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Understand the difference between privacy and secrecy (DW#355)

One of the things that makes marriages vulnerable to infidelity is the keeping of secrets. Sometimes people try to rationalize the keeping of secrets by claiming the right to privacy but there are major differences between privacy and secrecy that we need to understand to protect the integrity of our relationships.

Privacy is the state of being unobserved, being free from public attention such as when you are changing your clothes or grooming yourself, for example. It comes from a sense of modesty or of having a need for personal boundaries and space. It is healthy to have privacy for oneself, even in a relationship. It is important for spouses to give each other privacy based on a sense of trust and respect.

Secrecy, on the other hand, is the act of keeping things hidden or of withholding information in order to mislead. This sometimes comes from a sense of fear – fear of being found out or of the other person’s reaction if they were to find out. People keep secrets...

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Evaluate your vulnerabilities (DW#353)

One of the most important and proactive conversations you can have with your spouse is to evaluate your vulnerabilities to temptation.

While it is tempting to ignore these and even hide them, one of the best things you can do for your relationship is to discuss these openly. This way you and your spouse are a team fighting a challenge to your relationship rather than alone on opposite sides.

So do you have a job, a volunteer position or a passion that involves being away a lot? Being away from home in tempting environments can create challenges. What is your plan for dealing with these challenges and temptations? What rules and boundaries do you have in place to keep connected with your spouse and stay away from temptation?

Do you have a personality that is very empathetic or affectionate? Are you a really good listener? Do you naturally help those who are distressed? While these are positive qualities, they do attract many people towards you and they also leave you vulnerable to...

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Recognize the risk (DW#352)

It is sad when I meet couples who are in committed and stable relationships but have been blindsided by infidelity because they never ever considered the possibility that it could happen to them.

So the first step to protecting your relationship is to recognize that no marriage is immune from the risk. Infidelity happens in every social circle and even amongst strongly practicing religious families.

We live in a society where we spend much of the time outside the home and away from families, ether at work, volunteering or studying. We may come across temptation when we least expect it and are not prepared.

A casual conversation that starts out innocently enough can slide into an inappropriate relationship unless we take intentional steps to set personal and relationship boundaries.

And we can only prepare and set boundaries if we are aware that temptation exists. And that we need to take proactive steps to guard our relationships.

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Invest your attention and affection wisely (DW#351)

Over the last several days, we have been discovering how simple it is to grow love in small and seemingly insignificant ways. Hopefully you have added some of these rituals to your own relationships and have been enjoying the results.

There is, however, one important and possibly uncomfortable conversation that we still need to have about the easiness with which love can grow.

The micro-moments of positivity resonance, as we have discovered, happen when two or more people share a positive moment of emotional connection together. The "biology of love", however, does not discriminate between committed and casual relationships.

To put it another way, it is almost as easy (and sometimes easier) to share these moments with strangers than with our own loved ones. This is because strangers don’t come with the baggage that accompanies the challenges of sharing daily life with another human being.

This is why we need to be on guard and recognize that we need to be intentional about...

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Recap: Taking small opportunities to grow love (DW#350)

Over the last few days, we have been talking about building love by taking advantage of the micro-moments of connectivity and positivity resonance.

So many of these OTLs (opportunities to practice love) seem so tiny that it is difficult to imagine how they could transform our relationships.

But think of it this way: a huge ship can change direction simply by moving the trim tab. The trim tab is a tiny thing at the edge of the rudder. It looks like a miniature rudder. Just moving this little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. It takes almost no effort at all but can change the direction of the entire ship.

So think of these OTLs as having the power of the trim tab. Just as moving the trim tab can change the direction in which you are heading, adding these OTLs can transform the direction in which your relationship is heading.

Which of these are easy for you and which are the most challenging?

  1. Build the bank account by focusing on deposits rather than...
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Be mindful of greetings (DW#349)

Here is your daily dose of Wisdom for Living Your Best Self!

Ever have a day when things have gone completely off track? Everything seems to have gone wrong, you are at the end of your rope and you cannot wait for your significant other to get home to vent. To "have it out" with them or just to "let it all out".

Consider this: The first few minutes of the interaction after you have been away from each other sets the tone for the rest of the evening.

If you can just hang in there for just a little bit longer, greet your significant other and welcome them, the effort will be worth your while.

It is much more productive to have a de-stressing conversation when both of you are calm, connected and ready to listen.

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Take a moment to say goodbye (DW#348)

Mornings can be a very busy time in families. People rushing to wake up, eat (or not!), get ready and get out of the door to make it in time for work, school or chores.

We are often busy thinking about what is ahead of us and may miss an important time of the day to connect with loved ones before everyone heads out of the door.

So take a moment to connect and say goodbye. Ask about what is ahead for them that day. What are they looking forward to or concerned about?

A simple ritual like this doesn’t take much time or energy. But it has a powerful impact on our personal well being and sense of connection with our loved ones.

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Celebrate their good fortune (DW#347)

Barbara Frederickson in her book Love 2.0 focuses on two different types of love: compassionate love and celebratory love.

Compassionate love is when our hearts open up to feel someone’s pain and we wish them a sense of well-being.

Celebratory love is, as the name implies, when we witness someone else’s happiness or good fortune and CELEBRATE it with them.

How do we do this?

When we see someone with a spring in their step and a smile on their face, we can take a moment to celebrate their apparent happiness and beam them a silent, virtual high five!

Barbara silently says to herself, "May your happiness and good fortune continue!"

Also when a loved one shares a story about their success with you, CELEBRATE IT!!!

While much counseling focuses on helping couples and families deal with the challenges in their relationships, Fredrickson’s research suggests that it’s actually WAY more important to get REALLY good at celebrating the POSITIVE stuff!

So today’s...

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More than a peck (DW#344)

According to our friend Dr. Gottman, couples should kiss for at least 6 seconds at a time, every day, to maintain a healthy relationship.

Why six seconds? According to Dr. Gottman, this "kiss with potential" is "long enough to feel romantic," yet it doesn’t make the kids late for school :)

It turns out that kissing has many many health benefits as well: it releases oxytocin, the bonding hormone, which means that the more you kiss, the more you bond.

Kissing also releases dopamine, which stimulates the pleasure centers of your brain. The butterflies you get in your stomach when you kiss? They come from epinephrine and norepinephrine, which increase your heartbeat and send oxygenated blood to your brain. Some studies have even shown that kissing can cause a reduction in the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone, so kissing could help lower your blood pressure and prevent heart attacks.

So for part of the OTL challenge, kiss your spouse for 6 seconds twice a day for the...

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The eyes are the gateway to the heart (DW#343)

When was the last time you looked your spouse in the eye?

When we are first courting, we may spend a long time lovingly gazing into each other’s eyes but this becomes a rarity in long term committed relationships.

Yet scientists believe that eye contact may well be the most potent trigger for connection and oneness. Although hearing someone’s voice such as over a telephone, may sometimes create a micro-moment of connection, physical presence is generally essential for bonding and attachment.

A meeting of the eyes then, is a key gateway to neural synchrony. When you look another person in the eye, your brains activity synchronizes and in some ways, the two brains start behaving as one.

So for today’s OTL challenge, find an opportunity to look your spouse in the eye. It can feel weird and vulnerable at first, especially if you have not done this in a while.

Please don’t let it stop you.

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