The 20 Most Common Mistakes of the Hurt Spouse

20-Most-Common-Mistakes-of-the-Hurt-SpouseIn “The 20 Most Common Mistakes of the Hurt Spouse,” Leslie Hardie of Affair Recovery.com talks about common mistakes people make when they find out their partner is taking part in sexually inappropriate behaviour. Whether your partner is having an affair or is addicted to pornography, these simple mistakes reveal the fragile and complicated journey that a couple takes once sexual infidelity is “found out.” While it is challenging to repair a relationship broken by such behaviour, it is not impossible. By keeping in mind these common mistakes, you can better protect yourself and your family through this difficult time while supporting your spouse in their own recovery.

  1. Believing that once your spouse agrees to end the affair or the behavior, it is truly ended.
    Quite often the betrayed spouse is somewhat naïve and actually believes that his or her mate is able to effectively flip and stop the behavior or talking to the affair partner. It is a lovely thought, but very unrealistic. Recovery may involve seeking out helping professionals as well as support groups. It takes time. Most people need help getting out of an affair.
  1. Demanding that your spouse pledge 100% commitment to the marriage right at the moment of disclosure.
    Even if your mate is willing to make such a pledge it does not really mean anything. Your spouse may mean it in the moment, but not realize how big of a problem they actually have. Addicts cannot just stop using. People in emotionally entangled affairs have trouble disengaging.
  2. Bludgeoning your spouse with guilt, thinking that this will be helpful.
    Your spouse already knows that what they have been doing is wrong, even if they will not admit it to you. Pointing such things out will usually only serve to push them away.
  3. Drawing too much security from changed phone numbers and email addresses.
    Although these measures can be helpful, they are not sufficient. They will not keep an unfaithful spouse from getting a new phone, a calling card or opening a new email account.
  4. Believing that you can keep your mate safe and away from temptation.
    As tempting as it may be to make sure your mate is always safe, it is impossible. You can try to be with your mate 24/7, but unless you work together, it is not near possible. Honestly, it is not even possible if you work together. One of you may have meetings or errands that the other one may not be a part of.
  5. Trying to compete with the affair partner, pornography, or other behavior.
    The affair or sexual behavior is not necessarily due to a deficiency in the marriage or sexual relationship. Even if it is, you cannot compete. A marriage and an affair are two entirely different kinds of relationships.
  6. Trashing the affair partner.
    If your spouse is having some ambivalence (one foot in the marriage, one foot out), this will hit the wrong side of the ambivalence and can push your mate away. It often will put your mate in the position of defending the affair partner and serves no good purpose.
  7. Trying to convince your spouse that nobody will ever love him/her as much as you do.
    If your spouse is in an emotionally entangled affair, chances are good that he or she may already believe this is not true. It may even encourage an “I’ll show you I’m not such a loser” attitude.
  8. Using your children or grandchildren as pawns.
    Perhaps even unwittingly, you have used your children or grandchildren to manipulate your mate into staying or using them to punish the unfaithful partner if they leave. This will only hurt your children. You do not want to force an unfaithful mate to stay if they are determined to leave.
  9. Beating up the unfaithful mate with guilt, shame, or the opinions of others to keep them from leaving.
    In all likelihood, regardless of whether they will admit it to you, your mate already feels guilt and shame over what they have done. Threatening to expose your mate will only increase the guilt and shame. It will not keep your mate home.
  10. Making threats.
    You might find yourself threatening your mate because you believe that threats will make your spouse “see the light” and convince them to “fly right.” Similar to item 10 above, threatening increases shame and guilt, but it does not increase desire or will to stay. Coercion from a mate can actually keep the unfaithful spouse from doing what you like.
  11. Trying to drive the affair partner off by personal confrontation.
    Confronting the affair partner to make him or her feel guilty usually only encourages the affair partner to think that in the end, your spouse will leave you. It may give the impression that the affair partner has all the power and actually encourage the affair partner to believe that the affair will turn into a long-term relationship.
  12. Contacting the affair partner and then believing them.
    It is interesting how often a hurting mate will believe that the affair partner is going to tell the truth and sorrowfully see the error of his or her ways having realized the pain he or she has caused. Quite the opposite, it is not uncommon for the affair partner to lie and manipulate the situation.
  13. Believing there is a simple formula or a set course to fix the problem. It would be nice if there were. Each type of affair has its own set of challenges with a different set of solutions that are not linear or stepwise, but are unique to each situation and couple.
  14. Believing that the threat of exposure will be enough to convince your mate to quit the behavior.More people may know already than you might realize. Some of them perhaps have even offered your unfaithful spouse support or encouragement in the affair or behavior.
  15. Trying to get all the unfaithful spouse’s friends on your side.
    You might be hoping they will help your unfaithful mate to “wake up and see reality.” Some of your spouse’s friends may come on board. This does not mean that your spouse will listen.  Others may believe the unfaithful mate is correct in leaving someone so controlling if you try this approach.
  16. Trying to “woo” your spouse back and expecting instant gratitude and immediate results.
    Wooing can be more effective with certain types of affairs, but in any case, it will not produce immediate results. For example, a man with a sexual addiction may be grateful for the efforts, but it will not solve the problem
  17. Believing that you, the faithful spouse, are “blameless” and the only one who has things to forgive.
    Even if you were a good spouse, no one is perfect. Your unfaithful mate probably has hurts and things for which he or she must forgive you. After dealing with the pain of the affair, it will be helpful to look at the marital relationship.
  18. Believing that your unfaithful mate will find you more appealing if you get attention from others.Your mate may find you more appealing if you get attention from others or they may not.  Your mate may actually feel relieved if it leads to the thought that you will not be alone if your marriage ends. Either way, it does not bring healing or restoration to your relationship. Your marriage becomes a power struggle.
  19. Believing that if you, the faithful spouse, should or can do the same thing. In this emotional time, you may feel a desire to show your unfaithful spouse how it feels to be so betrayed and that if you do, your spouse will ultimately come humbly back. It may bring them back. It may not. I have clients who have tried this approach, only to find their lives far more complicated. Now they have the pain of their mate’s infidelity and the guilt from their own unfaithfulness. Some have ended up becoming pregnant.

If you or your partner are struggling with infidelity, and need direction and support to repair your relationship, then here’s what you need to do; contact me on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you or press book now to book on my online diary.

5 Traits of a Healthy Relationship

We are all familiar with the strain we feel when we have a friend, family member or a spouse who is particularly demanding. When relationships are not cultivated in a healthy manner, they can leave us feeling physically drained and stressed. Emotionally, an unhealthy relationship can also lead to feelings of bitterness, anger and unforgiveness. It is common to assume that we must always be agreeable and generous in our relationships, but what happens when we are giving too much of these qualities and are receiving none of them back? A quality relationship must be worked at by both parties involved. Here are 5 traits marking a healthy relationship that is both life-giving and fulfilling to everyone involved.

1. Understanding

A healthy relationship will have both people feeling actively empathetic to each other. They will understand the stressors and scenarios that arise in each other’s lives and will cater to this. Therefore, if one person in unable to fulfil an obligation due to arising circumstances, the other will understand and can act as a support network during this period.

2. Forgiveness

Mistakes are made in every relationship and it is inevitable that people will hurt one another, even when they have the best intentions. When conflict comes up, both people actively forgive each other because they acknowledge that their friend has their best interests at heart. There will not be a condoning of the circumstances, but the opportunity to start afresh.

3. Boundaries

Even the closest relationships need down time and it is unhealthy to live in each other’s pockets 24/7. A good relationship is characterised by the ability of both parties to not only ask for help, but to say “no” when they are unable to give it. This may occur if a person needs their own quiet time, must invest in other important relationships, or if they find that the demands of the relationship are impacting their quality of life.

4. Community focused

While a healthy relationship will nurture and grow the bond between two people, it can become clique and fuelled by jealousy if both people limit their quality time to a singular person. A healthy relationship will accept the numerous people in each person’s life and will be understanding and inclusive of these relationships.

5. Honesty

Whether it is little annoyances or life changing scenarios, a healthy relationship is marked by the willingness of both people to talk about the situation and how it can be resolved. In this, both people will speak and listen with a loving intent, respecting the words of the other and discussing openly how this impacts each other’s lives.

Do you struggle to retain healthy boundaries in your relationships? Do you need the support of a professional to assist you in creating a healthy relationship with a significant other, relative or friend? Contact Colleen 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute consultation. If you are ready to book an appointment with Colleen, click the icon BOOK ONLINE NOW and you will be taken to her online appointment calendar by following the prompts.

How To Build a Happier Relationship

How To Build A Happier RelationshipWhen was the last time you told your partner that you appreciate them?

It is a pertinent question for anyone in a couple relationship because one of the most frequent complaints I hear from couples coming for counselling is, ‘He doesn’t appreciate all I do for him’ or ‘She doesn’t appreciate all I do for us’.

If you do so and on a regular basis, your relationship is likely to be in good health. If you cannot remember let me ask you another question: when did you start forgetting to tell your partner how grateful you all for all the 101 things and more that they do on a daily basis? You see, it is easy to notice the big things, the things that call attention to, but it is in the small every day acts that a relationship is nurtured and grown, or congruently, is slowly eroded and destroyed. Which direction is your relationship heading?

We all have a need to feel valued and appreciated in our relationships. When you receive a compliment, a ‘heart felt’ thanks or a warm embrace it makes you feel good about yourself. When your partner notices the things you do and expresses gratitude you feel happier and more content. In fact, research conducted by Benjamin Karney, co-director of the Relationship Institute at the University of California, has shown that couples who focus on the positive aspects of their relationship are the ones who are happiest in their relationship(1).

The 3 Things Exercise (2)

Sitting with a couple recently, I invited them to tell each other three things that they had noticed their partner do in the past week that they appreciated. That they were ‘out of practice’ was obvious by the lengthy silence until he mused that his partner had cooked dinner but that was her role in the household and therefore did not need to be acknowledged. At once, she let out an irritated sigh and her resentment was apparent. You see, he missed the point that it is in these very mundane and daily tasks that we each need to know we are appreciated and not taken for granted. In that moment he had the opportunity to create a closer connection however his failure to understand her need to be appreciated in the small insignificant things, reinforced the distance between them.

Research also tells us that being grateful can improve our own health and wellbeing. When you make a habit of noticing and expressing gratitude for the things your partner does, your relationship will improve. Gratitude and appreciation will always invite a closer connection.

Why not start practicing telling your partner what it is you are grateful for right now? To get you started, write down 3 things that you appreciate about them and then find a time when you are both able to sit down, have a cuppa together and talk. Perhaps you could make it your intention as a couple, to do this exercise every day or on a regular basis. I would love to hear how you progress on the comments below.

 

  1. J.K.McNulty & B.RKarney  2001 Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, vol 27, no 8
  2. J.Aitken & A.Leigh Making Couples Happy 2013

 

If you are experiencing difficulties in your couple relationship and need direction and support to repair your relationship and reach toward your full relational potential then here’s what you need to do contact me on 0434 337 245  for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you or press book now to book on my online diary.

3 Reasons You Might be Smothering Your Partner

couple Relationships and Gender Roles“Leave me alone. You’re smothering me!”

Have you ever wondered just how your desire to be close to your partner could possibly be interpreted as smothering? Most relationships operate with one person desiring closeness and the other, distance. In the early stages of a relationship, a couple (or at least one person) will accommodate for this, willingly tolerating the difference due to the ‘heady’ dose of the pleasure chemical dopamine that is being produced in mega amounts in the brain. However, as ‘being together’, becomes less of a novelty and more your daily experience, less dopamine is produced in the brain and the things you once were able to tolerate, you find you are no longer able to do so. In practice, this means that a couple begin to function less in a symbiotic (being as one) fashion and more as two people who identify as a couple but are also able to function as individuals with their own identities. It can be quite tricky for a couple to navigate this particular transition in a relationship. If you desire closeness, then you will feel that your partner is pushing you away, distancing themselves, becoming more private and less open. You may even feel rejected. How do you manage that feeling?

1. I become scared

Feeling ‘pushed away’ by your partner may feel scary. If you are being accused of ‘smothering’ your partner, it is probable that your anxiety has been aroused by the feeling of distance. This is a normal reaction that happens because we are biologically wired with an ‘inbuilt’ alarm system that lets us know when our personal safety and/or security, is under threat. Having your partner close alleviates the anxiety you experience because their presence soothes and calms a place within you. For your partner, your need for closeness is matched and balanced by their need for distance. Having you too close will activate their internal alarm, warning them that their safety and security is under threat. Your lesson then is to understand and accept that your partner’s distancing behaviour is less likely to be a rejection of you, but more likely a biological need that allows your partner to feel relaxed and safe.

2. I become distrustful

Before jumping to the conclusion that your partner is not being honest about their behaviour with you, check out what your distrust is about for you personally. If you are feeling scared, anxiety can become highly persuasive, suggesting any number of scenarios that invite you to collude with. The best ‘medication’ for this type of anxiety is to ensure that you remain calm and grounded: exercise, meditation, creative pursuits are all examples are pursuits that have that affect. I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to pay attention to self-care strategies like these, as they will serve to give you clarity of mind and an inner peace. Learning to self-care and calm self has the additional advantage of increasing your own sense of security and self-effigy, so that you feel less needy and reliant upon your partner. There are times when distrust is warranted: your partner is behaving differently, secretively or deliberately avoiding you. Your partner may have a history that suggests the possibility of repeat behaviour. If this is the case, take steps sooner rather than later, in order to give your relationship the best chance of repairing.

3. I become nervous

Sometimes ‘suffocating’ behaviour is about the anxiety that my partner will not cope or will be unable to carry out certain tasks without my supervision. If you identify with that, I encourage you to reflect upon what you think will happen if your partner does not have your supervision. Will they do the task as well as you? Will they be able to do the task at all? If you are nervous about your partner’s ability to do certain tasks, deal with your own anxiety without making them responsible for it. Giving your partner respect by listening to their desire for space and allowing them to operate independent of you is necessary for their independence and self-confidence. You will also develop a healthier couple relationship.

 

Can you add your own answer to these 3 Reasons You Might be Smothering Your Partner? I would appreciate hearing your response in the comment section of this blog. Irrespective of the reason you are smothering your partner, I strongly urge you to talk to them about what you feel. This can be a challenging conversation to have if your couple communication style has not been developed sufficiently. Seeking professional help in the guise of a Professional Counsellor may be necessary for support at transitional times, giving support, understanding and learning how to communicate in ways more effective. Often couples ‘put off’ counselling in the belief that they can work out the issues alone or that going to a Counsellor is an admission of failure. The truth is that the chance of your relationship failing or at best only reaching a fraction of its’ best potential increases the longer you put Couple Counselling off. Think about it!

If you want to know how to improve your couple relationship and help it to reach its’ full potential, contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 for a free 10 minute consultation or go to www.watersedgecounselling.com and BOOK ONLINE NOW for an appointment.

Relationship Issues: 3 principles to ensure strong, healthy boundaries

As a person who has had to put significant effort into learning the art of strong, healthy boundaries in relationship with others, I have considerable empathy for individuals who struggle to maintain their personal boundaries and suffer as a consequence. I was reminded about the devastating impact that an absence of boundaries can have, when my friend, Sally (not her real name) shared her story on Facebook. Sally consented for me to share her story and photos with you. I have called it:

Jasper’s Ultimate Challenge for the Vegie Patch.

Cusworth 4Sally recently relocated and has been spending her weekends blissfully re-designing the backyard. Being a ‘green thumb’, she was very excited to discover the ‘remains’ of a once thriving but alas, now very neglected vegetable garden. The image of fresh vegetables on the dining table spurred her in to action and in no time, there were ‘posts’ on Facebook displaying a vegetable garden par excellence.

 

Cusworth Fence 3However like in all good fairy tales there must be a villain. The villain of this story is a likeable fellow – ‘puppy dog’ eyes, a long tongue that needs no invitation to lick your face whenever possible, a hyperactive tale, 4 hairy legs and comes to the name ‘Jasper’. Jasper means well of course, but he does get bored when the family are out, so ‘sampling’ the veggie patch wasn’t such a drama – until Sally arrived home to be confronted with the mess.

 

Not to be deCusworth Fence 1feated, Operation Dog-Proof-Vegetables commenced. A boundary fence needed to be made, and so a visit to Geelong's recycle renovation yards gleaned a gate, ironwork and finials which would become the new boundary. Within a fortnight, the fence was standing, and order was restored to Sally’s beautiful vegetable garden. The End

Postscript – Fortunately, Jasper still survives thanks to a sturdy and impenetrable boundary.

Who is your Jasper?

Do you have a ‘Jasper’ in your life? Partner, parent, child, employer, work colleague, friend or other; ‘Jasper’ is friendly, energetic, warm, enthusiastic and has the potential to overwhelm you by their easy, optimistic, encouraging and often manipulative ways. Most ‘Jasper’s are not conscious of the methods by which they manipulate; however they are intent on your co-operation and involvement. ‘Jasper’ is not good at listening, frequently fails to understand the needs of others and does not like or hear the word ‘no’. As a result, you feel perpetually frustrated, resentful and exhausted.

What to do? We can take a ‘leaf’ from Sally’s book.

Here are 3 principles  to ensure strong, healthy boundaries:

1. Give up trying to reason with ‘Jasper’ and expecting him to understand. This rarely works, so why keep doing it?

2. Take responsibility for your personal boundaries. No one can build those boundaries for you, it is your work and you need to own it.

3. Access the resources and support you need to build your boundary. You don't have to do it alone.These may include:

Further reading: I recommend a book by Dr Henry Cloud called ‘Boundaries’.

Talking to a Professional Counsellor who is skilled to: – facilitate dialogue that will promote self-knowledge – challenge beliefs that have prevented you from keeping strong, healthy boundaries (such as guilt, fear and/or the need to please) – coach you around self-assertive skills – support you as you put your personal boundaries in place.

Journaling: Writing allows you to reflect process and integrate your experience. By getting in touch with your thoughts and feelings, you will promote personal awareness and insight and feel more empowered to build strong boundaries.

A Family Therapist or Family Counsellor who is trained to work with two or more people, may be a resource when ‘Jasper’ is willing to talk about your relationship and how to improve it.

It can be hard, challenging work if you have not had experience building a strong, healthy boundary however it will be worth the effort. You will feel less vulnerable, more safe, respected and in control of your life.

If you are experiencing difficulties in your couple relationship and/or other relationships and need direction and support to restore communication and strong, healthy boundaries, then here’s what you need to do contact me on 0434 337 245  for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you or press book now to book on my online diary.

Relationships: How To Respond To a Hurting Friend

Balancing_Act_by_captivatedimagesHave you ever been caught in the dilemma of wanting to:

a. ‘fix' your friend's problem and/or feel the need to ‘rescue' your friend

and

b. know that they need to find their own solution to their pain

I certainly have. Trying to be compassionate and supportive towards you friend, can become dangerously close to ‘rescuing' when you fail to act with self-awareness.

The need to ‘rescue' comes from the place within me that feels uncomfortable and even anxious about witnessing their pain. Yet I also know that they will never learn how to find their own solutions if I constantly intervene.

In this blog article, journalist Jessica Morris explores the question, ‘How Best Can I Respond To My Hurting Friend?'

 

In everyday life each of us often meets sorrow. This is not to say that life is a sad thing, rather if we can learn to brave the hardships in life and eagerly seek the dawn then both the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ can be beneficial to us. Whether it is our own troubled circumstances or the circumstances of those around us, the fact remains that as humans we must react to suffering.

The line between clinical and personal can be hard to distinguish, yet often both sides seem to war with the other for the upper hand in figuring out how to ‘rescue’ someone. As humans, our immediate desire is finding a solution, and to find it fast. We want a quick fix, a way to stop our pain and the pain of those around us. But perhaps this ‘rescue’ is entirely the wrong way of thinking about how we approach the notion of suffering.

Reality and Compassion.  In some ways these are the two extremes of our lives.
To blatantly stare reality in the eyes and admit that we, or our friend, are struggling can be hard. What is even harder is to acknowledge that this admission (often verbally) seems to expect a proactive response to the person it is directed to.

To tell our friend that we are concerned and that the path they are on is hurting them is in essence the sign of healthy community. Yet to tell them this with an absence of compassion, sincerity and love reveals a weakness to humble ourselves and admit that we also struggle and in this we are willing to support them through their recovery. We cause them shame and continue the pattern of stigma that already surrounds many aspects of society, predominantly surrounding mental health.

To err on the side of compassion is all too common for many of us. We choose to ignore signs, symptoms or bad choices because we don’t want to offend someone we care about or feel we don’t have the capacity to ‘fix’ them. Perhaps with ourselves we want to be in denial about the fact that a behaviour, thought process or relationship is unhealthy and therefore justify it.  Just as a lean too far into reality causes harm to people, so does this paradigm of complete compassion. To ignore is to enable, therefore causing more harm to the person we are failing to tell the truth too.

As humans, we must choose to balance ourselves between both reality and compassion.  One cannot be functional and healthy without the other; compassion provoking denial or rescue and reality causing shame and elevation of a person’s struggle. It is only in this medium that we and the people we care about can seek recovery, not so we can be ‘rescued’, but so we are able to live a fulfilled life free of the chains of the suffering that oppress each of us.

Do you lean towards reality or compassion? Perhaps you can give the hard word to yourself but struggle to tell your loved ones your concern for them. Alternatively, maybe you have allowed yourself to develop unhealthy habits that you can justify while being blatantly honest with others. Wherever you sit on the spectrum, consider the other side and how you would like to be approached by a friend when you are struggling. After all, suffering is universal and the only remedy to recovery is this balance between both.

About Jessica Morris

 Jessica Morris is a 22 year-old free-lance journalist living near Melbourne, Australia. Passionate about pop culture and how this intersects with mental health, faith and social justice; she seeks represent this generation within the media. You can view her work at www.jessicamorris.net.

 If you want to grow personally and in your relationships, experience wellness and reach toward your full relational potential then here’s what you need to do contact me on 0434 337 245  for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you or press book now to book on my online diary.

Relationship Issues: 8 Tips To ‘Jump-Start’ Communication Breakdown

Caucasian couple arguing on sofaLike the majority of young people, my first car was, what you might affectionately call ‘a bomb’. It was a red Hillman Imp and  I relied upon it to get me from one side of Adelaide to the other every day over the long hot South Australian summer. Predictably my trusty ‘Imp’ would make it to the railway crossing just a kilometre from home, where it would inevitably breakdown. What do you do when you find yourself sitting at a railway crossing with a growing line of weary motorists behind you? 1.Panic!! 2. Attempt to get the car going again. With each turn of the ignition, I brought my car closer to the brink of ‘extinction’ –  the car battery expiring yet again! Mobile phones had not been invented yet (yes, I am that old!) so I walked home and my long-suffering father would come to the rescue with his jumper-leads to jump start the Imp back to life, and ready for the next journey across town.

This image of me sitting behind the wheel of my broken-down Hillman Imp, desperately turning that ignition over and over until it refused to respond at all is not dis-similar to the way couples often approach failing communication. You are stuck, repeating the same pattern over and over again, bringing your relationship inevitably closer to the brink of extinction. Communication breakdown is one of the most frequent complaints that couples bring to counselling. ‘He/she never listens!’ is a common catch cry that marks a relationship in crisis. When a couple fail to listen to each other, your needs go unmet within the relationship. In time, what might initially have felt like loneliness, anxiety and frustration turns into resentment, bitterness and anger. Your relationship, once so absorbing and satisfying, is reduced to constant bickering, lengthy silences and/or bitter arguments as you each desperately try to reach out and communicate your unmet needs to your partner.

Learning to listen effectively, when both of you feel ‘not heard’, is an incredibly difficult discipline to manage but not impossible. Called ‘active listening’, effective communication requires commitment, time and practice.

Here are  8  tips that will ‘jump-start’ communication again:

1. Take Turns. Each partner gets to be the complainer for fifteen minutes.

2. Don’t give unsolicited advice. The major rule when helping your partner de-stress is that understanding must precede advice.

3. Show genuine interest. Don’t let your mind or eyes wander. Try to stay intently focused on your partner.

4. Communicate your understanding. Let your partner know that you can and are empathizing with what they are saying.

5. Take your partner’s side. This means being supportive, even if you think that part of his or her perspective is unreasonable. It's all about perspective! Don't lose sight of the forest for the trees – if your relationship is important to you, it is likely more important than your opinion about the intricacies of your mate's conversation with their boss. Again, understanding must precede advice.

6. Express a “we against others” attitude. Let him or her know that the two of you are in this together. That you are a team.

7. Express affection. Hold your partner, put an arm on his or her shoulder, and say, “I love you.”

8. Validate emotions. Let your partner know that his or her feelings make sense to you by telling them just that.

 

If you are experiencing difficulties in your couple relationship and need direction and support to restore communication, repair your relationship and reach toward your full relational potential then here’s what you need to do contact me on 0434 337 245  for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you or press book now to book on my online diary.

 

Coaching: The Resource That Will Change Your Life

Woman Holding a Compass in a LabyrinthI have a very active imagination and have always loved stories that transport me to a different reality with all its new possibilities. Thus Rick Riordan’s novels have been a delightful discovery, drawing me into the world of Greek mythology with its’ Gods, demigods and monsters in a constant struggle for supremacy in both the godly and human realm. ‘The Battle of The Labyrinth’, the 4th book in the Percy Jackson and The Olympians series, features the discovery of a secret opening to a Labyrinth – an elaborate underground maze that has the ability to confound the traveller by continually changing and reinventing itself. Only by using a piece of thread tied to the point of entry, was the traveller able to successfully survive and return from the Labyrinth. As I reflect upon the Labyrinth, it is symbolic of the complexity that we call ‘being human’.

We all have a secret Labyrinth under the surface of our ‘public self ’ – the ‘private self’ is that part of you that only your most intimate friends are privileged to know. Your ‘public self’, is the personality you have grown into since infancy as you learnt to interact with your environment. You learnt that it was not always in your best interests to respond authentically and so you began to adapt and conform to the expectations of your environment and your personal need for survival and safety. In this way, your ‘private self’ was protected and kept hidden.

Many people ‘forget’ that they have a ‘private self’. Your coping strategy has been so efficient that it has felt ‘normal’ to function as you do. However it is part of life’s experience that as you transition from childhood through to adulthood, your normal way of coping becomes less effective or even ineffective and the degree of stress and dis-stress increases. Frequently this realisation does not come upon us until you reach a point of crisis: a relationship gone wrong, bereavement, marriage breakdown, retrenchment, a crippling physical or mental health issue. A crisis forces you to stop and take a good, hard look at yourself. It invites you to look beneath the surface of yourself (if you dare) and discover who you really are. This is where a resource such as The Enneagram becomes a valuable tool for self-awareness and personal growth.Head with maze

The Enneagram can be a guide to your own personal Labyrinth. It reveals and explores the complexity of your inner self, strengths and weakness, motivators and fears, directing you to your own unique road for growth and wholeness. Do you have that ‘thread’ that ‘anchors’ your journey through your own inner Labyrinth? Do you even know where to begin? I commend The Enneagram to you as a great resource and personal tool to your journey.

If you would like to know more about The Enneagram, further introductory articles are available in Watersedgecounselling’s archives: Relationships: 3 Secrets To Manage Conflict in Your Relationship;

 

If you would like to explore your ‘inner Labyrinth’ but don’t know where to start, a Professional Counsellor is skilled in facilitating your journey to greater self-awareness (Please note – The Enneagram is a resource that I use when working with clients however every Professional Counsellor has their own differing and preferred style and resources).

If you would like to know more about The Enneagram and how it can enhance your growth, wellness and potential you can contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or make an appointment online immediately for a personal consultation.

Secrets: What Your Secret Eats For Lunch

Close-up of Eastern Water Dragon, Brisbane, Queensland, AustraliaThroughout time, Wisdom Teachers have used the vehicle of story-telling to teach important truths. Stories capture our imagination and convey messages that we identify with and therefore remain in our consciousness long after the story has been told.

This story is set in an isolated place in a forest where a young couple, desiring to ‘escape’ from the frenetic pace of city life, settled down to live a quieter, largely self-sustaining lifestyle. At the onset of each winter, the woman would take a trip to the city to visit her sister and purchase vital supplies.

It was upon her very first sojourn to the city that the man had an unexpected visitor. A faint knock at the door drew his attention and answering it he found a tiny lizard-like creature shivering on the doorstep. “Please Mister, can I come in just for a few moments to warm myself by your fire” said the Lizard. The man hesitated as he heard his ‘house proud’ wife’s voice telling him that she disliked animals in the house, that animals ‘smelt’ and made a mess. He knew that his wife would not approve however his compassion for this vulnerable creature rose up and he invited the Lizard in. It was agreed that this would be a secret between the man and the Lizard and that the Lizard would never come to the house when the woman was home. A small voice in the man’s head speculated the repercussions of his actions if his wife found out: anger, embarrassment, apologies, possible threats and enormous stress. Fear had taken a foothold in his mind and would remain a constant companion as the stress of holding the secret increased over time.

The Lizards brief winter visit became a regular event over the following years. As time passed, the man noticed the Lizard growing; he was staying for longer periods, eating more and moving round the house. When his wife returned from her trips, he was forced to tell lies to avoid revealing his secret. Questions like, “What is that smell?” “How is it that you have eaten all that meat that I left in the freezer?” “How did those large dirty marks get on the carpet?”

His anxiety and stress increased over time and his health began to decline. Just small things at first: frequent headaches, sleeplessness, joint pain, constant colds, a nagging cough, loss of appetite. His wife was concerned for him, and wondered if he had a serious health condition, having no idea of the stress he was under by keeping his secret.

Eventually the Lizard grew into a huge Dragon and now the man could not refuse the creatures increasing demands out of fear that the Dragon would attack him and his wife, if the demands were not met. Each winter, the Dragon stayed longer, until this final winter when the Dragon refused to leave. No amount of pleading could move the Dragon who now regarded the house as his own home. So upon the return of his wife and their 2 children, she was confronted by the secret that her husband had kept for 20 years. Her horror was replaced by rage when her husband told her the story that he had kept secret for so long. She was overwhelmed by the knowledge that her husband could betray her and started to question their entire marriage relationship. She felt she could no longer trust this man who had become a stranger to her.

That day he lost his wife and their 2 children as he watched them pack their belongings to leave. He was a broken and sick man, overwhelmed by shame and regret – the secret that was once a compulsive act contained in a few moments, had become a tyrant that destroyed all that he loved and valued.

What does a secret eat for lunch?

1. Fear

  • Fear of being found out and the repercussions

2. Lies

  • In order to keep the secret you have to fabricate more lies

3. Your Health

Recent research by Dr. David Eagleman, a neuroscientist from Houston Texas, has established that secrets long-kept raise the level of stress hormones in the brain and body. The reason for this is that one part of your brain doesn’t want the stress that holding the secret produces and argues to disclose it while at the same time another part realizes how messy and complicated and even more stressful disclosing the secret might be and votes for keeping everything under wraps.

This conflict of interest within your brain produces tension, confusion of thought and stress – the high levels of stress hormones being produced compromises your immune system and literally makes you sick.

4. Your Relationships

  • Keeping secrets are a betrayal of trust
  • Secrets call in to question the entire history of your relationship “If he was lying to me about that, what else was she lying to me about?”
  • Trust once broken is difficult and sometimes impossible to repair
  • The longer you keep the secret, the less possibility of repair

 

 

 If you are experiencing difficulties in your couple relationship and need direction and support to repair your relationship and reach toward your full relational potential then here’s what you need to do contact me on 0434 337 245  for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you or press book now to book on my online diary.

Relationship Issues: When Secrets Come Out – 12 Reasons to Choose Mercy Over Justice

Think_it_Over_by_captivatedimagesWhen secrets come out in a relationship they have a devastating impact;

you question how genuine your relationship really was

trust is destroyed

your mind works overtime, grappling with this new knowledge, looking for the evidence you missed at the time.

you feel hurt, betrayed, angry, confused and sad

How do you deal with all of this?
Do you follow your anger and demand justice or do you follow your sadness and seek to understand and reconcile?
In times like this, our brain responds by going into a fight/flight response.
As you ruminate on the injustice of the situation, hurt and anger will insist that you  deserve justice.
In certain situations, such as when human life has been violated or the secret-keeper has no remorse, justice may be the better option.
However, many relationships can be repaired and healed when you deliberately choose mercy towards your partner.

Here are 12 reasons to choose mercy over justice

1. Justice says ‘I am right'; Mercy says ‘our relationship is more important than me being right'.
2. Justice is about me; Mercy is about your partner.
3. Justice creates distance; Mercy invites closeness.
4. Justice seeks revenge; Mercy seeks to understand and forgive.
5. Justice is polarising; Mercy is inclusive.
6. Justice creates a win/lose or lose/lose situation; Mercy has the potential to create a win/win situation.
7. Justice is black and white, right and wrong; Mercy understands that life is never black and white, that I never know the whole complexity of a situation or the person/s within it.
8. Justice resents; Mercy heals.
9. Justice is more reactive; Mercy is less reactive.
10. Justice punishes; Mercy restores.
11. Justice creates more victims, more conflict; Mercy ends conflict.
12. Justice is repaid with resentment, bitterness and hate; Mercy is repaid with kindness, gratitude and love.
It takes courage and integrity to act mercifully towards your partner when they have betrayed you by keeping their secret. Ask yourself how important  this relationship is to you. Your answer will provide direction to how you respond to your partner as you continue to process this new information. Justice may ‘feel good' but it does not repair a damaged relationship. Mercy, on the other hand, invites your partner to reconnect and talk openly and honestly.

If you are experiencing difficulties in your couple relationship and need direction and support to repair your relationship and reach toward your full relational potential then here’s what you need to do contact me on 0434 337 245  for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you or press book now to book on my online diary.