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I love you (DW#444)

Have you ever heard new couples talk on the phone? They often end long phone conversations by saying "I love you" (and then "I love you more  . . ." and on and on . . .) As the relationship progresses, the "I love you" can turn into "Ok, bye", especially if there the relationship is strained or there is unaddressed conflict. 
Expressing love verbally is equally, if not more important, in long term relationships. 

Even if it is a ritual which you engage in without thinking, it is worth considering getting into the habit of saying "I love you" regularly. 
Recent research suggests that saying these three simple words is more than simply expressing your romantic feelings. It actually represents a commitment to future behavior. This implies that when we say I love you, we are not only expressing our present feelings, but we are committing that our actions in their presence and when apart will demonstrate this commitment. 

Saying I love you, then, is a...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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The top 10 worst things to say to your loved ones (DW#431)

Over the last couple of weeks, we have been exploring words and phrases that cause more harm than good in relationships.
 
While all of us might say some of these from time to time, we need to recognize that if we say them often enough, our relationships are sure to suffer.
 
So here is the "top 10" list of words and phrases to stay away from:
 
1.   "Just sayin’"
2.   "You always/you never"
3.   "You made me do it/ it’s your fault"
4.   "I’m sorry, but…"
5.   "With all due respect"
6.   "Fine, whatever"
7.   "I’ll talk to you when you can be more rational"
8.   "Not this again! Can’t you just drop it and move on?" 
9.   "If I were you . . ."
10.  "I told you so"

From tomorrow inshaAllah, we will start exploring the best things to say to your loved ones :) 
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Continue reaching out to loved ones (DW#420)

5. Maintaining Family Relationships
The month of Ramadan finds many of us trying to reach out to family, by an invitation for iftar or sending food and gifts. As the nights of Qadr approach, we are reminded about making amends with those members of our family whom we have issues with.

Through prayer and supplication, our hearts become soft, through closeness to Him, we begin to recognize the big picture and may be more amenable to forgive and overlook the small grievances that we may have been holding.

While reflecting on the Quran, we are reminded to pardon people, to manage our anger, to repel evil with good and to maintain relationships with our blood relations. We begin to recognize, once again, that He is happy with us if are human connections are in order. We are reminded that the path to Him begins with loving His creation.

Baby steps:
Regularly reach out to long forgotten family members through a phone call, email or text.

Consider inviting family to share meals with you, even if...

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Do you expect your spouse to read your mind? (DW#384)

People with fixed mindsets expect that that in an ideal relationship, the couple should be able to read each other’s minds and finish each other’s sentences. Since characteristics are fixed according to their view of the world, a lack of communication or a difference of opinion is suggestive of a fatal flaw in the relationship.
 
When Dweck invited people to talk about their relationships, she found that: Those with the fixed mindset felt threatened and hostile after talking about even minor discrepancies in how they and their partner saw their relationship. Even a minor discrepancy threatened their belief that they shared all of each other’s views.
 
For those of us who are in long term relationships we often find that we are still learning about each other even after decades of being together and can see how destructive it can be to expect the other to read our minds.
 
If we develop a growth mindset in our relationships, we have a much...
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Your mindset and your love life (DW#383)

One of the most profound applications of Dweck’s research on mindset has to do with its application to our closest relationships. 

Dweck and her colleagues found that people’s mindsets greatly impacted how they dealt with their personal relationships. 

Over the next few days let us look at key ways in which our mindset can help or hinder our family relationships. 

Firstly, Dweck’s research implies that people with a fixed mindset tend to believe that there is one special ‘soul mate’ for them, a ready made person who will complete them, make them happy and provide them with everything they have ever longed for. According to Dweck, "In the fixed mindset, the ideal is instant, perfect, and perpetual compatibility. Like it was meant to be. Like riding off into the sunset. Like "they lived happily ever after."

People with a growth mindset on the other hand, are more likely to engage with someone who has a realistic perception of them, who may see...

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The choice between growth and stagnation (DW#373)

One lesson that we can learn from nature is that there is no standing still. 

Change is an integral part of any living thing. In the medical world, in fact, the clinical definition of death is a body that does not change. In other words, change is a sign of life and the lack of change signifies death. 

There are, of course, two types of change in a living organization – there is either growth or there is decline and decay. A living organization’s life span is birth, growth, reaching its peak, decaying and then dying. 

For personal growth, we can use a similar metaphor: we can grow towards maturity and wisdom, reaching our full potential or we can fall into decay towards a metaphorical "death". Just like in nature, there is no standing still. 

Let us take a moment to reflect on which areas of our life are in a growth phase and which are in stagnation or decay. 

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Spring is springing. Are you? (DW#372)

I love spring. 

Something changes in the air – at the beginning of spring the change is very subtle, especially in Canada, where the start of spring is often marked by winter resisting the change in season and stubbornly refusing to leave. Yet the days are getting longer, there is hope in the air and there is the promise of warmer days to come. 

The earth is ripe with potential in the spring, even if the ground appears to be covered with snow at the moment. Soon it will begin to whisper and tiny hints of green will begin to appear amid the bareness of winter. Once the first shoots come out, the growth will be rapid. Each morning presenting a new display of the glory of nature and the lessons we can learn from it. 

Spring is the perfect time for personal growth and renewal as well. As nature wakes up, lets wake up ourselves up as well and reflect on what potential is lying dormant within us, waiting for the tiniest bit of encouragement to begin to unfold and grow as...

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