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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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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 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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The top 10 worst things to say to your loved ones (DW#431)

Over the last couple of weeks, we have been exploring words and phrases that cause more harm than good in relationships.
 
While all of us might say some of these from time to time, we need to recognize that if we say them often enough, our relationships are sure to suffer.
 
So here is the "top 10" list of words and phrases to stay away from:
 
1.   "Just sayin’"
2.   "You always/you never"
3.   "You made me do it/ it’s your fault"
4.   "I’m sorry, but…"
5.   "With all due respect"
6.   "Fine, whatever"
7.   "I’ll talk to you when you can be more rational"
8.   "Not this again! Can’t you just drop it and move on?" 
9.   "If I were you . . ."
10.  "I told you so"

From tomorrow inshaAllah, we will start exploring the best things to say to your loved ones :) 
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Continue reaching out to loved ones (DW#420)

5. Maintaining Family Relationships
The month of Ramadan finds many of us trying to reach out to family, by an invitation for iftar or sending food and gifts. As the nights of Qadr approach, we are reminded about making amends with those members of our family whom we have issues with.

Through prayer and supplication, our hearts become soft, through closeness to Him, we begin to recognize the big picture and may be more amenable to forgive and overlook the small grievances that we may have been holding.

While reflecting on the Quran, we are reminded to pardon people, to manage our anger, to repel evil with good and to maintain relationships with our blood relations. We begin to recognize, once again, that He is happy with us if are human connections are in order. We are reminded that the path to Him begins with loving His creation.

Baby steps:
Regularly reach out to long forgotten family members through a phone call, email or text.

Consider inviting family to share meals with you, even if...

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Where does family fit in? (DW#388)

After yesterday’s DW went out, some of you asked the question: which domain of life do family relationships fit in? (The domains we mentioned were mental, physical, emotional, social and spiritual relating to our minds, bodies, hearts and souls).

Strictly speaking, family relationships belong in the emotional domain of our life along with our other close relationships. This means that if any of our major relationships are conflicted, we will likely give ourselves a low score in that domain, implying that there is much room for growth in this area.

Family relationships however, are in a somewhat special category because our satisfaction with (or lack of satisfaction with) family life impacts all the other domains: there is loads of research on how a happy or unhappy marriage for example, impacts physical and mental health. So if our close relationships are causing us distress, that is likely to show up as a low score on our mental wellbeing and physical health due to stress.

...

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the growth mindset approach to conflict (DW#385)

One of the most destructive of all relationship myths is the belief that if it requires work, something is terribly wrong and that any discrepancy of opinions or preferences or the presence of conflict is indicative of character flaws on behalf of one’s partner.
 
Dweck believes that conflicts are part of all good relationships and a growth mindset is not threatened with conflict in the relationship.
 
Dweck found that people with a fixed mindset on the other hand are threatened by conflict. When they talk about their problems, they are likely to assign blame to their partners AND often assume that the fault lies in a character flaw of the other other which is not fixable. Since the fault lies in the personality of the partner, they feel anger and contempt towards them (we have previously discussed how looking down with contempt at a partner is poisons a relationship) and dissatisfied with the entire relationship.

 People with a growth mindset, on the other...

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Do you expect your spouse to read your mind? (DW#384)

People with fixed mindsets expect that that in an ideal relationship, the couple should be able to read each other’s minds and finish each other’s sentences. Since characteristics are fixed according to their view of the world, a lack of communication or a difference of opinion is suggestive of a fatal flaw in the relationship.
 
When Dweck invited people to talk about their relationships, she found that: Those with the fixed mindset felt threatened and hostile after talking about even minor discrepancies in how they and their partner saw their relationship. Even a minor discrepancy threatened their belief that they shared all of each other’s views.
 
For those of us who are in long term relationships we often find that we are still learning about each other even after decades of being together and can see how destructive it can be to expect the other to read our minds.
 
If we develop a growth mindset in our relationships, we have a much...
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Mindset and honesty in children (DW#382)

family objective parenting May 01, 2018
A core difference between a growth mindset and fixed mindset is how one responds to setbacks and failures. For a person with a fixed mindset, failed attempts are tantamount to shameful failures. Success for a fixed mindset can only happen if one is able to establish their superiority over others by proving how smart one is. A setback equals a label of being not good enough, not measuring up. 

For the growth mindset on the other hand, success comes from working hard to living up to your potential. Setbacks and feedback are experienced as a normal part of learning and as a motivation for working harder.
 
The most unsettling part of Dweck’s research perhaps is what the researchers discovered after the IQ questions were completed. The children who participated in the study were told to write letters to their peers sharing the experience of participating in the study and also reporting their scores on the problems.
 
What they found to their dismay was that forty...
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Can children have fun while learning? (DW#381)

family objective parenting Apr 29, 2018

Do your children enjoy learning? 

During their research on the impact of mindset on children, Dweck and her colleagues found another benefit of having a growth mindset: The researchers found that the kind of mindset the child had not only determined their relationship to failure, but also predicted whether or not they would enjoy learning. 

When the children in the study were given sets of questions to answer, all the children enjoyed the easier round of questions which they could effortlessly answer.
 
As the questions got more challenging however, the children who were praised for ability no longer had any fun, while the children who were praised for working hard not only still enjoyed the problems but even reported that the more challenging the questions became, the more fun they had!
 
The researchers also noticed that the children who were praised for ability improved their performance as the problems got harder while those praised for being smart did...
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