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How can I help? (DW#433)

One of the best ways we can be supportive to our love ones is to actually ask them how they would like to be supported. 

Whether it is the morning panic to leave the house, a particularly stressful time at work or another life stressor, asking how we can help lighten their load is more effective than guessing how they would prefer to be supported by us. 

So the next time a loved one appears stressed or overburdened, simply ask: How can I help? Just knowing that someone is willing to do what it takes to ease our situation can be hugely de-stressing in itself. 

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The best things to say in relationships (DW#432)

Over the last two weeks, we did a series of the "10 worst phrases you can say in relationships". We talked about how some words and phrases will annoy, upset and hurt others and are simply not helpful if we want to connect to others in a positive way. 

Now let’s do the opposite. Let us now explore and highlight the Best Phrases you can in say relationships. 

If we start incorporating and practicing these words and phrases in our interactions with our loved ones, we will likely see a positive change and a shift in the emotional climate of the relationship.

Today’s phrase is one that you may already be using: How was your day?

This simple daily ritual of greeting and reuniting with each other at the end of the day has the potential of improving our coping with external pressures and tensions and improving the long term health of our relationships. 

Of course, we need to ensure that when we are having this "stress-reducing conversation", we do it in a way...
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Where does family fit in? (DW#388)

After yesterday’s DW went out, some of you asked the question: which domain of life do family relationships fit in? (The domains we mentioned were mental, physical, emotional, social and spiritual relating to our minds, bodies, hearts and souls).

Strictly speaking, family relationships belong in the emotional domain of our life along with our other close relationships. This means that if any of our major relationships are conflicted, we will likely give ourselves a low score in that domain, implying that there is much room for growth in this area.

Family relationships however, are in a somewhat special category because our satisfaction with (or lack of satisfaction with) family life impacts all the other domains: there is loads of research on how a happy or unhappy marriage for example, impacts physical and mental health. So if our close relationships are causing us distress, that is likely to show up as a low score on our mental wellbeing and physical health due to stress.

...

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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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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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Falling in love again – with the same person (DW#365)

When we are going through a period of "drought" in our relationships, it can feel sad and hopeless. The spark feels like it is just not there. Where there was tenderness and love, there is now distance and hurt.

When a relationship is in this stage, can it be saved? Can you rekindle the feelings that were once there?

Experts like Dr. Gottman believe that an easy and reliable way to stay in love or fall in love again is to maintain or rekindle the marital friendship. When you talk and act like friends, you know each other and you like each other. In other words, to know someone is to love them. 

Dr. Gottman’s term for getting to know your partner’s world is called Building Love Maps

One way to think of it is this: When you choose to spend your life with someone, you hand them a map to your inner world. Your inner world is, of course, quite complex including the memories of your past, the details of your present, your hopes for the future. It includes your...

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Keeping your windows clean (DW#364)

As we have been saying, a healthy and loving relationship between spouses has large, open windows of communication. 

Sometimes, however, these windows can become clouded. Even the best relationships have times when communication is not great, there is unexpressed hurt or withholding of thought and feeling. If left alone, the windows will not clean themselves. In fact, they are likely to get more clouded over time.

When we build walls or opaque windows around ourselves to ward off hurt and disappointment, it also prevents us from feeling the joy, love and intimacy on the other side. 

To live in safe disconnection is like having cloudy windows - the light of love cannot get through. 


So how do we clean the windows of communication between ourselves and our loved ones?

It is quite simple really. 

Share your internal world, your thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams. 

Being open, honest and vulnerable is like cleaning your windows with water and vinegar. 

It is okay...

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