Wednesday, March 22, 2017

"So much of what is love, is fish love." - Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski

Abraham Joshua Twerski is an American Hasidic rabbi, a scion of the Chernobil Hasidic dynasty, and a psychiatrist specializing in substance abuse.

He has written over 60 books on Judaism and self-help topics, including several books with Charles M. Schulz's Peanuts comic strips used to illustrate human interaction and behavior.

Hear him speak about the Love of Giving

What do you think?

The Stages of Abuse: Why It's So Difficult to Leave

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If there is one word that is easily thrown around when a person narrates their experience with abuse, it is "leave". As it should be, victims of abuse are constantly encouraged to leave to avoid being killed emotionally, psychologically or physically. But for some reason, victims of abuse tend to go back to their abusers and it is difficult to understand why. How does anyone return over and over again to a source of pain and distress? I took some time to map out the stages of abuse, and here it is. PS: This is not a scientific cycle based on scientific studies. This is based on the stories of people (both male and female who have suffered abuse physically, emotionally and psychologically). 

Stage #1 The Endearing Stage: It is very common for people to say the signs of a person being abusive are common in courtship but that is not entirely true. Many abusers spend a lot of time grooming their victims depending on how much work they figure they need to do to endear that victim to themselves. They go all out and make the best shows of romantic gestures. They open doors, let you drive their cars, complement your beauty or suaveness, speak highly of your intelligence and cannot stop telling their friends about how awesome you are. You feel comfortable, secure and loved and then suddenly

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Lavish Weddings and Divorces: A Positive Correlation?

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Source: Green wedding shoes

It seems to have become a trend in society to expect a dramatic divorce shortly after a lavish wedding between two people of high financial standing and an extravagant lifestyle. Very often, I read posts of such divorce notices, and the comments suggest what you are possibly thinking about lavish weddings - they often lead to divorce! Some people have suggested that lavish weddings are thrown to hide problems between the couple and give the impression that is beautiful and well in their love paradise, while others believe a lavish wedding is a must for certain kinds of people. 

I want to address the idea that seems to have been engraved in our minds that lavish weddings will definitely lead to divorce. That buying an expensive dress, hiring an entire wine estate and calling the best DJ in town to the reception is the perfect recipe for divorce. That could not be farther from the truth. There are small weddings that have been held away from the eyes of the public that also fell into the divorce pit. Of course, we don't read about them much because they were held in secret. But we must understand that divorce is a possibility irrespective of the type of wedding you have. This is because the wedding is not a determinant of the success of your marriage. Big or small, the wedding is a ceremony and nothing more. 

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Source: Evoga Wedding Productions

The marriage, on the other hand, is about the husband and the wife, their quirks and personalities, their pet peeves, their communication style and their conflict resolution ability. No matter how small and cheap the wedding is, if the couple cannot communicate, resolve conflict, avoid taking each other for granted and support each other's dreams, the marriage is headed for the pit. Same goes for a big wedding. It is not about the wedding, it is about you. Your big wedding is not a recipe for disaster, nor is your small wedding the perfect recipe for a stable long lasting marriage. It goes beyond all that. 

So if you want a big wedding, go ahead and do it! Your marriage cannot be jinxed by your wedding. If you want a small wedding, go for it. Your marriage will not automatically come together like Iron man's body suit. Irrespective of the type of wedding you opt for, know that your connection with your partner, not with the wedding guests or the party planner, but your partner alone is most important. If there are already cracks in your courtship, chances are your marriage will burst at the seams anyway, small wedding, big wedding or any kind of wedding. XOXO

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

This Mindset is Ruining Your Life

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It is common knowledge these days that having a negative mindset will not translate to a positive life. Pessimists tend to see problems in every opportunity, while optimists see the opportunity in every problem. However, whether you are a pessimist, optimist, realist or an idealist, there is a very subtle mentality that is ruining your life. Subtle as it is, it is very common, and people are not even aware of the negative impact it has on them. I like to call it the 'either/or mentality'. 

Think about it... how many times have you seen a couple in a mansion and assumed they must have an unhappy marriage because of all that money they have? How many times have you seen a man or woman who's career driven and assumed their family must be in shreds because they are so dedicated to their work? How many times have you seen a handsome man and assumed 'oh well, he must be a player', or a beautiful woman and assumed 'she must be taken or unintelligent'. How many times have you heard a person's big dreams and reminded them they might not get married because they are so into this vision? I am sure you can already remember one or two instances where you assumed if someone had something, it was impossible for them to have the other. 

This either/or mentality is ruining your life! It is giving you the impression that you have to choose because you can't have it all. It is telling you in your subconscious that life is not a buffet where you can have a taste of everything, but rather a restricted pre-planned menu where if you choose option A, you cannot have option B. This is why you are not going after everything you desire. This is why you are not winning at life. This is why you are too scared to chase lofty dreams because you believe the more you have, the more unhappy you will be. I have met men and women who often say they are not interested in buying their own houses and acquiring wealth for their children; they are not interested in building their careers and being well-known for their success because most people who have all those things are not happy anyway. Well, guess what? There are also a lot of people who don't have those things and are unhappy as well. So it is not the wealth that makes a person unhappy. It is a lack of God in you.

Drop the either/or mentality and go for everything you love and desire! Build your career, acquire wealth, marry that partner that makes you genuinely happy! Live your life as a well-rounded individual who knows he has access to every single item on the buffet menu! There is no dream that is too big for God, and there is no such thing as option A or B. You can have everything! The reason people tend to say you can't is because they themselves are too scared to chase after everything they want. Don't join their bandwagon! XOXO

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

How To Become Co-Dependent In a Relationship If You Are Very Independent As An Individual

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I have often heard people try to gauge the feelings of someone they have just started dating based on that person's ability to show vulnerability and discuss deep-pressing issues with them. Although an erroneous judgment criterium, it appears to be a normalized one; hence, it is worth it to address the 'very independent' individual and teach some tips on vulnerability and emotional expressions. I'll keep it short and sweet.

#1 Understand that effort matters: Going from independence to co-dependence is not as easy as many people think but continuous efforts made to achieve that emotional and psychological co-dependence will go a long way in strengthening your relationship. So be deliberate about it until it begins to come naturally to you. Think of it as developing a new habit - a necessary one for the success of your relationship. 

#2 Become vulnerable: For the very independent person in a relationship, being vulnerable with someone else is considered a sign of weakness, and an unnecessary one at that. However, in a relationship, expressions of vulnerability is a necessity you cannot brush off. It strengthens the bond in your relationship when your partner is able to connect with you emotionally and see you at your weakest. 

#3 Don't handle everything on your own: A relationship is not just for dates, shopping sprees, and adventurous road trips. It is also for sharing difficulties, pain, anxiety, fear and even insecurities. For the very independent individual, such expressions do not come easy but do not panic. You can do it. A very independent friend of mine who recently got married after years of handling things on her own told me how terribly she struggled with sharing her fears with her husband. She had difficult days at work, got home, cried in the bathroom, washed her face before her husband arrived and presented her strong steel self to him. Of course, he could tell something was wrong, but she always felt she could handle it. One day, however, she decided to stop carrying her burdens alone. She had a very upsetting day, got home and felt the urge to cry but she didn't. She suppressed her emotions till her husband arrived, and when he asked how her day was, ran into his arms and cried on his shoulder. She described it as the most soothing experience ever. 

It is OK to cry in front of your partner. It is OK to look ugly while you are crying (not that anyone should be worried about that). It is OK to be vulnerable. It is OK to let your partner see parts of you that others have not and may never get to see. The beauty of co-dependence is knowing that your partner knows you in ways no one else does and is connected to every part of you. XOXO

Monday, February 27, 2017

True Love And the Beauty Of Its Reciprocity

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Last night, I was watching the third season of the TV show Friends while I did some cleaning around my room (Yes I still watch Friends hehe). The second episode where no one was ready for Ross' event caught my attention as I worked. Ross had been irritable because he had an important event to attend and no one was ready. Everyone, including his precious Rachel, seemed to be occupied with something else. In his irritation, he had yelled at her, and she, in turn, decided she was not interested in attending his event anymore. 

To show how sorry he was, and how much she meant to him, he asked her what she wanted him to do. She said he had to drink a glass of rendered chicken fat (yea... downright disgusting). He lifted the glass from the table, affirmed himself with a repetitive sentence, and proceeded to drink chicken fat! But he didn't...because she stopped him on time.

That episode made me think about the genuineness of the love we proclaim we have for others. Very often, many of us ask our spouses to do things to prove their love for us - things that are sometimes very uncomfortable for them, and we watch them go out of their way to do these things... sadly without intervening to stop them just in time. It makes me genuine is that love that does not stop others from doing things that will break them, especially if those things are not necessarily attached to the success of the relationship? 

As Friends played on in the background, I immediately remembered the story of Abraham, and how God had asked him to sacrifice Isaac to him. Just in time, God stepped in to stop Abraham from killing Isaac, and instead provided a lamb in Isaac's place. It made me realize that we test people to prove their love for us by doing things that make them uncomfortable, but our love for them is proven when we step in and stop them just in time because we realize that they will indeed go the extra mile for us, but we don't have to make them do so when it is unnecessary. 

The beauty of true love lies in that reciprocity that even when they are ready to sacrifice themselves to prove they love us, we should be willing to step up and stop them, hence proving our love for them is also true. Watching them die silently in self-sacrifice makes for a good ego massage, but is nothing short of selfishness.  XOXO

Sunday, February 26, 2017

One Popular Advice That Will Ruin Your Marriage Before It Even Takes Off

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There is a general impression out there that marriage is a lot ofwork; hence, many people approach it with the same level of preparedness with which they would approach any other herculean task. They go to all the pre-marital counselling classes, read all the books about relationships and marriage, observe what they perceive as successful marriages and of course, seek advice from those who have travelled far along the marriage path.

Through all of these preparations, many lessons and notions are internalised; some bad, some good, some downright ugly and dangerous. The most dangerous of all, which has come to my attention in the past couple of weeks is in the form of advice from peers, parents and even mentors who are expected to know better:
Don't love your spouse too much. He/she will take advantage.
I have heard this statement many times and I have heard countless justifications for it. But truth be told, none of these justifications are strong enough to hold water. 

Don't love your spouse too much? What exactly is too much love in a marriage? Can a man love his wife too much? or a wife love her husband too much? I ask these questions because the phrase too much love suggests that it will have a negative consequence, and it is indeed the most ludicrous and destructive advice you will be given regarding your marriage. My advice? Do not listen to such people no matter how important they are to you. 

The foundation of every successful marriage is not self-preservation. It is not opportunism or exploitation either. It is love based on giving the whole of oneself to the success of a relationship who is ALSO giving the whole of herself or himself to the success of the relationship.This dangerously common advice preaches self-preservation and exploitation, and take it from me, your marriage will never work with that kind of mindset. A marriage where you mistreat your partner, act like their feelings don't matter to you, exploit their weaknesses for your advantage and aim to exalt yourself as the queen on a chess board using your partner as a porn is not heading anywhere. Right from the moment you internalize this advice, your marriage becomes a broken wagon with no wheels, stuck in a jungle with all kinds of wild animals circling it, ready to attack. 

There is no such thing as too much love in a marriage where both individuals are committed to making things work. There is no joy in self-preservation (ask those who continually cheat on the spouses they have exploited and they will tell you how empty they feel inside). Give your marriage a fighting chance. Sieve the advice you get and understand that the fact that some people have been far along in the journey does not mean they know where they are headed or what they are doing. For all you know, they are sitting in broken  wagons in the jungle, hoping you will come and join them. Most importantly, when listening to advice, even from your parents, let God guide your heart. XOXO
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