Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Can You Save Your Marriage On Your Own

One of the most common questions spouses ask when confronting a marriage crisis is this: How can I save my marriage if my partner doesn't want to help find a solution? How do I succeed I am trying to save my marriage on my own?
           
It is a typical enough story: one partner leaves, the other stays. One remains 'in love', the other is uncertain. Whatever it is that has caused a couple to be apart, the one person who remains bears the prospect, fear, doubt, desire, hope of saving his or her marriage' ALONE.

Considering there are two people contributing to the overall health and wellbeing of a marriage, shouldn't both of you be present to actually try and save it? Or, worse, when it's his, her, their fault so shouldn't he, she, they be the ones to make amends? You're just the victim here, after all!

The first thing you must know is if you want to save your marriage and if you find yourself alone in this desire, waiting for the other spouse to make the first move is the beginning of the end. If you are looking for someone to blame or someone else to put the emotional and physical work into saving the marriage, again, it's going to fail.



The belief that the responsibility lies with the other person is a self-defeating attitude.  It propagates the belief that there is absolutely NOTHING you can do to save your marriage and you should stand and watch what comes your way.

NOT true!

There is still something you CAN DO. Even in your loneliness and solitude, you CAN save your marriage.

How? Let's begin first by examining what it means to be on your own.

As human beings, we hate being alone. It's part of our genetic make up to be social creatures and develop connections with others, whether through friendships or romantic interest. The way we connect with others and the nature of how we interact with people is a fundamental aspect of personal and emotional development.

The paradox is that as we grow older in the love, trust, companionship and support of our significant others, we develop an internal strength of self that makes us whole, happy human beings. Ideally, the mature human person should have developed a strong sense of self-awareness, confidence and self-esteem as he or she reaches adulthood. These become the windows with which we view the world, flaws and all. These make up part of our personal shelter amidst challenges and difficulties. This is called SELF-ACTUALIZATION.

However, many of us enter into adult life without even being aware of this beautiful, human truth. We may have experienced abandonment in our childhood or been disappointed by our romantic relationships; whatever it is, it has caused to shift from proper mature development to fears of abandonment and the inability to see that we can stand on our own two feet.

Thus, many of us enter relationships and marriages with the hope, plan and dream that we would never be alone. We invest so much in our partners and loved ones, focusing our entire beings on them and relying on them to make us happy and secure. Unfortunately, this perspective carries with it its own poison. Subconsciously, we project the responsibility of our life happiness on the other person, eloquently sidestepping taking responsibility for our own life happiness and destiny.

Problems develop when a partner indicates some form of dissatisfaction with the relationship or the expectations unwittingly placed upon them, and when they do so, we panic. When our partner leaves, our fears kick in. When something goes wrong with our marriages, it is very easy for us to place the blame of the other person for having made us unhappy.

In order to save your marriage when you are the only one doing it, the key then is a paradigm shift, meaning, the key is to change your attitude and focus. Stop focusing on your partner - stop the blaming, stop the inaction.

Take a good look at yourself and what you can do in this moment. You can definitely NOT control your partner's feelings, attitude and reactions, but you can control your own.  You can go from fearing abandonment to actually taking responsibility for yourself and your own happiness.

This is where the human truth about self-actualization comes in. Understand, adapt and internalize this for yourself. Learn it. It will spell the difference not just in your marriage but in YOU.

A whole human being is easy to love. A happy person attracts happiness. In starting with yourself, you can move from being an unhappy, clingy, difficult person to one who can provide an environment of safety, wisdom, trust and open communication. If each of you are able to self-sustain when it comes to taking responsibility for your own life happiness, you both have much less baggage and much more genuine love to bring into the relationship. Your motivation shifts from being one of fear to being one of real love.

Rather than beat yourself up in desperation, try these tips to start your own personal transformation and lead your marriage to success:

- Breathe
- Smile
- Let go
- Believe that reconnection is possible
- See a counselor for YOURSELF not just for your marriage
- Examine your part in contributing to the difficulties in your marriage
- Forgive yourself
- Change
- Look after your health, beauty and well-being

For all you know, your partner (and you) may just rediscover the person they first fell in love with and more. For all you know, this is the type of you that would allow your partner to come back and initiate communication. When that happens, you have every opportunity to sit down with him or her, discuss your motivations, plans and feelings. You can even get to the real issues surrounding your marital difficulties and actually begin taking positive steps to work them through.

In being open and mature, you can also provide an environment where love and intimacy can flourish once more. With all the confidence and sincerity you have gathered, take these steps. Plus one more. Even in your separation, conflict or difficulties, find it in you to continue loving your partner and showing him or her that you do. Through little, subtle acts, like preparing a snack for him or her or spending some quality TV time, you can rekindle love in your marriage. They don't have to be grand gestures, they just have to be sincere. And coming from the mature, new you, they will.

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

The Big Transitioning - From Crib To Bed

I want out! That’s the message your toddler will send – one way or another – when he’s ready to wave goodbye to the crib and say hello to a big-kid bed. Your child might actually verbalize displeasure, or more likely, simply climb out of the crib.

So, what needs to be done?

First, resist the temptation to move him too early. Most experts recommend doings so around age 3. Unless your child is climbing out of his crib or needs more space than a crib can provide – his body is growing at an astounding rate – it’s better to keep him in the crib, which allows him to feel safe.
This way, your child can feel comfortable taking giant developmental leaps during the day but still regress to the security of his old crib at night.
Moreover, until age 3, toddlers are very impulsive, and your child’s difficulty in understanding and being able to follow directions or rules (like staying in bed all night) will make sleeping in a bed a real challenge. If you transition to a bed before age 3, you can plan on waking up to a little visitor next to your bed pretty much every night.

When the time comes, however, you need to help your child transition smoothly to sleeping in a bed. For that, you need to follow certain steps. These are:

1.    Create a safe environment: Safety proof your child’s room and any adjacent areas he may be able to visit into the middle of the night. Secure windows, tops of stairs, and any stepstools that can be tripped over. Even better, you can install a safety gate at your child’s door. You can even install a small night-light in his room to help him orient himself and avoid hurting himself.

2.    Pick the mattress: Go to the mattress store – or any other store that sells mattresses – and let your child help you choose the mattress or bed. With safety in mind, all you need is a twin-size mattress and box spring and some safety rails for the side. You should adjust the height of this new bed accordingly, as it will need to sit low on the floor for some time until your child gets used to it. Get some fun new sheets, some special pillowcases and you’re set to go.

3.    Disassemble the crib (together): Once the new bed comes home, ask your child to help you to take down the crib. This way, your child will feel part of the transition process and will also be able to say good-bye to the crib.

4.    Set up the bed: Put the bed in a corner of your child’s room so that the head and side of the bed are flush against the wall for protection. Add a safety rail to the exposed side of the bed. Your child will feel safe this way, just as he did in his crib.

5.    Explain the rules of bedtime: If your child is verbal before the first night of sleeping in the bed, go over the rules of bedtime with him. Tell him that he is a big boy now who needs to understand that when we go to sleep, we only wake up when the sun is nice and bright.

6.    Do your bedtime routine: During the first few nights your child is sleeping in his new bed, take an extra 10 minutes of reading time together to make him feel comfortable in his new environment. The idea here is to make your child feel safe. If your child seems excited about the new bed from the very start, you’re one of those luck people who has made this transition easily.


Monday, 5 October 2020

Easiest Way to Teach Your Baby how to Read

Teaching your baby to read is becoming more and more high priority for parents now as it becomes clear that learning to read at a young age offers numerous advantages for the child once he or she begins school. Studies have consistently found that teaching a baby to read and helping children develop phonemic awareness well before entering school can significantly improve their development in reading and spelling. However, when it comes to teaching babies to read, there are two main teaching methods.

These two main methods of teaching a baby or child to read are the whole language method, and the phonics and phonemic awareness method (the phonetic approach), which should be the preferred teaching method in helping children learn to read. Some prefer the whole language method, while others use the phonics approach, and there are also educator that use a mix of different approaches. With the Look-say approach of whole language learning, a child begins with memorizing sight words, and then taught various strategies of figuring out the text from various clues.

The whole language method produces inaccurate and poor readers compared to students of the phonetic approach. Using the whole word approach, English is being taught as an ideographic language such as Chinese. One of the biggest arguments from whole-language advocates is that teaching a baby to read using phonics breaks up the words into letters and syllables, which have no actual meaning, yet they fail to acknowledge the fact that once the child is able to decode the word, they are able to actually READ that entire word, pronounce it, and understand its meaning. So in practicality, it's a very weak argument. English is an alphabetic system, and unlike Chinese, it is not an ideograph like Chinese characters, and should not be taught using an ideographic approach.

I always say that if your baby can speak, then you can begin to teach your baby to read. I won't mention any names here, but I think most parents are probably aware of one very popular "reading" program, which is a whole word approach. Using this method, your baby simply learns to memorize the words without actually reading the words. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that teaching your baby to read using the whole word approach is an effective method. In fact, there are large numbers of studies which have consistently stated that teaching children to reading using phonemic awareness is a highly effective method.

    Teaching phonemic awareness to children significantly improves their reading more than instruction that lacks any attention to phonemic awareness. - statement made by the National Reading Panel

I do think that the debate on the effectiveness of teaching a baby to read using either the whole language or phonics method is settled by the statements made by the National Reading Panel. They reviewed over 1,960 different studies to make their conclusions.

In fact, while my wife was pregnant with our first child, I began doing extensive research on the subject on how to teach my baby to read - after birth, of course. Like most parents I also came across the popular whole word teaching approach being heavily marketed. Seeing the infomercials got me quite excited actually, seeing the babies on TV "reading". But after trying it out, it occurred to me that the our baby wasn't actually "reading", but actually "memorizing", and I thought to myself, how are my children supposed to read newer, and more complicated words as they grow older without an appropriate method of decoding those words? This is where my long and extensive research into phonics and phonemic awareness began.

After many hours of research and learning as much as I could, I felt comfortable enough with our simple phonemic awareness teaching method, that my wife and I began giving brief 3 to 5 minute lessons to our daughter, aged 2 years and 8 months. Within just a few short weeks, her reading ability (and I mean actual reading ability, not memorization) was astounding, even for me as the parent who gave the reading instructions. Friends and family alike, were simply flabbergasted at what our daughter was capable of reading at just 2 years and 11 months. Please watch the video above, composed of clips of her reading randomly created sentences for reading fun.

I simply can't imagine this kind of progress possible with the whole word approach - just think of the tens and hundreds of words a young child would have to memorize!

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Avoiding Communication Breakdown

It happens to the best of us. Communication is such a fickle thing, and the lines of communication can become blurred every so often, especially when love and feelings are involved. Even those who think that they are immune to the confusion of conflict can find themselves drawn into a communication breakdown when they least expect it, and chaos ensues.

Even those of us who are better equipped than many others are not immune. This happened to me on the weekend, and until to be quite honest, it took me by surprise. My spouse told me something that really hurt my feelings, and I automatically lashed back in defense.

It was a silly argument, over something as simple as a misplaced bottle of perfume. But to me, it represented something much deeper that had been simmering away for a couple of weeks. I get frustrated at having to search for something when it is not where I expect it to be, worse still when my partner has shifted it and I don't know the first place to begin searching.

Perfume, needles and thread, car keys, a Tupperware container to store my baking soda in, covers for our outdoor chairs, all were examples of instances where I had to turn the house upside-down. A simple answer from my spouse when these things were shifted would have saved me a lot of time and frustration. And the answer I got? "You need to open your eyes and organize yourself better"

I was gutted. When I come home from work I exercise the dog and cook dinner so that it is on the table by the time my partner gets home. The house is always spotless and warm, as I'm very conscious of coming home to a tidy environment.

I see this as a fundamental part of my role in coming home first, and it takes a lot of my time. To imply that I have the time to "organize yourself better" really hurt.

I don't expect praise, but I did hope that my efforts were recognized. I got told that "I don't expect you to cook my dinner every night." That was interpreted by me as ingratitude, and hurt me even more.

So where to from here? My spouse felt guilty at coming home every night to the perfect household, where I felt guilty if it wasn't perfect. It was never about me trying to make my spouse feel guilty, but it seems it did. And this is where the communication fell down. He misinterpreted my efforts, and I misinterpreted his response.

Communication, communication, communication. I needed my partner to keep me informed of where things move to. I need to be informed. I need to voice my frustration before it gets to boiling point. We both need to talk about our feelings more, and how each of our contributions to our home and our relationship make us feel, and how we interpret each others contributions.

Just because something isn't spoken about, doesn't mean it's not important. A relationship or marriage is not a competition, but for many couples it feels like it.

When people feel guilt or stress, it leads them to act funny ways. Often stress and guilt are barriers to communication. The key to overcoming them is to recognize what it is, and have the courage to talk about it. You might be able to do it as a couple, or you might want the help of a friend who can listen to the way you are communicating with each other and offer insights and advice.

We got it sorted out, and kissed and hugged. It wouldn't hurt so much if I didn't feel such love at the same time. But it served as a good reminder to me. Sometimes you get so wrapped up in your own emotions that you forget to think of the other person. You also need to entertain the possibility that you are misinterpreting each other. Talking about it is the way to expose the miscommunication and let the healing begin.

Monday, 7 September 2020

Teach Your Child Phonics and Reading

Teaching children to read by teaching phonics activities is a lot like doing math, where you have to know what the numbers are, how to count, and you need to learn to add and subtract before learning to multiply and divide. Teaching phonics to children is no different where you follow a step by step approach by first teaching the child the alphabet letters and phonics sounds, and then teaching them the combination of different letters to create different words, and using words to form sentences. It is a very logical and sequential buildup of phonics knowledge and reading ability.

Before a child can learn to read, he or she must first learn the alphabet letters, and know the sounds represented by the letters. It's usually easier to teach some consonants and short vowels first before moving on to more complicated things such as consonant digraphs (2 consonants formed to produce one sound, such as "ch" or "ph") and long vowels. As you can see, teaching children to read by the phonics method helps them develop phonemic awareness, and it is also a very logical and straight forward approach.

Start off by teaching your child the phonics sounds. You can choose to teach your child in alphabetic order going from A to Z, or you can teach several commonly used consonant sounds and vowels, and go from there. For example, you may start teaching your child /a/, /c/, and /t/ (slashes denote sound of the letters). Once your child has learn to quickly recognize these letters and properly sound out their sounds, you can then teach them to blend /c/, /a/, /t/ to make the words "cat", or "tac", or "at".

As you introduce more letters and phonics sounds in your lesson plans, you can generate more words, and slowly introduce short, simple sentences to your reading lessons. Depending on the age of your child, I would suggest keeping the phonics lessons relatively short - around 5 to 10 minutes. Sometimes, just 3 to 5 minutes for a short lesson is plenty, and you can easily teach these short phonics lessons 2 or 3 times each day for a total of 10 to 15 minutes. Young children tend to be forgetful, so repetition is very important.

You don't want to make the lessons too long and boring, that the child begins to feel like doing a "chore" when learning to read. So keep it short, fun, and interesting. By keeping the phonics lessons short, you also avoid overwhelming the child with too much information, and always remember to make sure your child has mastered one lesson before moving on to new material. Confusion and uncertainty will only make their learning effort difficult and frustrating - so review often, move on to new material only after they've mastered the current lessons.

So when can you start teaching phonics sounds and lessons to children? Not everyone will agree with me on this, but I believe that if your child can speak, then your child can learn to read. Of course, every child is different and unique, and some children will be more receptive to learning reading than others. One thing for certain, is that the earlier a child learns to read, the better.

We have taught our 2 year old daughter to read through teaching phonics sounds and lessons, and helping her develop phonemic awareness. If you watched the video above, that is our daughter reading randomly created sentences. We simply started teaching phonics sounds to her by spending 5 to 10 minutes each day, spread between 2 to 3 separate lessons, and slowly introduced new letters and reading material.

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Have You Ever Been Considering Co-Sleeping?

Co-sleeping is the practice where the child sleeps in bed with his parents. Not surprisingly, it is one of the most hotly debated and controversial topics related to pediatric sleep. Let’s see why.
Some people argue that co-sleeping is the right and natural way to raise a child because the practice fosters a stronger bond and a more secure attachment.
Conversely, others will tell you that co-sleeping is risky, ridiculous, or even dangerous and they don’t want it for their family.
So, which approach holds the truth?
First, it’s important to understand that co-sleeping is not magic. Although some proponents of the family bed would disagree, numerous couples have reported that their babies did not necessarily sleep deeper or longer because their parents were close by. In fact, some parents found that their child slept longer and woke less frequently when they stopped co-sleeping and moved him into his own crib.
However, whether families choose to co-sleep or have their children sleep independently is a personal decision, and if both parents and child are safe, rested, and fulfilled, then co-sleeping is nothing to worry about.
If you decide do co-sleep, this commitment requires some very careful thinking about what you and your spouse feel is right for you as individuals, as a couple, and as a family.
Ask yourselves the following questions:
•    Is it nice to think about enjoying the coziness of sleeping in close proximity, or does one or more of us tend to stay active during sleeping – potentially disrupting the others?
•    Does everyone in our family want to co-sleep, or are we leaning toward it because one of us feels strongly?
•    Are we willing to commit to being quiet after our child falls asleep, or do we like to watch TV or talk in bed?
•    Will we enjoy being able to feed our baby more often throughout the night, or will having him next to us make it tougher to wean nighttime feeds?
•    Are we agreeable to getting into bed when our child does, to ensure his safety?
•    For working parents, does sleeping next to our child allow us to feel more connected to him?
As expected, co-sleeping has both advantages and disadvantages.
Let’s take a closer look at them.


Advantages:
•    Constant closeness whenever the child is awake. Many children and parents enjoy this feeling.
•    Immediate action and support for any sleep-related problem
•    The ability to nurse and respond to other nighttime wakings without getting up
•    More time to spend with the child
•    Possibly better sleep for both the child and the parents, if the child was sleeping poorly to begin with
Disadvantages:
•    Parents may sleep poorly if their children are restless sleepers
•    Parents may end up sleeping in separate rooms, and they may become angry at their child or with each other
•    Children’s and adults’ sleep cycles do not coincide
•    Parents may have to go to bed at a very early hour with their children and be left with little time for their own evening activities
•    Parents have little privacy
•    There may be a slight increase in the risk to the infant from SIDS and related causes.

The decision to co-sleep should be yours, made by the parent – or parents – and based on your own personal philosophies, not on pressure from your child or anyone else. Another family’s good or bad experience with co-sleeping should not influence your decision: your child is unique and your family is not the same.

Monday, 17 August 2020

Unconditional Love - Secret Recipe to Save Your Marriage

What are the essential ingredients in an ideal relationship?

In the middle of a workshop recently a pertinent question was asked about what creates the ideal relationship. We were asked to think of a relationship we had with something in the last week that in one's mind was the ideal relationship, and to think of what it was about that relationship that made it ideal.

A number of men in the group thought of their cars, tool sheds, families, workmates, old friends, even relationships with objects such as their television remote, recliner chair, or favorite pair of shoes. To each of these men, these things felt comfortable, and simple. The relationships they had with these people or objects was rewarding and easy to maintain.

A number of women considered kitchen appliances, favorite clothes or shoes, old friends, neighbours, and treasured items in their lives, and the bond that they had created either between people or with items they used in their lives. Words such as reliable, dependable, and comforting were used.



When my turn came to identify my ideal relationship, I thought of my dog. My dog has very simple needs, requiring only food, shelter, and love. No matter how my day has been or what kind of mood I'm in, when I get home at night and I'm greeted in such an authentic, transparent, and enthusiastic fashion. My dog is always excited to see me, and it's very humbling when you consider it.

I don't know of any others that greet me so enthusiastically night after night. No matter how long I have been away from the house or no matter how my day has been. His needs are few, yet he gives so much. I call this unconditional love.

So what is unconditional love?

Unconditional love is the type of love that comes without conditions. It is the type of love that you have for your partner when the romantic, hollywood-style love is gone. Once the romantic love is gone you make the transition to "real" love. Real love is love you have for your partner despite the knowledge that they are not perfect.

You know by now your spouse has faults. You know your spouse is not perfect. You know your spouse makes mistakes sometimes, but that's okay. You still love them. You love your spouse because of those imperfections rather than in spite of them.

This is unconditional love.

The same thing applies to you however in looking at your partner's faults. You acknowledge that you are the same. You have faults. You are not perfect. You know you make mistakes sometimes, but that's okay. That's called self-acceptance, and you expect unconditional love to overcome the faults and imperfections that people have.

So what do you get from this then? Should we all go out and get dogs to teach us something about unconditional love? Maybe there is a lesson to be learnt here. We all clutter our lives with thoughts and emotions, trials and tribulations, and there is the temptation to let our issues become bigger than they really are and rule our lives.

If you are serious about saving your marriage the key is in finding ways to place the emotional clutter to one side and let your unconditional love come through. It is okay to have faults and make mistakes. It's okay to have thoughts and feelings. But above all of this is the love you have for your spouse, the love you have for one another. And love will conquer them all.

It is possible to not like your spouse or not like what they are doing and still love them. It's possible to not like where your life or your marriage is at but still love your spouse. The love you have for your spouse and your marriage can remain constant.

It's time to learn how to reconnect with your life purpose and learn to love unconditionally.