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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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The choice that will determine the future of your marriage (DW#371)

Both happy and unhappy marriages have one thing in common: there are times when things are not going so well.

During such a period, there is a major choice point for you. According to research by Dr. Gottman and others (of 40,000+ couples), how you think and what you do during this time will determine the future of your relationship: 

The betrayal choice: 
When things go badly 

  • Don’t voice complaints to partner
  • Instead:
    • Keep them in the dark about how you are feeling
    • Trash partner to others
    • Make negative comparisons –
"I could do better elsewhere"
  • Nurture resentment for what is missing rather than what is present
  • According to research by Rusbult: negative comparisons are the
beginning of the cascade toward infidelity


The commitment choice
When things don’t go well, 

  • Voice complaints to partner & work it out
  • Cherish partner and recognize the investment that you both have in the relationship
  • Nurture gratitude for what you have...
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What if the worst happens? (DW#370)

I know that we have been talking about affair-proofing our relationships. But what if your worst nightmare has already come to pass? What if you are in the midst of the catastrophic discovery that your marriage has been shaken to its core because of an affair?

The first question that couples going through this trauma ask is: Can our marriage be saved? Can we rebuild trust to the point where we can live with each other again?

I will not lie to you: affairs destroy marriages (not to mention the sense of self of those who are betrayed). And that is why we have been talking about prevention. 

It’s far far better and much much easier to address these issues before a storm hits. Talking about what draws us outside our boundaries, in an atmosphere of trust, can actually foster intimacy and commitment. But for many couples, unfortunately, the crisis of an affair is the first time they talk about any of what we have been discussing. 

Catastrophe, explains Esther Perel, has a way...

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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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Why do people in happy marriages cheat? (DW#368)

Esther Perel is a world-renowned authority on committed relationships and on infidelity in those committed relationships. 

In her ground-breaking new book, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity, she provides new insight into why people cheat. 

I found this book extremely useful in working with people reeling from the devastation of affairs because of one very important insight.

It is common for the betrayed spouse to lose their confidence, their sense of identity and undergo signs of emotional trauma when they discover that the person whom they trusted most in the world has betrayed them. It is common for these spouses (especially women) to question themselves and what they could have done to prevent the affair from taking place. 

This book explains that affairs have little or nothing to do with the marriage or the betrayed spouse and everything to do with the spouse who has been unfaithful. 

She explains that people have affairs as a form of...

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