Does your relationship need intensive care?

Does your relationship need intensive care?

Nicole and Michael came in a quickly scheduled appointment. They looked  worn and beaten.

It was only a matter of seconds before Nicole burst into tears and claimed she really did not want to leave the relationship but she felt she had no choice, it was, in her words “unbearable”. The fights, the misunderstandings and the brooding resentments had gone on too long and she felt she had to do something.

 We need to do something

The point where “we need to do something”  comes at different points in a relationship for different couples and often precipitates a visit to a relationship therapist.

It would be easy enough if you knew in your heart that you didn’t want to  continue with the relationship. That you were convinced you should cut your losses.

But many people can still see the potential in the relationship and fundamentally value their partner and the potential in the relationship.

Of course sometimes we do stay on too long for other reasons: fear of loneliness, pride, financial reasons  amongst others. Knowing when to stay and when to go, when to invest and when to pull out is a fine art in relationships as well as business.

Often the crisis is reached when the bickering, the sniping and the feelings of aggrievement reach boiling point with both partners.

The peace tent

When you both feel like you are the victim and your partner is the villain war is likely to continue for a long time. Coming to  relationship therapist is a bit like agreeing to come to the peace tent. It is the first step in what hopefully will be a long truce followed by prosperity.

One of the first things a relationship therapist will do, as I did with Nicole and Michael, was to encourage them to share their feelings and explore the experience of both parties.

Often there is so much hurt and so much pain all each party can do is to focus on this. Getting the feelings recognized clears the air and allows both parties to feel they are ‘validated’ ,  that is that they matter and their perspective is appreciated.

Emotional safety

The next step is to stop the hurting. Like two fighters who are bruised and bloodied and keep landing punches the warring parties need to be protected and each party needs to gain a sense of emotional safety. Emotional safety means the capacity to be honest without being attacked.   Emotional safety is vital for trust to grow and the negative cycle of attack and defend to desist.

The temptation to “have the last word” is often very strong but needs to be resisted.

At this point some people think that expressing their needs necessarily involves a complaint/attack against the other.

Thankfully there are ways of talking about our needs without them being an attack or a demand on our partners.  We can discuss our  feelings and what we perceive to be a need while taking responsibility for them. Each of us has a choice as to how  we behave in a relationship and these choices are usually informed by a knowledge of how the other party feels, what he or she likes and so on.

When anger is there

Sometimes – as is the case with Nicole and Michael, one person’s expression of feelings seemed to invoke a strong anger response in them.

What to do in these circumstances?

First we need to get clear that we can’t control our thoughts or our feelings but we can control our behaviour and we routinely do. Your behaviour, including speech should be as conscious and as “chosen” as possible.

Anger can arise and we can, for various reasons choose not to express it at a particular time. This is not emotional dishonesty but wisdom. Sometimes it is not helpful to express a feeling.

However a relationship is a place where we can feel safe to share our feelings and we can trust that our partner is willing to share their feelings as well. The time and place of that sharing may need to be chosen carefully.

This part of was Nicole and Michael’s problem – they were sharing their feelings in destructive ways  woven into the negative cycle of attacking and defending. Feelings had become weapons.

Communication strategies

There are communication strategies and  many other things that will be needed to get their rocky “relation-ship” back on an even keel and not smash into the break up rocks.

As an immediate measure I suggested that as this new decorum will need to time to be established, they commit to a four week period where we will put their relationship in “intensive care” and just the same way we would with a patient whose life supporting systems were at risk, we would not expect them to be jogging along like normal but establish an intravenous drips of caution, calm, respect  whilst undergoing an intensive period of therapy for four weeks.

From that time better choices may be made about whether they do really want to invest in the relationship or turn off the relationship life support.

More from David Indermaur our Relationship Psychologist in Perth in our next blog.

 

For help with your relationship in Sydney, please check out our Sydney Psychologists.

Does marriage counselling and relationship counselling really work?

 

When your relationship is in trouble and you have tried all you know to fix it, it can get very frustrating and disappointing, as the loving feelings that brought you together in the first place are are often buried under layers of negativity, pain, arguments or coldness.

If you are like most people, you like to keep your personal problems to yourself. Most of us don’t like airing our dirty laundry in public. However, when you have done all you know how to resolve your relationship problems, and it is not working, then there is the option of going to a marriage or relationship counsellor.

Most people want to be sure that in going to this trouble, that it is going to be worth the effort; that the counsellor will be able to offer them some positive solutions that they can’t find on their own.

Marriage Counselling can help you

Successful relationship counselling and marriage counselling does just this, and does this for a reason.

Albert Einstein once said, “You cant solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must learn to see the world anew”

This is the reason that a good marriage counsellor can help you. To begin with, none of us has been taught how to have a good relationship. Even though it is an absolutely essential skill for us to have as humans, no-one teaches us. We are left to either follow our parents model, or alternatively do the opposite, as we didn’t like the way we were raised. But mostly we are operating in the dark.

So that is the first thing that good relationship counselling offers you:  Education on how to have a good relationship. We have taken the time to learn these skills so we can show you how.

Additionally, and just as importantly, a good marriage counsellor can give you insight into why your particular relationship is not working, and what each of you are doing that might be contributing to it. This insight is like gold to a couple experiencing problems, because it offers the specific way out of the conflict for your unique situation.

What to expect from Marriage Counselling

Usually we recommend that the earlier you can recognise you have a problem, and the sooner you can come into relationship counselling, the easier the process.

Having said that, however, what happens for most people is that they leave it until one partner is almost ready to walk out the door, and then make an appointment.

Strangely, counselling at this time can also work very effectively too, as, although your problems are usually larger by this time, also can be your motivation to look at what is happening and your part in it, when your whole relationship is at risk.

Whenever you decide that you need some help,  good counselling can give you insight that you have been missing and offer a new way forward for a relationship often far better than you can imagine.

Check our our blog on will my partner change if I bring him to counselling.

Marriage Counselling

More next week.

Warmly

Julie

 

Why do my relationships not go the way I want them to?

Have you ever wondered why your relationships don’t go the way you want  them to despite your best efforts?

It all starts way back when you were growing up.

As a child, we all need respect, understanding, empathic attunement & mirroring of ourselves from  our parents or caregivers.

We need our parents to serve as a mirror to us, to see us clearly, to respond appropriately to our feelings, to reflect them back to us, reassuring us that they are ok, and reflect our core goodness and potential back to us.

It is only in doing this that we get to know who we really are and appreciate ourselves and feel confident about developing towards adulthood.

Unfortunately, most parents are unable to do this, as they themselves have not received this level of empathic attunement for themselves. They see their children through the dark coloured distorted glasses of their own limited perceptions of themselves, as well as their own hopes, fears, expectations and unmet needs.

They simply couldn’t give us the kind of recognition they never gave themselves, nor allow us to have feelings, needs or sensitivities they never allowed themselves to have either.

This provides an incredibly challenging situation that many children have to find a way to deal with.

To the extent that we don’t receive this empathic attunement of ourselves as a child, we grow up feeling that there is something wrong with us, or our experience; that we are in some way deficient, unworthy or unacceptable, or that we don’t exist or are  completely insignificant.

This is experienced as deeply hurtful, and this core wound and sense of emptiness can haunt us for the rest of our lives.

This attachment wound then can play itself out in a myriad of ways:

– At a level sometimes below our consciousness, we can feel deeply hurt & in shock and so we shut down our natural openness of our being

– We can have very little awareness of our real emotions and needs, as we have had no or very little validation of them.

– We can protect our sense of safety by believing that our parents must be right, and therefore we develop a haunting sense of deficiency and poor self esteem, and a most primal core belief that “I am deficient, I am unworthy, I am unacceptable, I don’t exist”

– We can develop a False Self/ Ego/ Rigid Personality which gives us:   

                          An identity

                          A sense of control and safety in the world.

                          A sense of superiority

                         An avoidance of vulnerability

But can also give us:

A lack of empathy and compassion to ourselves and others

A lack of openness and softness to ourselves and others

A sense of numbness and inner emptiness

And a life that feels flat, stale and joyless

– We can medicate ourselves by getting addicted to TV, alcohol, material success, food, social media, shopping, love, spirituality and many other things, to numb the feeling of emptiness 

– We relate in all our relationships from a rigid personality and an Insecure Attachment style 

– We have no idea of who we really are

So, our relationship with our parents helps shape our brain in a way that was highly adaptive to the circumstances we found ourselves in. We survived, we adapted and we did the best we could.

However, this closing down emotionally and feeling poorly about ourselves shapes our neural processes, self-esteem and emotional regulation capacities throughout our later life, as well as how securely we feel attached in our relationships.

Additionally all of these aspects play out over and over again in all our subsequent relationships, becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy as we behave toward new people in ways that reproduce old negative relationships.

In this way almost all of us have ongoing life experiences that repeatedly reinforce earlier learned patterns of being in the world with others.

I will talk more about Attachment in the next few blogs. How secure our attachments are and what our attachment styles are, are very important components in understanding why our relationships don’t work the way we would like them.

Stay tuned for more information on understanding your attachment styles in the next couple of weeks.

If you are needing more information and help with your specific relationship click here for information on what our relationship counselling can offer.

More on how secure you feel in your relationship in our next blog.

Warmest regards

Julie

4 Steps to H-E-A-L your Relationship when it goes Off track

 

Even the strongest relationships get off track sometimes, because of the stresses of living,  mismatches in expectations or either of us being triggered from wounds from the past.

Melanie Greenberg has developed a simple 4 step  H-E-A-L  (Hear – Empathize – Act – Love) technique to repair damaged relationships by replacing defensive self-protection with compassionate presence and loving connection.

HEAR – To Hear Your Partner, Stay Present & Listen

When your partner speaks, make an effort to stay mentally present & listen. Open your heart and take down your defenses. It’s not about defending yourself, but about trying to understand your partner & learning to fulfill each other’s needs.

Listen beyond his/her words for nonverbal signs of emotion. Does he/she have an angry expression on his/ her face or sadness in his/her eyes? Is his/her body language open and reaching towards you or closed off and guarded?

What do you think your partner is feeling? What are the needs he/she has that are not being met (such as for love, companionship, understanding, control,or respect)?

The best way to soothe an angry spouse is to let him know that you hear and & accept his/her unmet needs and are willing to make changes to help meet them.

EMPATHIZE – Allow Your Partner’s Experience to Deeply Affect you

Once you think you understand what your partner feels and have checked it out with him, pay attention to what feelings YOU have when you observe him feeling this way.

It is especially important to search beneath the surface for the softer, tender feelings. My clients often express anger when what lies underneath is feeling stuck, sad, or lonely.

Can you stay present with your partner, and connect with his/her deeper experience, perhaps feeling pain because he/she is in pain?

Can you feel compassion, and let him/her know that his/her expression of pain or anger affects you deeply?

Your first instinct in hearing your partner’s distress may be to try to solve the problem or give advice. Often this advice comes across as critical or judgmental, which makes things worse.

On the other hand, staying emotionally engaged and expressing compassion can provide healing comfort and connection. Many times, that is all he/she needs.

ACT – Take Action to Address Concerns & Show Willingness to Change

The next step is to commit to intentional action to address your partner’s needs and concerns.

These actions can range from helping more with the dishes to calling your partner during the day to let him/her know you are thinking of him/her, to spending less money because it makes her/him anxious.

When your partner sees that you take his/her concerns seriously, he/she will be more likely to feel valued and respected.

This can create a positive cycle in which he/she appreciates you and feels more loving towards you.

You don’t have to be perfect at it – just the fact that you care and are trying to change is enough to help most people feel validated.

 LOVE – Feel and Express Unconditional Love

Make space in your life to deliberately reconnect with the loving feelings you have for your partner, even if recent interactions have made you feel distant or angry.

Think about the good qualities he/she has that originally attracted you to him/her.  Perhaps look at old photos or visualize special times in your relationship and the hopes and dreams you had together.

Can you find a way to forgive yourself and your partner for the mistakes you have both made that got you off track? What do these feelings of love motivate you to do? Might you want to reach out to him/her and express your love and affection physically or with action, such as cooking a meal or writing a note?

Love is defined as a concern for another’s wellbeing and a warm feeling you have towards another. Do not make your expressions of love contingent on what your partner does, but rather reach out and express unconditional caring, support, understanding and forgiveness.

If there are unresolved trust issues that hamper your ability to love your partner freely, think about the next steps you could take to air these issues and what it would take to rebuild trust.

SUMMARY

Contrary to the way relationships are portrayed in the movies, they are not all sunsets and roses. A better analogy is that of an ever-changing, complicated dance.

When two people come together with different life histories, sensitivities, and current stresses, you are bound to bump up against each other or get blown off track over the course of a many-year relationship.

Repair your relationship using the H-E-A-L technique. By Hearing, Empathizing, Acting to Change, & Loving, you are actively reaching for your partner and letting them know that they matter and you care. This should create HEALING energy to move your relationship back to health.

If you need further help with any of these techniques, give us a ring and book in for a relationship counselling session.

More on why our relationship not go the way we want them to in in our next blog.

Warmest regards

JUlie

Is Distance the new Closeness?

Absence does makes the heart grow fonder, but  does geographical distance increase romantic closeness?

 

Usually we imagine that we need to live relatively close to each other and see each other often to develop a close romantic relationship.

However, a growing body of research by Aaron Ben-Zeez in the US indicates otherwise: His research has found that long-distance relationships often have an equal or greater value in maintaining and promoting romantic relationships.

So, is living apart together better than living together?

 

Closeness and romantic relationships

Closeness is a crucial element that determines the  emotional intensity we feel with a partner, and we certainly need to have a certain amount of physical closeness to develop an intimate and emotionally connected connection. And love includes the wish to become as close as possible to the person we love.

But, despite this, there are now increasing numbers of romantic couples who live at a geographical distance from each other.

Take the example of what Aaron calls the Commuter marriage. A commuter marriage is a relationship between people who are married and intend to remain so, but nevertheless live apart, usually because of the locations of their jobs, educational demands, and dual-career pursuits. They travel regularly in order to be together, often on weekends but sometimes less frequently. These kind of distant relationships are now a growing form of romantic relationships.

Phone calls, videos, instant messaging, texting, and e-mails allow you to communicate immediately in order to sustain a continuous meaningful romantic relationship despite the geographical distance.

The increase in distant romantic relationships can be largely due to the increased value placed on personal flourishing in romantic relationships, as well as in marriage.

 

The importance of Personal flourishing

In his book, Passionate marriage, David Schnarch talked about 2 models of Intimacy: other-validated intimacy and  self-validated intimacy.

When we are wanting other-validated intimacy we are seeking acceptance, empathy, validation, and reciprocal disclosure from our partner. This is indeed great and part of a healthy relationship, but there is also self validated intimacy which relies on each person maintaining his or her own autonomy and self-worth.

This style involves the ability to maintain your sense of self while in close contact with the partner (who may or may not be validating you).

 

Self Flourishing & Joint Flourishing

Enter Self Flourishing (a larger emphasis on yourself and your own development as a person) and  … Joint flourishing where love is the wish to flourish together with a flourishing partner for many years.

When personal flourishing is at the center of the romantic relationship and marriage, the geographical closeness to the partner becomes of less importance. 

 

What is the romantic value of distant relationships?

“Relationship at a distance can do things for the heart that a closer, day-to-day companionship cannot.” Thomas Moore

“Absence diminishes mediocre passions and increases great ones, as the wind extinguishes candles and fans fires.” François de La Rochefoucauld

Some kind of distance, providing a greater personal space and enabling greater personal flourishing, can be advantageous for our personal relationship. Having said that, too much distance may harm the relationship.

We all need to find the right balance of freedom to be ourself, and connectedness with our partner, and we don’t have to live a physical distance away from our partner to experience this. It may just be that we both make the time to do our own thing, while still living in the same house.

So that when we come back together, we have something new to bring back to our partner, bringing a freshness that often isn’t there when you spend almost all your time together.

It your relationship has got the blahs or your bored with too much togetherness,  give us a ring and book in for a relationship counselling session and we can help you get the spark back again.

More on 4 steps to heal your relationship in our next blog.

Warmest regards

Julie

The 5 Levels of Intimacy: Which level do you communicate on?

 

In modern day relationships intimacy is the name of the game. But what exactly does intimacy mean? Barbara Wilson has identified  that there are actually 5 levels of intimacy, that we move through as we get to know a new partner or friend.

The Five Levels of Intimacy

Level One: Safe Communication

Level one is the initial and lowest level of communication. It is considered safe because it really just involves the exchange of facts and information. There are no feelings, opinions or personal vulnerability involved, and therefore no risk of rejection.

This is the kind of interaction we have with people we don’t know very well. It’s the chat we have with the supermarket checkout girl. People communicating at this level share minimal intimacy. An example of this level would be, “Looks like it’s going to rain”” This is great Indian”

 

Level Two: Sharing Other peoples’ Opinions and Beliefs

At level two we begin to share other people’s thoughts, beliefs and opinions. We are beginning to reveal more of ourselves through our associations. We say things like, “My mother always says…” or “One of my favorite authors said…” Such statements test the other person’s reaction to what we’re sharing without offering our own opinions. This is slightly more vulnerable than level one, but because we’re not sharing our own opinions we can distance ourselves from the opinion if we feel threatened by criticism or rejection.

 

Level Three: Personal Opinions and Beliefs

We start taking small risks at this level because we begin to share our own thoughts, opinions and beliefs. But like the previous level, if we begin feeling too vulnerable, we can say we’ve switched our opinions or changed our mind in order to avoid conflict or pain.

 

Level Four: My Feelings and Experiences

Sharing feelings and experiences is the next level of vulnerability and intimacy. At this level we talk about our joys, pain, and failures; our mistakes in the past, our dreams, and our goals. What we like or don’t like. What makes us who we are. This level is more vulnerable because we can’t change how we feel about something, the details of our past or current experiences. If we sense we may be rejected or criticized all we can do is try to convince others that we’re no longer impacted by our past. We’re no longer that person. We’re different now.

 

Level Five: My Needs, Emotions and Desires

Level five is the highest level of intimacy. It is the level where we are known at the deepest core of who we are. Because of that, it is the level that requires the greatest amount of trust. If I can’t trust that you won’t reject me, I’ll never be able to share my deepest self with you. Unlike the other levels, there is no escape at this level.

Once I let someone see who I really am, I can no longer convince them otherwise. Communicating at this level means we offer someone the most vulnerable part of ourselves. And the greatest fear is that they could use it against us later. When we share things like, “I’m hurt when you don’t call,” I need to feel respected by you,” or “I want to spend my life with you,” we’re sharing not only our hurts but our desires and needs as well.

It’s also the level where we let others see our emotional reaction to things, which if you’re like me, isn’t always a pretty sight. Maybe that’s why we save those for the ones closest to us, like our families.

 

True Intimacy

It’s important to understand that true intimacy in a relationship happens over time…not in a day, week or even a month. Think of your best friend…how long did it take before you felt at the highest level of intimacy with them, where you were able to trust them completely, or share your deepest self? It’s the same in romantic relationships…true intimacy develops over time.

But another important element is needed for true intimacy…both people in the relationship need to move through the levels together. If I’m sharing at level four with someone (feelings and experiences) but my partner is sharing at level three (opinions and beliefs) we’re not experiencing true intimacy. I may feel closer because I’m sharing at a higher level, but in reality what we have is a false sense of intimacy.

In truth, intimacy is measured by the person with the lower level of vulnerability.

 

Sex can be a False Sense of Intimacy

Level 5 is the healthiest, safest and most intimate place to have sex. When we feel loved unconditionally, and have the highest level of trust, we’ll be able to give ourselves completely to each other, increasing intimacy and the enjoyment of sex.

We can have sex at the other levels, but without that same level of trust the vulnerability of sex may be associated with anxiety, fear and distrust.

For further help with intimacy and communication, please see our relationship counselling services.

More on balancing intimacy and closeness with individuality in our next blog.

Warmest regards

Julie

 If you are in Sydney and are experiencing intimacy problems, check out our team of Sydney Relationship Psychologists.

 

Beautiful Advice from a Divorced man after 16 years of marriage

 

If you haven’t yet read Gerald Rogers advice last August on what he has learned about the important things in marriage after 16 years of marriage and a divorce, it is worth reading.

Something similar could be written for women also.

My advice after a divorce following 16 years of marriage, by Gerald Rogers.

Obviously, I’m not a relationship expert. But there’s something about my divorce being finalized this week that gives me perspective of things I wish I would have done different… After losing a woman that I loved, and a marriage of almost 16 years, here’s the advice I wish I would have had

1. Never stop courting. Never stop dating. NEVER EVER take that woman for granted. When you asked her to marry you, you promised to be that man that would OWN HER HEART and to fiercely protect it. This is the most important and sacred treasure you will ever be entrusted with. SHE CHOSE YOU. Never forget that, and NEVER GET LAZY in your love.

2. Protect your own heart. Just as you committed to being the protector of her heart, you must guard your own with the same vigilance. Love yourself fully, love the world openly, but there is a special place in your heart where no one must enter except for your wife. Keep that space always ready to receive her and invite her in, and refuse to let anyone or anything else enter there.

3. Fall in love over and over again.  You will constantly change. You’re not the same people you were when you got married, and in five years you will not be the same person you are today. Change will come, and in that you have to re-choose each other everyday. SHE DOESN’T HAVE TO STAY WITH YOU, and if you don’t take care of her heart, she may give that heart to someone else or seal you out completely, and you may never be able to get it back. Always fight to win her love just as you did when you were courting her.

4. Always see the best in her. Focus only on what you love. What you focus on will expand. If you focus on what bugs you, all you will see is reasons to be bugged. If you focus on what you love, you can’t help but be consumed by love. Focus to the point where you can no longer see anything but love, and you know without a doubt that you are the luckiest man on earth to be have this woman as your wife.

5. It’s not your job to change or fix her… your job is to love her as she is with no expectation of her ever changing. And if she changes, love what she becomes, whether it’s what you wanted or not.

6. Take full accountability for your own emotions: It’s not your wife’s job to make you happy, and she CAN’T make you sad. You are responsible for finding your own happiness, and through that your joy will spill over into your relationship and your love.

7. Never blame your wife if you get frustrated or angry at her, it is only because it is triggering something inside of YOU. They are YOUR emotions, and your responsibility. When you feel those feelings take time to get present and to look within and understand what it is inside of YOU that is asking to be healed. You were attracted to this woman because she was the person best suited to trigger all of your childhood wounds in the most painful way so that you could heal them… when you heal yourself, you will no longer be triggered by her, and you will wonder why you ever were.

8. Allow your woman to just be. When she’s sad or upset, it’s not your job to fix it, it’s your job to HOLD HER and let her know it’s ok. Let her know that you hear her, and that she’s important and that you are that pillar on which she can always lean. The feminine spirit is about change and emotion and like a storm her emotions will roll in and out, and as you remain strong and unjudging she will trust you and open her soul to you… DON’T RUN-AWAY WHEN SHE’S UPSET. Stand present and strong and let her know you aren’t going anywhere. Listen to what she is really saying behind the words and emotion.

9. Be silly… don’t take yourself so damn seriously. Laugh. And make her laugh. Laughter makes everything else easier.

10. Fill her soul everyday… learn her love languages and the specific ways that she feels important and validated and CHERISHED. Ask her to create a list of 10 THINGS that make her feel loved and memorize those things and make it a priority everyday to make her feel like a queen.

11. Be present. Give her not only your time, but your focus, your attention and your soul. Do whatever it takes to clear your head so that when you are with her you are fully WITH HER. Treat her as you would your most valuable client. She is.

12. Be willing to take her sexually, to carry her away in the power of your masculine presence, to consume her and devour her with your strength, and to penetrate her to the deepest levels of her soul. Let her melt into her feminine softness as she knows she can trust you fully.

13. Don’t be an idiot…. And don’t be afraid of being one either. You will make mistakes and so will she. Try not to make too big of mistakes, and learn from the ones you do make. You’re not supposed to be perfect, just try to not be too stupid.

14. Give her space… The woman is so good at giving and giving, and sometimes she will need to be reminded to take time to nurture herself. Sometimes she will need to fly from your branches to go and find what feeds her soul, and if you give her that space she will come back with new songs to sing…. (okay, getting a little too poetic here, but you get the point. Tell her to take time for herself, ESPECIALLY after you have kids. She needs that space to renew and get re-centered, and to find herself after she gets lost in serving you, the kids and the world.)

15. Be vulnerable… you don’t have to have it all together. Be willing to share your fears and feelings, and quick to acknowledge your mistakes.

16. Be fully transparent. If you want to have trust you must be willing to share EVERYTHING… Especially those things you don’t want to share. It takes courage to fully love, to fully open your heart and let her in when you don’t know i she will like what she finds… Part of that courage is allowing her to love you completely, your darkness as well as your light. DROP THE MASK… If you feel like you need to wear a mask around her, and show up perfect all the time, you will never experience the full dimension of what love can be.

17. Never stop growing together… The stagnant pond breeds malaria, the flowing stream is always fresh and cool. Atrophy is the natural process when you stop working a muscle, just as it is if you stop working on your relationship. Find common goals, dreams and visions to work towards.

18. Don’t worry about money. Money is a game, find ways to work together as a team to win it. It never helps when teammates fight. Figure out ways to leverage both persons strength to win.

19. Forgive immediately and focus on the future rather than carrying weight from the past. Don’t let your history hold you hostage. Holding onto past mistakes that either you or she makes, is like a heavy anchor to your marriage and will hold you back. FORGIVENESS IS FREEDOM. Cut the anchor loose and always choose love.

20. Always choose love. ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE. In the end, this is the only advice you need. If this is the guiding principle through which all your choices is governed, there is nothing that will threaten the happiness of your marriage. Love will always endure.

In the end marriage isn’t about happily ever after. It’s about work. And a commitment to grow together and a willingness to continually invest in creating something that can endure eternity. Through that work, the happiness will come. Marriage is life, and it will bring ups and downs. Embracing all of the cycles and learning to learn from and love each experience will bring the strength and perspective to keep building, one brick at a time.

These are lessons I learned the hard way. These are lessons I learned too late. But these are lessons I am learning and committed in carrying forward. Truth is, I loved being married, and in time, I will get married again, and when I do, I will build it with a foundation that will endure any storm and any amount of time.

If you are reading this and find wisdom in my pain, share it those those young husbands whose hearts are still full of hope, and with those couples you may know who may have forgotten how to love. One of those men may be like I was, and in these hard earned lessons perhaps something will awaken in him and he will learn to be the man his lady has been waiting for.

Relationship counselling can help save your marriage from a painful divorce. Click here for more information on our relationship and marriage counselling services.

More on the 5 levels of intimacy that are essential for a happy relationship on our next blog.

Warmest regards

Julie

Are you neglecting your relationship?

 

Remember the days when you first met your wife or husband?

Those wonderful romantic sexy days when you loved being in each other’s company and could talk for hours. You would do those special things for each other just to see the look of delight on his/her face. They were the days when your relationship was rich and vibrant and you felt fully alive because of it.

Now the “Limerance” stage is long gone, as it always does………. but have you replaced it with an even better version of a deeper fuller love? …..Or have you been taking your loved one for granted and busying yourself with other “more pressing” things, like jobs and children and work around the home, and finances and friends?

One of the most common themes I find in my private practice as a Psychologist specializing in Relationships is a “natural neglect” in secure relationships.

Even though everything in your shared life is based on a foundation of your love for each other, and your shared life, it’s all too easy to take for granted that your relationship will always be there, without realizing that it, too, needs attending to and nurturing.

Perhaps you could check in with your partner and ask him/her how happy he or she is in your relationship, on a scale of 1 to 10. Then follow it with the more important question of “What would have to happen to make it a 10 for you?”

Keeping your relationship alive and vibrant needs ongoing attention, but not only does it make for a more enjoyable life, but is one of the most enduring aspects of a life well lived.

In the twilight years of one’s life, thoughts more often than not turn to how well did I love and be loved, rather than how much money will I die with.

If you’ve let your relationship go, a relationship counsellor can show you, in a few sessions, how to bring back the vibrancy, chemistry and love again.

Watch out for our next blog when I report to you some beautiful advice from a divorced man.

Warm regards

Julie

Why do relationships get into trouble?

Lets look  firstly at why we choose to be in a relationship in the first place. We are individuals that seek union and connection.

As humans, we have 2 intrinsic life forces: one that drives us toward our own individual self expression, and the other force that drives us towards togetherness.

Individuality and self respect.

We all have a need to express our individuality, our individual desires and personal identity, our interests, thoughts, feeling and views, and to exercise our will to make our life happen in the way we desire it.

 

Togetherness and emotional connection.

We also have a fundamental need for emotional connection, and a fear of losing it. We want to feel emotionally safe with each other, and know we can depend on our partner, that he/she iRelationship problemss there for us, that they will respond when you call, and that you matter to them, and are valued and are accepted by them.

From my experience counselling 1000s of couples in relationship counselling, relationship and marriage problems arise when we experience either or both of the following:

  1. Loss of our self, or the full expression of our self, or
  2. Emotional disconnection from our partner

 

These are at the core of all relationship problems. If your relationship is not what you would like it to be, it can be worthwhile asking yourself the following questions:

  1. Where in my relationship, have I lost myself, my true desires, or what is important to me?
  2. Where in my relationship have I lost connection with my partner?Is my partner accessible to me, responsive to me, and positively engaged with me?

 

These are important markers of why you relationship may not be working for you. Relationship and marriage counselling can help rebuild these for you.

More on are you neglecting your relationship in our next blog.

Warm regards

Julie

Why men find empathy difficult

 

Empathising with our partner is one of those essentials to a happy and healthy relationship.

We feel connected with another if we feel he or she takes the time and presence to be there for us and try to understand us.

By “understanding” I mean not only our thoughts but also our feelings. Getting a sense of how another feels is called empathy. Research has shown that the way we empathise with another is by way of our resonance circuits in our brain. By using sensory information, these circuits create representations of the others mind, including their emotions.

The way empathy works is that the mirror neurons in our resonance circuits  pick up emotions from our partner and translate them into our own emotions. When we feel them in us, we recognise them and can understand what our partner is feeling.

However, we must be familiar with our own emotional world in order to map clearly the emotions of our partner.

And this is often the challenge for men. Men are not encouraged to spend time getting in touch with their emotions. But, if you are not in touch with your own sadness, worry, anger, frustration, disappointment, feeling of overwhelm and other feelings, then you won’t be able to “feel” these in your partner.

So the route to empathising with your partner needs to start with getting in touch with your own feelings. As you grow in your ability to know yourself, you become more and more receptive to knowing your partner.

Relationship counselling and individual counselling can help in showing men how to look inward and get to know their internal emotional world first so that empathy will then come more easily.

More on understanding yourself using the Enneagram next week.

Warm regards

Julie