The importance of identifying your own mistakes..

In all of my counselling, I have never seen a couple in which both were not at fault to some degree. One may have committed the overt act of adultery or lived an egocentric lifestyle with little concern for the needs of the spouse, but the spouse also had failures. It is easy for us to identify the failure of our mates, but more difficult to admit our own. I have often given individuals a sheet of paper and asked them to list the faults of their spouses. They will write profusely for ten or fifteen minutes. Some have even asked for more paper. The lists are magnificent and detailed.
When I ask them to make a list of their own faults, they immediately list their one big fault. That is followed with a long period of silence as they try to think of number two. Some never find it, and seldom has anyone come back with more than four personal faults. What does that tell us? That the spouse really is the problem? Hardly, for each spouse has a grand list of the other’s faults. It tells us that we tend to see ourselves through rose-coloured glasses. Our faults do not look very big to us because we are used to them, we attribute the real problem to our mates’s behaviour…
Failures come in two basic areas. First we fail in meeting the needs of our partners, and second we fail by doing and saying things that actually are designed to hurt them. We fail to do what we should do for them and end up doing what we should not do toward them. Certainly it was not our desire to fail. We had dreams of making our mates supremely happy, but when our own needs we’re not met, we became cool and later hostile.

Gary Chapman: Hope for the separated 

How to get your kids to love salah

Salman al-Odah was asked, “How do you get your kids to love the salah?”
The first thing he said was, “Have them love you.”
Learn this life lesson: tarbiyah is founded upon relationship.
Tarbiyah is the raising up and education of a child such that she can reach her full potential as a human and a Muslim. It is different than ta’leem, which refers to fact-based education.
We often confuse the two, giving our children ta’leem when they need tarbiyah.
Ta’leem is teaching our children the how-to of the prayer. Memorizing the duas, learning the positions.
Tarbiyah is the cuddling after the prayer when we ask each other, “What did you ask for in sajdah?”
Ta’leem is memorizing ahadeeth and verses.
Tarbiyah is the dinner-table banter where we talk current events and other issues on our mind.
Ta’leem is studying fiqh.
Tarbiyah is the loving conversation we have about an incident that happened at school.
Ta’leem is studying seerah by memorizing dates and events or preparing for a quiz bowl.
Tarbiyah is snuggling in bed and telling stories of brave heroes of the past.
When we were at Umrah, Ustadh Abu Eesa stressed this point a great deal and it has caused a seismic shift in my own approach to teaching my children. I had asked him if he had a suggested program of study for school-aged children. He responded by saying that he was no expert on education and he would leave that to the experienced teachers to develop such a program. He directed us instead to focus our efforts on building relationships with our children as our tarbiyah.
“Tarbiyah,” he explained, “is an emotional, not a physical exercise.”
He went on to explain that in the Qur’an, we are taught the dua for the parents as follows: “O Allah, have mercy on them, as they rabbayaani when I was young.” In other words, have mercy on them because they did tarbiyah for me when I was young. It doesn’t say “because they ‘allmaani”–because they taught me.
Long after facts have come and gone, what a child will remember are the memories she has cuddling on the couch, laughing at stories, and warmly basking in the glow of a parent’s attention and love. This relationship is what builds the person up, not the facts and pieces of knowledge imparted.
This does not mean we do not teach facts and knowledge! Those who follow my work know that I do indeed spend time on this ta’leem. You need to discern the difference between the two themes of ta’leem and tarbiyah though, so that you give adequate time to each. 
Most importantly, you must understand that you, dear parents, are indispensable. You CANNOT outsource tarbiyah. You can send your child to classes and masjid programs for ta’leem but this can never replace tarbiyah. The cuddling on the couch, the lively discussions around the table, the one-on-one chats before bed….these are the things that only a parent can do. And these are the things that build the foundation of the Islamic akhlaq and adab (morals and manners).
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Her tank is like…

“To fulfil a woman, a man needs to understand what she needs to feel loved and supported. The way women score points is not just a preference but a true need. Women need many expressions of love in a relationship to feel loved. One or two expressions of love, no matter how important, will not, and cannot, fulfil her.
This can be extremely hard for a man to understand. One way to look at it is to imagine that women have a love tank similar to the gas tank of a car. It needs to be filled over and over again. Doing many little things (and scoring many points) is the secret for filling a woman’s love tank. A woman feels loved when her love tank is full. She is able to respond with greater love, trust, acceptance, appreciation, admiration, approval and encouragement. Lots of little things are needed to top off her tank.”

Men are from Mars, women are from Venus 

10 tips for handling conflict in marriage. Nicholas Beer

It does not matter whether you are dating, newlyweds or been married for years’ conflicts in relationships are both normal and natural, and healthy conflicts are a sign of a healthy marriage. But the problem I see time and time again is that many of us refuse to engage in healthy conflicts, we insist we are right and the other person wrong. We refuse to listen and go out of our way to prove we are right. This refusal and the black and white view must be avoided if we want healthy, stable and positive relationships.
Couples have conflicts for various reasons, finances, sex, child-raising, family commitment and family interference are the most common I hear. When these topics come up and they inevitably will, it is important to put your view across in a non-confrontational manner and avoid doing things that destroy love.
When I work with couples we first discuss the 12 most important emotional needs that create love and look at whether they each are getting their top 5 needs met. Then we look at the things that destroy love and ways to avoid these. It is crucial to look at this otherwise, the good we do can easily be undone. This was the case for Ahmed and his wife Alexandra. Ahmed was giving his wife plenty of affection and attention, he was making time to go to her social events, and gave her the money and lifestyle she always wanted. She loved him for this, it was the reason she had fallen head over heels when they first met. But his angry outbursts, disrespectful comments and need to control and win every conflict were destroying her love for him. Alexandra was so exhausted by his behavior she had started to withdraw from him and the relationship. Withdrawal is common in relationships, especially when one or bothare considering separation and divorce. Which is why they ended up coming to me, I shared them the below tips with them. I hope they are helpful to you. I’d love to hear your comments or any other tips you think I have missed.

Here are My 10 Tips for Handling Marital Conflict

1. Avoid Negating Their Point of View – When conflict arises, don’t be quick to tell them they are wrong or take the stance “I just know” Being told we are wrong, causes us to become defensive, which makes it harder to communicate.  
2. Demonstrate Clearly Your Case– Outline your reasons for why you believe your position is valid, as opposed to expecting them to know why you are disagreeing with them.
3. Listen Attentively – Don’t be on your phone or watching TV when discussing, nothing causes more frustration than being ignored when your expressing your view point. Show you have listened by repeating back what they have said, this is the key to healthy marriage conflict.
4. Stay On the Topic and the Current Problem – so often I see couples disputes escalate because they use sweeping blanket statements, for example, “It’s always your family before us.” Or “You always do this.” Also avoid bringing up past mistakes, especially if you resolved them months or years ago.  
5. Avoid Disrespectful Comments- This includes name calling, strong language, swear words. As soon as disrespect is shown, defensiveness will plague the conversation. Whether you think you have been disrespectful or not is irrelevant, if the other person perceives it as disrespectful it is.  
6. Avoid Angry Outbursts – Angry outbursts like slamming a door or a fist on a table, smashing things are not only intimidating but they also turn what could have been healthy conflict into war. They kill the conversation dead. The best you can do in this situation is to have the strength to walk away. Another couple I worked with, kept getting into angry outbursts so they agreed whenever a conflict started to brew, they would have an hour cooling off period. So walk away if you are frustrated to this level, as it is likely that nothing will be resolved anyway

7. Don’t Bury It Address It – conflicts left to brew can blow up into something much bigger. Try and solve the dispute and come to some compromise as soon as possible, ideally before the day is out. I have worked with several men and women who bite their tongue for months, then explode and say so many things they later regret. Don’t let that happen to you.
8. Be Prepared to Say Sorry. Apologizing can go a long long way. Steven, I worked with said his wife never apologized or said sorry in their 21 years of marriage. In our session, he wanted to address this with her. She said she thought he knew she was sorry, as she was always nice to him afterward. He then explained that it is important to him for her to acknowledge and say it. Since then he said they have been solving arguments much more quickly and effectively.
9. Get your EGO out of the Way –I sometimes ask people is it more important for you to be right and put your spouse down by making them wrong or let it go and enjoy each other’s company? Often I see people go out of their way to correct people on something so trivial, just to boost their own ego that they are right. What is the benefit of this to them -winning a trivial agreement? and to the relationship – time wasted in conflict? Makes no sense to me.  
10. Keep Your Sense of Humor and Laugh About It! I appreciate this cannot be applied all the time, but if you do find yourself arguing over the pathetic petty things, that if anyone else you heard they would burst out laughing – then do just that – laugh. Under stress, I have had plenty of ridiculous disagreements with my partner, ranging from who left the toothpaste lid off, to whose turn it was to get the shopping, to who gets control of the TV. Laughing at yourself and the trivial nature of some of your conflicts can help you gain perspective on what is most important. You and your loved one, living in a caring, supportive and understanding the loving environment.  

Well, as always, I hope you can take something useful from today’s article to benefit your relationships. 
From my heart to yours, Nicola