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Spring is springing. Are you? (DW#372)

I love spring. 

Something changes in the air – at the beginning of spring the change is very subtle, especially in Canada, where the start of spring is often marked by winter resisting the change in season and stubbornly refusing to leave. Yet the days are getting longer, there is hope in the air and there is the promise of warmer days to come. 

The earth is ripe with potential in the spring, even if the ground appears to be covered with snow at the moment. Soon it will begin to whisper and tiny hints of green will begin to appear amid the bareness of winter. Once the first shoots come out, the growth will be rapid. Each morning presenting a new display of the glory of nature and the lessons we can learn from it. 

Spring is the perfect time for personal growth and renewal as well. As nature wakes up, lets wake up ourselves up as well and reflect on what potential is lying dormant within us, waiting for the tiniest bit of encouragement to begin to unfold and grow as...

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The myths around infidelity (DW#367)

For some of us, this discussion about infidelity in marriage has been a difficult subject to explore. And others may feel that it is irrelevant because it is not something that they will likely deal with. 

Given the temptations that we have been discussing, and the ease with which friends can cross boundaries into becoming "Not Just Friends", it is wise to be aware of the risk and be proactive and intentional in protecting our families. 

Just before we wrap up the discussion, let's consider some myths about affairs that Shirley Glass shatters in her book Not "Just Friends": Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity 

·       Myth: Affairs happen in unhappy or unloving marriages.
 
Fact: Affairs can happen in good marriages. Affairs are less about love and more about sliding across boundaries.

 

·       Myth: Affairs occur mostly because of sexual attraction.

Fact: The...
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The 36 Questions that lead to love (DW#366)

Have you heard of the 36 questions that lead to love?

 
The theory behind this experiment was that mutual vulnerability fosters closeness.
 
The authors said: "One key pattern associated with the development of a close relationship among peers is sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personal self-disclosure."

Being vulnerable with another person can be exceedingly difficult (especially these days when we spend so much effort in self-protection), and so this exercise encouraged self disclosure by asking a set of structured and increasingly personal questions. 

The study involved asking strangers to engage in a 45 minute conversation where they asked each other the set questions. After 45 minutes of engaging in such a dialogue, the participants that they felt closer to the other person and...
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Falling in love again – with the same person (DW#365)

When we are going through a period of "drought" in our relationships, it can feel sad and hopeless. The spark feels like it is just not there. Where there was tenderness and love, there is now distance and hurt.

When a relationship is in this stage, can it be saved? Can you rekindle the feelings that were once there?

Experts like Dr. Gottman believe that an easy and reliable way to stay in love or fall in love again is to maintain or rekindle the marital friendship. When you talk and act like friends, you know each other and you like each other. In other words, to know someone is to love them. 

Dr. Gottman’s term for getting to know your partner’s world is called Building Love Maps

One way to think of it is this: When you choose to spend your life with someone, you hand them a map to your inner world. Your inner world is, of course, quite complex including the memories of your past, the details of your present, your hopes for the future. It includes your...

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Boundary walls are necessary but not sufficient (DW#361)

We spent all of last week talking about the importance of boundaries and walls around your relationship to keep it protected.

Walls around the relationship, however, are not enough. In a healthy relationship, spouses have what Shirley Glass calls "large open windows" of intimacy between themselves.

On the safe side of the wall, a couple looks at each other through this clear, large, open window. This is where there is an open and honest exchange of ideas and feelings. The couple communicates well through this large opening between them.

In this healthy situation, the couple may also have close meaningful relationships outside of their connection. However, the windows between partners and their other relationships are much smaller and not as transparent.

How do we keep these "windows of intimacy" clear and transparent?

By connecting with each other by asking questions, telling stories, being honest and vulnerable, and committing to regular and reliable periods of connection. 

If...

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The smart phone affair (DW#360)

As we have been discussing, it is important to set intentional boundaries in the technological age simply because it is so easy to wander outside the marital relationship to meet our emotional and physical needs. By enabling continuous and private connection, the smart phone, for example, has vastly expanded the opportunities for marital infidelity.

Lori Cluff Schade, Ph.D., a marriage and family therapist and faculty member at Brigham Young University, writes that emotional affairs facilitated by the cell phone are among the most difficult to deal with because they are fragments of a relationship which never need to face the challenges of real face to face relationships. This keeps them fresh, alluring and difficult to break off. 

She outlines 7 ways that smartphones encourage and exacerbate marital infidelity that are really worth understanding: 

1.    Immediate and ongoing connection: Since your phone is always with you, you...
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Emotional boundaries (DW#358)

All of us crave to be seen, known and understood. We benefit from having relationships where we can share our hopes, dreams and fears, occasionally vent our emotions and also seek advice. When we allow ourselves to be known in this way, it creates vulnerability and a deep emotional bond. 

It can be difficult for one person (our spouse) to meet all of our emotional and friendship needs, and both men and women benefit from having good friends outside our marital relationships. 

Having said that, sharing such an emotional bond with a member of the opposite sex leads us into a big danger zone. Confiding in the opposite sex opens doors to emotional bonds that can easily turn others into more than "just friends". 

As Shirley Glass explains, "The new infidelity is between people who unwittingly form deep, passionate connections before realizing that they’ve crossed the line from platonic friendship into romantic love. Eighty-two percent of the unfaithful partners...

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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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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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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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