Blog Posts

Hello from the United States of America!

Hi all you wonderful people who take the time to read and write in to me here at Marriage Works!

I have the good fortune to be in Boulder, Colorado at the Michele Weiner-Davis Behind Closed Doors training. Every morning I get up to look at the amazing Flat Irons at Chataqua Park, yes I climbed up them a little the altitude up here is 5,500 feet. The air is thin and it is hot.

What a place to have training in couple therapy up near nature of the Flat Irons Chataqua Park, Colorado
What a place to have training in couple therapy up near nature of the Flat Irons Chataqua Park, Boulder, Colorado

Now back to Michele’s training – she is so generous and super talented in sharing her divorce busting techniques with a fabulous group of wonderful therapists. I am enjoying meeting these committed couple therapy warriors who help couples to gain change. They are so friendly to this Kiwi who has come from Sydney Australia! Thank you all!

Behind Closed Doors with Michele Weiner Davis, learning from the Divorce Buster Superstar
Behind Closed Doors with Michele Weiner Davis, learning from the Divorce Buster Superstar!

It’s good to be reminded of brief solution focussed therapy and access Michele’s updated version. She is a wonder worker and her passion shines forth. I can’t wait to take this back to my couples and work with the folks who see me!

How lucky I am and grateful to Michele for sharing so powerfully of herself and her clinical skills! And thanks to Jim her husband too!
How lucky I am and grateful to Michele for sharing so powerfully of herself and her clinical skills. And thanks to Jim her husband too! So Jet  lagged.

Sadly today is the last day of the powerful training. I have had a blast and feel so warmly welcomed in the US. Perhaps Michele has saved the juiciest bit till last as our final day is working on the Sex Starved Marriage. Based on her wonderful book of the same title-find the Sex Starved Marriage by Michele Weiner Davis here.

Thank you Michele, Jim and all the workshop participants for a wonderful adventure in learning.

With Love Philipa

 

How your early childhood sets up patterns for relationships.

I love psychology especially when it explains for us what is inexplicable. In a lot of readers comments there is a coomon thread of why do I behave like this toward my partner. I push him away one minute and then when he leaves I feel like I am going to die!

As you can hear it is a very young part responding to the threat of them leaving. This younger self can feel abandoned, paralyzed and hopeless.

These younger parts of ourselves – we all have them respond amazingly well to Resource Therapy please visit the Resource Therapy Institute of Australia for more information.

John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth who gave us Attachment theory which are formed in childhood with our caretakers. This attachment helps us to survive as infants. We are totally dependent on others for life. We develop our ways of connection – our attachment style in relation to the way our parents or those responsible for our care were available to us.

There are four types of attachment –

1. Secure: A child with this type of attachment will feel easily soothed and safe when with their main caregiver. If they are distressed, they will turn towards their caregiver, or seek them out in some way. This attachment is formed when a child knows they can count on their caregiver to be there for them when they cry, soothe them, and care for them. They will use this secure attachment as a safe base from which they can explore all that’s around them.

2. Insecure-Avoidant: Children do not attach to their caregiver because they don’t feel they can rely on them. This usually means that their primary caregiver either hasn’t been there for them when they needed it or has been rejecting or dismissive of their needs altogether. When a child is in distress and has this type of attachment they will not seek contact with their primary attachment figure.

3. Insecure Ambivalent: Children with this type of attachment will be clingy and needy of their caregiver, but when the caregiver comes to their aid they are rejecting of them and not easily soothed.

4. Disorganized: Children with this type of attachment will show a confusing mix of attachment behaviors and may even appear to be confused or disoriented. They believe that this attachment style is caused by inconsistency from their caregivers. Meaning that a parent may be soothing and helpful, but also fear-inducing and hurtful.

Below is a very famous example of what a baby will do to make their care giver respond. It’s so amazing.

After the Affair Article in MINDFOOD July/ August Issue 2018

Hello there lovely readers of Marriage Works.

Chris and I went to the news agents on Saturday as he wanted to buy a magazine for the soccer World cup. While in there he handed me the latest Mindfood magazine pointing out a psychology article “After the Affair – is it possible to restore trust.” I said oh good and opened it to page 50 in Health:Relationships.

My surprise reading Philipa Thornton as published in MINDFOOD McHugh Media's Magazine
Surprise!

Imagine my surprise when I read “Philipa Thornton’s strategies for making it work after an affair”! I had totally forgotten journalist Emily Joyce’s interview back in April.

I was pretty chuffed and had a good chuckle. It is a great article ( even if I do say so!) on affair recovery which is totally possible, I encourage you to check it out. Plus you get to see the gorgeous Rachel Weisz’s beautiful image and hear her story of a new chapter. See her interview with Graham Norton here on being married to Daniel Craig

The story is called Circle of Trust and is out now.

mindfood psychology after the affair contributions by philipa thornton psychologist

Current Issue of Mindfood Magazine here

How to Tell When Your Loved One Needs Help for Addiction

A huge thanks to Bethany Hatton for our guest article on addiction:

ADrugRehab.org states, “Addiction is tricky and calculating, and it’s the only disease that can take more than one person down with it, if it is left unchallenged. Addiction dramatically alters the lives of not just the addicted person, but of everyone within his or her vicinity, namely family and friends.”

Addiction in Australia

Millions of Australians are affected by drug addiction and alcohol dependency, either directly or indirectly. There are dozens of different drugs that can have a significant impact on a person’s life. ABC reports that the number of drug overdose deaths in the country has risen to the highest levels in nearly 20 years. It can be difficult, however, to determine if your loved one has a drug problem because different drugs have different symptoms, and people react to drugs in ways unique to them.

Identifying a substance abuse problem

Addiction to anything, whether it is drugs, sex, gambling, or food, can leave a person feeling socially isolated. According to ReachOut.com, a few social signs of a substance abuse problem include:

  • Avoiding non-users becoming isiolated
  • Feeling uncomfortable when unable to access their drug of choice
  • Lying
  • Relationship problems
  • Job loss
  • Going into debt to fund habit
  • Stealing

Other indications include:

  • Anxiety attacks
  • Irritability
  • Poor attention span
  • Depression, often severe
  • Impotence
  • Declining health, specifically heart problems
  • Psychosis

If you suspect that a friend or family member has an alcohol or drug problem, the first step is to help them recognize and admit it. Understand that you cannot force them to undergo treatment, but they may be more willing to get help if they are sure that they have a strong support network. Once they are willing to consider treatment, reach out to their doctor or healthcare provider.

The end goal of drug treatment is for the user to have the self-control their use if possible or to avoid taking drugs in the first place. But quitting cold turkey can be very tough and is often not a good idea. Withdrawal, the body’s response to craving a specific substance, can have debilitating symptoms including high blood pressure, anxiety, and shakiness. A person with an addiction to alcohol or a benzodiazepine, such as Valium, may even be at risk of death due to a sudden shock to the system if they quit using unexpectedly. The National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre in Sydney reports that opiate withdrawal, which was previously believed to be non-life-threatening, can result in death due to dehydration caused by vomiting and diarrhea.

Approaching an addicted person

Opening up a line of communication is an important part of helping your friend or family member seek treatment for their addiction. PositiveChoices.org.au explains that you must prepare ahead of time, however, before beginning the conversation about substance abuse. Gather information about the drug and decide exactly what you want to say about how you feel that the drugs have affected your loved one’s life. Come at them with compassion but be ready for some push back and negative reactions. More than anything, stay calm and be willing to listen to what they have to say. If you are intimidated or believe approaching them on your own may put you at risk, have a friend, family member, or mental health professional join you. You could also work with other close friends or family members to stage an intervention.

Type of treatment

There are dozens of residential treatment centres throughout Australia and even more outpatient facilities that can help. Long-term treatment, those programs designed to last between six and 12 months, offer 24-hour care and begin with a thorough medical detox. Community counselliing and support groups are also of offer.

Throughout treatment, patients are taught both how to live independent of chemical dependency and how to reenter society in recovery. The type of treatment your friend or relative seeks will be dictated by number of factors including their willingness to undergo treatment, time constraints, and finances.

For more information on alcohol and drug treatment, contact the Alcohol and Drug Foundation at 1300 85 85 84, your doctor or a psychologist. If it is a life-threatening emergency, call 000 or seek immediate medical intervention.

There are lots of resources out there to help you and your family members affected by drug or alcohol or other addictions
There are lots of resources out there to help you and your family members affected by drug,  alcohol or other addictions

 

No Sex, could it be an Affair or Warning Sign?

If your bedroom has gone dead, you need to address this. You know your partner and your frequency. If it’s gone off the boil, you may need to light the fire again.

Intimate connection, begins with understanding and appreciation. We get caught up in the daily grind. You ignore your relationship and your partner at your peril.

If you start looking outside for the answers – accusing your spouse of infidelity then you only lose control. Even if there is an affair your best bet is to work on your marriage.

Bring back the fun and frolics
Bring back the fun and frolics

Both men and women need an emotional and safe place to experience their connection. Are you providing this? If so great. You are probably having sex. If not you may need to get on top of this pronto. Reconnect with your partner today. Do something nice, share yourself with love.

Wishing you luck and love!

Dead bedroom or affair?
In union

Find a Flatmate or Your Soulmate in the Suburbs…

I recently was called by the lovely Elizabeth Tilley of the Courier Mail a division of News. com.au . Where I was the featured relationship expert in her great article:

Looking for a flatmate or a soulmate? You might just find both in one of these suburbs.

Relationship psychologist Philipa Thornton said a romance born from a flatmate friendship could lead to a successful life partnership.

“It is a fabulous basis because domestically you’re going to have an idea of what they are like pretty quickly,” she said.

“Proximity makes the heart grow fonder and that can be a really lovely foundation for a relationship to form from a friendship base.”

Relationship psychologist Philipa Thornton.

Relationship psychologist Philipa Thornton.Source:News Limited

Ms Thornton said with a more traditional dating relationship someone’s true colours could remain hidden for quite some time, but a flatmate romance fast-tracked what was normally a slower process.

“The honeymoon phase could be over quicker when you’re living with someone 24/7,” she said.

It can be a great foundation for lasting love.

Originally published as When flatmates become soulmates

Is Relationship Counselling Worth it?

This is a good question you need to ask yourself. Let’s think about this now.

How much have you invested in your relationship? Perhaps you have years together with all the ups and downs a real history of companionship brings. Through the highs and lows of togetherness, you got through it.

Having fun together
Having fun together

You may have children together, who you have watched being born – happy days. With whom you witnessed growing up and how tough that can be at times.

Being there for your children
Being there for your children

Perhaps your family is a blended family and you already know the stress and suffering separation and divorce takes on your children’s lives. The upheaval and challenge of co-parenting are not easy.

Money struggles are no fun
Money struggles are no fun
Divorce is not easy
Divorce is not easy

Maybe this is just your latest relationship, where in the past it hasn’t worked out and you are sick of the merry go round pattern. Where you go for few years with a person and it’s great and then it suddenly seems to go kaput. And weh it all seems to go awry and it’s like you don’t even know your partner. Sorry to say they really haven’t changed it’s the love drugs have worn off and you are seeing them for all they are flaws and all.

It started off so well, what went wrong?
It started off so well, what went wrong?

So is relationship counselling worth it? Should you work on your marriage? Why bother you may say after slogging away for so many years it seems hopeless.

So here’s the deal:

  • If you work on your relationship and it cannot be saved, you have lost nothing.
  • If you work on your relationship and save it, you have gained your relationship.
  • If you do not work on your relationship, you have lost the relationship.

From this logic it is perfectly reasonable to work on your partnership. You have nothing to lose and every thing to gain!

So what is the works that can happen? And if doesn’t help you, you’re only out a buck. At least you can say you tried and that’s worth it.

We can all do with a helping hand from time to time.
We can all do with a helping hand from time to time.

Give it a go.  Call us today to begin your gains Call us at 0434 559 011 or 0411 144 646 to begin the changes that will help salvage your partnership from the brink.

You may also email Philipa Thornton at philipathornton@gmail.com or Chris Paulin at k6cjp1@gmail.com.

 

Success Stories from the Last Resort Blog

At Marriage Works we want to support your relationship to new heights. Unfortunately many of us leave it until our spouses hand is on the doorknob, or get the divorce papers in the mail.

The LAST Resort Technique Blog is for exactly this type of scenario. It’s your best bet and may be your only chance  to get your relationship back.

I am so impressed with the  good people who write in and share their stories of pain, hope and healing, thank you!

Hope shines through! You can save your marriage with Last Resort Technique.
Hope shines through!

I want to share their advice and success for those of you struggling with relationship despair and heartbreak. There truly is genuine hope with the LAST Resort Technique (LRT). Please read on to be inspired.

Steve writes: I thought I’d post a positive response to your article, to show this can work. Long story short – married to my wife of 15 years, 2 kids. I had a history of working too hard (long hours and occasionally weekends), playing sport every weekend and seeing my (male) friends. Basically whilst I provided a good lifestyle for the family I wasn’t there – mentally, emotionally or even physically – often enough.

A you a team player in your marriage?
A you a team player in your marriage?
Is your partner teed off with you?
Is your partner teed off with you?

I think you can guess what happened next. A male friend of the family became a shoulder to cry on, to help out at home, and then eventually an affair started. I knew something wasn’t right when I would come home on time from work and she would start an argument would start as soon as I walked in the door. Sometimes I would come home from work or sport and find my ( male) neighbour in our house talking to my wife in the kitchen. We nearly split up a couple of times prior to that.
I used to read this article on a daily basis to give me hope. I realised that I did everything wrong (see the LRT phases), and struggled not to chase, ask questions about the relationship or check up on her. We went to counselling (together and on our own) which helped with communication between us. After many sessions, the counsellor confronted my wife – who did she want. TOP or me? Heart breaking, but she chose him.

So, why are we together now, and making vacation plans for next year?

Steve’s great advice :

1. Confront the issue early (very difficult without evidence), listen to your gut instinct.

Philipa here : Please do this without accusation and with openness to listen. Example : I feel there is something coming between us and want to help us get our marriage back to the love. What are you feeling? And really listen.
2. Listen to your partner to work out why they strayed.
3. Don’t vent on social media (as much as you want to). Only do this to trusted friends or family.

Don't over share, honour your marriage vows.
Don’t over share, honour your marriage vows.

Philipa: integrity and respect are hallmarks of a great relationship. And when you are back together:

4. In the early days limit yourself to 15 mins a day asking questions, any more and it’s like pursuing.

5. Work on where you went wrong (see #2), but really be that person. They will suspect you are just doing it to keep them. Make the changes and keep doing them – even if it annoys your spouse.

Philipa: You can’t fake it til you make it you have to invest in understanding the issues.

6. In the midst of this all, don’t lose sight of who you are. You didn’t stray or cheat. You are a good person, do the LRT.

7. DON’T do the LRT too early. I did and my wife thought I was pushing her away. Its for when all else fails.

Philipa, yes it’s at desperation point, not before. Get help earlier please!

8. When the time comes do the LRT fully. It will seem wrong, but if everything has failed do it. Don’t pursue, beg, spy – just be you. And let them go.

Philipa: this has to be with an big heart and a faith you may never have had to test before in yourself.

9. The LRT prepares you for life without your spouse, but you need to continue being a parent. Remember you can’t control your spouse – they are free to make their own decisions.

Philipa : this is super important if there a children in the mix. They need you regardless. Curiously the more you let go of control the freer your spouse will be to circle back.

10. Be friendly, their best friend even, but not a doormat. Set boundaries – mine were if you want to see him I’m not being your child minder.

11. If your spouse wants to move out (mine did, but never went through with it), let them. But you need to discuss finances, and who pays for what.

Philipa: Yes Steve, this is vital. Mature relationships discuss financial issues.

12. Its their choice. Let them make it, you need to give them reasons to stay. Not to push them out or away.

Philipa: This is a real gem, exactly what is required of you.

Ultimately we stayed together – TOP gave up as my wife couldn’t make the final decision to leave. This combined with our kids wanting us to stay together, and my changes to be a better husband and parent. I also think looking at her finances provided a reality check as well.
You need to be strong, look after yourself and have trusted friends / family. You will go through hell emotionally. You will have bad days, days where you can’t function, where you want to give up and can’t take any more. Keep going. I lost 12 lbs in 3 months, felt like this was going to drive me mad or kill me. But it worked. It took 7 months from finding out to properly turning the corner.
The turning point is letting go, and really, really meaning it. Then the penny will drop.
Thanks for this article Phillipa, it really did work.

Thank you Steve, glad you took the effort and energy required. Seven months is doable and not a bad investment to regain 15 years of marriage and your family.

And from another kind soul, Jetty’s remarkable work:

I have to say, that I am so impressed with the way this article helped me reign in my behavior. Following the tips here, along with some personal reflection, it seems like it has turned a corner.
The fighting has stopped. He is pursuing me. He is showing affection and effort. Just last weekend, HE asked me, to go away to Los Angles together. We hadn’t seen each other in six months and I don’t think it could have gone better. The change in myself is huge – I feel better about life, and about the way the relationship fits now. Just the fact that no fights have been had (with things coming up still) in over two months is mind blowing.

Thank you so much for this article, it really changed my perspective, and in turn, everything!

Your growth will inspire your partner's !
Your growth will inspire your partner’s !
 Thanks Jetty, you email will encourage others to think about their behaviour, the desired outcome and what works. Your change has offered your relationship a new beginning.
After a while when things are on stronger ground you then need to address the issues which got you to this catastrophe. Marriage therapy can fast track this. Learn Imago dialogue. Good luck and keep up the good fight!
Out of despair comes hope and chang
Out of despair comes hope and change

See me talking about the LRT on Youtube

Prepare for 10 of Life’s Unexpected Stresses

Stressful events are things that come out of the blue and knocks us for a six. Planning Plan B by Kylie Parker will help you recover from the top 10.

I am super excited to introduce you to Kylie’s fabulous book as I had a small part to play in contributing to it. I did not hesitate when Kylie asked me to write as a relationship expert to help others.

 

Planning Plan B, is written for when life’s bumps in the road through you off track. It gives you the how to get back up and running again.

Kylie consulted with experts to bring us practical, prudent and real world advice. Here you will learn from financial planners Mark Bradley and Hamish Thomson from Priority Advisory Group, Melanie McFarlane business owner, Melinda Winning family lawyer, Alan Prasad, Michael Gottlieb, Vanessa Billy, Mark Sacks, Campbell Fuller, Kate Fitzsimmons, Michael Long and myself how to be prepared for Plan B.

Planning Plan B author Kylie Parker
Planning Plan B author Kylie Parker

Kylie has taken the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scales (Holmes & Rahe, 1967)  10 stressful events and compiled a way forward when disaster strikes.

The Stressful 10 are:

1. Death

2. Death of a spouse or close family member

3. Divorce or permanent separation – without kids

4. Divorce or permanent separation – with kids

5. Disability or incapacity due to accident or illness.

6. Dismissal from employment

7. Disaster occurring whilst traveling

8. Dissolution of a business due to financial loss or unforeseen circumstances

9. Depression, mental illness or Dementia

10. Distressed sale of a home.

Life’s big things, we may never have to go through but if you do it is best to be informed. So get Plan B today!

References

Holmes, T. H., & Rahe, R. H. (1967). The social readjustment rating scale. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 11, 213.

Want to take the Stress scale? click here Holmes Rahe Stress Inventory

Happy Easter from Down Under 2018!

In Australia we are approaching Easter, a significant religious holiday for many. While I am do not belong to any church custom, I do a respect folks observances and their special traditions associated with this holy time.

When we were kids in New Zealand our TV stations played the Biblical hits. Truly this was this (with the greatest respect) where I received my religious education.

Watching Charlton Heston part the Red Sea in the 1956 tribute The Ten Commandments, was awe inspiring and still is.

Charlton Heston with Ronald Reagan. He played a great Moses
Charlton Heston with Ronald Reagan. Mr Heston played a great Moses, I look forward to seeing him again.

I will be getting the DVD down from the shelves. Yes I own it.

Despite not coming from a Christian background I do believe the Ten Commandments area useful guide to live by.
Despite not coming from a Christian background I do believe the Ten Commandments are a useful guide to live by.

Easter isn’t just about eggs and chocolates. Yes I do indulge in the brown delicious sweet!

Easter eggs are a fun and yummy chocolate treat
Easter eggs are a fun and yummy chocolate treat.

I like to use it a a time for reflection.

It is a time where I am not working. What has passed in my life, people, habits or old beliefs? The death of things that not longer support me or help me grow. These can be a simple as changing an exercise routine.

It is an opportunity to bring about change with the ‘rising’. I ask how can I encourage and support myself and others to be their greatness? What works do I need to achieve in my mission of service?

How would you apply this to your relationship?

What do you need to do inspire for your partner? Is there anything you can do to enliven your partnership? Put some thought into it. Love to hear what you came up with and how it helped. Pop a comment in the box below.

With love and light,

Philipa

Chocolate Lindt Bunny anyone?
Bunny Love xox