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 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.

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


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

 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.

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.

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.

A Three-Fold Formula For Relationship Repair

A 3 fold formula for relationship repairAs I write this, I am enjoying a holiday in Western Australia. (‘Ahhh', you say with just a hint of envy,'I so need a holiday'). Whilst I appreciate the opportunity to have an extended break from routine now, it took some effort to leave work behind (can you believe it?). I feel very passionate and absorbed in my business which  drives me to keep pursuing growth and excellence. Now almost mid-way through my holiday break, I wonder why I found it so hard to come away from work. I feel relaxed, I am enjoying spending time with my husband and I am surrounded by the Australian bush landscape in all its vastness and beauty.

Holidays have always been an opportunity for my husband and I to reconnect with each other, creating happy memories to look back on and providing time to talk about our relationship, our dreams, our needs and the things that are precious to us. It is an opportunity to intentionally nurture our couple connection and reinforce the bond enjoy together. Be it brief or a more  extended period of time, deliberately putting aside time to relax together, will nurture your couple relationship and ensure ongoing health, growth and relationship longevity.
When a couple are experiencing difficulties, they have frequently neglected this all important practice, the issues in their relationship creating an impenetrable wall of blame, criticism, anger, frustration and sadness. It may feel easier and more comfortable to relax and take holiday interludes apart however this also reinforces the distance between you. 
Relationship repair begins at the place where, you turn towards each other again and recall your past relationship, reflect on your present relationship and reinforce your future relationship.

Recall your past relationship 

By sharing happy memories, the feelings you experienced at the time such as happiness, warmth and love, are evoked and experienced in the present, serving to reinforce your couple connection. These moments offer an invitation for you as a couple to revisit and reflect upon the goals you have achieved as a couple, acknowledging disappointments, grieving loss together and reminding each other of the challenging times that you overcame together.

Reflect on your present relationship  

Frequently as time progresses, couples become distant from each other due to the responsibilities and demands of life; children, ageing parents, heavy work loads, commitments to various community groups, financial concerns, and unexpected illness are just some examples of the numerous demands that compete for your attention. Couple relationships frequently lose their way as a result of neglect, making it  vulnerable to serious long-term damage. Having time to relax, have fun together and reconnecting around shared memories facilitates a safer and calmer space to share ‘who we are now'.
 If your couple connection has weakened over a period of time, it is easy for the conversation to take on a negative and blaming tone. Agree to reflect upon the strengths of your present relationship. Taking the time to write down and compare your priorities is a helpful way to stimulate conversation around individual needs verses shared needs and what each of you would choose to do differently to nurture the couple relationship. Make a pledge to listen respectfully to each other and explore how, as a couple, you could have a ‘win-win' situation. The answer may take time to emerge, so learn to be patient with the process and expect that you may have a number of conversations over this before you come to the solution.

Reinforce your future relationship

When was the last time you dreamed together? Remembering the dreams you once shared as a couple evokes feelings of hope, optimism and anticipation. This has the potential to be a fertile space for new possibilities to emerge, injecting renewed energy and hope into a formerly uninviting future together.
Intentionally choosing to schedule quality time and a ‘safe', inviting space where you can learn to ‘turn towards each other' underpins this three-fold formula for relationship repair. Regular weekly ‘dates', monthly day retreats, extended vacation periods; whatever your particular lifestyle allows, these are all opportunities, not only for relationship repair but also for ongoing growth and relationship wellbeing.
Have you ever wondered why your partner never agrees with your version of what happened?
Go to the following link to find out more:




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 Secrets To Manage Conflict in Your Relationship

IMG_8311Are you in a relationship where your partner is quick to anger and insists on confronting the issue when you are not ready to? Do you struggle to understand why your partner ‘shuts down' refusing to speak', when you would prefer to deal with the issue immediately? Does your partner often take a certain course of action without consulting you, failing to understand why you get so upset about this? These scenarios are representative of some of the common complaints that couples bring to counselling. Our response to these dilemmas is something along the lines, ‘Why can't you be more like me?' In my recent article, ‘9 Keys to Strengthen and Improve Your Relationships' I gave 9 keys or statements that indicate what personality type a person is. Each of these keys fall into one of 3 centres: the head-centre, the heart – centre or the gut- centre. I invite you to read the description of each of these and tick the points  that apply to you. The centre with the most ticks is very likely to be the centre you predominantly operate from. You might like to invite your partner to do this same exercise and compare your responses.

The Head- Centred person or Thinker (Keys 5, 6 & 7)

* Predominant emotion is fear. * Gives ground. * Indecisive – processing, analysing and weighing up all the data, the thinker acknowledges that life is not black and white but all shades of gray and that every perspective holds its own truth. * Action centre is underdeveloped. * Relys on outer authority, comfortable with rules, structure and authority . * Basic life instinct is to be empathic, attuned to the situation. * Basic life question is ‘Where am I?'

The Gut-Centred person or Feeler (Keys 8, 9 & 1)

* Predominant emotion is anger but they have little control over it. * Have difficulty listening and absent-minded. * Holds their ground; planted;rooted. * Decisive – ‘yes means yes and no means no'. * Low value of perception, therefore least developed. * Relys on their own inner authority, having high expectations of self that is dictated by ‘shoulds' and ‘oughts'. * Basic life instinct is survival. * Basic life question is ‘ How safe am I ?'

The Heart-Centred person or Doer (2, 3 &4)

* Most in touch with their action centre, and have an instinct for imitation. * Feeling centre is underdeveloped, being most out of touch with anger. * They take ground, having a lack of psychic boundaries, moving in to the psychic space of others. * Their predominant emotion is anxiety. * Basic life instinct is relationships, understanding others through analysis. * Basic life question is ‘Who am I with?'

For your relationship to truly benefit from this knowledge, it is not enough to have insight into the differing way you each function. For change to occur, you must be willing to be more accepting of the way your partner functions and prepared to work on those aspects of your own functioning that have a negative impact in your relationship. This is never easy because it forces you to stretch yourself in ways that you will experience as uncomfortable and unfamiliar. When both people in a relationship choose to do this, change begins to heppen. I encourage you to seek the support of a professional counsellor who will help facilitate this growth process in your relationship.

If you  are experiencing conflict in your relationship, want to grow, 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.

9 Keys to Strengthen and Improve Your Relationships

light_by_captivatedimages-d5dvvlqDo you get along with most people? My own experience when working with people suggests that whilst most of us get on with most people, there are always certain people that we find difficult to understand and get on with.

Sometimes you may struggle to understand why a person thinks the way they do, or holds a differing belief or value system to you evoking anger in you or by contrast, intimidation. Sometimes you feel irritated by a particular person or find yourself in frequent conflict or you just don’t like them for no apparent reason. Getting along with people is a skill we all need but how and where do we learn the skill?

Your family of origin is the context in which you learn how to do relationships, as you observe your parents or significant care-givers relational style. As a child, you developed your own relational style within your family context, responding to the specific stressors and challenges you experienced. If there were frequent arguments between your parents, you may have taken on the role of a mediator, prioritizing the need to keep things peaceful and settled. If your father was abusive towards your mother, you may have taken the role of protector out of the need to defend your mother. Some of us feel very isolated and abandoned as children. If that was the case for you, you may experience yourself as being different to others, having learned to live within your own imagination.

Relational styles vary. Have you noticed that some people seem to get on with others effortlessly whilst others struggle to get on with people?  Whilst your relational style worked for you as a child within your family context, as an adult you are exposed to a much broader range of relational styles that frequently challenge the way you do relationships. This becomes particularly apparent when you experience a life crisis and discover that the skills you have relied upon to relate to others, no longer work and even keep you stuck in problematic situations. It is at this stage, people often choose to see a counselling professional in order to understand themselves and others in relationship.

It was during a period of personal crisis that I became aware that I needed to understand myself at a deeper level and change the way I related to other people. At that time I was experiencing chronic depression and felt crippled by fear. I withdrew from life, seeking to protect myself from other people’s judgements and expectations, feeling inadequate and insignificant. My recovery from depression was significantly facilitated by the decision to pursue personal self-awareness and the way my relational style impacted others in relationship.

Whether you are at a time of personal life crisis and/or relationship crisis or simply want to strengthen and grow your relationships, I recommend these 9 keys (known as The Enneagram). These 9 keys provided me with a very accurate psychological tool that helped me understand and work effectively with other people instead of being fearful of them. I have since used this tool in every area of my life; my marriage relationship, my family relationships, my personal friendships, my workplace relationships and in my work as a therapist.

These 9 keys give insight into what a particular personality type values and prides themselves on. By identifying the others personality type on the enneagram, you begin to become aware of how they function and how to initiate a relationship based on an appreciation of one another’s strengths and differences.

Here are the 9 keys to strengthen and improve your relationships:

Type 1    The Perfectionist; ‘I am right’

Type 2    The Giver; ‘I am helpful'

Type 3    The Performer; ‘I am successful’

Type 4    The Romantic; ‘I am different’

Type 5    The Observer; ‘I am knowledgeable and wise’

Type 6    The Loyal Sceptic; ‘I am loyal’

Type 7    The Epicurist; ‘I am fun’

Type 8    The Protector; ‘I am strong’

Type 9    The Mediator; ‘I am settled’


When you begin to pay closer attention to what a person is saying you will hear what a person frequently states or implies about them. Noticing what a person prides themselves on, you can start to appeal to that part of them.

For example, to get along with a Type 1, you need to allow them to feel that you value their advice by asking them what they think, listening carefully, and giving respect to what they say. Whether you agree or not, this person is more likely to support you, because you have given value to them. To get along with a Type 4 it is important to acknowledge that they are different, invite them to share their unique perspective and in particular their creativity. Give them the creative director job and they will do it with flair!

If you want to know more about these 9 keys, look out for more articles to help you to understand your self and others so that you can continue to strengthen and grow your relationships.

 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.






Transitions : Letting Go

I have been going through a transition that I am almost on the other side of as I write this blog article. For a number of years I have dreamt of having my own ‘stand alone' private practice as a Counsellor and Family Therapist. Today I am finally sitting in my own office in Geelong where I will now conduct Watersedge Counselling from. I am noticing that I still have a little adjusting to do. My new space does not feel entirely my own yet. It is like I need to settle in and establish a relationship  with  it. This is somewhat surprising to me because I anticipated that I would feel at home immediately. I am brought back to the knowledge that my transition is not quite complete yet.

It takes time to ‘let go' of the old in order to embrace the new. I was reminded only recently as I sat with a couple who had transitioned to a new space in their relationship that to complete any transition, no matter how positive that process is, you must leave behind and let go of something that is familiar. To do so implies that there will be a grief process where you need to review what you have ‘let go' of and why that was so, in order to move on.

As I have pondered my  present transition experience, I have thought about some of the things you may need to let go of and the reasons why you must let go to be able to transition well.

Letting go of relationships evokes conflicting emotions

You might feel sadness, pain, anger, guilt, regret or you may feel freedom, relief and pleasure. It is more likely that you will feel a mixture of both positive and negative emotions as you separate from that relationship. 
Sometimes the transition has been initiated by a relationship that has become toxic to either one or both of you. Even when the relationship has been a painful one, you will experience feelings of loss and devastation and wonder whether you did all you could to try and save it. Talking these feelings through to give you clarity will allow you to let go and make a strong transition. 


Letting go can be about the need to survive

When you no longer have the physical, emotional and/or mental energy that you need to ‘hold on' to a relationship, pursuit or interest you realise that you have to let go to have some energy to look after your own needs. This can be incredibly painful for everyone involved. Feelings of loss, rejection, failure and guilt can follow you unless you take the time to talk about them and find closure.

Letting go of dreams

Dreams of the way you had hoped things might have been but  never eventuated have to be let go. Those hopes and dreams may have been necessary to survival however there comes a time when you have to let go to transition to a new place. Talking about your feelings, the broken promises, and broken dreams as well as the memories you cherish is important for you to be able to let go and move on.

Letting go can be initiated by circumstances

Circumstances where you have made the decision to relocate for work or family reasons, leaving the people you worked or socialised with, behind. When you are eager to move on or have had to do so quite suddenly, it is understandable that closure of relationships does not always happen. Sometimes you are just simply preoccupied with the business of relocating. Other times there are other emotions that you find too difficult to acknowledge to the people you leave behind. Understanding and acknowledging your experience and where possible, saying goodbye to significant people is important for a good transition.

Ritual is a great way to fully let go and transition strongly. Ritual gives closure to the experience and/or relationship you are letting go of. There is no one way of doing ritual because ritual is a very personal experience that holds unique meaning for the person who participates in it. You can create your own ritual, as long as it holds meaning and provides closure to your experience.

Whatever the nature and purpose of your transition, give attention to what you have let go of and how you acknowledge it. By doing this, you ensure that moving forward will be a smoother transition. If you would like to know more about how to navigate your present transition experience or need support as you experience your own transition contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or go to to book an appointment.

Relationships: How to Forgive

Most of us learn about forgiveness in the context of our family and/or religion. As a child you learn that if you hurt your sibling, you will be told to show remorse and ‘say sorry'. If you did this, you understood that to mean that you were forgiven by your sibling and life could go on. If, on the other hand, you were the offended one, you learnt that when offered an apology, you were expected to forgive the offender. What was that like for you I wonder? 


 Are you a forgiving person?

 Have there been times when you have struggled to forgive? As much as I would like to think that I am a forgiving person, consistently living according to this value, I am also aware that there are times in my life experience that I have struggled to let go of my personal pain and forgive the other. If you identify with my experience, I wonder why you struggle to ‘let go' of your pain and forgive the other? Is it your pride, the degree of pain you feel, the hatred you harbor, the fear of being hurt again? What do you stand to gain by letting go of your pain and forgiving the other?

Forgiveness is better for:  

  • your physical health – Forgiveness has the affect of lowering your blood pressure, adding to the longevity of your life.
  • your mental health – When you forgive another you will feel less stressed and anxious, allowing you to sleep better.
  • your relational health – You remain connected and engaged with others.
Unforgiveness, on the other hand, breeds resentment, bitterness and depression, isolates us from other people and has an aging affect.

Forgiveness is undoubtedly a healthier choice, physically, mentally and socially however I can still struggle to let go of my hurt and act in forgiveness. I have come to the conclusion that forgiveness is a bit like building a long bridge over a deep chasm. It is a process that involves personal risk and much courage. Let me explain.

When I forgive someone whose action has had a negative impact on myself, my intent is to ‘let go' of my resentment and hurt and wish the other only good. Feelings however, generally do not change immediately, needing time and a different perspective. That is the bridge-building process that I refer to. 
Forgiveness does not mean that you can forget the injury or pretend it never happened. Nor does it mean that you can be close friends. Trust and respect are often destroyed and only time and healing can rebuild these. When you desire to act with forgiveness, in effect your attitude is saying, “I will start rebuilding a bridge towards you.” The bridge is made from the choices you make on a daily basis  to act with kindness, openness and humility rather than resentment, hostility and bitterness. 

In that process, the person who stands to change the most is you. One of the reasons we struggle to forgive others is because we have not forgiven ourselves our personal failures and shortcomings. It causes less discomfit to judge someone else for their wrongdoing than it is to tolerate your own self-hatred. When you deliberately act with kindness and care towards others, you learn to be kinder and more forgiving towards yourself. 

I invite you to try this approach, to loosen you hold on resentment and hostility and determine today to start building your own bridges towards the people who have wronged you. Notice the impact this has on your physical, mental and social wellbeing and how it changes you as a person.

 If you want to grow , experience wellness and reach toward your full  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.

Relationship issues: Communication

 Have you ever been hooked by a Television Soap Opera, the ‘Soapies’ as they are affectionately known? Home and Away, Neighbours, The Bold and The Beautiful, The Young and The Restless, Days of Our Lives – you can add your favourite to the list. The scriptwriter creates a script that will bring characters to life, making them known and believable within the broader context of the setting that is the backdrop to the character's lives. Relationship issues, arising out of each characters unique script that informs them of their personal beliefs, values and behaviours, are the primary content of these ‘everyday dramas'.

 The Power of Family Scripts

What is the power that soapies have to draw you in to the drama time and time again? Perhaps some of the fascination we have with these television dramas is that they provide insight into our own lives and the scripts that inform our thinking and behaviour. We all grow up with family scripts.  Family scripts are unique to each individual family and inform family members about family rules – values, beliefs and behaviours. They are largely unwritten and unconscious, communicated verbally and non- verbally through the countless interactions we have within our family context. Messages such as ‘to be successful you have to have a university education'; ‘as long as you look perfect it doesn't matter what is underneath'; ‘A ‘real' man gets a job and provides for his family'; ‘your loyalty must be to the family first'.

The Impact of  Your Family Script on the Couple Relationship

When adult children leave home, they take their unique family script into every other relationship. This unique container of information is literally embodied within your personhood. It is information that ‘you don't know that you know'. As a couple relationship is formed and developed over time, you continue to approach the relationship from the messages of your family script. What happens then, when a couple, each embodying separate family scripts, try to forge a new identity? Small misunderstandings and hurts occur as you each unconsciously act out your family script until, left unaddressed a couple reaches ‘breaking point’. It takes a lot of work for a couple to identify and let go of former family scripts so that you can begin the task of forming a new identity that reflects who you want to be as a couple.

When my partner, Duncan and I formed a relationship, I was completely oblivious to our differing family-scripts however over time tensions emerged as we each continued to live according to the scripts that we had grown up with. Duncan’s script went something like this: ‘anything you do is worth doing well’; ‘if you don’t get it right, do it all again’; ‘you don’t leave things half done’.  At the time, I was frequently unwell and fatigued, so much of what I did was left ‘half done’ (to complete later I thought) or done imperfectly. This issue was the trigger for frustration (Duncan), distress (Colleen) and tension in our relationship for a number of years.

I grew up with a family script that directed ‘peace at any price’. Confrontation, anger and frustration were not tolerated and family members went to great lengths to avoid instances of this nature. What a shock it was for Duncan to have a partner who would not and could not, respond to his angry outbursts. Duncan grew up in a family where family members were free to express their anger and he enjoyed engaging in debate over issues of difference. This tension in our relationship caused communication issues that we struggled to overcome… However, by addressing our previous family scripts we began to understand and appreciate each other.

Whilst writing this article, I asked Duncan and my two daughters how they would describe our family motto. Their response was: ‘How are you feeling? Do you want to talk about it?' As a couple Duncan and I have learnt the value of being emotionally available and present to listen to the needs of the other. In turn, we have found that our own needs are met.

Discover Your Family Script to Promote Relationship Healing and Growth

What does your family script say? Are you aware of the impact it has upon your couple relationship? Have you talked about this as a couple? If you are experiencing difficulties in your couple relationship, explore the messages you grew up with and live by even in the present. You will find them in situations where you over-react emotionally towards your partner. If these conversations are difficult to have as a couple, why not visit a relationship counsellor who will be able to facilitate a conversation that will help you identify the family scripts you live by and help you to explore a new identity as a couple.

 If you want to grow in your couple relationship, experience wellness and reach toward your full couple 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.