What Is A Successful Family Life?

A family is a special unit in society. Managing it is one of the most challenging tasks we will ever face in our lives. I bet the majority of us would rather operate a company with hundreds of employees than a family of four. What makes running a family so complicated? The reason, perhaps, is that there are no clear measurements for success. I mean, what defines a successful family life? In business, it is the positive bottom line. In sports, it’s the trophy. In politics, the position. How about in the family?

A successful family life is one where all members work together to achieve a common goal. They live by their core values and have a clear vision of what they want to accomplish as a family. Everyone has a unique role, but they all see themselves as a unit, thus prioritizing their relationships above all.

I cannot emphasize the importance of having a purpose statement. Until we establish and clarify our family’s mission, vision, and values, we all will be like running endlessly on a treadmill; or drifting in the open seas. We need to identify what are the “wins” for us individually and collectively. In this way, we can draw a clear outline of what it means to live a successful family life for each of us.

The goal of this article is to help you lead a successful family life by identifying your wins. Read on to learn about the characteristics of a strong family, and how to improve your family life. You can also check out our family’s mission, vision, and core values here.

family of four
Enjoying one of our family photo sessions.

Characteristics of a successful family life

What does a successful family look like? It is difficult to give a definitive answer as each person’s response will vary. Everyone has different opinions about what makes a successful family based on their beliefs, tradition, and upbringing. Nevertheless, let us consider this objectively. Here is what the Bible and research have to say about having a successful family life.

What makes family life a success according to the Bible.

The overarching model of a strong Christian household is that every member of the family is serving one another out of love for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21) Families operating with a Christ-centered model tend to have a higher level of stability. They can love and serve each other regardless of their moods, or another person’s behavior. Their love is not based on feelings, but on reverence for Christ. It is like saying, “I love you no matter who you are, or what I feel, because of my love for Christ.” Listed below are 5 qualities of a Christ-centered family:

  • The wife submits to her husband. (Ephesians 5:22-24)
    God designed a woman to be a man’s “helper” since the beginning of time. But submission does not imply a wife is inferior to her husband. It simply denotes the Lord has given men and women their unique roles in leading a successful family. Submission means the wife recognizes her husband’s function as a leader and responds to him accordingly as a form of her obedience to God.
  • The husband leads, loves, respects, cares, and protects his wife with his life. (Ephesians 5:25-30)
    The marriage of a husband and wife parallels the relationship between the church and Jesus Christ. Wives shall submit to their husbands as the church submits to Christ. And just as Jesus loved the church — to the point of death — husbands are also commanded to do the same for their wives. This is an unselfish, unconditional love as seen in Christ, who gave Himself up for the church.
  • The husband and wife prioritize each other over their parents and children. (Ephesians 5:31-32)
    When a man and woman marries, they are now considered as “one flesh.” What this basically means is they are now totally dependent on each other, while being independent as a couple. They are to detach themselves from the temporal parent-child bond — and are united by the permanent husband-wife covenant. Next to God, married couples’ allegiance, devotion, priority, and affection are exclusively for among themselves. Their relationship with one another is a step higher than of their parents and children; or other relatives. This notion is widely known as leaving and cleaving in the Christian world. You can read my article about it here if you would like to learn more.
  • The children obey and honor their parents. (Ephesians 6:1-3)
    Christ-centered service is also applied in parent-children relationships. Whether parents set good examples or not, children should obey them as an act of their obedience to God. In turn, the Lord promises those who obey their parents to enjoy a prosperous and long life on Earth. To put it practically, perhaps the general principle is that obedience promotes self-discipline which can bring stability and longevity in their lives.
  • The father trains his children toward righteousness with respect — not rousing them into anger, which can lead to discouragement. (Ephesians 6:4)
    God gave fathers the special task of training their children. They should direct, correct, discipline, and nurture them toward God’s instructions. At the same time, fathers are also commanded not to provoke their children to anger, which can lead them to discouragement. They must not abuse their authority by giving unreasonable demands or establishing petty rules. In essence, a father should be a leader, not a boss.
family of four
Our little family of four.

What makes a successful family, based on research.

Now let’s take a look at some research. The University of Kentucky released a report about their case study of the common characteristics of strong families. Here are 12 things they discovered:

  1. Strong families commit themselves to promoting each other’s happiness.
    They foster family commitment by setting and carrying out goals together. Being able to get involved, and share meaningful experiences with one another, develops the sense of care and unity among family members. Commitment is a vital factor in establishing a strong family life.
  1. They express their appreciation for one another.
    More than simply feeling it, successful families express their appreciation toward each other. They make sure they let the other person know how they made them feel special through words and actions.
  1. They have healthy marriages that set the tone for their family’s overall well-being.
    A successful marriage helps other family members’ relationships with one another get better. This is because they tend to adapt the fundamental practices for a strong marriage, like clear communication, mutual respect, and transparency. Happy couples are also more likely to spill over their happiness into other relationships, which results in a positive family disposition overall.
  1. Strong families regularly spend quality time together.
    They are intentional in cutting down on outside engagements, so they can spend time with each other. Strong families frequently do things unitedly. They structure their lives in such a way that they can work, dine, have fun, and attend social events together.
  1. Successful families communicate openly.
    Family members value what each person has to say, or feel. They are comfortable voicing their own opinions and are open to feedback. Communication in strong families flows freely even when they do not agree on certain matters. In times of conflicts, they put it all out on the table and resolve it without prejudice.
  1. Proper nutrition, adequate rest, and regular exercise are the habits of strong families.
    Having a healthy lifestyle can be tied to healthy relationships. Members of successful families take care of their bodies, so they can function well individually and collectively. They give themselves time to manage stress, meditate, and maintain an optimal balance between work and family life.
  1. Healthy families are spiritual.
    They all share similar values and have a common moral compass to guide their lives. They practice spiritual disciplines such as praying, singing, and meditating on inspirational texts. Most, if not all, strong families live the golden rule by default: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
  1. Successful families deal with crises positively.
    They do not let misfortunes bother them. Strong families always search for the silver lining in any challenges they encounter. They stick together and work themselves out of the rubble. They see no crisis can overwhelm them as long as they have each other.
  1. They acknowledge and accept each other as a unique individual.
    Members of strong families know they have a special role in the family. They look beyond their imperfections and recognize their unique abilities. They accept one another’s needs and work on supporting each other. Every person in the family is free and does not need to live on pretense.
  1. Successful families stay in touch with their communities.
    They understand that no family is an island, and they are not sufficient on their own. Strong families recognize their need for community. They require the support of friends, relatives, neighbors, and family counselors. Successful families are humble enough to admit their inadequacies and are willing to reach out to other successful families when help is needed.
  1. Healthy families are quick to forgive.
    Mistakes, misunderstandings, and offenses are a painful part of life. But strong families always live each day in a fresh, full way by practicing forgiveness and letting go of the past. They refuse to nurse old wounds and move on to healing, peace of mind, and deepening of love. It is not an easy process, of course. But it is a process successful families are willing to undergo for the sake of developing healthy relationships.
  1. They enjoy each other’s company.
    Successful families laugh together. They foster humor, spontaneity, and wit. These help families develop a positive energy and environment. Strong families know how to have fun and genuinely enjoy one another.

How can I improve my family life?

As you read the characteristics of a successful family above, keep in mind that there is no perfect family. There will always be conflicts and misunderstandings no matter how hard we try to avoid them. What is important, however, is that, despite the family issues we face, we all strive to improve.

To close, here are 10 key statements from what we have learned today. Rate it from 1 to 10, so you can identify what areas of your family life are succeeding and which ones need improvement. Feel free to customize this list based on what you think is vital for your family.

  1. Our family has a clear purpose.
  2. We work together to achieve a certain goal.
  3. We have a strong marriage.
  4. Our love for each other is not based on emotions, but on a higher calling.
  5. Children are being trained and disciplined.
  6. We intentionally spend quality time and enjoy each other’s company.
  7. We resolve conflicts quickly and sincerely.
  8. We always keep in touch with friends, relatives, and communities.
  9. We have each other’s backs in times of trouble.
  10. We take care of our bodies, so we can better serve one another.

Closing thoughts

If you want to bring happiness to the world, go home and love your family.
Mother Teresa

So what’s your win? Is it the bottom line, the trophy, or the position? I do not want to sound spiritual, but as I pondered about it, my win is my family’s relationship with Christ. As long as we all walk together with Him, we have a successful family life.

See also


  • Instructions for Christian Households.
    Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. — Ephesians 5:21
  • Wives.
    Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now, as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. — Ephesians 5:22-24
  • Husbands.
    Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. — Ephesians 5:25-30
  • One flesh.
    “For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. — Ephesians 5:31-33
  • Children.
    Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” — Ephesians 6:1-3
  • Training a child.
    Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. — Ephesians 6:4

Jed Chan

Jed Chan is the principal creator of TheLearningDadBlog.com, a website dedicated to providing helpful resources on fatherhood. He is a passionate learner who would normally immerse himself in topics of his interest. Jed carefully studied the subjects of finance, e-business, and parenting before becoming a full-time stay-at-home dad.

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