The Mystery Oil that Keeps Families Together

Family Rules are important, but there are some that I regret.

Years ago I made a rule about my own conduct, hoping that others (hint, hint) who were then 10, 8, 6, and 3 would follow my family rule. My daughter had not yet been born. The rule was: public offence means public apology. This worked admirably when my second eldest, who was making gunpowder in his mother’s expensive Tupperware, had a manufacturing problem which is quite common in gunpowder factories. Yes, he blew up, or should I say, melted my wife’s Tupperware.

The public mistake equals public apology rule worked really well in this case. He confessed and apologised after the evidence was ‘discovered’ and Alison calmed down after a few days. It was a very ‘special’ piece of Tupperware as far as Tupperware containers go. Such is the attrition of raising four boys with a father who taught them from a very young age about the joys of making gunpowder.

The rule of public offence means public apology began to work admirably amongst my children, except for one person – yes- me! The part I didn’t like was when I had to admit around the dinner table, in front of my children, that I was wrong and had to make the public apology.

Unfortunately I am going to have to make a public apology today at our Family Lunch in front of the whole family. Yes, Mr Perfect was rude to his wife last Sunday within earshot of his grown up children while getting ready for Family Lunch. They probably didn’t hear my thoughtless words, but sadly my wife did. She knows the rules and I know the rules. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. The trouble is, making a public apology makes me feel like the ‘goose’, and not the gander.

Anyway, when I explain the situation I’m sure you will understand that I was in the right, and my wife was in the wrong. You see, every Sunday lunch I cook, which means I go to ‘Chickos’ and get a family meal deal, which consists of one chicken, chips and salad and I buy bread rolls too. If the whole family comes, with all five grandchildren, I ‘cook up’ two family deals. It is a lot of work I assure you!

My problem is that I have a fetish about eating hot food immediately when I come home from ‘cooking’. Alison usually has everything on the table but if too busy might forget to put out forks and knives. This annoys me no end. After all, it is really, really hard work driving to the chicken shop and it is so disappointing to come home and find that my wife does not have everything ready for my grand entrance.

Anyway I told her so, and ‘raised my voice’ in the process. She promptly told me I could help her by doing it myself. After all, I do know where the forks and knives are! Naturally I felt her response was totally unreasonable in the light of my sacrifice. Suffice to say we had words and one of our other family rules is that we don’t fight in public (I was over- exposed to that in my childhood!) so not only did I break one family rule, but two family rules.

So I am telling you this in confidence on the condition that you won’t tell anyone because I haven’t even apologised yet. As I said, Family Rules are important, and what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

Well Warwick you might well be saying, “What does this have to do with the mystery oil of families?”

Glad you asked. While you guys are swallowing your Sunday lunches with your families, I will be swallowing my pride. But in the process of ‘humbling’ myself, (how I hate that word!) I will be providing oil for my family to keep on working.

You see if you run your car without oil, you will seize the motor. The oil lubricates the moving parts and stops them getting so hot that they expand in the enclosed space of the cylinder head and the motor is effectively destroyed.

It is the same with families. If the gander publically apologises to the goose in front of the goslings, the goslings learn the art of saying sorry which constantly takes the heat out of the friction of family life. Even gees need happy families. How much more humans!

If you want to decrease friction in your family and discover the mystery oil that keeps families and marriages from self destruction learn to say sorry publically.


Yes, there is life after saying sorry. I know, I have said sorry many times. After Sunday lunch I will feel much better. It is just the apprehension before hand, but you quickly get over it.

Do I really regret making that Family Rule? Not really. Sure beats a seized motor!

Happy apologising
Warwick Marsh

PS. We have been so frantic with organising the National Day of Prayer & Fasting that Alison and I have been slow to start our Stick Kit Marriage Course. The good news is we start this week and write about it in ‘All You Need is Love’ for the next five weeks.

It will also be reproduced on my blog,

We encourage you to sign up for the Stick Kit, a fantastic online marriage course. A donation will come back to Dads4Kids when you do. That way you help Dads4Kids and help your own marriage, all at the same time.

Hear from the authors of the Stick Kit, Dr Byron Pirola and Francine Pirola, in two radio interviews.

By |2019-03-05T09:07:32+10:00February 28th, 2015|Dads, Families, Marriage|0 Comments

About the Author:

Warwick Marsh has been married to Alison Marsh since 1975; they have five children and nine grandchildren, and he and his wife live in Wollongong in NSW, Australia. He is a family and faith advocate, social reformer, musician, TV producer, writer and public speaker.

Warwick is a leader in the Men’s and Family Movement, and he is well-known in Australia for his advocacy for children, marriage, manhood, family, fatherhood and faith. Warwick is passionate to encourage men to be great fathers and to know the greatest Father of all. The Father in Whom “there is no shadow of turning.”

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