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Look down on your spouse (How to ruin a perfectly good relationship)

A really effective way to destroy a relationship is to think that you are better than your spouse. You get bonus points for conveying it to them through words and body language.

This kind of looking down or contempt in relationships has been found to be the number one predictor of divorce by Dr. John Gottman in his many decades of relationship research.

How can you show contempt for your spouse? There are so many ways, verbal and non-verbal to be truly mean and show disrespect and contempt for others:

Mocking
Using sarcasm
Name calling
Hostile humour
Mimicking
Sneering, eye-rolling,
Making light or belittling what matters to them
Invalidating their thoughts and feelings

Saying things like: who does that? Everyone knows that not the way it is done. What's wrong with you? Etc. etc. etc.

In whatever form, contempt is very destructive to a relationship because it conveys disgust. It's virtually impossible to resolve a problem or feel loving towards the other when your partner is getting the...

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Refuse to discuss issues (How to ruin a perfectly good relationship)

Another easy way to destroy a relationship is to shutdown or stonewall your spouse when they are trying to discuss an issue which is of importance to them.

Stonewalling can look slightly different in different people: being unresponsive, walking away, tuning out, ignoring, turning away, turning to technology, acting busy or saying "I will not talk about this".

When your spouse is making an effort to address a problem, whether attempting to talk about something that is upsetting them, explaining their feelings about an ongoing area of conflict, or trying to reach a resolution or a compromise, and you are pretending that they aren't there, they are likely to reach a level of upset or anger so high that unless this issue is addressed, it is almost guaranteed to destroy your relationship. Here is some research on the impact of stonewalling on relationships.

A word of compassion for you if you are the stonewaller: you are likely engaging in this behavior because you are going through an...

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Be defensive (How to ruin a perfectly good relationship)

An easy way to ruin a perfectly good relationship is to NEVER EVER accept responsibility for anything. If your spouse makes a complaint, counter that with a counter attack or criticise them for bringing up the issue.

When we do this, it pretty much guarantees that our significant other will stop bringing up issues that bother them. The issues will fester and grow and impact other areas of our relationship.

For some of us, our defensiveness is truly unconscious. We immediately and impulsively refute or rebut whenever our spouses bring up actions and behaviours that are causing a problem in the relationship.

If we do not want to ruin our relationships, however, we do need to pause when we feel the urge to be defensive. Pausing allows us to reflect on what our spouse is truly saying and asking of us. What part of it can we take responsibility for? What can we acknowledge and commit to changing?

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Be critical (How to ruin a perfectly good relationship)

Complaining is great for relationships but criticism is very destructive.

What's the difference?

When you are complaining, you are focused on an issue which is bothering you and you are giving your spouse information on what bothers you, why it bothers you and how to make it better.

This is what a complaint sounds like:
"When you leave your socks on the floor after you change your clothes, it frustrates me since I like to have the floor free of clutter. Please put them in the laundry basket instead."

A complaint involves taking ownership of the way the issue makes you feel and it invites the other to support you through a clear request of change in behaviour.

Criticism on the other hand, involves attacking the other person's character or personality. It does not give information for change and causes defensiveness in the other person.

"You always leave your socks on the floor. How selfish can you be? You don't care that I spent so much time clearing up. Why can't you pick up after...

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As we say goodbye . . .

The days of Ramadan have been long and the nights much too short. We started with some trepidation about how we would manage with the heat and the thirst. Alhamdulliah, with Allah's grace and strength, the month has flown by much too fast.

As we approach the final few days of the Blessed Month, we may be feeling a mix of emotions: a tinge of sadness at the ending of the month of Blessings, Mercy and Forgiveness, a feeling of accomplishment at what we have managed to do or perhaps a feeling that we did not do as much as we would have liked. We may be looking forward to getting back to our normal routine and to our morning cup of tea.

Regardless of this array of emotions towards the ending of this month, many of us felt an increasing level of spirituality and we may be wondering of how to make the awesome feeling of closeness to Him and spirituality stay with us a little longer.

For many of us, this is the only time in the year when we change the focus of our attention from worldly...

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Settle your disputes

In Sura Anfal (8:1) the Quran says: So be God-conscious and settle your disputes.

This verse which was revealed after the battle of Badr when Muslims had differences between themselves regarding the splitting of war booty, refers to a key principle of a harmonious social life.

In any relationship, personal, work related or social, it is normal to have differences and conflict. Such differences exist in the healthiest of relationships. What sets good relationships apart from the unhealthy ones, is not the presence of difference or conflcit, but how it is handled. Differences create issues in relationships when they turn into disputes, that is when narrow-minded self interest and ego turns differences into oppurutnities for a win-lose battle.

 

This verse reminds us that there will be differences and conflict in our relationships and that we need to move beyond them. The verse also relates God consciousness to settling of disputes, reminding us that when we are in conflict,...

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Resist the temptation to mock others

In Sura Hujarat (49:11), it says: O believers, let no group make fun of another, for they may be better than them.

Reflection: Mocking means to say something which degrades someone and puts them down. It could be a verbal "joke", a rolling of the eyes, an imitation of gait, word or accent or something even more subtle than that. The aim of mocking is to ridicule the other and make others laugh at the person.

This is often done in the guise of humour and the person who is mocking may lead others to believe that they are humourless or boring if they don't 'get the joke'. When called out on what they are doing, those who are mocking may tell others to "chill out" or "don't take it so seriously".

Yet, if the language of mockery removes the property of humour, the statements show up as merely nasty. Humour appears to give a gloss of moral invisibility to statements "made in jest"—but perhaps we should be more hesitant and reflective about what we're participating in and doing. And...

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Be a good neighbour

Sura Nisa verse 4:36: And do good to parents, the relatives, the orphans, the needy, the near neighbour and the distant neighbour.

Reflection: Islam is all about honouring our vertical relationship with Him and our horizontal relationships with others. One of the categories of people whose rights we need to be mindful of are neighbours.

Islam considers forty homes around ours, in all four directions, as being neighbours and the verse specifies that we need to do good to both the near and the distant neighbours.

In other words, doing good should extend to the whole neighbourhood or community in which we live.

Why? Such a simple commandment that can greatly improve the quality of our lives and society as a whole. When we live in neighbourhoods that are strongly connected and secure, our daily lives are enhanced and our children benefit.

How? What does being a good neighbour mean to you? Are you careful of not being a nusiance? Do you watch out for their property in their absense or...

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Seek counsel and consultation

Sura Shuraa verse 42:38. And their rule is to take counsel among themselves.

Reflection: This sentence in verse 38 is part of a passage that describes the people for whom the Hereafter will be so much better than the world. One of their qualities is that they seek counsel from one another.

Islam recommends that believers seek advice from each other, and discuss things to get the opinions of others.

Why: When we are in the midst of a situation or a problem, it is often challenging to see the big picture or reflect on how our behaviour is playing out in the situation. Our own self interest and ego often results in tunnel vision, which leads to actions not in our ultimate best interest.

Seeking counsel and consultation from a spouse, a good friend, a trusted colleague or a trained professional at such a time can be hugely beneficial. (There is a reason that the most successful CEOs and leaders all have personal coaches and consultants . . .)

This sounds like a modern idea, doesn't it?...

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How to use and ask the Questions

Over the last couple of weeks, we have been exploring the wisdom in The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever.

The book really helps the reader recognize how we can be "advice giving maniacs" and how we often don't even know what the problem is, but we've got some thoughts about how to go around fixing it. (it is SO easy isn't it – to give advice on how to fix problems we don't know much about!!)

I hope that you have been playing with the questions at work and at home and are beginning to explore the power of these simple questions to make us effective in our interactions and communications with others. Once we begin 'playing' with the questions (however imperfectly) and notice the power, we are likely to want to do more of it.

In the book, Stanier offers great suggestions on how to use the questions in what he calls "Question Asking Master classes" and on how to practice the questions so that they become a habit. If you are looking for what...

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