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Go on a date (DW#557)

As your marriage ages it is very easy to let go of the rituals of early romantic love. The masters of relationships, however, know that the intentionality of continuing to date your partner is a wise investment for the long term health of your marriage. 

So what makes a date a date? 
1)   It is "we" time when you focus on connecting with your partner and catch up with what has been on their mind and occupying their attention. 
2)   It is NOT a time to problem solve or talk about issues in your relationship (that is a very different ritual)
3)   Try to stay away from the business of running a house and a family.  Your children are very important and if you focus on connecting as friends you will be better parents to your children
4)   It is time to focus on your friendship as a couple apart from the issues that may be plaguing your relationship at the time. Intentional love means that you don’t...

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Express affection (DW#556)

This week we are continuing with our series on hacking your marriage which simply means developing and implementing short but powerful rituals for a strong relationship.

Time investment for today’s hack is about 5 minutes a day or a total of 35 minutes per week.

Do you believe that in order to express affection you have to necessarily feel loving or affectionate? Do you wait for the feelingof affection before you engage in affectionate behaviour?

Research shows that happy couples actually develop habits of affectionate behaviour which in turn lead to feelings of affection.


In other words, expressing physical affection when you’re together is vital to feeling connected to each other. So for today’s marriage hack, make sure to take a few moments to cuddle each other before falling asleep and take a moment to kiss goodnight. 

These moments of affection are a great way to let go of the minor stressors and annoyances that have built up over the...

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Admire and appreciate your spouse (DW#555)`

Today’s marriage hack requires a time investment of 35 minutes per week (5 minutes a day x 7 days)

What thoughts do you have about your spouse? Do you focus on their shortcomings or on what you admire about them? Regular admiration and appreciation of your spouse fuels the flames of love. It reminds us why we got together with them in the first place. 

So try making and keeping an ongoing "admiration list". Record small and big things that you admire and connect them to a trait that you appreciate in your spouse. 

And then pick something from the list to express your fondness and admiration to them every day. 

Why do you need to make a list? Because on the days when they are driving you crazy or when you are in the midst of conflict it may be very hard to remember!

And how do we express this appreciation? 

Be specific and mention how this trait or habit of theirs impacts you in a positive way. 
Here is an example: "Thanks for helping out with the dishes...

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Be intentional about greetings (DW#554)

Todays marriage hack requires a time investment of 1 hour and 40 minutes per week (20 minutes a day x 5 working days)

What is the first thing that you do when you meet each other after spending time apart during the day? 

Here are the two rituals that yield great benefits for your relationships.

1)   The 6 second kiss. Share a hug and kiss that lasts at least six seconds. Dr. Gottman calls this a "kiss with potential." The six-second kiss is a ritual of connection that is worth coming home to.Time investment can be as little as six seconds a day. Really. 
2)   The 20-minute stress-reducing conversation. Talk to each other about the day’s happenings. Listen and empathize with your partner. Let them know that you understand the stressors and issues that they are currently facing. Take their side (Do NOT try to get them to see another perspective at this time). This is NOT the time to give advice!

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Be intentional about goodbyes (DW#553)

Today's marriage hack requires a time investment of 2 minutes per day x 5 working days (10 minutes per week)

The task: To learn one thing that will be happening in your spouse’s life that day before you say goodbye. Ask open-ended questions about the scheduled happenings that day. 

Do they have a significant appointment that day? What are they looking forward to? Concerned about? 

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Hack your marriage in 6 hours (DW#552)

One of the most solid evidence based programs for enriching a marriage or turning it around are the Gottman marriage programs. If couples agree to taking part in the research for the institute, they are followed after taking the program to see what if any changes they have implemented and maintained in the relationship after taking the program. 

The researchers have found something rather interesting: the couples who are able to transform their relationships and create lasting change do not do anything dramatic or earth shattering. In fact, they spend few a minutes a day (an average of six extra hours a week) on nurturing their relationships through simple but significant practices and rituals. And the way these couples divide these six hours follows a predictable pattern. 

So, are you ready to invest these magic six hours a week? (You may be currently spending more time than that engaging in conflict . . .)

You may be pleasantly surprised to learn how easy these practices...

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Be a friendly observer (DW#551)

Eli Finkel, a researcher at Northwestern University is the one who popularized the term marriage hack in his popular TED talk which is based on his book The All or Nothing Marriage

Here is a summary of his most significant research finding about happy couples: Over the period of a year, couples in a study were asked to think about their disagreements from a third-person perspective—from the perspective of a neutral party who wanted the best for all involved. So they practiced viewing the conflict from an objective perspective, without their own emotions involved. The study found that these couples were more likely to be satisfied in their marriage than the couples who could only see their own side during conflict. 

What can we learn from this?
1)    It does not mean that these couples did not disagree or fight.
2)    It shows that they practiced some key aspects of emotional intelligence:

a.   ...
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Think: That’s just like them! (DW#549)

Today’s marriage hack is the flip side of yesterday’s.

Smart couples have a particular way of thinking about their spouses when they do something which is positive or pleasing. 

They believe that this quality is "just like them". That it is permanent and a part of their true character. 

For example:
My wife helped me pack for my trip: that is just like her. Always making sure that I have everything that I need when I am travelling. 
My husband did the math homework with my son yesterday. That is so like him. He is happy to do whatever it takes to help his children succeed at school. 
My husband got up early to shovel the snow this morning. He is always concerned that we have a clear driveway for when we leave for work and school. He really cares about our family’s safety. 
My wife called my family over for Eid just like she does every year. She goes out of her way to make sure that the family gets together and is welcomed into our home. She is...

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Yield to win (DW#546)

Today’s marriage hack is especially important for husbands (did you think that I would only focus on the wives?!).

A disclaimer: to be honest, this is not really a hack – in that it is not a simple and quirky thing that you can do – but it is really really important.

Dr. Gottman believes that one of the keys to a successful marriage is the emotional intelligence of husbands. How does this emotional intelligence show up in marriage? It is when men accept their wives’ influence in small and big matters.

In a long-term study of 130 newlywed couples, Dr. Gottman and his colleagues discovered that men who allow their wives to influence them have happier marriages and are less likely to divorce. Women, it seems, are better at accepting influence and yielding to advice than men and even in unhappy relationships, women are already doing this. In unhappy marriages, Gottman found that men tend to withdraw from conflict, stonewall their spouses and...

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Show off (a little) (DW#545)

Today’s marriage hack is especially important for women: we women tend to bond over sharing our woes and life’s challenges. We believe that it brings us closer to others. And one of the challenges that we sometimes talk about and bond over, are the (perceived) failings and foibles of our spouses.

Make no mistake: this habit (which we think is harmless fun) is destructive for our relationships. Our spouses do not think it is funny or cute when we are sharing their idiosyncrasies in public.

This habit is also destructive in another way. It normalizes low expectations from men and marriage, and it normalizes talking about our spouses in a disrespectful way. It is no wonder that modern society in general and young people in particular are so disenchanted with the institution of marriage.

So instead of complaining about your marriage or your spouse, try this hack: Try bragging a little. Compliment your spouse in public. Point out their positive qualities. Talk about what they...

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