Consider This Before You Move In Together – Part 2

Consider-this-before-you-move-in-together

The prospect of moving in together can sound very exciting and alluring. Cohabiting represents a whole new stage of the relationship when we begin to share our daily lives, learning more about our partner’s ‘quirks’ and effectively committing ourselves to sharing our physical and emotional resources. In our enthusiasm though, it is easy to neglect taking the time to truely explore our compatibility. Sometimes in a ‘whirlwind’ romance our passionate and all-consuming emotions simply takes us there and before you know it, you are doing ‘house’ together.

Taking the time to explore your partner’s values, beliefs and attitudes towards life and relationship is necessary to ensure that you are not setting yourself up for disappointment or hurt or even, in some instances abuse.

Here are 9 questions to consider and explore both privately and with your partner before you take this next step:

1. Do you feel respected in the relationship?

  • Are you listened to?
  • Do you feel heard?
  • Do you feel understood?
  • Does your partner accommodate for your needs?
  • Does your partner make spend quality time with you to nurture the relationship?
  • Is your partner respectful in the way they speak to you and behave towards you?
  • Do you feel safe with them?
  • Do you feel proud and comfortable in social situations with your partner?

If you answered in the negative to any of these questions it is important that you address this before you move in together. Believing that your partner will change once you have moved in together is self-deceptive and sets you up for significant emotional pain and frustration. Talking to a counsellor will assist you to clarify this issue.

2. What expectations/assumptions do you each have for the other?

  • Does your partner have certain expectations around the roles that you will perform in the household context? Do you have your own expectations or assumptions?
  • With regard to independence in the relationship, to what degree do we give up our independence to become a team?
  • How do we each experience the others family? Do you want to stay close to family? Does your partner like your family? How will their attitude effect you?

3. How does your partner talk about the opposite sex?

  • Are they respectful or demeaning? If your answer is in the negative, it is likely that your partner will eventually treat you with equal disrespect.

4. Do you know what your partner’s short-term/ long-term goals are? How might they impact the relationship? How might they impact you?

  • Is this a long-term or short-term relationship?
  • Do they want children? If so, when?
  • Do they want to travel? If so when?
  • Do they want to be married eventually or prefer a de-facto relationship?

5. What is your partner’s relationship like with their parents and siblings?

  • Are there any unresolved issues? How are they dealt with?
  • How do their parents deal with conflict? How does your partner deal with conflict?
  • How does your partner communicate within their family context?

Getting to know your partner’s family dynamics will give significant insight into how your partner is likely to react in your relationship, how they communicate and negotiate. Why not consider a couples session with a Family Therapist to learn and understand more about each other’s family dynamics?

6. Does your partner have a religious preference? How will that impact you and your relationship?

  • Do they adhere to particular rituals?
  • Do they hold to certain beliefs?

7. What is your partner’s relationship to money?

  • Is accumulating wealth a significant driver? How might that impact you and your relationship?
  • Does your partner talk to you about their finance?
  • How will you use your financial resources in relationship? Is it a shared resource or independent of each other? What might that say about the relationship and the level of trust?

The issue of finances within the relationship is a common theme of couple counselling. Becoming familiar with your partner’s attitudes and behaviour towards money is necessary for the health of your relationship.

8. What are the ‘rules’ about our relationship?

  • Is our relationship exclusive or does one of us want a more open relationship?
  • How will we share our material resources?
  • How will we negotiate time together and time with friends, family or independently?

Questions such as these are often only assumed but never discussed and therefore have the potential to become major stresses in the relationship.

9. How does your partner react to the word ‘no’?

  • Are you allowed to say ‘no’? Do you fear repercussions if you say ‘no’? Where there is strong coercion or manipulation or physical violence is applied so that you feel like you have to move in, that you have no alternative, it is a sure sign that everything is not as it appears to be. Seeking out a Counsellor to talk about this will give you further clarification and support.

Are you thinking about moving in together’? Do you want to take your relationship to the next level? Do you need the support of a professional to assist you in creating a healthy relationship? Contact Colleen 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute consultation. If you are ready to book an appointment click the icon BOOK ONLINE NOW.

Consider this before you move in together – Part 1

Consider-this-before-you-move-in-together

Are you in a fairly new relationship and want to take it to the next level—are you thinking about moving in together?

There is no doubt that there are some very attractive benefits to moving in together: the convenience of having your own space to chill and relax, never having to say goodbye at the end of a great night or early the next morning, and the fact it is cheaper and highly preferable to living with your parents or a mate all come to mind.

But there are also some negative effects where a relationship is still young and untested. In our ‘I want it and I want it now’ culture, we have lost the ability to wait and need instant gratification. But what do you stand to lose if you move in to quickly?

If you are considering moving in with your partner, I expect that you are saying, “Other people might struggle when they move in together, but it will never happen to us. We are so deeply in love. We can’t get enough of each other. Living together would make it just perfect”.

But consider this for a moment: moving in too early in a relationship shortens the ‘honeymoon’ period. Remember the excitement, counting the hours, the longing, being deliriously happy just being together and laughing at your partner’s quirks? By cohabitating sooner than later, we inevitably trade the romance for the domestic routine of daily life. Long dinners over candlelight are swapped for quick meals in front of the TV, and finding out about your partner’s excessive cleaning (or lack of) habits can leave you in a bind.

Why is this?

In the early, heady days of a relationship, the brain releases a flood of feel-good chemicals, including Dopamine, which triggers specific physical reactions including making our cheeks flush, our palms sweat and our hearts race. Dopamine is the feel good chemical that creates feelings of euphoria, a natural high—effectively making us addicted to the object of our pleasure.

While there is an element of unpredictability to the relationship—the waiting, day dreaming, love notes, long conversations over the phone, stolen moments where nothing matters other than that you are together;the brain continues to produce large amounts of Dopamine. As a relationship becomes more fully established and we become increasingly familiar with each other, the brain produces less Dopamine and what was once new and exciting has become familiar, normal and even routine.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating that relationships never get beyond the excitement of those early days. In fact, it is necessary that a relationship develops beyond the honeymoon period so you face the world as a couple to establish home, family, career and the other life goals. Just don’t be too quick to get there. Our ‘honeymoons’ are  for a moment in time, when life takes on a euphoria like no other and we feel for a moment that, as long as the other is by my side, anything is possible.

So, if you are still in the early days of your relationship, don’t be too quick to take it to the next level and move in together. Enjoy the waiting and the longing, enjoy the thrill that comes just by being with the person you love, watch more sunsets together, go for more long leisurely walks along the beach holding hands, celebrate the milestones—one month, two months, six months, and savor the present.

Look out for our follow up article where we explore what else to consider before moving in together.

Are you thinking about moving in together’? Do you want to take your relationship to the next level? Do you need the support of a professional to assist you in creating a healthy relationship? Contact Colleen 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute consultation. If you are ready to book an appointment click the icon BOOK ONLINE NOW.

My number one recommendation for couples in crisis

My-number-one-recommendation-for-couples-in-crisis

Relationships are tricky things.

There are days of sunshine, when everything is ‘right with the world’; I am feeling calm, relaxed and in control.  I have infinite patience with my darling husband, even when he says or does something that I don’t particularly find attractive.

By contrast, there are other days when I am tired, stressed and generally feeling like I could crawl back into bed and hide from the world. I just don’t ‘feel like’ making an effort with anybody. Of course I do—after all you ‘should’ put on a good, co-operative, pleasant face for the people you work, eat and play with. That’s how community works. That’s how we learn to have our own needs met. But by the time I get home, I am exhausted, moody and unresponsive. On those days, my husband cops the ‘stressed’ me, the one that is reactive and blaming instead of being loving and responsive.

Over time I have become more aware of what is going on inside of my body, making the conscious effort to challenge negative behaviour that I previously felt justified in directing towards my husband.  I believe that it is important to walk the talk and, given that I speak to numerous couples and individuals every week, I have applied the interventions I teach to my personal behaviour and my marriage relationship. Subsequently, our relationship has progressively improved throughout our 28 years of marriage.

As you would expect, I have a tool bag full of useful techniques, ideas and resources that individuals and couples can benefit from. My best one by far is Mindfulness Meditation. Why would I say this? Well, before a couple can begin to work on their relationship, it is absolutely essential that each person learn how to calm or soothe themselves. Failure to learn how to calm yourself will ultimately forfeit any chance of improving your relationship.

When we are significantly stressed and tired, we also tend to be incredibly reactive; easily frustrated and irritated, quick to jump to wrong conclusions, readily angered by the smallest thing (you will always experience it as a BIG thing at the time), defensive, cynical, blaming, judgemental and generally difficult to get along with.

Whilst we all need a bit of stress to keep us motivated, physiologically there is a point, when reached, that you are no longer able to contain and control the stress hormones and it controls you instead.  It is the ‘fight or flight’ instinct, typically activated by the flood of stress hormones coursing through your brain and body.

A couple experiencing conflict is likely to be experiencing this level of debilitating stress regularly. Learning how to communicate effectively with one another and repair your relationship first of all requires each person to take responsibility for themselves and learn how to come back to a calmer and more responsive state of mind. Only then can we do the work of learning to listen and negotiate our needs.

Mindfulness Meditation is, put simply, learning to be present to the moment, focusing on what is happening within you and/ or around you. By learning this discipline (and believe you me, it is a challenge for most of us), your brain is rested and sends the message that you are no longer under threat. Stress hormones are no longer produced and Serotonin (the calm hormone) is activated bringing you down to a calmer state.

In our sessions, I teach simple techniques that couples and individuals can apply in the moment. However, to promote a general sense of wellbeing and calm that is more resilient to stress, it is necessary to practice Mindfulness Meditation on a regular basis, even daily.

Here at Watersedge Counselling we have recently partnered with Audio Mental Training to provide our readers with easy access to fantastic Mindfulness Meditation programs that you can download and start using immediately.  My personal favourite and the program I am using on a daily basis is called Optimal Health.

Just click on this link: Audio Mental Training or the banner on our sidebar, and check it out for yourself.

In the future I will share with you how I am personally benefiting from this program. I would love to hear from others who choose to invest in one of these programs or some other Mindful Meditation that you are already using. It will make a difference to you personally and to your significant relationships.

Is your relationship in crisis? Would you like to learn more Mindfulness Meditation? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

7 things to consider before you enter a relationship

7-things-to-consider-before-you-enter-a-relationship

Many people are looking for “the one.” And regardless of whether they exist in such a way, the idea of entering a relationship has become so romanticized that a casual date can lead to thoughts of wedding bells.

Before you enter a relationship, in fact, before you set foot on the dating scene, you need to consider what qualities and attributes you want in a life partner. And we’re not talking physical attributes like “blond hair, blue-eyed, 6-foot-1-inch tall athlete with an attractive amount of stubble.”

We’re talking deal-breakers that will define a relationship and, should you choose to marry that person, your life.

If you’re already in a relationship, how you deal with differences in core values may vary due to the unique nature of each couple. However, if you’re single, there are some baseline non-negotiables to wrap your head around before you enter a relationship.

Respect

A healthy relationship of any sort is built on mutual respect. If someone doesn’t respect you with their words, behaviours and actions now, then chances are they won’t when you build a life together.

Be aware of your worth as a human being, and don’t be afraid to look for someone who will show this to you in a relationship. Your core beliefs around respecting yourself, others and the people you love will automatically filter out anyone who doesn’t value people or relationships in the same way.

Sex

Make your mind up about sex before you begin exploring these boundaries, otherwise the decision is made for you. You need to decide where “the line” is, and find someone who will respect this. You need to set up boundaries that will help you honour one another.

[Marriage] is no small privilege, so don’t rush yourself or compromise and move in together before you are ready to or just to meet the status quo.

There’s so much to discuss in this area including sexual history, boundaries around pornographic images, sexting. Sexuality isn’t just about the physical but everything that engages that part of who we are.

Children

In most cases, it’s best to hold off on conversations about children until you know your relationship could be headed somewhere. However, it’s still essential to know if you want children. This will determine what sort of family values a potential partner must hold.

Consider the number of children you’d like to have (if any), and be certain on your views surrounding contraception, adoption and fertility treatments as well. Details and numbers can change over time, but your family values shouldn’t.

As you become more serious, details about how you want to raise a family will also become deal breakers. Make sure you have a united front with the future parent of your children so you can direct and nurture them.

Political views

Politics can seem secondary to life-altering decisions like getting married and having kids, but it still plays a role in a healthy relationship. Ask yourself: Is it important that a potential partner shares the same political views as you? Does this translate to how they choose to vote (if at all), and how would this impact your future children?

Beyond party lines, consider your views on abortion, same-sex marriage, global warming, incarceration and global injustice. You’ll want to agree with your future spouse on most, if not all, of these issues.

If politics is a contentious issue for you, then the ideology of a potential partner must match your own. Couples can, and will, disagree on things, but it’s essential they respect each other enough to allow for their differences and still stand united. 

Gender roles

It goes without saying that you deserve to be with someone who sees you as an equal. However, knowing where you stand on gender roles will play a fundamental role in any future relationships you have.

Do your research, talk to couples you respect and read books on the subject. I recommend The Liberating Truth by Danielle Strickland.

Your stance on women’s and men’s roles in the church, home, workplace and during sex will ultimately dictate what sort of ideals and behaviours you are looking for in a partner. A couple can still function if they disagree on this, but there must be some sort of compromise as this will dictate every aspect of your life and your relationship.

Marriage

Contrary to popular belief, a date over coffee doesn’t equate to marriage.

However, your values around marriage need to be identified early on in a relationship.

Do you want to get married? Is this something you want in your immediate future, or do you have plans to fly solo for a few years? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, someone else will answer them for you. This could lead to an environment of distrust, doubt and frustration that won’t just hurt you but also the person you’re dating.

Ultimately, marriage is about serving your spouse.

This is no small privilege, so don’t rush yourself or compromise and rush into a relationship before you are ready to or just to meet the status quo.

Religious beliefs

It’s not as simple as finding out whether someone shares the same religious views as you. It’s about how this is expressed in their life.  You need to ask yourself if you’re comfortable having a partner who has a different belief system to you, and how strong a role you want this to play in their life. Because ultimately, it will impact you and any children you may have.

These may be hard questions to answer—especially when you’re interested in someone—but it’s best to determine what faith and religion means to you before you are swept up in romance and a deal-breaker becomes a “maybe.” 

This article was adapted from RELEVANT magazine’s ‘7 non-negotiables in every relationship’ by the same author.

Are you looking for ‘the one'?

Here’s what you need to do: contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

How hospitality workers can maintain healthy relationships

how-hospitality-workers-can-maintain-healthy-relationships

Work can directly effect any couple, or family, relationship. Long work days, stress filled meetings and exhaustion will carry into the home, damaging not just the employee’s health, but also their loved ones. We see this nowhere more clearly than in the hospitality sector.

In a recent podcast with Ken Burgin of ProfitableHospitality.com, Colleen spoke about how to maintain work-life balance and reduce pressure. Shedding light on the warning-signs that tell you a relationship is on the rocks, she also explores different communication methods and ways to cultivate personal, as well as professional, success.

You can listen to Colleen’s conversation with Ken about ‘Stronger, More Loving Relationships for Hospitality Workers’ here.

Do you work in the hospitality sector? Are you concerned about your personal or professional relationships? Contact Colleen 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute consultation on how I can best help you or press book now to book on my online diary.

How Paying Attention to your Emotional Energy Can Improve your Relationships

How-Paying-Attention-to-your-Emotional-Energy-Can-Improve-your-Relationships

Did you know the heart has an electromagnetic field that goes way beyond our physical body? In this infographic by The Heartmath Institute, we learn about how the heart and brain work together, affecting our emotional and physical health.

The Heartmath Institute talk about ‘emotional coherence’, which is the practice of focusing our positive emotion on the heart. This in turn sends positive signals to the brain and our entire magnetic field, and explains why couples, parents and children are so emotionally sensitive and frequently reactive to one another.

When you practice emotional coherence, it has positive implications on your personal health and wellbeing, your close relationships and ultimately the world around you. Take a look at the infographic below and find out how emotionally healthy your heart is.

the-mysteries-of-the-heart

Are you affected by the emotions and energy of your loved ones? Would you like to know more about emotional coherence? Here’s what you need to do: contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

Characteristics of Healthy Couples

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What sets a healthy relationship apart from the rest? Aside from the obvious answer of ‘communication’, there are a few other traits that long-standing couples have in common. Take a look at our latest infographic here to find out more.

healthy couples

Do you need the support of a professional to assist you in creating a healthy relationship? Contact Colleen 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute consultation. If you are ready to book an appointment click the icon BOOK ONLINE NOW.

14 Myths About Couple Relationships

14-Myths-of-Couple-Relationships

The early stages of love come with the assumption that everything will always be good. As time passes, cynicism can develop which makes us jaded and causes tension within couple relationships. Here are 14 myths you might believe that could be harming your relationship.

  1. If we love each other, we should be happy at all times.

Once you get past the early puppy-love stages of a relationship, love is not rosy and perfect. In fact, it actually makes life more complicated because it pushes the focus onto another person and is not self-serving. This just goes to show that love does not equate with immediate gratification, and comes with both difficult and happy moments.

  1. We should be completely honest with each other at all times, regardless of the impact on our partners.

A healthy relationship is built on open communication and honesty, but over-sharing or divulging information in a way that harms your loved one is another issue all together. This is not a licence to lie to your partner, or keep fundamental information from them, but is a reminder to be mindful of your partner’s well being and consider this before talking to them just to get something off your chest.

  1. We should be together at all times and be unselfish with our time.

It doesn’t matter how much you love someone, spending 100% of your time together will do more harm to your relationship than good. A healthy couple relationship needs time set-aside solely for it, but both members of the partnership are still individuals and they need room and independence to celebrate this.

  1. We should agree on all issues to support each other.

If you see your partner behaving in a way that harms you, your loved ones or other people, and they are unwilling to change, you do not have to support them in this. You are allowed to speak to your partner when you have a disagreement and are not expected to share the same opinion on everything.

  1. If we have a problem, we must decide who is to blame.

Pushing the blame on to one another will result in a constant cycle of guilt and resentment. Instead of ‘figuring out’ who is at fault, choose to work together to find a resolution.

  1. We should know what the other is thinking, so we do not need to communicate.

Whether you’ve been together for a month or 50 years, you will never be able to read each other’s minds. If you need something, don’t assume your partner just knows, communicate this with them.

  1. Good relationships just happen and do not need to be worked at.

Every relationship goes through ups and downs. A healthy relationship requires a commitment from both sides to work at it for the benefit of each other.

  1. If we create joint activities we will be close forever.

Being together and participating in joint activities can be useful for a couple if they genuinely enjoy the activity and are taking other steps to build their relationships, but people change and so do their interests. Joint activities are less about being together, and more about making an intentional effort to connect with your partner. Be willing to alter how you spend time together as you both grow and change.

  1. We do not need friends or family as long as we have each other.

Don’t alienate your friends, family or colleagues in a bid to dedicate yourself to your loved one. Sure, you and your partner need each other, but this does not diminish the fact you both have other people in your lives that you value and trust. Continue to spend time with these people and it can help your own couple relationship to grow.

  1. Good relationships are quid pro quo

A healthy relationship is not an exchange of goods, services or time.  In fact, the best ones are often the most sacrificial and are built on a mutual respect for one another and are motivated by love.

  1. Avoiding conflict will ruin your relationship.

It doesn’t matter how much you love each other, you will not always agree with your partner, and that is okay. A healthy relationship is less about avoiding conflict, and rather about working through it together.

  1. Affairs are the root of divorce.

An affair doesn’t have to be the end of a relationship. With support, commitment and time, a relationship can be repaired and divorce may not occur. Divorce can occur due to a range of other issues not involving an extra person as well, which is why it remains important for a couple to consistently work on their relationship.

  1. Men are not built for monogamous relationships.

This is simply not true. Men and women are able to have a healthy, thriving relationship with one other person. A gender or sex stereotype does not give anyone permission to break the trust of such a relationship by becoming involved with another person at the same time.

  1. Men and women are from different planets.

Men and women think differently and can be motivated by different things, but we are not so unlike each other. Using this phrase alienates your loved one and causes tension. Choose to see your partner as your equal, and speak to them this way.

Do you believe any of these myths about your own couple relationship? Would you like the support of a professional to assist you in creating a healthy relationship with a significant other? Contact Watersedge on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute consultation. If you are ready to book an appointment, click BOOK ONLINE NOW and you will be taken to our online appointment calendar by following the prompts.

5 Questions to Ask a Loved One At Risk

5 Questions to Ask a Loved One At Risk

It can be scary to ask a loved one if they are at risk of suicide. There is a stigma within society that insists asking someone about suicide attempts, thoughts or plans will perpetuate the act of suicide—but this is simply not true. In fact, asking someone if they are struggling, and giving them the opportunity to share their pain with you, can actually alleviate the risk of the behaviour occurring.

If a friend or loved one has been acting uncharacteristically, either withdrawing from people or acting irrationally and stepping out in risk-taking behaviour, then you may need to ask them if they have thought about suicide. Other indicators they are thinking about it are unexplained injuries, death or self-harm related content being posted on their social media, increased substance abuse, previous suicidal thoughts or attempts and a sense of hopelessness.

Here are five questions that will help you assess the risk of a loved one carrying out the act of suicide.

1. Have you had any suicidal thoughts?

The presence of suicidal thoughts doesn’t mean a person will act on them—but it is still essential you know they are there. Suicidal thoughts will often perpetuate and can become more vivid as a person feels a greater sense of hopelessness.

Asking them this question doesn’t imply they want to suicide. Actually, finding out when the thoughts began and how prevalent they may be allows you to understand the weight of what your friend is experiencing.

2. Do you have a suicide plan?

Asking a loved one if they have a plan in place to carry out the act of suicide is essential. If they do have a plan to suicide, either a carefully constructed and well thought out plan, or a fleeting idea of what it would look like, you know they are high risk and immediate action needs to be taken to care for their wellbeing.

A person who has a set time and place for the act of suicide, and who has begun putting their affairs in order (writing letters, cancelling registrations etc.) is at extremely high risk of carrying out the act of suicide.

3. Do you have access to any weapons or means of suicide?

A person who has already acquired a weapon or means of suicide is at serious risk. Other people who know weapons or tools are available in their work place or at a friends or relatives place are also in danger.

If your loved one has access to a weapon, ask them how regularly this occurs, if they have considered how they would access it and the likelihood of this.

4. Have you felt like this before?

Understanding if your loved one has struggled with suicidal thoughts in the past will help you to support them and keep them alive.  Ask if they have attempted suicide in the past, or thought about it. See if they have previously harmed themselves, and if they’ve created a suicide plan in the past.

If this has occurred in the past, the risk for your loved one increases, but this does not mean they won’t be open to help.

5. Why have you chosen to stay alive?

Up to this point, your loved one has made the decision to stay alive. Irrespective of their struggles, they have chosen to remain. When people have suicidal thoughts, they resist them for any number of reasons: their love for family and friends, obligations, fear, the hope that things will change.

Take this reason and run with it. If a person is afraid of dying, they don’t want to die—they are likely exhausted and don’t know how to fight anymore. If family or friends is their motivation, remind them of the profound love they experience and the future events and moments they want to witness. If obligations are keeping someone alive, ask them what these mean and how they affect the people near them.

If a loved one answers yes to one or more of these questions, they need further help. Please call 000 or 911 in an emergency. If they are experiencing thoughts of suicide, or you are concerned for their wellbeing, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.  For crisis hotlines in other countries, visit Hope Movement’s International database here.

Your G.P. and/or a Professional Counsellor can give you the additional support you need. Visit Hope Movement to find support near you. For a FREE 10 minute consultation as to how we can help you, ring Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 or you can book an appointment press Book Now to book in our online diary.

Six Facts About Separation

Six-Facts-About-Separation

In an article for Geelong Surf Coast Living magazine, Colleen was interviewed about the impact separation has on the family, and, in particular, children.  You can read Lynda Taylor’s article ‘Separation Anxiety’ now by picking up a copy of the autumn edition at a local coffee shop.

Here are six valuable facts about separation anxiety in families that we can learn from the article:

  1. Children cope better when they see a counsellor

Irrespective of a child’s age, they will feel the pull between both parents and can struggle to work through their emotions. Allowing your child to see a counsellor will help them with this. As the article says, “working with a counsellor provides a safe neutral environment where [a child can] vent”. A counsellor will teach your child strategies to deal with anger, anxiety and conflict.

  1. Parents must be united

Any issues that caused a relationship to break down must be put on the back burner by parents in order to care for their children. Relationships Australia says parents should provide a “composed, united and reassuring” front. This means it’s important for parents to keep the same boundaries in place for their child, and should always speak about one another with respect.

  1. Children react according to their parent’s emotions

Are you angry, confused and indignant about your ex? If you express this to your child, they will take on similar emotions. Colleen points out that if parents are upset, children are often bewildered, confused and despondent. They will also blame themselves for the situation.

  1. Be honest

How you speak to your child about the separation will depend on their age. Always be honest, but explain the situation in a way they will understand. An older child or the first-born will often take the burden of the separation, and what you share will change according to this.

  1. There are different ways to talk about separation

When Colleen is counselling a client whose parents have separated, she will use different methods depending on the child’s age, understanding and interests. An ‘anger thermometer’ is useful for younger children to explain how they feel. Play therapy is a narrative based approach that is also useful for children of various ages, and helps them to explain the family system.

  1. Take care of yourself

While your children are a priority throughout a separation, you also need to take care of yourself. Take ‘me time’ and give yourself the space and time to reflect and heal. Make sure you spend time with like-minded and supportive friends, and don’t be afraid to have fun. As Beth*, the client in the article says, “I found when I was better, my son was better.” When you take care of yourself, you help your children to heal as well.

*Name changed for privacy purposes

Are you going through a separation? Do you want to protect your children through this transition? Here’s what you need to do: Contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.