Helsinki (Finland) -- The family, a means of communication between the individual and society

The builders of the medieval cathedrals did not spare any efforts. They knew that what they were constructing had to last for centuries. What should one say about the love between a man and a woman, if we truly believe that marriage should lead to a happiness that will last forever?

This comparison was made by Isabelle Gaullier, a specialist in family and marriage questions, at a seminar held on April 14 in the Vanhapuisto Cultural Center in Helsinki. The seminar focussed on the central role of the family for the correct development of the person. In accepting the challenge to construct a marriage, Ms. Gaullier said, both idealism and realism are needed. At the end, returning to the image of the great medieval churches, the speaker concluded: “it’s worth the effort, when what you are building is a cathedral.”

The next speaker, Dr. Kaija Hartiala, deputy mayor of Turku, the third largest city in Finland, related some everyday experiences from her own family. Mrs. Hartiala, who has been married for thirty years, has four children, along with a political and professional career that demands quite a bit of dedication. Through real life anecdotes, she stressed some key points for maintaining a happy marriage and a united family. For example, to confront the pressure of individualism, which could result in each member of the family “doing his own thing” and being absorbed by his own work, interests, friends, etc., the decision was made in their family to have dinner a little later than usual. Thus everyone could be at home together and talk about their experiences that day. She also spoke of the importance of sharing interests with the other members of the family: in her case, jogging, which she does every day with her husband.

The audience raised many questions at the end of the seminar, an indication of the great interest in this topic in Finland.

Romana, No. 40, January-June 2005, p. 150-151.