My number one recommendation for couples in crisis

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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.

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.

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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.

How to Speak the Same Love Language as Your Partner

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Have you ever done the dishes for your significant other, only to have them shrug it off and complain that you never see each other? Or perhaps your spouse constantly craves physical affection, when you’d much rather sit down and just talk? In these circumstances, it can often feel like you speak a different language to your partner. Couple relationships can hang by a thread, because both people feel misunderstood and under-valued by one another.

Would you like to get on the same page? Understand what language your partner speaks when it comes to love? Then this infographic by Tommie Media on the 5 Love Languages can help you out. Based on the premise that every human gives and receives love in five different ways, the primary way you show affection may be drastically different you’re your partner.

Follow the graph below to find out how you best receive and recognise love. It could be Acts of Service, Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Quality Time or Gifts. Ask your partner to do it to, and you will find out how to best express love to each other. For instance, you may be a gifts person, but they may crave physical touch. So, instead of buying them gifts to show affection, you are now able to show them physical affection and strengthen your relationship of a deeper level. Knowing each other’s Love Language will revolutionise your relationship and help you to reconnect. So go ahead, and see what your Love Language is!

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Would you like to get on the same page and understand what language your partner speaks when it comes to love? 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.

An Extroverts Guide on How to Live with an Introverted Partner

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Image courtesy of photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If the old saying, “opposites attract” is true, then there is every likelihood that your partner is the complete opposite of you. Initially this may not seem like a huge factor in your relationship; you enjoy each other’s company and genuine appreciation means you are able to overlook your differences. But what happens when you are living together and your partner displays some characteristics that are just plain strange to you? How do you cope when you want to go out and all they want to do is lock themselves up in a quiet room for an hour, alone? How do you respond when your partner develops that distant expression two thirds of a way through a social outing and is unable to communicate effectively with your friends, let alone you, for the rest of the evening? If these circumstances ring true to you, chances are you are an extrovert and your partner is an introvert.

It goes without saying that every human being is unique, yet we find that there are two common personality traits people fall in to. The extrovert garners their energy from social situations. They thrive around people and often find they would rather be engaged with another person, even if it’s a stranger, than sit in the silence of their own thoughts. Alternatively, the introvert needs to spend time alone in order to function. Much like a battery, their energy is depleted when spending time with people. They recuperate and are able to function by spending time by themselves and will often prefer the company of a few close friends or even just you, compared to a large social situation.

While it can seem difficult to accommodate for each other’s differing personality traits – especially when you don’t understand them – there is hope. Having a partner with a different personality type means you are able to balance each other out, that you are able to encourage one another to grow in ways that were once foreign to you. But how do you come to a point where you are comfortable with these differences? For the many extroverts out there who desire to support their partner yet are unable to fathom their need for complete and utter alone time, here are 3 tips that will help you appreciate and live with your introverted partner.

1. Give them their space

While you may want to sit and talk about your day, the weather and the current status of Brangelina, your partner will struggle to cope with this at a moment’s notice. Allow your introverted partner to have their ‘alone time’ in order to recuperate from their long work day or a social situation before you vent to them. A great way to assess their current capacity to actively listen to you is to observe whether they are responding in full sentences and are retaining eye contact. If they’re not, hold back and wait until they are re energised so they can give you the attention you deserve.

2. Don’t expect your partner to be high energy

 Just because your partner is an introvert doesn’t mean they won’t like doing things. They need to spend quality time with people – especially you; and a healthy introvert will desire this. In saying this, be aware of your partner’s capacity to retain energy and concentration at social gatherings. Do they feel comfortable going to that work party? If so, how long can they spend there before they ‘switch off’? Are they able to have people over for dinner? How often? Just because your partner is less inclined to spend prolonged amounts of times in social situations doesn’t mean you should be. As an extrovert, you NEED to spend time with other people. Talk to your partner about this and figure out a compromise. Perhaps it is best to agree on a ‘curfew’ before attending a party; or maybe your partner just needs to know a few weeks ahead of time in order to mentally prepare for an event. You may even select a night every few weeks where you go out for a ‘girl’s night’ or ‘guys night’, giving you your social fix while they spend time at home alone.

3. Don’t expect them to have an answer immediately

Are you facing a difficult financial decision together? Perhaps you are trying to decide whose parents’ house you should go to for the holidays? It is important to discuss these things with your partner, but don’t always expect them to have a definitive answer or view point on the situation immediately. Chances are they will be able to voice the pros and cons to the varying options and will need some time to process what they feel the best response should be. Give your partner this time – a few hours, a day or a week, before you bring the topic up again.

If you are experiencing difficulties in your couple relationship and need direction and support to repair this and have a strong, happy and enduring couple relationship then here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen 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.