Create conflict free times and zones

Let's face it. If you are in a long term relationship, chances are that is at least some conflict in your relationship. This is normal and even healthy.

The 'masters of relationships' also have many areas of conflict in their lives but they manage to keep conflict in its place.

One way to 'keep conflict in its place' is to declare some times and zones in your life as conflict free. This means you will not let conflict intrude into these times and places.

It is a good idea, for example, to declare the bedroom and the dining table as sacred, conflict free zones. When you and your spouse are there, it is a time of amnesty, so to speak. You leave conflict out of these areas. You focus on things in your life other than conflict talk.

It may also be useful to declare early morning, late night and the first few minutes when you meet after a day apart as conflict free times.

After all, you did not get together with your spouse just to deal with conflict, did you?

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It’s all in your head

family positive thinking Feb 08, 2017

How and what we think about often has an impact on our relationships in addition to what we say or do.

What we think about day in and day out subtly influences how we approach our spouse and in turn influences how they will respond.

The decision to improve our relationship, therefore, begins in our mind.

So, choose to extend loving thoughts to your spouse throughout the day today, even (and especially) when they are not around.

Intentionally bring to mind something you like about them, some kindness or love that they have shown you or some pleasant interaction that you may have had in the past.

Hold that thought for at least 15 seconds. (This is the time it takes for a thought to begin to change our brain chemistry)

Soften and allow yourself to smile at the memory or the thought.

Repeat often for best results :)

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Look for what is right

Sometimes, when we feel underappreciated, we can get into a cycle where we are only focusing on what our spouse is doing wrong.

We can unconsciously start looking for things that they are doing wrong, "scanning the environment" for mistakes that they have made.

And guess what? We will always find what we are looking for!

Happy couples on the other hand, intentionally look for things that their partner is doing right. They get into the habit of catching each other at their best.

And they appreciate each other on a regular basis.

The good news is that focusing on what is right is a habit that can be learnt with intentionality and practice.

So start by intentionally noticing the tiniest thing that your spouse does which is right. If they are helping you or doing something for you, resist the temptation to correct or second guess them.

Instead focus on the intention which they are offering their service, however imperfect it may be according to your own standards.

Voice your...

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Express interest

Rekindling a friendship with your spouse is remarkably simple.

It can begin with expressing interest in their world – internal or external.

To learn what is happening in your partner's world, ask open ended questions that show you are interested in their day-to-day life. We sometimes forget to check in with our partner or fail to respond to their attempts to connect. Over time this can create serious damage to the relationship.

It can be as simple as asking, "How was your day?"

And of course, listening to the answer!

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The masters and disasters of relationships

parenting relationships Feb 02, 2017

Dr. John Gottman is the grandfather of research into what makes relationships last. He calls couples who remain happily married over the long term 'the masters of relationship' and the ones who do not make it or are unhappily married the 'disasters of relationship'.


Dr. Gottman has found that the number of problems or issues in happy and unhappy relationships are often the same. The masters of relationship, however, have managed to protect the good stuff in their relationship from being corroded by the bad stuff.


In other words, the masters of relationship manage to remain friends even while they argue or disagree or face conflict.


A deep friendship, Dr. Gottman explains, is at the heart of a good marriage.


So are you friends with your spouse?

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Do you know what it takes to make a relationship work?

Many of us grow up receiving all sorts of relationship advice.

Especially when we are getting married, well meaning aunties, uncles and married peers are ever ready to dish out their view of what we must to make our marriage work.

But how many of us go beyond this advice to explore what it takes to make a relationship work, especially in the 21st century?

Leo Buscaglia in his great book, Love writes: "If he desired to know about automobiles, he would, without question, study diligently about automobiles. If his wife desired to be a gourmet cook, she'd certainly study the art of cooking, perhaps even attending a cooking class. Yet, it never seems as obvious to him that if he wants to live in love, he must spend at least as much time as the auto mechanic or the gourmet in studying love."
Well, lucky for us, the science of relationships has grown up in the last couple of decades and we now have solid research to tell us exactly what makes or breaks a relationship. We can actually study...

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Let’s talk about love

Its that time of the year again. The time of the year when Hallmark and Facebook start talking about romantic love and force us to confront the reality of the state of our own unions.

So let's talk about love.

How do you think about love? Is love a noun or a verb for you?

The idea that we have in our heads about what love is, and what it takes to have a loving relationship greatly impacts our experience of it.

So, how do you think about love? Is love a noun? Something that happens to you, do you think people fall in and out of love?

Or is love a verb for you, it is love something that you practice, by acting in loving ways?

Through out the month of February, we will explore the idea of love in relationships and talk about simple but powerful ways to improve the relationships in our lives.

Although the focus in on romantic relationships, the principles of relationships are remarkably similar whether they be with our spouses, our children, our family of origin or our friends.


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A time to light candles rather than curse the darkness

family relationships Jan 30, 2017

Many of us are feeling fearful, angry, powerless and despondent in the current political climate. The world seems to be dissolving in front of our eyes and we seem unable to be able to do anything to stop it.

It is so very tempting to rail and wail about how unfair and oppressive the current world order is. This temptation is fanned and fueled by social media. Yesterday, I found myself drowning in a vortex of Facebook posts updating and commenting on unfolding events. I felt powerless, defeated and very very sad.

What are we to do?

While it is important to speak up, protest and register our dissent, there is a danger that these actions will so consume us that they will distract us from positive and proactive action.

More than ever, we need to focus on our purpose. Become a force for good and light candles in whatever way we can.

In addition to doing what we must to protest, let us not stop there. Let us show some extra kindness, befriend a neighbor, hug a child. Plant a tree.


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Give yourself permission to have a bad day

Some days no matter how hard we try we just cannot seem to get it together, live our purpose, be our best selves, be productive, get over a bad mood . . .

One option on days such as these is to simply accept it as an off day. Have some compassion for ourselves and recognize that this too shall pass.

Tomorrow is another day and another chance to get back on track. Inshallah.

I am often surprised that such phases end quicker than when I try to resist them and make myself wrong for having an off day.

So go on. Next time you are having a bad day, be kind to yourself and take it easy.

Just try and stay out of other people's way ;)

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The only thing left to do now

For the last couple of weeks, we have been talking about setting goals effectively so that you have the best chance of achieving these goals. (Here are the archives in case you missed one or more of the emails)

There is only thing left to do now.

Take action.

Start taking action towards your goals on a daily basis. You do NOT need to figure out all the steps necessary to achieve your goals before you start taking action.

You do NOT need to see the whole staircase in order to take the first step.

At this point, all you need to do is take the first step, the next action. That is all.

Quite simple really.

Magic starts happening when you get in motion.

The journey of a thousand miles, as they say, begins with the first step.

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