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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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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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Are your interpretations helpful? (DW#512)

Today’s DW relates to the short exercise we did yesterday.

Let’s go back to the interpretations we discovered in our second circle.

When you look at these interpretations, chances are that they are mostly negative.

Ask yourself: how are these interpretations making me feel? Are they helping or hindering me from mental and emotional wellbeing?

Next question: when I am having these negative feelings and interpretations, how is that causing me to behave? Towards myself? Towards others?

If they are, in fact, making me feel upset or causing distress in relationships, am I willing to consider other, more helpful interpretations?

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Act in loving way to feel the feeling of Love (DW#477)

In long term relationships, it is common that the feelings of love come and go. So relying on feelings of "being in love" at any given moment as a guide to the health or vitality of a relationship is problematic at best.

Even if we care deeply about our spouses, it does not mean that we will always feel positively towards them. It is quite normal to have negative feelings like irritation, anger, hurt and doubt from time to time. The problem lies not in these feelings but in the fact that we may take it to mean that we have "fallen out of love" with this person. When we start thinking like this, we stop doing loving actions and our relationship gets stuck in a downward spiral.

Because feelings change over time, going up and down from time to time, feelings by themselves are NOT a good indicator of relationship health at any given time.

What if we start thinking of the absence of loving feelings as a sign that we need to start doing more loving actions? That we need to act in a loving...

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Boost your happiness by doing random acts of kindness for your spouse (DW#476)

In long term relationships, we sometimes begin to take our spouses for granted and stop doing those little acts of kindness that we did when we first fell in love. And of course, we seldom make the connection that our relationship is not as happy as it was or could be.

Research that was done about a year ago and published in the journal Emotion, shows that doing something nice for your spouse can boost your emotional well-being —even if he or she isn’t aware of your good deed.

The researchers in the study set out to test the Dalai Lama’s theory that compassionate concern for another’s welfare enhances one’s own happiness.

 

For the study, 175 couples were asked to record the thoughtful acts, kindness and tenderness that they expressed to their spouse and also record their own daily emotional state during this period.

The researchers found that couples benefitted the most when their acts of kindness were recognized and...

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The 15 best things to say in relationships (DW#447)

Over the last few weeks, we have been talking about words and phrases that build and rebuild relationships. 

Here are the words and phrases again. Let’s memorize and use them as often as possible. Which are the the most challenging for you? 

1)   How was your day? [DW #432]
2)   How can I help? [DW #433]
3)   Tell me more. [DW #434]
4)   I feel [DW #435]
5) I love it when you [DW #436]
6) Do you remember when we . . . [DW #437]
7)   You have my support [DW #438]
8)   Please and thank you [DW #439]
9)   I disagree [DW #440]
10)  You’re right. [DW #441]
11)  I’d love to get your opinion [DW #442]
12)  Did I get that right? [DW #443]
13)  I love you [DW #444]
14)  I’m sorry [DW #445]
15)  What would you like to see happen? [DW #446]

And with that, we have come to the end of this series of Daily...

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What would you like to see happen? (DW#446)

Continuing with our series on the best things to say in relationships, today’s phrase is a question to use when the other person is telling us what they don’t want.

It is so much easier to talk about what we don’t like and what we don’t want, rather than to make a specific request about what we would like. 

I don’t want us to be late
I don’t want you to leave things lying around
I don’t like it when you don’t tell me your plans 
I don’t want to go a beach holiday again this year

Often we don’t even know that we are doing this. So it can be very helpful to be redirected by our loved ones and asked what we would like to see happen or what we want (as opposed to what we don’t want).

So the next time you hear someone complaining about how bad things are, instead of getting annoyed, try gently redirecting them with a question such as "What would you like to see happen?" or "Please tell me what you would like as opposed...

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I'm sorry (DW#445)

No matter what we know and how much we practice we are likely to mess up with our loved ones. Quite often. And this is why today’s phrase is so important. 

Apologizing for causing hurt and pain to our loved ones is an essential skill in relationships. 

There are so many wrong ways to apologize, as we have talked about before. 

Here is what a good apology contains:

1.   An expression of regret

2.   An acknowledgement of responsibility

3.   A declaration of repentance

4.   An offer of repair

5.   A request for forgiveness


Here is an example:
I am so very sorry that I forgot that there was a family gathering at your cousin’s place. I should have put it on the calendar when you first told me about it. I will make sure to put the other family events on there so that this does not happen again. Would you like me to call him and explain what happened? And maybe we can drop in on them this...

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I love you (DW#444)

Have you ever heard new couples talk on the phone? They often end long phone conversations by saying "I love you" (and then "I love you more  . . ." and on and on . . .) As the relationship progresses, the "I love you" can turn into "Ok, bye", especially if there the relationship is strained or there is unaddressed conflict. 
Expressing love verbally is equally, if not more important, in long term relationships. 

Even if it is a ritual which you engage in without thinking, it is worth considering getting into the habit of saying "I love you" regularly. 
Recent research suggests that saying these three simple words is more than simply expressing your romantic feelings. It actually represents a commitment to future behavior. This implies that when we say I love you, we are not only expressing our present feelings, but we are committing that our actions in their presence and when apart will demonstrate this commitment. 

Saying I love you, then, is a...

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You’re right. (DW#441)

We have been discussing the best words and phrases to say in a close relationship. Last week we explored the importance of speaking up when we disagree with something or see it differently. 

Today’s phrase is the other side of the equation. Saying "you’re right" can be very calming and disarming to a loved one who is trying to get a point across. It can be very tempting to go into defensive mode when a spouse or a family member is expressing a complaint. Stubbornly sticking to our point of view in the face of all evidence, however, can be exhausting, emotionally draining and very damaging to the relationship. So if we can just breathe, calm ourselves in the moment and try to see even a grain of truth in what they are trying to express, we will be richly rewarded. 

Research by Dr. John Gottman has shown that this is particularly challenging for men and men who are able to accept influence from their wives are much happier and are in happier relationships. Of...

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