations. Because of that she did 14 yrs of volunteering with the students with Habitat for Humanity. They have built homes from Maine to Florida.

I was busy hanging with friends and traveling. We both collect music and movies. She is a tool chick, I'm not. She is a certified Master Gardner, I just like planting flowers. We both take care of Riley and spoil him.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2017-02-22 17:50:47 -0600 Report

Joyce, that's a very nice image of that big happy dog. I have allergies, but if I didn't I would have a pet of my own. That's great that the two of you were able to be there in the house for your parents, sounds like you developed a routine together that works. Rhythm and balance. I know you are super active, sounds like your sister is too. No lack of energy at your house.

haoleboy 2017-02-17 10:30:57 -0600 Report

"joyous chaos"
I live with my son, his wife, and my 3 grandchildren ages 8, 5, and 2
there is a very spiritual and supportive atmosphere

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2017-02-20 14:19:16 -0600 Report

Hey Steve! Wow, that sounds like a really good way to live. I am sure there is lots of chaos, but that can be a good thing. It keeps us wide awake to life!

Grandmama16 2017-02-15 04:07:18 -0600 Report

Our home is casual to say the least. We have fun when together tho it wears me out. The atmosphere is jolly for the most part especially when the kids were growing up. We didn't have much…still don't but we have enough. I never worry about now grt grandbabies knocking things over. I don't want parents to fuss. I didn't, tho destruction wasn't allowed. Our kids like remembering their childhoods. I would hope people are comfortable in our home but sometimes I get anxious because it's not large or fancy. As an example, 3 of our younger grand daughters live an hour or so away and when they get here they'll often say that our house is so homey and proptly fall asleep on furniture or the floor, including their dad. Their mom, our daughter died 10 yrs ago. Maybe they feel the precense of her being raised there. We are pretty peaceful but shy people, no big parties and basically just family. In a word Boring socially, especially now in our 70's.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2017-02-16 21:46:20 -0600 Report

Hi Grandmama, sounds like you have a very relaxed attitude, which I suspect helps people to want to come visit you because they know they will have a good time. I bet you are a lot more fun than you give yourself credit for. I think it's a whole lot more fun to visit someone who has a relaxed home than someone who has a home where you constantly have to worry about breaking something.

GabbyPA 2017-02-14 06:56:39 -0600 Report

Ah, there is nothing like living with a person to see the real person. That is very true.

I think right now your fly would be pretty happy with my home, but there have been times when it would not be the case. I know frustration with finances, life, and family can cause a lot of angst in our home. Right now, there is a good openness, but I can also tell when something got said or done "wrong" and there is a weird lack of eye contact and quiet.

The things I do to try to keep a happy home is make sure that we have face time to really see how the other is doing. I have also set up a blessing jar and we get to write our blessings and put them in the jar, and that action alone can help improve the attitudes greatly.

I think the biggest things that gets in the way in our home, at least with me, are unexpressed expectations. I might expect that someone should know that they should do something. But often, if I don't ask, they don't realize and it can be a cycle of stupidity that could be resolved rather quickly if I just open my mouth.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2017-02-16 21:37:44 -0600 Report

Hey Gabby! I know how those frustrations can lead to anxious feelings, which can in turn lead to conflict. And yes, that lack of eye contact can say it all. I agree, it's important to keep talking, to check in with each other often, to not allow lack of communication to lead to assumptions that can lead to hard feelings. That comment about expectations makes a lot of sense. Letting people know what you are expecting can have a big impact on communication. They can say yes, or no, but at least then the air is clear. I love the blessing jar idea, that's a good one.

robertoj 2017-02-14 01:49:36 -0600 Report

Stress has been a constant companion for most of my life. In most instances it is product of outside influences. As such, I find that my own reaction determines the how bad it is. However, how my wife handles it is above my station. You know what they say happy wife..
Happy wife life. I try to convince her that when reacting to negative input one must always consider the source. When she remembers all is calm. As for me, I find that I usually had a hand in conflicts often do to past behavior.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2017-02-16 21:30:25 -0600 Report

Roberto, I appreciate your honesty here. I know what you mean, our own reaction, or over reaction, can have a big impact on our stress levels. If we could all just learn to keep things in perspective, to consider the source as you said. I think we are all working on that one.

WASHED OUT 2017-02-13 19:01:11 -0600 Report

We are very open and laid back at my house the atmosphere is calming and restful, except when the younger grandchildren are here. Well, you know how kids are. Most of the time it is just my wife and I and we enjoy each other's company.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2017-02-16 21:28:21 -0600 Report

Sounds like a nice, peaceful environment. Yes, kids can sure liven things up!

WASHED OUT 2017-02-16 22:03:41 -0600 Report

You may remember the trouble I had a couple years ago when I first become disabled. The battles with the company I worked for insurance and my doctors. My wife is my best friend will have been married 39 years in March, she is very supportive and a joy to be around. I love my grandchildren but many times I am glad when they go home. I paid my dues in that atmosphere raising my own 4 children but that doesn't the stop spoiling the grandchildren and sending them home.

timmer1950 2017-02-13 18:44:03 -0600 Report

Hi Dr. Gary, If you were a fly on my wall I would be after you with my swatter. You would see 2 retired people discussing politics or what our plans are for the weekend. I have been type 2 diabetic for nearly 20 years insulin dependant. My challenge for the past 8 months is avoiding sweets. I have reached the craving state. My endocrynoligist says if you eat the artificial sweeteners they are much sweeter than sugar. I'm 66 years old. My Dr. suggests I see a diatetian which I haven't done yet. My blood sugar readings range from 90-200. I take 40 units of Levimir 2x daily and Humalog on a sliding scale before meals. My last A1C was 7.1 I currently weigh 216 and I'm 5'10" tall . I honestly feel if I could get my weight down to around 180-185. I would need so much insulin. I visit my local health club 4-5 times a week. I welcome any suggestions . Sincerely, Tim

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2017-02-16 19:30:14 -0600 Report

HI timmer, nice to see you. I am sorry to say I am not a physician so I don't have a lot of helpful advice here. But I understand that challenge to keep from eating a lot of sweets. I hear that from my diabetic clients all the time. I hope you will follow up with making the meeting with the dietician, and working on your diet and your weight. I agree, you would feel a whole lot better. Glad to hear you are getting exercise. Take good care of yourself, my friend. Keep us posted on how you're doing.

cmr55 2017-02-13 12:58:10 -0600 Report

Our 21 year old grandson lives with us. We started having problems when he was not living up to his responsibilities ( for about 6 months). I was getting stressed and hubby was not getting on to him because of his past of being in Foster care etc. At that time we did not know anything of him. We are giving him opportunity to go to School and live with us. Well hubby finally had enough and we had a family meeting. For awhile I was getting the blame. Once I explained why I was upset and what the problems were. He finally admitted that he was lazy and said it was his fault. He also said he still wanted to be a teenager and adult but realized he need to grow up. That he did not grow up having to keep his room clean or bathroom. I said these are my standards and his dad grew up with them and we did not have these problems from his dad. He finally was giving a reality check. His grandfather more or less we told him you can stay under our roof follow the rules or move out( Note he does not pay rent etc.) That we were trying to give him a good future. He is doing well in school just found out he is on the honor roll again in college. This is the second year in a row. This talk happened 4 weeks ago and the light bulb must have turned on. He now is doing what is expected and beyond. He now asks if he can help us without our asking. Note during this time there was no yelling or screaming etc. We are not those kind of people. Our family is to all work together to get things done. It not just one persons job. If I cook hubby will help me clean up unless he says for me to go and relax. When everyone works together make things easy for everyone. So now my house is where we like it. Stress free, I am so much happier. I believe his older half sister helped. We believe she talked to him and told him she wished we were her grandparents and how lucky he is to have us. I have kind of adopted her been giving her moral support etc. She does not live in my state. She was also in foster care. so we talk on the phone and emails. We have even offered her to move in with us. So she could go to school here. So far she has not taken us up on the offer. Carol

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2017-02-16 15:52:41 -0600 Report

HI Carol, thanks a lot for sharing what's going on in your life. What an inspiring story. Sometimes people just need some tough love, to have the facts laid out for them in plain English and, as you said, the light bulb goes of. Sounds like you really helped this young man to recognize that he needs to start acting like an adult and not a teenager, that he needs to be responsible. And you helped him to be grateful for what he has as well. He and his half sister and fortunate to have you, and the seem to both realize that. Good for you. You are making a difference in the world! And improving the atmosphere at your home at the same time.