Blog

I’d love to get your opinion (DW#442)

There are so many decisions we make on a daily basis: about work, about the household, about our own schedule and about the family. 

While it is not realistic or feasible to seek counsel from our spouses or loved ones on every small decision, there are so many small and not-so-small decisions that impact the whole family. When we can ask our significant others for their input on decisions, it benefits the relationship in many ways: 

1)   It expresses trust in the other: Requesting someone’s thoughts on a matter lets the other person know how important his or her opinions are to you. By singling that person out as your go-to for advice, you’re expressing that you trust his or her judgment. The advice-giver will likely get a confidence boost, feeling like an expert in relationships, career advancement, or whatever else you need help with. 

2)   It is a sign of respect: What we do impacts those who are close to us. If we...

Continue Reading...

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...

Continue Reading...

I disagree (DW#440)

This one may seem counter-intuitive but families that have regular disagreements or arguments may be happier and healthier than those that never disagree because the families that express themselves are not keeping their feelings bottled up and brewing resentment inside. 

Keeping the peace by avoiding conflict and not expressing needs and opinions may be an okay short term strategy but it is an awful long term strategy. Unless you are a truly enlightened being, you have things that bother you and things that you need to express that may upset others in the short term but that will be beneficial for your relationship in the long run. Going long periods of time not addressing issues that bother you or others in the family will cause emotional distance, resentment and hurt.

So an important relationship skill is to speak up (respectfully and without blame) when you do disagree with another person.  When people have the emotional safety to speak up and be heard, everyone in the...

Continue Reading...

Please and thank you (DW#439)

When we are amongst those who are closest to us, we sometimes begin to take each other for granted. Words such as ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and other forms of common courtesy that we use with strangers begin to slip away and sometimes disappear altogether.

We sometimes justify this slipping away of common courtesy by saying to ourselves that saying please and thank you should be reserved for favours that go beyond the expected responsibilities towards each other. That we do not need to thank people for ‘doing their job’ especially if they are not doing ‘their job’ up to our expectations.

Here’s the thing: such an attitude is a recipe for relationships going downhill. Even if our family members continue to ‘do their job’, they will be much more likely to do so with happiness and enthusiasm if their efforts are appreciated. As we may have experienced in our own lives, it is challenging to keep showing up as our best...

Continue Reading...

You have my support (DW#438)

All of us have areas of life in which we feel insecure and lack courage, and that lack of courage often hinders us from accomplishing the positive things that we would like to do. When we receive support from loved ones in the form of words or actions, we are encouraged to continue pursuing challenging courses of action. 

Having the support of our family members also helps us feel secure in the relationship, builds trust and intimacy and cultivates a deeper connection. 

Support is especially important during times of transition, such as a new job; a developmental change, such as the birth of a child; and grief and loss, such as the death or anniversary of a loved one’s passing.

Being there for a loved one with a compassionate presence and/or with supportive words or actions greatly eases life’s challenges for them and allows us to show our love at times when it really does matter.

What desires or goals have your loved ones expressed recently? Are they going...

Continue Reading...

Do you remember when we... (DW#437)

Talking and reminiscing about memorable events in your couple and family history allows you to celebrate how far you have come as a couple and family. How you remember and recall your past reflects how you feel about your present relationship. 

Our time together with our families is more than a collection of dates and events. All couples and families have a story to tell. There is a story about how you met, a story about your first fight, and a story about your wedding day and the birth of your children. 

How couples share what Dr. Gottman calls the "Story of Us" reflects whether their relationship is in the positive or negative perspective. And the positive or negative perspective in turn determines the future health of your relationship. 

In Gottman's studies, couples who had a positive view of their history together were more likely to stay happily together. Happy couples talked about their relationship history in a positive way and filtered the early days through a...

Continue Reading...

I love it when you . . . (DW#436)

Sometimes we get into a pattern in close relationships when the only time we tell our loved ones how they are impacting our lives is when they are falling short. 

While complaining certainly has its place, it is very helpful to practice giving information about what pleases us as well. We can begin by noticing what our loved ones are already doing right, and how they are impacting our lives in a positive way. And then sharing it with them. 

Appreciation, as we have said before, really is the secret sauce of relationships. In fact, the more we appreciate what is already happening in a relationship, the more likely it is that we will see more of it. And the happier we all are, the giver and the recipient of appreciation. It makes all the hard work of relationships worth it.

So, let's practice this formula:

I love it when you do x in situation y
I love it when you have the food ready when I come home from work
I love it when you take care of our toddler so I can sleep in on...

Continue Reading...

I feel... (DW#435)

Many of us have been trained to deny, suppress or hide feelings from others, and sometimes even from ourselves. Suppressing and hiding feelings is almost guaranteed to result in personal distress, and in emotional distance and detachment in relationships as opposed to connection. 

And so it is a good idea to practice emotional literacy – that is to get in touch with what we are feeling – and then to share those feelings with our loved ones to build connection and intimacy. 

The first step to sharing feelings is, of course, to recognize and label the feeling itself. 

Once we recognize how we are feeling, sharing those feelings is quite simple, really. It begins with two short words: "I feel….". 

I feel happy.
I feel neglected.
I feel respected.
I feel grateful.
I feel distraught.

Notice that there is no "I feel that  . . .". The word "that" usually indicates that what will follow is going to be a thought, not a feeling. 

For...

Continue Reading...

Tell me more. (DW#434)

Today’s phrase, "tell me more", is one of those phrases that is multi-purpose and an overall great communication tool.

Tell me more can be used when you want to encourage the other person to talk more and share what is going on for them, especially if they are slow to open up. 

Tell me more can be used as a way to buy time for yourself and calm down when you have just heard something which is triggering you. Think of it as a way to give your brain a chance to respond rather than react. It is especially useful when you know that your first reaction is likely to shut down the other person rather than continue communication (such as when you "freak out" at something your children are telling you).

Tell me more can be used when you are really interested in something and genuinely are curious to learn more about what the other person is saying. It is a great way to learn from others and build friendship at the same time as people blossom at the chance to talk about...

Continue Reading...

How can I help? (DW#433)

One of the best ways we can be supportive to our love ones is to actually ask them how they would like to be supported. 

Whether it is the morning panic to leave the house, a particularly stressful time at work or another life stressor, asking how we can help lighten their load is more effective than guessing how they would prefer to be supported by us. 

So the next time a loved one appears stressed or overburdened, simply ask: How can I help? Just knowing that someone is willing to do what it takes to ease our situation can be hugely de-stressing in itself. 

Continue Reading...
Close

50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.