Tag Archives: relationship

Love, Let Us Look At It Again

Love is supposed to be a generic term but we usually associate it with romantic love. Romantic love is distinguished from the rest of its cohorts because of the specificity of the age and stage of life when it arrives, its overwhelming tidal force when it takes over, the creative outflow it unleashes, and the subjective blindness it induces by a combination of myopia and presuppositions. There is no sense in fighting it since it holds our genetic reins.

Is it bad and harmful? The answer will depend on whether you are holding a knife by its handle or its cutting edge. Holding by handle implies your ability to master the hormonal storm by which the romantic love has besieged you, and tame it until your navigation comes under control. It is more difficult than what it appears to be because the tempest is blown by Mother Nature herself who wants you to multiply without any further procrastination. Delay for her is dangerous!

We still have a choice…

Our reproductive instinct has to be tempered by our long-term thinking. That perhaps is how we have learned to curtail unwanted pregnancies all across the planet. On the flip side, however, our divorce rate continues to mount even in our tradition-bound orthodox world. That conflict between the joy of procreation and the responsibility of reproduction continues unabated. The topic of LOVE, therefore, demands continued attention. Smart children, meanwhile, will not be trapped in this parental conflict but seek a profitable exit.

Can love turn into a redeeming experience?

The answer is a qualified yes.

“Love is whole, we are pieces,” said Rumi.

If the right, matching pieces come together, they will help towards building a possibility of wholeness. Love requires every person to strive towards being better than he/she is. Thus, the missing pieces are not pre-calibrated but indeed honed and shaped by deliberation.

The two most widely used expressions – “then they fell in love” and “then they lived happily ever after” – need to have a cautious halt. One has to be watchful not to “fall in love” simply by the force of gravity. Happiness is a learned behavior so the end of the fairy tales need to be modified as: “then they learned to live happily ever after.”

Love, at first sight, is not a falsehood if it does not supplement foresight and hindsight to ensure that love does not proceed blindly. 

Where is the help when you need it the most?

Parents are subjective.

Teachers could be harsh and instructive.

Friends, though supportive, are inexperienced.

Clergy, often, carry a religious bias.

Basically, you are on your own when you take the plunge, unsure whether you will swim or sink.

As a member of the faculty in a school with young and vulnerable people, I decided to take the plunge and cheer up those who will swim and help those who may sink. I was qualified to be a Priest so I started officiating weddings, same faith or interfaith. My mission was to create faith in love and marriage at a time when young people march away from it. They need to know that even a powerful love can perish and mighty marriages can melt when a tough time tests it. 

Premarital Counseling

I know about the premarital meetings required by certain religions and that it remains constrained to religious discourse. Among young people of today, identification by religion is somewhat thinning out. I, therefore, explore with couples, through spiritual and practical exercise, how to unfold their insights. I am told repeatedly how helpful they find this experience to be. 

Young people from a similar age group talking about their own experiences can furnish some acceptably useful hints. In all professional schools, seniors help the juniors. It is amazing how little help we solicit in this way. I have seen several examples of young people in college who have uprooted their social and educational careers when they reach the critical phase of Love. Shakespeare created Romeo and Juliet to highlight a tragedy of volatile love eclipsing young people. Parenthetically, I should add that Saint Valentine was beheaded for his uniting couples in marriage!

Nevertheless, I continue to support and guide young couples determined to tie their sacred knots.

Christian and Hindu Concepts of Love

C.S. Lewis wrote a classical book on The Four Loves to reflect a Christian and a philosophical perspective of this subject. He identified four loves: Empathy Bond, Philia or Friend Bond, Eros or Romantic Love, and Agape or Godward Love. 

It comes close to our Indian concept of love in some areas. Our concept of Romantic Love leading to Agape is best illustrated in Bilvamangal, the story of the famous poet Tulsidas whose Romantic love got converted into Agape. There are numerous stories in India illustrating the metamorphosis of Romantic Love into Godward Love or Agape. That is the very direction to which marrying couples are guided in a classic Indian wedding ceremony.

It is impossible to finish writing all about LOVE. I would sum up by saying that True Love does not divide, but unites and builds bridges rather than walls. I will therefore end by quoting Mother Teressa: “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come without being happier.”

Bhagirath Majmudar, M.D. is an Emeritus Professor of Pathology and Gynecology-Obstetrics at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. Additionally, he is a priest, poet, playwright, Sanskrit Visharada, and Jagannath Sanskrit Scholar. He can be contacted at bmajmud1962@gmail.com. 

How to Work On Your Relationship During a Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has wrought unprecedented levels of distress on an international level. Such global upset can trickle down and translate to a personal level as well, particularly when it comes to relationships. After all, sheltering-in-place with your partner adds extra pressure, while rendering the normal outlets and sources of personal perspective – things like visiting friends, going to school or work, even a trip to the grocery store – altered or entirely moot.

South Asian couples, ranging from those in their teens to right up to the ones hitting their 30’s are suffering a lot. Many South Asians who are in relationships often do so with such secrecy, they themselves forget that they have a significant other. Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but still. When your relationship depends on covert dates with backup covers like, “Hey mom, I’m going to stay at Ayesha’s home tonight” and you are struggling to meet even a few times a week, a pandemic situation can be exhausting and difficult.

Whether you are in a long-term relationship, or just getting adjusted to each other, or you are somewhere in-between, here are eight morsels of advice for keeping your relationship healthy during the turbulence of the coronavirus pandemic.

Understand how your partner responds to stress and how you do, too

It is often easy to assume everyone reacts to high-level stress in the same way we do. But you and your partner might actually have different coping mechanisms to mitigate pandemic-related triggers – and if those responses are vastly different, your actions stand to baffle each other unless you openly explain them.

For example, you might prefer to stay on top of breaking news updates, while your partner only weathers the larger updates as they come. Whereas you would prefer to spend 30 minutes of quiet time in the morning drinking your coffee and getting up to speed on the news, your partner starts their day with funny videos or silent meditation. Neither of your responses is the “right” one; they are simply your respective ways of getting through the situation.

Being aware of what you both need to process stress can help you learn to grant each other space and respect to honor those needs, without questioning their validity. Plus, popular relationship therapist Esther Perel points out using these differences to balance your perspectives instead of exacerbating tensions.

Keep communication open and ongoing

As scary as the pandemic situation is, it is important to air your worries and fears. While your partner can’t be your sole source of support, they can provide solace about things that are concerning you.

If you and your partner don’t have the vocabulary for this type of open communication, you can set the stage for mutual support by asking each other open-ended questions, like:

  • What are you feeling today?
  • How has this day been for you? 
  • Is there anything I can do to be a better partner?

One exercise from couples counseling, called uninterrupted listening, can help you deepen this type of communication. Set a timer for 3-5 minutes where you are able to talk freely about absolutely any stressors on your mind. It could be work, your health, your future, etc. Your partner can respond with non-verbal cues, but they can’t chime in until the timer ends. Then switch, and take your turn as the listener.

Working on building this communication may help establish what preeminent relationship psychologist Sue Johnson refers to as a “secure bond”. Such an attachment is formed with someone when we know they are emotionally responsive, and that they feel for and with us. It doesn’t mean that they will protect us, necessarily, or that they will do the labor of problem-solving for us. Rather, it means they will face our problems with us (not for us).

Carve out designated space for different purposes around the home

You might have heard that it is helpful when working from home to designate “work” space from “home” space. The same goes for quarantine life!

Since so much of our lives are happening indoors, it’s all the more important to identify and label different areas for distinct purposes.

That might look like a room (or corner) that is just for your or your partner’s work; a table for sharing phone-free meals; or a nook for doing yoga and meditation together. Adding these defined spaces can provide you both with a sense of autonomy and boundaries you might be craving.

Do your best to keep any major decisions on the backburner

If you and your partner had some big choices on the horizon, to the extent possible consider holding off on reaching a decision. After all, it’s nearly impossible to make sound decisions when there are so many universally unpredictable variables, from job security to the everyday health of ourselves and loved ones.

If there is something that’s pressing, you don’t have to ignore it altogether. Instead, try keeping track of your thoughts about the topic in a shared or individual journal. You can revisit those ideas when things have resumed to normal, or you feel you are both in a calm headspace.

If you feel an argument coming on, pause – and plan to revisit it when you have both cooled down

Just as it is hard to reach logical conclusions on any major decisions during times of extreme flux, it can also be hard to fully stay grounded during an argument. Ironically, of course, the upheaval in routine and living conditions can leave us feeling unsettled and may trigger more arguments than we would normally have.

If you feel a spat or full-blown argument coming on, plan to touch base again in at least half an hour and no longer than 24 hours later.

Go for a walk alone in the meantime, or engage in self-soothing practices like a breathing exercise, practicing self-compassion, or calling a friend to check-in. Revisit the argument when you have both had the time and (mental) space to cool down.

Avoid criticism of your partner; along with contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling, such behavior is considered one of the “four horsemen” of the apocalypse for romantic relationships by esteemed relationship psychologists John and Julie Gottman.

Go overboard with compliments and appreciation

In these times of absolute tumult, many of us are craving kindness and comfort. Your small notes of appreciation will go extra far in keeping your relationship strong.

Be sure to thank your partner for the little things, like boiling water for your tea, making the bed, giving your partner an extended hug, or putting away the dishes.

Resume your regular romance to the extent possible

You have likely heard it before: Keeping some semblance of structure is helpful for staying balanced when everything seems topsy-turvy. If you had a regularly-scheduled date night, for example, make time to incorporate that into your quarantined life, too.

Here are some at-home date night ideas to try out:

  • Take a virtual tour at one of the many museums making exhibits accessible online
  • Try your hand at creating art together! If you are not crafty, this can be as simple as drawing your houseplants with a pencil and paper
  • Learn a new dance routine together. Getting silly and laughing together can be a great distraction from global and personal stress  

Try to eliminate outside distractions, just as you would if you were on a normal date! Put your cell phone on airplane mode, and focus on creating these new memories together.

You might just discover a new ritual of connection, a term that the Gottmans refer to for small but meaningful habits that you and your partner regularly incorporate into your daily routine, which can help you grow closer over time.

Vindhya PV is a passion-driven journalist who hails from Calicut, Kerala.

Women at sunset

Step Into the New…You

Renewal: You and The World Around You

As I tuned into this topic, I became aware of the internal environment that is created because of the people in our lives and how we perceive ourselves in relation to them. Often keeping others comfortable becomes our comfort zone. Stepping out of it rocks the boat. As we step into this New Year, I invite you to step into the New You.

It is too long that you stayed in a shell to keep others comfortable.

There are some around you who have always loved you, with whom you are amazing and it is easy. You feel safe being yourself.

Then why walk on eggshells with everyone else? Why numb the goodness and brightness in you? 

Nobody realizes that you are simply trying to fit in. You value them too much, even more than yourself.  You are getting comfortable with that. In your mind, you are being nice to them. And yet often feel miserable. They are also getting used to that. Stop…just stop!

Look at those who really ‘see’ you. You seem to do everything right by them. Break the shell and crack it open. Do what it takes! It’s worth it!

They will find others who feed their comfort. Yes, give them a shock.

They will have to step up to understand you and cheer you in your growth. They will have to know your pain.

You in your truthfulness will mourn your perceived loss of some of them because you truly cared about them. That’s why you kept them comfortable while you suffered.

Yes, I know you also wronged some people. Those too will reach out to you or you to them, in your growth. Just know that you are not accountable to all of them this very minute, so don’t judge yourself too hard.

Go ahead take that step, a small change, break open, fly. The ones ready for growth will grow with you. Some will fall away, as you both cannot see eye to eye now.

Forgive yourself, forgive them, love yourself, love them, allow yourself to Be, allow them to Be. Trust me, it’s worth it. When you feel stuck and choose to wiggle out, it hurts, it’s worth it.

The ones who care for you and the ones you care for will have to accept you as you are today. Let them know you are one of them but be stronger on your own path.

Pragalbha Doshi lives with her husband and 2 teenage boys in San Jose, CA. As a yoga teacher, she facilitates therapy & change for people who struggle with chronic symptoms of stress, physical & emotional, and who want a productive & fulfilling life. 

The contents of this article first appeared on my personal blog Infinite Living on Jan 5, 2017. Find more inspiration in poetry and prose at the link.

Desi Upbringing Prepares You For Rejection

Desi Talk – A column that works on embracing our brown background and unique identity using Coach Yashu’s helpful tips. Find her talking to IC Editor, Srishti Prabha on Instagram LIVE Tuesdays at 6pm PST/ 9pm EST!

Are you brave enough to face rejection?

Whether it’s a job, ideas with friends or co-workers, a romantic crush, or even your pet running away from you – we face rejection ALL THE TIME! My cat, Balasubramanyam never wants to cuddle with me. 

….But there is no rejection like your “amma” saying “NO” even before you finished asking your question.

Growing up Desi, sometimes, rejection feels like the NORM.

We eventually develop this fear and refrain from speaking up, sometimes even lying or hiding things from our families. And then the whole guilt trip after…oh boy. 

Oftentimes, the Desi family structure is very different from other cultures, which oftentimes contributes to the narratives we have in our homes. 

Desi family structures depend heavily on the concept of security.

Security includes financial stability, generational wealth, familial relationships and duties, religion, and education. Desi family decisions are based on these factors more than individualistic freedom.

The benefit of this choice is that you are guaranteed money, a long term partner, a home, and kids. Oftentimes I think to myself, if it was not for my father pushing me to pursue my Ph.D. in Engineering, I may not have the money to be independent.

But there can be downsides. In 1st grade, I wanted to do a science fair project on flowers but instead, I did a project on how a water wheel is used to generate electricity. It was a rejection of my idea and push towards something that I couldn’t take ownership of. The unhappy memory stayed with me for a lifetime. Without insight into my parent’s history, our relationship was strained by such experiences.

Things my parents did or said, just did not make sense.

Why couldn’t I have a sleepover like the other American kids?  Why couldn’t I date? Or have a boyfriend in high school? Or get permission to go to sex-ed class?

And now, 20 years later, I think I know why. Because it was the UNKNOWN.

Our parents did not grow up with that level of freedom and are, now, acting out of fear. That which is risky should be left alone. 

With the Desi upbringing, you get security at the expense of freedom, perhaps happiness. And straying away from that, you get freedom at the expense of uncertainty. But somewhere in the mix, I think there is a sweet spot, where you can have the best of both worlds. You can have security, happiness, and freedom. That all starts with effective communication

For parents, I think the key is to listen and then respond. Not react, but respond.

For the kids, let your parents know what you are feeling, but also be open to listening to what they have to say, cause it is most likely true. My mom always says, “I have been the age you are, so I DO know what it feels like.” Day by day, I’m starting to realize how true the statement – hindsight is always 20/20 – can be. 

So take a minute and appreciate your parents, for all the protective measures they took out of Love. By being engaged, possibly controlling, parents in our lives, they found a way to ensure that many of us were staying away from things that could be potentially problematic. I am grateful for my Desi upbringing and I am, also, proud of the choices I have made for myself. I still make mistakes and disagree with my parents, but I do not fear rejection anymore. 

Yashu Rao is the first South Indian-American plus-size model and doubles as a Confidence Coach. She is the Founder of #HappyYashu, a Confidence and Lifestyle Coaching Service specializing in desi family structures. She’s here breaking down stereotypes and beauty standards as well as inspiring and empowering people to lead a life with self-love, confidence, and genuine happiness. Find her on Instagram giving tips and modeling.

Tinder Has Changed the Mating Game

Go into any bar in New York City or San Francisco (or, increasingly, Mumbai and Delhi) popular with the younger crowd and you will find a curious transformation. The majority of the patrons spend at least as much time checking their phones as they do checking out potential mates, or talking to people they are with.

Why? They are on Tinder. The wildly popular dating app has changed the mating game, in ways that are toxic. A growing body of research associates Tinder use with less romantic satisfaction, less happiness and even diminished sense of self-worth — particularly among men.

Let’s be clear: online dating isn’t itself bad. This new way of finding mates has broken down plenty of barriers. We can now meet people from different parts of the country, from diverse social groups. Websites such as Shaadi.com and BharatMatrimony.com are good at doing what marriage brokers and classified ads have long done.

But Tinder brings a fundamental change to online dating. In the past, online dating was an intentional act. People logged on to a dating website to look for partners. The website was separate from other online activity and wasn’t just focused on inducing addictive behaviour.

Tinder used swiping and other clever user-interface tricks that foster the actions of rating, comparing and selecting potential mates. This made dating an omnipresent activity — swipe left, swipe right — that Tinder users could play in bars, in elevators, on the subway. Tinder’s innovation made online dating more addictive and comparative in an unhealthy way.

The effects of dating apps on happiness are complex. On the one hand, online dating exposes people to a far wider set of options and allows filtering by criteria of the user’s choosing.

On the other hand, the paradox of choice affects many by making a decision difficult. And when they do make a decision, they can be less happy with it — possibly because that style of online dating promotes a mentality that views people and relationships as commodities to shop for.

Find Me a Find

Tinder promotes a winner-take-all effect, wherein everyone seeks the most attractive people. This eliminates selection of mates by other variables that may be more predictive of compatibility, leading to frustration all around.

Evaluating choices side by side tends to encourage daters to emphasise factors and characteristics that are unlikely to determine compatibility. Whether someone is fairer or taller, is highly unlikely to reflect compatibility over time. Far less so than more innate traits such as empathy, intelligence or humour.

Particularly useless are superficial physical traits that tend to be overemphasised due to reliance on photos as the primary basis upon which to choose a date. Psychologists have long known that humans are bad at predicting compatibility.

Tinder makes that bad prediction far more common, and replaces other modes of interaction that might lead us to better matches. Scientists are coming to believe that physical attraction is not fixed.

We change what we think about people’s attractiveness based on our interaction with them. Funny, clever or extremely empathetic people may become more attractive to us after we talk or spend time with them.

Kansas University researchers documented this effect, calling it the ‘Tinder trap’. In a lab setting, they showed subjects pictures of potential mates and asked them to rate their attractiveness.

The researchers then introduced some of the subjects to the people they had rated face to face. The scientists found that potential partners they had rated as less attractive or moderately attractive were far more likely to get increased ratings after a face-to-face meeting than were potential partners they had rated as attractive.

So, evaluating a potential partner solely on visual attractiveness is a poor predictor of what you will think of that person once you meet in real life.

Perhaps, most importantly, rating people’s attractiveness prior to meeting them tends to diminish the rater’s evaluation of that person afterward, “probably because the rater is comparing their conversation partner to all the other potential partners they saw online”.

In other words, the apparently endless choice that online dating offers may cheapen and undermine our perceptions of people in real life.

Some online-dating applications have been linked with low self-esteem. In a survey of Tinder users and non-users, those who used the swiping app recorded lower levels of self-worth and, along with other negative impressions, said that they were less satisfied with their own face’s appearance. Curiously, this effect was stronger in male users.

Catch Me a Catch

In our new book, Your Happiness Was Hacked: Why Tech Is Winning the Battle to Control Your Brain — and How to Fight Back, Alex Salkever and I look at how some technologies are actually diminishing our well-being.

Tinder is one of the most troubling developments we have seen, but it is in a long line of efforts by tech companies to addict users using techniques perfected in Las Vegas casinos and fine-tuned by armies of scientists and user experience experts in Silicon Valley.

The fact is that the tech industry is working overtime to steal our happiness, and we must wrestle it back.

This article has been reprinted here with the permission of the author.

Love is Like an Iceberg

“Hey, did you hear from Nick?”

“It’s been a year, so yes! After their marriage, all my friends disappear. A year later, I hear from them.”

“Seriously? Why do you think so?”

“Simple! The honeymoon is over.”

Every relationship goes through three stages: 

  1. Honeymoon
  2. Plateau
  3. Trauma

A plateau in a relationship is the dying phase of love. The trauma stage is the death of it. You can re-ignite your relationship when you are in the plateau stage, but it is almost impossible from the trauma stage.

It is hard to tell exactly when one stage turns into another, but I have found that probing my clients helps them figure out when problems begin to surface in a relationship.

Three signals that your honeymoon is beginning to fade:

  1. You begin to look for distractions from your relationship, by picking up hobbies and activities which exclude your partner.  
  2. You hesitate to be honest with your partner.  If your values or beliefs are different from your partner’s you cannot speak truthfully, without trying to justify yourself.  Finances, raising children and dealing with in-laws can be major topics of contention.
  3. You begin to obsess about your relationship.  Constantly wondering about what your partner is doing when you are apart, going through his/her messages, wallet/purse or feeling jealous of your partner spending time with siblings or parents, is a call to confront your personal insecurities.

To keep your honeymoon going, you must:

  • Take frequent time-out sessions from your partner.  Going to dinner, a movie, or a trip (even a day trip) with friends, and engaging in a life outside your relationship gives it every chance to thrive.
  • Never seek advice about your relationship from friends or people in similar situations. Friends will always take your side, while people in similar situations cannot tell you what is good for you.
  • Read books by authors who have overcome a similar challenge. Pain transcends gender, ethnicity, financial net-worth and the times people live in. Reading about the experiences of others will help you gain perspective.
  • Avoid distractions, such as social media, television, alcohol, or casual relationships.  Instead, take the time to analyze your frustrations and take responsibility for your own happiness.  Harnessing your creativity (singing, dancing, painting, sports, etc.), engaging in a cause actively and focusing on those less fortunate will help you feel good.
  • Manage your expectations from your partner.  When you come home tired after work, bear in mind that your partner may also be tired. You only attract who you are – if you come home relaxed, you will find everyone is relaxed at home, but when you come home frustrated, you will find that reflected.

Love can be compared to an iceberg.  What you see of an iceberg, is the tip: the 12% that floats on top.

Your conscious mind is 12% of who you are. It contains:

  • Logic
  • Reasoning
  • Analytical abilities
  • Decision-making abilities
  • Your willpower

What you see on the surface is the glamor of love.  Submerged in your subconscious mind, is the invisible aspect of love and life, which is 88%.

Be brave and dive into the subconscious; be honest with what presents itself. The Sanskrit word swadhyaya, meaning self-analysis, is key to understanding yourself.  It is easy to blame others for our own shortcomings. Michael Jackson’s lines, “I’m talking to the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways,” should be your mantra, whenever something is not working in your favor.

I would like to leave you with three questions. Engage in this exercise in the early morning when your mind is clear.  Try this while spending time  in nature, because if you are in your house it will tend to bring up negative emotions from the past. Treat this time as your personal retreat and sit down to record your answers in a book.

  1. I have lived for ____ number of years. How do I want the next ____ number of years to be?
  2. What is my truth (story)?
  3. Who would I be without this truth (story)?

I wish you happier times.  Namaste!

Archetypes of How to Communicate

How often do you and your spouse talk? Communication in marriage is the key to keeping your relationship strong and healthy. But communicating effectively isn’t always as easy as it seems. A person’s upbringing and past experiences with romantic relationships will have a strong effect on how well they communicate as an adult. And sometimes blending two very different methods of communication can be difficult.

We’re looking at effective methods of communication in marriage through the art of archetypes. These models will serve as a basis of how to talk to your partner about any topic under the sun. With technology at your fingertips, archetypes to use as an example, and verbal and nonverbal cues to alert your partner that you need to talk, there is no excuse to stay quiet in your marriage. Here are 6 different structures and archetypes of how to communicate effectively with your spouse.

  1. The Lover Archetype

Communication in marriage is not always built through verbal communication. Take for example the Lover archetype. This model is focused on nonverbal human connections and the art of touch.

Touch is one of the most powerful senses. It holds the ability to put one at ease, arouse, and display love and connectedness.

A sports study by the University of Illinois showed the relation between physical touch bonding, morale, and cooperation. While tracking physical contact between played in NBA games, the research showed the more touch contact there was between teammates, the more successful the team was.

If touch can promote unity and connectedness between sports players, how much more can it do for a marriage?

Sex, of course, is another focus of the lover archetype. Being sexually intimate is one of the strongest ways that couples connect and communicate with one another.

Through sex and other physical contacts, such as hugging, kissing, hand-holding, and spooning, couples deepen their love for one another through the release of oxytocin.  Oxytocin then promotes a sense of unity, trust, and communication.

  1. The Date Night Method

Many couples who have improved communication skills after marital crisis share on a weekly date night. During this day the couple will plan a fun outing, or “date”, in which they treat each other as they did when they were first together. Flirting, building sexual chemistry and anticipation, and generally having fun together.

One research study found that couples who regularly spend time together this way are 3.5 times more likely to title themselves “very happy” in their marriage.

This fun atmosphere makes way for some great communication opportunities. During date night couples can check-in with one another using positive language to talk about their marriage.

Consider the example of a husband who wishes his wife would spend less time on her phone. Using phrases like: “I love spending time with you without any distractions” is more beneficial than saying “Why do you have to be on your phone all the time? It’s really irritating.”

This compliment-style correction reinforces your love for your spouse, expresses your desire for a certain behavior in a positive light, and doesn’t feel like an attack to your partner.

  1. The Warrior Archetype

A warrior is someone who is courageous, strong, shows vigor, and may even be aggressive about success. When using the warrior as an archetype for communication in marriage, you will be inspired to speak up even when the topic at hand is difficult.

As a strong warrior, you aren’t afraid of communicating with your spouse about any topic because you know that your relationship is strong enough to overcome anything. This archetype of communication will deepen your connection to your spouse and instill positive feelings toward one another, even when life gets hard.

  1. The Business Meeting Method

Unlike the relaxed atmosphere of date night, the business meeting method gets straight down to, well, business! This weekly “marriage check-in” is an open forum in which each party can talk about their marriage.

In order for the marriage check-in to be successful, both parties must agree to be honest during the session. During the check-in each partner will go back and forth, uninterrupted, talking about both the things they are enjoying about married life, as well as addressing any issues or concerns they might be having.

Any topic of conversation can be on the table for the business meeting; starting a family, cleaning up after yourself, financial matters, raising the children, spending more time together, the frequency of intimacy. But remember, this method will not work if both partners are not honest and willing to communicate openly.

  1. The Caregiver Archetype

As a caregiver, your priority is your spouse’s well-being, emotionally and otherwise. This archetype has a sweet soul and approaches communication with kindness, tenderness, and gentle speech.

A caregiver isn’t afraid to sit back and listen to their partner without interruption. They are devoted to solving problems within the marriage. A gentle demeanor full of love and understanding will be the key to encouraging your partner to be vulnerable with you.

  1. The Chit-Chat Method

“Hey honey, how was your day?”

This simple phrase is uttered nearly every day by couples everywhere when they convene after a day away from one another. Instead of going on autopilot with the hum-drum answer of: “Fine, thanks. Yours?” why not take advantage of the opportunity to really talk?

Communication is about using your voice, showing empathy, and feeling comfortable enough to be vulnerable with your partner.

This day-to-day small talk may not seem like a big deal, but this idle chit-chat is necessary. Small talk helps establish a real connection that doesn’t require heavy conversation. Yet, it is still important to your everyday marriage. After all, if you can’t talk about the little things, how can you talk about the bigger topics of conversation?

From nonverbal cues to date night revelations, there are many different methods of communication in marriage. There is no longer any excuse for not talking openly and honestly with your spouse. Strengthen your marriage by using these different structures and archetypes of how to communicate with your partner.

Author Bio: Sylvia Smith is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. Her mission is to provide inspiration, support and empowerment to everyone on their journey to a great marriage. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy happy marriages.


relationships diva feature

5 Signs of Low Self Worth

They say you can only love others as much as you love yourself, and as tired as that adage may be, the core of it rings quite true. 

Think about it:

It can be hard enough understanding and accepting your own thoughts, feelings, words, and actions—let alone somebody else’s.

But if loving and accepting yourself—that is, having a strong sense of self-worth—directly influences the health of your intimate relationships, is it possible to learn how to recognize when that influence is negative? Consider the following five clues:

1. You don’t speak up for yourself. 

This includes both small scale and large scale self-censorship. Mum’s the word…as long as you can avoid conflict and reduce the risk of being rejected, right? (But of course, this is never guaranteed anyway.)

2. You don’t set (and stick to) healthy boundaries. 

You know what you are and aren’t comfortable with (in everything from sharing finances to sharing secrets), but it’s hard to stay true to you if your sense of self is more concerned about appeasing someone else. 

3. You hold grudges and resentment. 

We tend to judge others most harshly for the things we are judging ourselves about first. So when your partner “pushes your buttons,” you may fail to see it as a growth opportunity if your shaky self-worth prevents you from taking ownership of your feelings. 

4. You don’t feel comfortable being alone.

While sharing mutual love and support with a partner can be a priority, it doesn’t take away from the importance of being able to genuinely enjoy your own company. “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quietly in a room alone.” -Blaise Pascal, 17th century French mathematician and physicist

5. You stay in a relationship even if you know it’s not right for you. 

If you don’t feel whole and complete as you are, then you may be more willing to tolerate unsatisfying, unpleasant, or even abusive behavior from another person. 

Start Building Your Self-Worth—And Start Building Better Relationships, Too

A healthy sense of self-worth allows you to adopt, celebrate, and take root in the belief that you are inherently deserving of what life has to offer. When it comes to relationships in particular, loving and accepting yourself for who you are prevents you from “needing” validation from a romantic partner (or any other external source, for that matter).


Because you’re already able to validate your worthiness from within—something which, unlike other people, is actually under your control.

In this way, all the love, acceptance, and approval you receive from your partner become gifts to be enjoyed, not necessities to be depended on (the apparent loss of which can be distressing). In the mean time, your growing sense of self-worth almost immediately helps you free up a lot of emotional and mental energy that can be invested right back into the relationship itself. 

So this year, for the sake of you and your loved ones, be kinder to you:

Speak your mind.

Be polite, but be honest. 

Instead of judging your emotions, allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling, then simply let it go when you’re done.

Learn to enjoy your own company. 

Do things that are personally meaningful.

Help others. 

Nourish and move your body.

Let go of what is no longer serving you. 

And above all: know that by practicing self-care, you are giving a gift of love to both yourself and your partner. 


Jasbina Ahluwalia adds a unique contribution to the Matchmaking industry – she has pioneered an approach to matchmaking, which blends the best of The East and West. She is an Indian-American Attorney-turned-Entrepreneur, Relationship Expert, Radio Show Host and Matchmaker/Dating Coach. She is the Founder & President of Intersections Match by Jasbina, the only Premier Matchmaking & Dating Coaching Firm for Indian Singles in the US, Canada & the UK. A finalist in OPRAH’S search for a TV Host, she’s also been featured in the New York Times, San Jose Mercury News, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post & Entrepreneur Magazine.She has also moderated/participated on panels at Harvard Business School, Wharton, Northwestern & Columbia. Jasbina previously practiced law in San Francisco and Chicago. She earned her B.A/M.A. in Philosophy from Vanderbilt University, and JD from the University of Michigan Law School. Jasbina can be contacted at info@intersectionsmatch.com.