Celebrate love

Its here. Valentine's Day.

The day that can lead to feelings of sadness for the single ones and to the stress of high expectations for those who are in romantic relationships.

We hear murmurings of "why do we need a special day?", "we should love each other every day", etc etc.

Yes, we definitely "should". AND it is easy to get distracted by the busyness of life. It sometimes helps to get a gentle nudge to get us to pay attention.

This Valentines Day, how about letting all the consumerism, paganism (!), political madness against the holiday be what it is.

And consider taking a moment to acknowledge, appreciate and celebrate the loved ones in our lives today.

With or without the cheesy cards!

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It takes one

Have you heard the old adage, "it takes two to make a marriage work"? Most times we just accept this saying as true, thinking that unless both people work equally at a relationship, it is doomed to fail.

But here is the thing: if I asked you to fight with your spouse tonight, chances are that you can singlehandedly do that. All of us know which triggers and buttons to push to start a fight.

If we can singlehandedly start a fight or negatively impact our relationship, is it not possible that we can also singlehandedly turn it around for the better?

It may not be as easy as you'd like. After all, it is so much easier to wait for the other person to make the first move, isn't it?

Easy but not very effective! Waiting for the other person to change before we change is how many couples get stuck and distressed.

Relationships are a system of cause and effect. Once we change, the system itself changes.

So, why not make the first move?

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Ask for what you need

Wouldn't it be lovely if our significant others always knew what we wanted and needed without being told?

While it may be okay to wish this, we sometimes get frustrated when our spouse cannot
read our minds because we have told ourselves "they ought to know".

We begin to expect them to read our minds and predict what we need without having to ask for it.

Not only is this highly unrealistic, it is also a bit silly to blame someone for not being able to read our minds, don't you think?

Women, in particular, seem to find it challenging to ask for what they want.

Once you get the hang of it, however, it becomes much easier (and saves so much time!) to ask for what we need in simple and clear terms.

Try these on for practice!

- it is valentine's day next week. It would make me very happy if you plan an evening out for us.
- It would mean a lot to me if you tried harder to talk to my brother in law even though I know you don't find anything in common with him.
- Can you please watch Samir on...

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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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