Welcome back to the Marriage Works Monthly Challenge Series. This is really a call to action to encourage share your positive parts to the world. This is for you no matter what your relationship status.
This month as we start to unfurl from lockdown’s, COVID 19 restrictions I ask you to share your kindness.
For some of us, this will be anxiety-provoking, possibly overwhelm, for others of us it may be a relief.
Whatever your reaction is, know it is all within the normal range to an abnormal situation.
Our partners can have their unique reactions to this so please be mindful and generous to their experiences.
So please share kindness. ?
I am a kiwi at home in Sydney (New Zealander for those who don’t know the euphemism). Being from a small town Thames it’s natural to say Hi and smile at folks when we are out and about. This can be such a goodwill gesture and often rewarded in kind.
Start with small.
Sometimes we have the opportunity to do more. I have had a friend who unexpectedly ended up in hospital. She called and I was able to get her clothes, supplies, feed her cat Izzy and support her. She is out now of danger and things are improving thank goodness.
Here’s the YouTube Marriage Works Channel video on Sharing kindness ? Hear how I responded when a lady got anxious and told me off at the mall.
Chris, my spouse is my standard for love and kind treatment. He is my lauchpad for care and respect.
In my rooms I see couples, lone partners and singles all striving for love.
Many times there’s a struggle to find self worth, value and a belief in ourselves as deserving of a loving happy relationship.
Things go off into the ditch.
This is when our negative patterns show up in partnerships.
We use the idea of a maximiser – the one who demands and speaks up. They are like the hailstorm and pour down harder to be heard.
On the flip side is the minimiser. Their pattern is withdrawal. We call these guys the Turtle. They pull back into their shells protectively.
Whey I say this to couples they nod knowingly. They usually know whether they are a turtle or a hailstorm in their partnership.
I saw John Aiken pointing out this very dynamic on Married At First Sight. Boy what a hothouse for explosivity. Makes for TV ratings. I love that we are talking about relationships.
This dynamic becomes problematic when it goes off road in the ditch.
When harsh words are said against ones character, foul language and escalation happen.
We can quickly go to the danger zone.
While time outs are a useful tool and necessary tool. It’s vital we learn newer, safer, supportive ways of connecting and communicating.
That’s why I coach couples dialogue in my sessions. So your can find a part to help you get your needs met.
You get real world skills to apply in your relationship when the sparks fly.
If a partner comes alone, I always will extend an invitation to attend. Some come, some don’t. Sometimes it’s a new beginning or the next stage in their partnership.
One gentleman I saw for 10-12 sessions solo, by the end of our work they were happily engaged. Gorgeous pictures of roses, rings and romance. Ah love my work!
Occasionally my radar goes up where I hear contempt and threats. I gently query how the person feels on the end of this – this is the marker and what if any repair happens.
When there are excuses, blame and no accountability, I get concerned.
While I totally believe people can change. The proviso is they must want the change for themselves.
It’s usually then I point to a picture of us on our wedding day and say this is Chris. He would never say $%$^ to me. I have haven’t ever heard him use foul language apart from the rare stubbed toe expletive.
Chris wouldn’t ever say or treat me in that way. I trust him to support me and have my back. While we may not agree on everything, it’s all up for negotiation.
No he’s not an angel but he is good, kind and acts with restraint. Guess who’s the turtle here!
Respect is a cornerstone in a healthy relationship and it’s important we restore it quickly when it’s lost. No one’s perfect!
You are welcome to use Chris as a baseline too!
Ask yourself if there is a person or partnership you admire. Would they act that way, or say that ?
Perhaps we can require more of ourselves and our partners as we learn and grow together. Go gently and live fully. Yours in gratitude Philipa xox
I have just spent the last 3 days with my husband Chris attending a Character growth Imago workshop. This was with Advanced Imago Therapist Brenda Rawlings of The Imago Institute of New Zealand See here https://www.relationships.co.nz/about-us/
Now we are in luck Sydney folk!
The Couples Retreat – a 2 day weekend is here! Brenda and husband Peter are offering the Getting the Love You Want Couples workshop. Up the road in lovely Crows Nest.
The best thing you can do for your relationship health and well being is to come in early. Relationships can be repaired. It is so much easier and quicker to learn new ways or communicating and relating before hard core patterns of hurt set in. Waiting for change won’t work and the alternative where there is a breakdown or a crisis like an affair will double or even treble the time, energy and money you will have to channel into your couple therapy.
Not only does all the research confirm this commonsense tells you the truth here. Come in before your spouse says they don’t love you or it’s over.
Why wait for that pain?
Perhaps you have already heard those words. Come in and improve your partnership today I have a quick 4 minute video here encouraging you to take action and save yourself heartache and pain plus money !
You want this to be a beautiful version of your future – look at this couple.
I want to share something personal – this is a huge thing for me to put on the website being a very private person. Yet I am a great believer in being real and honest. Chris and I went through some tough times earlier this year. We had come to a place of separation.
It was over as we were wanting different things from the relationship.
I am traditional and believe in the institution of Marriage – hence the name Marriage Works – right! Of course you can be totally committed partners without it. I am no Marriagist. Chris having been divorced was not bothered by matrimony.
I am glad to say we did work things through and are happily back together in a more powerful and deeper connection than ever.
Plus we got married on November 3rd 2018, a happy day all round!
What helped was us going and seeing a couple therapist and working through our sticking points. Being a client and learning about myself has always improved my therapy game. I could not believe how anxious I was going to every appointment. I definitely have a bucket load more compassion having had the counseling experience. Our good therapist really turned things around. Thank you!
Brenda and Peter hold these workshops in Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland New Zealand. In the weekend we learnt so much about each other and it offered us a way forward in hope with our love.
I am passionate about couples learning to connect and heal this can happen in the therapy room. The bonus is you get to take the learning and techniques into your life.
Using it as a therapy tool I have seen partner’s change in 90 minutes as they see and get their spouses angst in a hearfelt way. It’s different to the old ways of communicating which lead to hopelessness and desperation.
I recommend it to all my couples and friends! It is coming very soon 8/9 December so give your self the best gift every – a healthier, happier relationship for the two of you.
It’s a lovely piece. Perhaps you have a story about your pet? Please share your experiences.
Chris and I love our rescue cat Taneis
ha to bits. She is 16 years old and still going strong. She’s on my lap as I write this the little darling. She offers unconditional love and it is so nice to stroke her soft fur and hear a purr emit from her belly. The simple things!
Please add your story below in the comments section. Love to see pictures too.
Doggy Love -The Joys of a sharing together.
Buying a dog in any relationship is a huge step. That’s because it essentially means you’re adding a new family member. It’s a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. A lot of thought, research, and careful planning needs to go into choosing a special pet. It’s always a smart idea to make lists of the pros before running to a shelter and grabbing the first dog you see. After careful consideration, you’ll find that a dog is a great asset to any marriage and any family.
What a great pair, think of the fun you can have choosing and caring for your dog![/caption]
Shopping Together for the Dog
Before you pick out a dog for your relationship, you’ll need to do some planning. This helps to make sure that everything goes smoothly and there’s no unexpected hiccups or arguments later on. Do your research on what type of dog you’d like to add to your home. Different breeds have different wants, needs, and activity levels. Find a reputable dog shelter or breeder, choose dog food that fosters their growth, toys for fun and learning, and dog treats that are healthy.
Dogs Can Save Your Marriage
If you’re having problems in your relationship or marriage, adding a dog may just be what the doctor ordered. Dogs can help save a marriage because it gives both people involved something positive to focus their energy on. Dogs also provide love to a relationship that may be struggling. They’re an outlet for positive energy and something that couples can focus their time on together.
Picking Out a Dog is a Bonding Experience
Choosing a dog, their food, their toys, and everything else is a bonding experience in itself. Couples can come together and learn a little bit about each other by learning what type of dogs and characteristics each other fancies. When a couple decides on what type of dog they’d like to adopt, they can make a day out of getting things ready for the dog. Not only does this entail picking out supplies and creating a safe place at home for the dog, it also means picking out the dog itself. Couples get a chance to meet different dogs in a small room or while going for a walk. This helps them find the one that is right for their family.
More Fun Activities For Couples Thanks to Our Dogs
If you are looking to improve your marriage, simply add a dog. That’s because if you are having marriage troubles, you’re most likely bored, frustrated, or unhappy with the routine that you’re stuck in. A dog can fix this because it completely changes your life. Instead of waking up, going to work, making dinner, and going to bed; there are now new possibilities. You can bond in the following ways with your spouse and the dog:
By going for a walk to see the scenery
Going for a hike anywhere that’s dog-friendly
Taking a trip to the dog park
Cuddling up together on the couch The three of you cuddling, laughing and loving together.
This breaks that routine that married couples feel they were stuck in. Dogs mean that everyday will be something different for you and your spouse. If you’re ever feeling frustrated, take some time alone with the dog.
Dogs Give Love Which in Turn Creates More Love
In conclusion, dogs provide love. If you’re marriage is struggling, it might be because it’s lacking love. A dog can come along and change everything. They can show that they have so much love to give which, in turn, can inspire you and your spouse. Dogs are also happy creatures. It’s hard to be upset when there’s a happy, panting, tail-wagging friend that is waiting for you every day. Overall, dogs can boost your morale, give you hope, and inspire you to do better not just in your marriage but in all aspects of your life.
This piece is written by Professional dog walker – Bruce Dwyer. He also runs dog treats business at https://www.healthydogtreats.com.au/. He strongly believes in having a dog to improve your marriage.
Thanks ever so much Bruce for your guest contribution, dogs can be our guides for unconditional love, a truly wonderful thing.
We love all animals at Marriage Works and I am Grandma to Tyson the Staffy!
My Grand doggy Tyson the Staffy is 5!
Have a helpful contribution you want to make ? Please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org
Are you feeling trapped in a cycle of negativity with you and your partner getting stuck in the same old fights. You know the ones – where you experience the loop like a noose tightening around your throat and all you can think is “here we go again”… another argument, but can’t think what to do. Well let me help you. First take a big breath and take a time out. Stop and use it.
This can be a chance for change.
At this stage you are at a choice point. Decide to act in the old routine, with typically the same dance steps.
You know how that pans out right? I’d guess you can cake walk the outcome with your eyes closed. Play with me do it on your own now. Not great huh?
Or you can choose a new move.
Here’s an option for variety, which I call taking a turn down memory lane. It involves purposeful distraction. Parent’s are the master of directing children’s attention to away from distress – simply get them to focus on something else and look at you. New stimulation, different mood equals peace for you, sigh of relief. You remind them of the fun time they had playing soccer or whatever it was they enjoy doing.
I was coaching a husband the other day. He wanted to break out of the old habits of relating to his wife. So I suggested my distraction technique, which is really using Resource Therapy’s powerful methods for change. It’s so simple and yet effective.
I call it –Take a turn down into Memory Lane.
This is where it’s time to stroll back in history. Where you get to go to those earlier days in dating relationship, remember we used to call in courting. The idea is to foster a reconnection with your past successes – as The Cars sang “Let the good times roll.”
You are going for the treasure pot of gold. It’s not at the end of the rainbow but at the beginning of your partnership.
Actually it’s any time you felt warm, loved, connected and light being in each others presence. Where you are delighted and so are they. The happy relaxed carefree times. Not suprising it’s often pre-kids!
You reminisce on the first holiday, kiss, date, your proposal or walking down the aisle staring with hope and joy into each others eyes. Whatever the time was where you were really into each other, feeling connected and cared for. Those love drugs where pumping. We want to bring this back into sharp focus.
They don’t call it re-membering for nothing!
Here you are bringing out your partner’s Loving Resource state, the part of their personality which enjoys you and their choice of spouse. And you are also bringing forth the same part which found them cute and fun to be with.
The way you do this is to really paint the picture, describe the time of day, where you were, the surroundings, the sounds, the sensations, images and warm emotions. Keep doing this until your spouse joins in and you see the light in their eyes, the softness in their voice and gentleness in their features. Play with it. Get some serious fun happening.
It’s so simple.
The only proviso is it must only be happy times with nothing negative attached. Now if things have been rough recently you may need to be tenacious and keep reaching.
All I need to do with Chris is say remember what fun we had Bali? What great meals we had there. Bali is where we took our first overseas holiday and it was magical, it still is a favourite destination.
Then I say how good was our first night’s dinner at the Cafe Wayan in Ubud?
What did you have again? You see Chris enjoys his food and if I get him talking about something delicious I can almost see him drool. His eyes get a dreamy look – I can see he is back there in the warm glades, hearing the tinkle of the music.
Having this conversation about our shared joy makes us closer and brings out the loving parts of us. It sets us up for a great night.
So do yourself a favour and take a walk down memory lane today. And you needn’t wait to use it to staunch an argument. Practice it prior. Use it any time you want to feel connected and inspire love. with your partner.
Please tell me your thoughts on this technique and even better how it went for you. Love to hear your experiences, so please share.
Can you guess the number one presenting problem couples have when they come in to see me? Yes you’d be right if you’ve said it is communication. Complaints begin with s/He doesn’t communicate, or s/he never listens are catch cries repeated in my office.
Accusations fly and a load of words move between the spouses like arrows. The discouraging thing is it’s usually totally negative. Making it virtually impossible to stay connected and positive.
When we feel attacked and criticized we usually get defensive, worn down and ultimately one or both withdraw, shutting down in sheer frustration.
Sound familiar? Perhaps you can see how this applies to your arguments and attempts to talk on the hot topics – parenting, finance, the in-laws the list goes on.
Now it’s not that they can’t talk, the truth is they can’t communicate effectively. When I listen it becomes clear key skills are missing. Communication is often misunderstood, especially in partnerships. That’s why couple coaching works.
Learning the techniques to communicate clearly will allow you to find freedom, joy, love and genuine connection. Disconnection is the second major complaint couples have.
When you communicate clearly you create:
Clarity and perspective
Better outcomes for all
Who doesn’t what these life-enhancing benefits?
Where Couples go Wrong.
If you have ever found yourself in the equivalent of a communication traffic jam, then you will recognise the roadblocks. Once you realise and release these barriers, next time when you see the signs you can take a different route entirely. You are in the drivers seat!
Missing the message
Lack of politeness
As I promised here are 8 Potently Powerful Communication Skills
1 Create Connection.
Before we even start to have a discussion we need to ensure we are ‘with’ the person. This means getting in synch with them. In therapy speak we call this joining. What we want to do is build rapport.
Communication experts believe the majority of the message being both sent and received is nonverbal. Words only account for a lousy 7% of communication is the oft-stated figure.
We have amazing things inside called mirror neurons, which, allow us to understand and feel what other people are going through.
That’s why when you watch those kids on TV bouncing off the see saw hard your body winces and you go ouch! And possibly laugh.
Mirror neurons give us this capacity for social synchrony, promoting bonding and empathy in our relationships. Scientists have determined analytical thought destroys and creates misunderstanding. Stop any analysis paralysis.
How do I create connection?
Simple you copy and match your mate’s body language as your chatting to them. It’s human nature we like others like us. Pay attention to your partner’s gestures, placement, and tone of voice.
If they tilt their head to one side you match this. If they are speaking slowly, so do you. When then breathe you breathe with them. They have crossed legs you might cross yours at the ankle. The key is to do it subtly.
Next time you are with someone and having fun, you will most likely find yourself doing this automatically. It is an unconscious process. So get back into synch with your partner today.
2 Forget Mind Reading. Become a Body Reader.
It’s not as creepy as it sounds. Too many partners are busy reading their significant others mind and totally missing vital information.
You won’t be surprised to hear body speak is a vital component. Don’t worry you don’t need to be an Allan Pease body language expert to decode your partners message.
What you do need is an idea of what their body is signalling to you. Is there a sign of relaxation and ease or discomfort?
Signs of comfort and ease are leaning towards, physically coming closer, twinkling eyes, turning to face you, a head tilt, a pat of the hand, a smile and touch.
Signs of discomfort appear as head or neck touching or rubbing, head turning away, arms crossing, body angle or feet turning away and poor eye contact or looking away.
What you want to do is note where the person’s general comfort levels are. High comfort gives you a green light to keep going and low comfort you may need to back off a bit.
For example I am in connection with my partner and I notice he goes rigid and starts smoothing his hair with his hand frequently, his face looks taut. I know that he is in discomfort and most likely not able to hear things clearly. So I soften and go back to creating connection.
3 Own It.
They best way to own your communication I know is with the tried and true “I Statement.”
An I statement is where you describe your experience and feelings on something. It is the gold standard in assertive communication.
If it goes something like: Hi honey did you take the garbage out (you know they didn’t as you can see the overflow out of the corner of your eye). They say Sorry I forgot. I’ll do it, why do you have to keep asking? Don’t you trust me? You respond you take forever to do it.”
You get the picture and I am sure you know where this one goes off into the ditch in your own life experience.
When you use a you statement which is sadly often followed with a never, always don’t, it will come across as an accusation. No one likes to be accused. Naturally they go into defense mode. These are part of what John Gottman refers to as the four Horseman of the Apocalypse and good predictors of divorce in communication patterns.
Read this statement and see what is wrong with it. “ I feel/think that you….” Warning this is not an I address of usefulness. The You overtake the I.
Bad news right? So the antidote is the “I Statement.”
An “I” offers an objective opinion; it opens space and gets your message across. Try taking a true I statement personally. Use this vital skill today in all your relationships and interactions. Watch the change.
4 Be Open.
This should really be at the top of my list, please make it your priority.
When you are vulnerable and open to others real magic happens. People will feel safe and will be open towards you. True vulnerability builds trust and strengthens bonds while deepening connection. See why it’s a priority? This will give you increased joy and security in all your relationships. Vulnerability is the cornerstone of intimacy.
When we feel safe we are like the flower opening to the sun, the bird spreading her wings to soar and the dolphin dancing in the waves.
Vulnerability advocate and researcher Brené Brown has improved our knowledge tremendously. I recommend her books and you will find these in the Book Resource section.
If you want your partner to be open and share their vulnerabilities you are going to have to take the lead and be the first to be vulnerable.
Vulnerability and gentle honesty can provide you with a powerful relationship, now who doesn’t want that? Let’s have a go at increasing your joy and stimulating satisfaction.
Yes the next thing you need to do is to shut up. Finding silence helps you listen intently to understand.
Quietness is a true gift for your spouse and you. This gift will create a deeper soulful relationship.
The stillness of attending silence offers you the opportunity to be a better listener. It is an active process of being soft and taking things in without interpretation or reaction.
Creating a silent space for others encourages them to talk more. (Yes I can hear some people cheering at this. Talkers, get ready to listen more.)
Interruption and its accomplice inner rebuttal (thinking of what you are going to say, how wrong they are in your mind while the other is speaking) are the murderers of silence. These shut down and diminish relationships.
True silence gently allows your significant other an invitation to help you both learn more about each other and the situation. Offering you real growth potential. Sit in attended silence more.
While respect is not so much a skill as an attitude. It says to your loved one you matter to me. I will show up in this discussion. If you wish to be an influential parent, a thoughtful partner or caring friend this outlook is the key to successful interactions. It all starts with you.
Respect is shown is a light tone of voice, it says I am here ready to hear you. I care about you, your issues matter to me and I want to help you.
Opponents to Respect are:
Thinking of your answer
Asking too many questions
Talking over another person
Intimidation – yelling, aggression or worse still throwing property or making threats
Bringing out all the issues at once
Dredging up the past resentments– dirty fighting
So as Aretha Franklin say show a little Respect! Forget any interjection, and relax. This alone will go a long way to resolving your issues and makes for a safe landing zone.
7 Reflect for Clarity.
In therapy we us a term called reflection, or mirroring. Basically this is where you paraphrase the other person’s comments back to them. It’s an integral part of a listening exercise using called Imago dialogue many couple therapists employ.
You let your partner speak and feedback what you have heard. This allows both you and them to really feel heard and attended too.
The real power here is will provide clear communication. No longer will you misinterpret your mate. You will check in with them. They will even help you if you have missed something.
When you partner has said their piece you paraphrase back to them. “So what I hearing you saying is… is a good starter or From what you said I heard … did I get that?
Practice, practice and then some more practice. Here you do not add anything in this process is for creating connection.
8 Add in Empathy to the Mix.
After you have reflected for clarity you can add the most potent communication enhancer empathy to your skills.
This is where you have a guess at what the other person is feeling on an emotional front. Connecting with a partner on a emotional basis will advance your relationship to a new level of fulfillment. Empathy is the healing influence. It is also the cornerstone of emotional intelligence.
So work at developing this and the above core skills to advance your relationships and connections to a higher level today. Challenge yourself to take these words off the blog and into your life, have fun!
Please let us know in the comments below what have been your bugbears and what has made a difference. Perhaps you have a suggestion you would like us to help you further with in your communication quandaries or would like to share your successes – we would love to read about them.