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Show enthusiasm for their field of expertise (DW#547)

What is your spouse most enthusiastic about? What is their hobby, passion or favourite pastime? 

Chances are that they know a lot about what interests them. They love learning about it and can talk about it for hours. 

How about learning a little of what interests them from them? 
Allowing someone to share what excites them is an easy way to build positive communication and strengthen your relationship. 

Plus, it gives you a chance to see them at their most animated and enthusiastic!


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Yield to win (DW#546)

Today’s marriage hack is especially important for husbands (did you think that I would only focus on the wives?!).

A disclaimer: to be honest, this is not really a hack – in that it is not a simple and quirky thing that you can do – but it is really really important.

Dr. Gottman believes that one of the keys to a successful marriage is the emotional intelligence of husbands. How does this emotional intelligence show up in marriage? It is when men accept their wives’ influence in small and big matters.

In a long-term study of 130 newlywed couples, Dr. Gottman and his colleagues discovered that men who allow their wives to influence them have happier marriages and are less likely to divorce. Women, it seems, are better at accepting influence and yielding to advice than men and even in unhappy relationships, women are already doing this. In unhappy marriages, Gottman found that men tend to withdraw from conflict, stonewall their spouses and...

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Show off (a little) (DW#545)

Today’s marriage hack is especially important for women: we women tend to bond over sharing our woes and life’s challenges. We believe that it brings us closer to others. And one of the challenges that we sometimes talk about and bond over, are the (perceived) failings and foibles of our spouses.

Make no mistake: this habit (which we think is harmless fun) is destructive for our relationships. Our spouses do not think it is funny or cute when we are sharing their idiosyncrasies in public.

This habit is also destructive in another way. It normalizes low expectations from men and marriage, and it normalizes talking about our spouses in a disrespectful way. It is no wonder that modern society in general and young people in particular are so disenchanted with the institution of marriage.

So instead of complaining about your marriage or your spouse, try this hack: Try bragging a little. Compliment your spouse in public. Point out their positive qualities. Talk about what they...

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Play footsie or hold hands (DW#544)

When people first get together with their spouses, they find every opportunity to touch each other. (Remember playing footsie under the table or holding hands while watching a movie?)

Couples who have learnt to hack their marriage know that it is vitally important to maintain pleasant and playful touch in their relationship beyond the physically intimate relationship. 

Why is touch so important? 

Firstly, it is a fundamental human need. Touch is essential for babies’ development for their physical, emotional and eventually social health. In fact, touch is the first of the five senses to develop. The need for positive touch, the connection, and reassurance it can bring is hardwired in us. We now know that touching someone in a loving and positive way releases Oxytocin – a feel good and bonding hormone which results in attachment to the person who causes the release of this hormone within us.

Moreover, to touch someone you love is to acknowledge their presence...

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Look up (DW#543)

Imagine you are at work. You are busy answering emails or preparing a presentation. And your boss or your most important client walks in and starts talking to you. 

What do you do? Do you continue working on what you were doing and give them perfunctory nods and hmm, uhmms without even bothering to acknowledge their presence in the room? (and how do you think your career will fare if you did that?)


Or do you stop what you are doing, look up and give them your full attention? If you recognize that your relationship with them is more important than that email, or text message, you will likely do the later. 

Now how about your spouse? When they walk into the room, do you look up from your phone and give them your attention? Do you listen to what they have to say before giving them the nod and the hmms and the ahas? 

If not, why not? 

You cannot improve something without giving it some attention. You really cannot. So please start paying attention. And look up from your...

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Get more sleep (DW#542)

If you are sleep deprived like a lot of us these days, you know that the world and everything in it (including your spouse!) looks much better after a good night’s sleep. On the other hand, a lack of sleep can leave us feeling irritable and wanting to lash out at even minor annoyances. 

A study from Ohio State University confirmed this. It found that couples who routinely slept less than seven hours were more likely to fight in destructive ways and with overt hostility. Sleeping more did not get eliminate conflict, of course. But those couples who managed to get more rest bickered with more humor and kindness and with less hostility. 

So an easy way to improve your family relationships is to improve your self care routines, which include sleep and exercise. If you take care of yourself, you are able to show up as your best self at home. 

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Apply the stranger standard (DW#541)

This week, let’s continue talking about marriage hacks – shortcuts or easy ways to make our relationships better. Attitudes and behaviours that don’t take much time or effort but may have a major impact. 

Today’s hack is about applying the stranger standard at home. 

What is the stranger standard? It is the standard of behaviour that we use with strangers and outsiders. The minimum level of courtesy, respect and goodwill with which we deal with the world in general. 

Sometimes we take our closest relationships so much for granted that we "use up" our best self for strangers, acquaintances and others who don’t really matter that much. We are able to be respectful and kind to those who we come across for short periods. We use up our good will and bring home only what is left over. The tiredness, the grouchiness and the frustrations. 

The stranger standard hack means that you are at least as respectful and courteous inside...

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A list of what annoys you (DW#540)

Any of us who are in long term relationships know that it is not always fun and games. In fact, our loved ones tend to trigger and annoy us in ways that we did not even think possible!

Here is the thing: this is completely normal – these petty annoyances are NOT a sign that your relationship is in trouble. (as we say repeatedly, there is conflict in the happiest of relationships – it is how you deal with the conflict that determines the health of your marriage and family). 

The bad news about these annoyances and triggers is that they are not likely to change. And unless we learn to take them lightly and with a good dose of humour, they might even increase over time. 

So how we learn to live with what drives us crazy? 

Today’s marriage hack comes from a list that I learnt about many years ago. It is rather unique. 

A long term married woman shared that she keeps a list of what she hates about her husband. When I heard this, my positively-oriented...

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A list of what you love (DW#539)

The first two marriage hacks we will explore consist of making lists. 
Today’s list is all about what you love about your spouse. 

Your list can include qualities and characteristics that you love and admire in your spouse. It can also include all of the moments in your relationship that confirmed for you that you wanted to be married to this person. It can include funny things and sad things and all the happy memories that you have, even if they are really really tiny. 
This is your list so feel free to put anything on there that is meaningful to you even if they would sound silly or meaningless to someone else. These are reminders for you of why you chose this person and why you want to keep choosing this person.

The way you met and got together. What about them or their personality first attracted you?
How they supported you in challenging times
The way they looked at you at a particular time
How they reacted at the birth of your first baby
A small kindness that they...

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Here’s how to hack your marriage (DW#538)

Do you know what a "hack" is? 

The way it is currently used, it means an easy solution or a work-around to a potentially challenging situation. A shortcut. It is a way to do or to improve something without too much effort. The term was initially used in technology to find quicker solutions with less steps instead of longer procedures to do particular things on computers. Popular culture adapted this term for all kinds of workarounds or shortcuts calling them "life hacks" or just "hacks". 

A more enlightened way to look at such solutions is to call them wise effort. Getting the most value for your time and effort. Doings small things that get big results. Kind of what Daily Wisdom is all about. 

So, over the next few days, let’s discuss some "marriage hacks" – simple (and sometimes quirky) ways to improve your marriage – rituals and practices that take only a short amount of time and effort but have potentially significant results. 

Before we...

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