Christmas time can bring a load of feelings. For some of us these are heavy, painful and lonely times. For others, it’s a joyous celebration of connection.
My friend and eminent couples therapist Michele Weiner- Davis’ said at training, we as therapists need to be able to heal relationships. That includes our own circle.
Shutting off or cutting off as it is called in therapy speak it not the most healthy option. Real courage comes from working through the rupture in the relationship to repair and healing.
It is a bias of mine for families to have connections. So in this video, I will show you a Resource Therapy process for clarification. It’s a safe self-help action you can take. I give a quick demonstration.
I think it beats journalling ( although that is good too) as there is something unique in speaking this out with ourselves.
Note I am not suggesting you have the conversation with the person. Rather this is like the letter you write without sending. It is for you to gain insight and hopefully an emotional shift. Love to hear how it went for you. please share your experiences.
Philipa Thornton is your Relationship Psychologist in Sydney, and now worldwide online. Philipa and her husband Chris Paulin run Marriage Works their busy private practice, helping couples re-pair with coupe therapy, heal marital issues to find relationship harmony. We assist singles em-power, heal, and develop healthy internal and external relationships.
As the new year begins, I thought it might be nice to highlight some of the best, most well received articles from the past year.
I have gone through the archives and found articles that gained positive feedback or were particularity powerful and interesting. Hopefully you’ll find a few old favourites here and come across something new to inspire you!
Are you getting the Love you Want? Check out the cheats guide to skipping therapy with a couples retreat to fast track your relationship repair here https://marriageworks.com.au/2019/07/getting-the-love-you-want-couples-workshop/
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.
Welcome to May! Here in Sydney it’s Autumn and the darkness comes early. We’ve been blessed with lovely weather and sunny days as we have had Easter and Anzac Day to honour our war veterans.
This month I have been inspired to offer you the opportunity to say no to negativity in your relationship. As John Gottman -a legend in marital research and divorce saving techniques rightly points out criticism is toxic in partnershps and they believe it takes a 5:1 ratio of good comments to over come one negative one.
So give yourself a break and make it Zero! If you find yourself complaining remind yourself of what you are truly grateful in your marriage. For me I look at Chris and I feel gratitude at having a life companion, someone I enjoy spending time with. He’s a good kind husband.
So take the month of May Relationship Challenge and join me for Zero Negativity and increased positivity!
Love to hear your thoughts, ask your partner to join you or be a solo leader in deed. Please pass on the help by sharing.
Hi there Philipa here, as the March monthly challenge nears to an end I wanted to check in. Recall I encouraged you to learn your partners connection vocabulary? The goal was to discover their two favourite dialects and speak their mother tongue.
I have been both slack and had the opportunity. Chris’s birthday is in March. He got the presents he asked for and more. I know he loves receiving a birthday card – in the mail. So I made sure I posted it in time for him to get to the letterbox. I spoke gifting.
He was great in that he told me what he wanted. You can’t expect your partner to read your mind. That’s a total set-up for let down. He let me know in advance what gifts he wanted, where he wanted to celebrate and even the cake he wanted. He is a darling! I talked actions of service and gifting.
His other language words of affirmation I was not so great on. Writing this column reminds me.
A quick reminder of the 5 Love actions:
Words of Affirmation.
Acts of Service
Love to hear how your Love patter went with your partner. Did you notice your spouse responding? Perhaps it felt good to give? Comment below and I will respond. Thanks for taking the time to read. Philipa
Have you ever felt stuck in a rut? Your alarm propels you out of bed at 6.30, you jump in the shower and get dressed then head off to work. You peck your partners cheek running to catch the bus. It’s still dark, autumn is looming.
Routine equates to boredom and this is no where more evident than in a relationship. We are beings who are drawn to novelty – evidence suggests that’s how affairs can start.
How would it be to bring back that spark of joy from the early days of your partnership? Remember the times you spent having fun and sharing the adventure of each other.
And the first day of March is a fine day to do it! Of course any day that brings you and your spouse closer by your actions is a winner!
Recall Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages:
Words of Affirmation. Use your words to build your partner up. Praise them for being them. Here’s my suggestion : I admire you…. add your insider knowledge of your partner’s special talents and thought actions. Verbalize ( text is OK for now but I want you to repeat it in face to face) your magical feelings for both you and your partners benefit.
Gifts. A well chosen gift can be super touching to your mate. It shows you know them intimately and you were thinking of her or him. Watch the ahh in your partners face. Again it’s a win/ win for your connection. Flowers are the fallback here. This love language is related back to our hunter gatherer days.
Acts of Service.Doing something for your spouse that you know they will truly resonate with. Guys for a lot of women that is going to be you bringing in the laundry, jumping up to clear the table, getting in the laundry and washing dishes. Oh how I adore Chris for slaying those dust bunnies with Rowenta our French vacuum cleaner. When I come home I feel a sense peace has been restored in my world, thanks to my thoughtful husband. Aaahhh. Smiley Face.
Quality Time. Focus your love spotlight on your lover! Turn the TV off, phones on silent and check in to your other half. Look them in the eye, ask them how their day was and let them see you lean in to be super present. A tiny 15 minute investment will pay massive dividends, if your partners love vocabulary is Quality Time. The secret is undivided attention to your lovemate.
Physical Touch. Holding hands, hugging, kissing, sex or the squeeze of a partner’s shoulder gently as you pass are all physical expressions of love.
Know the real magic happens when you start giving your partner their gift in their desired love language.
Think back in your marriage and get a sense of what your partner primarily responds to. Identify which of the five Love Languages calls their heart towards you. Choose one or if you are an overachiever two to inspire your love.
Does their face light up as you walk in the door with flowers and tickets to a show? Or do they put the bouquet down and reach to pull you close? Maybe they tell you they’d like to spend more time with you. Or you have heard how good a they are at affirming you or the children. You will see a theme and know.
When you speak your lovers code they will feel closer and more engaged in your relationship.
I want to stress it’s a gift, so drop any expectations of a return. Otherwise you will likely struck with a slap of ouch by the disappointment Panda. I am riffing off Mark Manson’s book – The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck a counter-intuitive approach to living a good live. There’s a gift if they like presents and are a reader.
Decide to be generous as you refresh your relationship from the first of the Month.
I would like you to do this as if you are an undercover agent. It’s OK if you get found out, just no letting the cat out of the bag so to speak. Your special person must experience this as a gift. So let them unwrap your present.
Repetition and reinforcement gets results. Maybe you could keep it up for the whole of March, as we know sustained action encourages results. A daily dose of love, what could be better?
So join the Marriage Works Monthly Challenge – learn your partners number 1 and 2 love language and become a love whisperer.
I’d truly love to hear your experience, what you did, what worked, what tanked and how you felt? So please post your results and reflections. I will respond to you. Drop comment in the box below as your wisdom helps others. Thank You!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!