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Affair proofing your marriage (DW#369)

As we wrap up the discussion on infidelity, let’s do a quick review on how best to protect our relationships:

  • Given how easy it is to become emotionally attached, we need to invest our attention wisely
  • When we feed a friendship inappropriately, we are starving our marriage
  • We need to become aware of the myths and realities around marital infidelity
  • We need to recognize and evaluate the risk of infidelity and become intentional in setting boundaries in our marriage
  • There are four kinds of marriage which are particularly susceptible to infidelity and we can take steps to avoid our relationships being
o   Intimacy avoidant
o   Conflict avoidant
o   Too focused on children (or work, family etc.) at the expense of our spouses
o   Sexually starved
  • We need to understand the difference between privacy and secrecy to make sure that we not keeping secrets from our spouse which will lead to an erosion of trust
  • We need to...
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The myths around infidelity (DW#367)

For some of us, this discussion about infidelity in marriage has been a difficult subject to explore. And others may feel that it is irrelevant because it is not something that they will likely deal with. 

Given the temptations that we have been discussing, and the ease with which friends can cross boundaries into becoming "Not Just Friends", it is wise to be aware of the risk and be proactive and intentional in protecting our families. 

Just before we wrap up the discussion, let's consider some myths about affairs that Shirley Glass shatters in her book Not "Just Friends": Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity 

·       Myth: Affairs happen in unhappy or unloving marriages.
 
Fact: Affairs can happen in good marriages. Affairs are less about love and more about sliding across boundaries.

 

·       Myth: Affairs occur mostly because of sexual attraction.

Fact: The...
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A reversal of boundaries leads to instability of structure (DW#362)

Shirley Glass explains that when a marriage is sliding towards infidelity, the arrangement of walls and windows gradually shifts, until the window and wall situation is completely reversed. 

Over time, a wall is built between married partners. The big picture window, once so clear, shrinks down between them. Soon, a wall is put up in its place. There may still be a window there, but it’s very small and cloudy. There’s very little communication, and eventually, at least one partner has shut out the other.

Simultaneously, a window has opened up between one of the partners and a separate love interest, the affair partner. That person then becomes the person they are primarily communicating with routinely.
 
In this situation, the affair partner is now the one on the inside. The relationship partner is on the outside, behind a wall.

Once this happens, it is very challenging to reverse the situation (because there is pleasure on one hand and guilt on the other -...
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Understand the difference between privacy and secrecy (DW#355)

One of the things that makes marriages vulnerable to infidelity is the keeping of secrets. Sometimes people try to rationalize the keeping of secrets by claiming the right to privacy but there are major differences between privacy and secrecy that we need to understand to protect the integrity of our relationships.

Privacy is the state of being unobserved, being free from public attention such as when you are changing your clothes or grooming yourself, for example. It comes from a sense of modesty or of having a need for personal boundaries and space. It is healthy to have privacy for oneself, even in a relationship. It is important for spouses to give each other privacy based on a sense of trust and respect.

Secrecy, on the other hand, is the act of keeping things hidden or of withholding information in order to mislead. This sometimes comes from a sense of fear – fear of being found out or of the other person’s reaction if they were to find out. People keep secrets...

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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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Express physical affection (DW#345)

Science is making it clear that our brains and our bodies are designed to thrive with affectionate touch from our loved ones.

While we affectionately hug and cuddle young children naturally, this seems to taper off as they grow, although human beings never actually outgrow their need for loving touch.

Various studies have shown that people of all ages experience increases in physical and emotional wellbeing when they experience affectionate and appropriate touch.

Studies have found that when a husband holds his wife's hand during labour, for example, her pain measurably decreases. And interestingly, the more empathy a person feels for the person in pain, the more their brains are synchronized and the feeling of pain diminishes.

Scientists have also found that subliminal touching (touching so subtle that it’s not consciously perceived) dramatically increases a person’s sense of well-being and positive feelings toward the ‘toucher’.

One study found that people...

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The 60 second secret to great relationships (DW#342)

It is human nature that we begin to take what is going well for granted. Our brains have a default setting to pay attention only when something is off or not to our liking.

Intentional relationships that bring us joy require us to switch off our default settings. They require that we begin to notice all the things that our family members do on a daily basis that are pleasing or make our life better in some way.

And then to share our appreciation with them.

It is a simple but powerful practice to pay attention to what is going well.

I call it the 60 second way to turn a relationship around.

Start noticing what they are doing right, and express your appreciation for it and then watch the magic happen.
You’re welcome

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The magic ratio (DW#340)

Let’s be realistic. Every exchange that we have with others will not be positive. In fact, the closer and older the relationship we have with another, especially our family members, the more likely that there will be times when we are less than our best selves (to put it mildly!)

Thankfully, our close relationships can survive with a bit of negativity. But in order to thrive, we do need to keep the negative interactions to a minimum.

According to Dr. John Gottman’s extensive research, there is a very specific ratio that makes marital love last.

That "magic ratio" is 5 to 1. This means that for every negative interaction, a stable and happy couple has five (or more) positive interactions with each other.

What this means for love in our relationships is that even during conflict, we need to be intentional about keeping the tone respectful and friendly, show signs of affection, humor and fondness for the other.

In other words we can find OTLs even when the other person is...

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Your love hormone (DW#336)

Have you heard of oxytocin?

Oxytocin is called the "bonding hormone" because it surges during sexual activity between people and during lactation in nursing mothers. When oxytocin surges within, human beings feel good and bond with another human being, creating new attachments or cementing existing ones.

The surge of oxytocin is so large during these particular moments of relationship activity that until recently, scientists did not realise that oxytocin is also released during subtler and low key moments, such as playing or cuddling with your children, getting to know someone new, sharing a personal story, trusting someone or being trusted by them.

During such everyday activities oxytocin is also released, leading to good feelings and attachments with others.

Oxytocin also works in another way. It turns off the "alarm system" of the brain by calming the amygdala so that you can put down your guard and get closer to the other person. To put it another way, the release of oxytocin...

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