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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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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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Think loving thoughts (DW#346)

Today’s OTL can be done all on your own.

The practice is to intentionally think positive thoughts about your loved one when they are not present with you.

It is clear that how and what we think about has an impact on our relationships because it ends up influencing the way we act and the way we talk to them.

When we intentionally bring to mind something we like about our loved ones, some kindness or love that they have shown us or some pleasant interaction that we may have had in the past, it allows our heart to soften and we can act in loving ways when we do see them.
So go ahead. Set a reminder if you have to.

Think loving thoughts and hold the thoughts 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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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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