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Come up with your own hack (DW#559)

We have shared several marriage hacks over the last few weeks. Which stood out for you and which have you tried? 

The great news is that you do not have to do them all. Even starting with two or three simple things to try can have a positive impact on your relationship. The more intentional you are and the greater the effort you put, the better the results. 

Of course, you can also come up with your hack. What is something simple that you already do everyday for your relationship? 

A young husband shared this hack with me:
Z and I have created a WhatsApp group with just the two of us called "Spousal Appreciation". The aim is to appreciate the spouse every day for at least one thing we are thankful for. Pretty powerful, and good use of social media!

How cool is that? 
So do come up with your own hack and share it with us so that we can all learn from it. 

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Go on a date (DW#557)

As your marriage ages it is very easy to let go of the rituals of early romantic love. The masters of relationships, however, know that the intentionality of continuing to date your partner is a wise investment for the long term health of your marriage. 

So what makes a date a date? 
1)   It is "we" time when you focus on connecting with your partner and catch up with what has been on their mind and occupying their attention. 
2)   It is NOT a time to problem solve or talk about issues in your relationship (that is a very different ritual)
3)   Try to stay away from the business of running a house and a family.  Your children are very important and if you focus on connecting as friends you will be better parents to your children
4)   It is time to focus on your friendship as a couple apart from the issues that may be plaguing your relationship at the time. Intentional love means that you don’t...

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Admire and appreciate your spouse (DW#555)`

Today’s marriage hack requires a time investment of 35 minutes per week (5 minutes a day x 7 days)

What thoughts do you have about your spouse? Do you focus on their shortcomings or on what you admire about them? Regular admiration and appreciation of your spouse fuels the flames of love. It reminds us why we got together with them in the first place. 

So try making and keeping an ongoing "admiration list". Record small and big things that you admire and connect them to a trait that you appreciate in your spouse. 

And then pick something from the list to express your fondness and admiration to them every day. 

Why do you need to make a list? Because on the days when they are driving you crazy or when you are in the midst of conflict it may be very hard to remember!

And how do we express this appreciation? 

Be specific and mention how this trait or habit of theirs impacts you in a positive way. 
Here is an example: "Thanks for helping out with the dishes...

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Be intentional about greetings (DW#554)

Todays marriage hack requires a time investment of 1 hour and 40 minutes per week (20 minutes a day x 5 working days)

What is the first thing that you do when you meet each other after spending time apart during the day? 

Here are the two rituals that yield great benefits for your relationships.

1)   The 6 second kiss. Share a hug and kiss that lasts at least six seconds. Dr. Gottman calls this a "kiss with potential." The six-second kiss is a ritual of connection that is worth coming home to.Time investment can be as little as six seconds a day. Really. 
2)   The 20-minute stress-reducing conversation. Talk to each other about the day’s happenings. Listen and empathize with your partner. Let them know that you understand the stressors and issues that they are currently facing. Take their side (Do NOT try to get them to see another perspective at this time). This is NOT the time to give advice!

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Be intentional about goodbyes (DW#553)

Today's marriage hack requires a time investment of 2 minutes per day x 5 working days (10 minutes per week)

The task: To learn one thing that will be happening in your spouse’s life that day before you say goodbye. Ask open-ended questions about the scheduled happenings that day. 

Do they have a significant appointment that day? What are they looking forward to? Concerned about? 

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Hack your marriage in 6 hours (DW#552)

One of the most solid evidence based programs for enriching a marriage or turning it around are the Gottman marriage programs. If couples agree to taking part in the research for the institute, they are followed after taking the program to see what if any changes they have implemented and maintained in the relationship after taking the program. 

The researchers have found something rather interesting: the couples who are able to transform their relationships and create lasting change do not do anything dramatic or earth shattering. In fact, they spend few a minutes a day (an average of six extra hours a week) on nurturing their relationships through simple but significant practices and rituals. And the way these couples divide these six hours follows a predictable pattern. 

So, are you ready to invest these magic six hours a week? (You may be currently spending more time than that engaging in conflict . . .)

You may be pleasantly surprised to learn how easy these practices...

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Be a friendly observer (DW#551)

Eli Finkel, a researcher at Northwestern University is the one who popularized the term marriage hack in his popular TED talk which is based on his book The All or Nothing Marriage

Here is a summary of his most significant research finding about happy couples: Over the period of a year, couples in a study were asked to think about their disagreements from a third-person perspective—from the perspective of a neutral party who wanted the best for all involved. So they practiced viewing the conflict from an objective perspective, without their own emotions involved. The study found that these couples were more likely to be satisfied in their marriage than the couples who could only see their own side during conflict. 

What can we learn from this?
1)    It does not mean that these couples did not disagree or fight.
2)    It shows that they practiced some key aspects of emotional intelligence:

a.   ...
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Say thank you (DW#550)

Yesterday we discussed how happy couples believe that when their spouse does something positive, it is just like them. 

However, this does NOT mean that they take their actions for granted. It means that they do notice the positive things that their spouse does. 

And that they regularly verbally appreciate their spouse for doing these things. 

What is the best way to say thank you? Be specific about what action pleased you and why it meant so much. This does take a little more effort than a simple thank you but it means so much more. 

Let’s consider some examples: 

Thank you for helping me pack yesterday. I was relieved to have your help so that I did not forget anything. 
I really appreciate help with Ahmed’s homework. I tend to get easily frustrated when he does not get it immediately. I love how patient you are in this situation. 
I was so relieved when I went out and saw that the driveway had already been shovelled. I was not looking...

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Think: That’s just like them! (DW#549)

Today’s marriage hack is the flip side of yesterday’s.

Smart couples have a particular way of thinking about their spouses when they do something which is positive or pleasing. 

They believe that this quality is "just like them". That it is permanent and a part of their true character. 

For example:
My wife helped me pack for my trip: that is just like her. Always making sure that I have everything that I need when I am travelling. 
My husband did the math homework with my son yesterday. That is so like him. He is happy to do whatever it takes to help his children succeed at school. 
My husband got up early to shovel the snow this morning. He is always concerned that we have a clear driveway for when we leave for work and school. He really cares about our family’s safety. 
My wife called my family over for Eid just like she does every year. She goes out of her way to make sure that the family gets together and is welcomed into our home. She is...

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