David Olson, Candyce Russell and Douglas Spenkle’s model provides useful insights on matters of family structure. The hypotheses presented aid in analyzing how strong or weak relationship is between members of the family. It addresses both marriage and family in sixteen subdivisions. These divisions are determined by cohesiveness, communication and flexibility. These foundations define a good relationship and a weak one. Cohesiveness is the ability to build a bond between people in the family or marriage. This ought to be balanced in order to develop a strong relationship. A couple or family ought not to be disengaged or enmeshed and should maintain a good balance. Flexibility is the ability to adopt to change that affects adaptability. Such change ought to be balanced as well in order to avoid dramatic influences on family members or loss of cohesiveness. In regulating the effect of a change in a relationship, cohesiveness is put to the test. Too little or no change is, therefore, unhealthy since it encourages enmeshment. This essay seeks to expound on structures of relationships and marriages in the contemporary world. It will make use of an interview on African American couple that has been married for nine years and which suspects that their son is homosexual. It will also utilize the couples map and ratings to provide results on this family. It will use the Olson model to define its structure among the sixteen structures formulated by the hypothesis.
Assessing Family Cohesion
The interview concerns a young woman Mrs. Patrice Weems who has been married to Mr. Christopher Weems for nine years. In the course of their marriage, the couple has had to move from one city to another. Mrs. Weems, who is 31 years old, admits that she got married at the tender age when she had the couple’s son, David. She also had to study in college at the same time she was bringing up their son and seek a job afterward. When I asked Mrs. Weems how much her family members go their way and from other family members she says that initially it was very often as she had to be in school, and her husband had to work. She also said that her son is currently in school, and she has to work each day. They spend their days apart. As to whether they attempt to balance their time apart and together, Mrs. Weems said that she spends every Saturday with David in order to make up for the weekdays. His father also reads to him at night every night of the week except Sunday when they both narrate to him. Mrs. Weems says that she feels close to her son, and her husband probably feels the same way toward David. However, she admits that there are instances when she and her husband are not close enough. As to whether there is loyalty in the family, Mrs. Weems feels that her son puts her and her husband above anything else. He is the most loyal in the family. As for her and her husband, she feels that this was the life they had initially but the loyalty has dimmed. She, however, feels as committed to her son as he is to her and Mr. Weems. Mrs. Weems says that she and her family spend time together while reading to their son. They also have breakfast and dinner together at their home. Their son is dependent on them. He is however able to make friends on his own at school. In any case, he has a best friend, Dennis who often comes over for sleepovers at the couple’s home. When I asked about her family, how they spend holidays and weekends, Mrs. Weems responded that she makes dinner for the family most of the time. Her sisters usually come to visit on weekends and holidays. Mr. Weems’ family also comes to the family’s events at their house. Christopher Weems also does the dishes once in a while. On a typical dinner, it is just the family and probably a friend of Patrice’s from college or work. David also brings his friends home. Christopher rarely brings his friends to dinner. He is however a soccer fan and will go out to watch a game at a friend’s house once in a while.
Assessing family flexibility
Christopher and Patrice Weems’ family can be viewed as a family where leadership is shared. A wife and her husband share duties to their son by reading and narrating to him. The interview defines their relationship as husband and wife as one where leadership and authority are shared. The fact that they both contribute to dinner with the wife cooking most times and the man helping with dishes implies sharing of roles and responsibilities. Patrice Weems also explained that her family follows a schedule which is not written, but which members know. They always visit the paternal grandparents on one holiday and the maternal side on the next. Their son is also very well conversant with bed time and play time. He is well disciplined through being educated and instructed and not criticism. Discipline in the Weems family has been strict and well adhered to. The family is, however, not rigid, and there are ways to negotiate matters. Most of these are talking; the family normally talks after dinner every two days and Patrice talks to David after school for a few minutes. She and her husband have set rules to ground David in the event that he is undisciplined. The family rules, Patrice says, are flexible with time and as the family grows together. She is upset by her new promotion which is causing her to spend too much time at work lately.
Patrice and her husband are, however, disturbed by the fact that their son could be gay. David, who is ten, is always in the company of his best friend Martin and does not seem to be interested in girls at all. Even when Patrice feels that she could be stereotyping her son’s mannerisms she is concerned and wishes that she could talk to him about it and that he would open up to his parents. David is also very neat and does not mind polishing his nails to school. He has in two incidents been bullied for his being soft spoken at school in the last semester. Patrice feels that her husband ought to be involved in the matter in support of her and their son.
The marriage between Patrice and Christopher Weems is a structured one, and so is their family. They share leadership in the family even when it is controlled. According to the circumplex model, the family structure is a connected one. These members are well connected emotionally even though such connection is mostly emphasized by the son. They spend time together during dinner and on holidays. They also read to their child and this strengthens their emotional bond and loyalty to one another. The family does not seem to be very flexible, and this could be a challenge for them. While Patrice admits that she suspects her son of being homosexual, she is reluctant to talk to her husband about it. It is possible that she is afraid of the change that will occur in her family since she probably expected her son to be a heterosexual male. Flexibility is, therefore, this family’s weakness while cohesion is its strength. The couple ranged six in the scale.
The Circumpex mode is a great tool for counselors in providing advice to couples. The map is especially very useful guiding tool which may also help the couple analyze its situation whether there is a conflict or not. While this couple and the family seem to relate well, Patrice and Christopher need to open up to one another more. They need to communicate about David together and decide to talk to him together. Even when couples think that they are doing okay, it is important to do a retrospective exercise such as this one. I also found the model very useful for continued analysis. It may, all the same be made available to couples for more consistence use whether with a counselor or not.
Gavin, K. M. (2011). Family Communication: Cohesion and Change. New York: Pearson .
Olson, D. H. (1999). Circumplex model of Marital and Family Systems. Minneapolis: Pearson Books.