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Create conflict free times and zones

Let's face it. If you are in a long term relationship, chances are that is at least some conflict in your relationship. This is normal and even healthy.

The 'masters of relationships' also have many areas of conflict in their lives but they manage to keep conflict in its place.

One way to 'keep conflict in its place' is to declare some times and zones in your life as conflict free. This means you will not let conflict intrude into these times and places.

It is a good idea, for example, to declare the bedroom and the dining table as sacred, conflict free zones. When you and your spouse are there, it is a time of amnesty, so to speak. You leave conflict out of these areas. You focus on things in your life other than conflict talk.

It may also be useful to declare early morning, late night and the first few minutes when you meet after a day apart as conflict free times.

After all, you did not get together with your spouse just to deal with conflict, did you?

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It’s all in your head

family positive thinking Feb 08, 2017

How and what we think about often has an impact on our relationships in addition to what we say or do.

What we think about day in and day out subtly influences how we approach our spouse and in turn influences how they will respond.

The decision to improve our relationship, therefore, begins in our mind.

So, choose to extend loving thoughts to your spouse throughout the day today, even (and especially) when they are not around.

Intentionally bring to mind something you like about them, some kindness or love that they have shown you or some pleasant interaction that you may have had in the past.

Hold that thought for at least 15 seconds. (This is the time it takes for a thought to begin to change our brain chemistry)

Soften and allow yourself to smile at the memory or the thought.

Repeat often for best results :)

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Look for what is right

Sometimes, when we feel underappreciated, we can get into a cycle where we are only focusing on what our spouse is doing wrong.

We can unconsciously start looking for things that they are doing wrong, "scanning the environment" for mistakes that they have made.

And guess what? We will always find what we are looking for!

Happy couples on the other hand, intentionally look for things that their partner is doing right. They get into the habit of catching each other at their best.

And they appreciate each other on a regular basis.

The good news is that focusing on what is right is a habit that can be learnt with intentionality and practice.

So start by intentionally noticing the tiniest thing that your spouse does which is right. If they are helping you or doing something for you, resist the temptation to correct or second guess them.

Instead focus on the intention which they are offering their service, however imperfect it may be according to your own standards.

Voice your...

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Express interest

Rekindling a friendship with your spouse is remarkably simple.

It can begin with expressing interest in their world – internal or external.

To learn what is happening in your partner's world, ask open ended questions that show you are interested in their day-to-day life. We sometimes forget to check in with our partner or fail to respond to their attempts to connect. Over time this can create serious damage to the relationship.

It can be as simple as asking, "How was your day?"

And of course, listening to the answer!

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A time to light candles rather than curse the darkness

family relationships Jan 30, 2017

Many of us are feeling fearful, angry, powerless and despondent in the current political climate. The world seems to be dissolving in front of our eyes and we seem unable to be able to do anything to stop it.

It is so very tempting to rail and wail about how unfair and oppressive the current world order is. This temptation is fanned and fueled by social media. Yesterday, I found myself drowning in a vortex of Facebook posts updating and commenting on unfolding events. I felt powerless, defeated and very very sad.

What are we to do?

While it is important to speak up, protest and register our dissent, there is a danger that these actions will so consume us that they will distract us from positive and proactive action.

More than ever, we need to focus on our purpose. Become a force for good and light candles in whatever way we can.

In addition to doing what we must to protest, let us not stop there. Let us show some extra kindness, befriend a neighbor, hug a child. Plant a tree.

Let...

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The one problem with visualization

family positive thinking Jan 23, 2017

Now that you have visualized what success looks like in your chosen area, I have to warn you about a potential pitfall.

When we use visualization effectively, it releases all sorts of feel good chemicals in our brain and makes us quite happy.

Why is this a problem?

Because the brain has such great feelings thinking about our goals that it thinks that it has ALREADY achieved success! This is why day dreaming is so very lovely (and problematic!!)

When we have all these great feelings we end up doing LESS to achieve these goals!!

This can be hard to understand but think of it this way: we set goals and strive to accomplish them to feel we are living on purpose and to feel good about ourselves.

One of the pitfalls of visualization is that it creates these good feelings without actually working or achieving these goals.

What I am saying is that visualization is great but it is NOT enough on its own.

So, what should we do?

1) Visualize success and get clear on the goal BUT then take step...

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Assess the domains of your life

A very effective way to look at and evaluate the big picture of your life is to think of the various areas of life as 'domains'.

Here is a list of 10 domains of life. Use the list below to rank how you feel about a particular domain by giving it a score from 1 – 10. 10 is absolute perfection while a score of 1 would be an absolute disaster.

The best way to do this is not to overthink it. Simply go through the list below and write a score for how you feel about this area of your life. This is completely subjective. No one needs to know this score except yourself. (you might want to copy and paste it in a word document OR write it out)

The domains of life:
1) Physical health – sleep, eating, exercise, disease etc

2) Mental wellbeing – stress, negative thoughts, mental illness

3) Interests, hobbies, creativity – have you been yearning to take up knitting but have not?

4) Romance, love life, marriage relationship – are you happy with the way things are at...

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Getting ready to set goals

family self development Jan 11, 2017

Most of us make resolutions or set goals in one or two areas of our lives. The majority of New Year Resolutions or goals tend to focus around the areas of health (weight loss) and career.

A better way to live our best selves is to see the big picture of our lives and begin to assess and make goals in many areas.

There are many ways to do this. We will look at one way today and another tomorrow.

The first way is to set goals according to our roles in life.

Think of the roles you have in life.

We have family roles (mother/father, son/daughter, spouse) work/career roles (employer/employee, manager, team member) community roles (community member, leader, pastor).

Now consider where you may set goals for improvement.

For example, in my role as a mother, I may need to work at being patient and to listen more.

In my role as a supervisor at work, an area for improvement might be to give effective and timely feedback.

What are some of the roles in your life currently? Can you identify...

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The secret sauce of relationships

Do you know how to almost instantly turn around a struggling relationship? Start noticing what the person is doing right. And acknowledge it.

When we are upset at someone, it is easy to start focusing on what they are doing wrong and how they are annoying us. However, most people in our lives are doing more things that are right and wrong. It is just that the human mind tends to focus on what is wrong while ignoring or taking for granted what is right.

Your 16 year old, for example, might be driving you crazy because he just cannot clean up his room, or wakeup without being nagged. These annoyances become the focus of your relationship because this is what you notice. You take for granted that he helps out without being asked, is loving and plays with his little sister for hours.

To turn the relationship around, just start acknowledging the things that you have been taking for granted. Even small, tiny things. Once you start looking for what he is doing right, it is amazing how the...

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Celebrate efforts rather than results

family parenting Dec 01, 2016

A very useful application of our discussion on focusing on process rather than outcome is with our children.

When we praise children for the grades or accolades that they may achieve, it can often stress them out. They cannot control the grades they get any more than we can control whether or not we are promoted at work.

Their grades depend on so many things, the mood of the teacher (!), how others did and where they stand in relation to the rest of the class. NONE of which they can do anything about.

What children can control, is the amount of time and effort they put into any project.

When we praise the effort, if encourages them to work harder and give it their best, regardless of what the final grade or outcome is. Praising effort is a VERY powerful way to motivate children to do their best.

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