Will Your Relationship Survive After Quarantine Ends?

Will Your Relationship Survive After Quarantine Ends?

torn photo of a couple on a wooden table

After Lockdown Relationship Breakups

There is absolutely no doubt that there will be a surge in relationship breakups after lockdown is lifted. The freedom of ‘getting out’ and living as normal a life as possible is going to alter and influence people’s attitudes, and possibly propel them to behave differently in their ‘newfound freedom’. Feeling like you have been given an ‘out of jail’ card will trigger a greater sense of hankering for new beginnings – particularly with individuals who already displayed self-centredness, lack of co-operation, disregard for other’s feelings, or just were bad communicators.

So …. What is a reason to cut ties from your partner?

The COVID-19 Virus just added to the disease of an already breaking, or broken-down relationship before quarantine.

BreakUp or Stay in Relationship?

There were many people considering a breakup before the virus hit. Some moved swiftly and removed themselves from further pain and heartbreak, while others stayed and got completely caught up in the fear of ‘nobody else will want me’, ‘ I’m probably not good enough’, or ‘it’s probably as good as it will ever get’, ‘I don’t want to start again – it’s too hard’, ‘better the devil you know’, etc.

For others they saw it as a temporary situation to stay until things improved with the outside world. And there are those that secretly hoped that their emotional wellbeing within the relationship may also improve – unfortunately without anything changing.

It’s commonly called ‘the roll of the dice’.

Relationship Survival

For those that moved back in, or never moved out, some realise that there is no effort to reconcile. Others are making a go of it given the circumstances they are in.

Maybe some will work out, but statistically, most will result in a few short-term quarantine spurts of engagement, but not much by the way of long-term re-coupling.

Understanding and actioning those elements that constitute a thriving, vibrant relationship can swing open new doors to wonderful possibilities and dreams being realised.

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Make Relationships Work

Politics in Relationships

Have the Relationships of your Dreams

Making Relationships Work

Making Relationships Work

couple smiling looking at each other in a happy relationship

Our relationships stand out as paramount in importance and high priority. The following are some thoughts about what makes a relationship work and how you can maintain a solid foundation:

  • Be perfectly clear about your own needs, and match those with your partner’s needs from the onset of the relationship. Many people choose a partner because of a feeling, and an attraction, however they don’t tend to ask themselves “What are the important things I value and need to evidence in my relationship to be content with my partner in the long term. It’s not too late to still have that conversation if you are already in a relationship. You are entitled to express your needs and your opinions as long as this courtesy is given to your partner as well.
  • Ensure that your relationship is built on a solid underlying friendship and meets the needs of both people involved. In the main, when you give better you get better. If you are giving but receiving very little, it’s time to address what other issues may be preventing relationship progress. If you put your relationship in a win/lose situation, it will be a lose/lose outcome.
  • Ask yourself: “ Is what I’m doing working or not working? Am I doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome? Find a way that works, recognise when it’s not working, and be honest when it needs fixing by accepting some responsibility. Draw up a plan of action.
  • Falling in love is not the same thing as being in love. Embrace the change and know that relationships require maintenance and an open connection. You don’t fix things by fixing your partner. You don’t necessarily solve problems – you learn how to manage them.
  • Communicate often. Make sure your sentences have verbs. Acknowledge your partner, and talk about the action that is required to rectify and make good. Remember 7 % of communication is verbal. Actions and non-verbal communication speak much louder.

Make relationships work by taking an interest in your partner.

Here are some questions that will endear your partner:

  1. How have you been coping with ……… ? (Shows interest)
  2. What more can I do to help? …………. (Shows willingness)
  3. How do you feel about ………………? (Shows caring)
  4. I think you would like me to……………. Is this correct? (Shows acknowledgement)
  5. I can see you’re exhausted … I’ll take over and you have a rest. (Shows respectful observation)
  6. Can we talk again about the issue you raised last night? ……. I want to be sure that you are OK about it, or do we need to discuss further? (Shows love & consideration)
  7. The weekend is coming up, would you like to ………? (Shows initiative)
  8. The family is coming for dinner, are you happy to plan the menu with me and make a list of things that need doing? (Shows planning & co-operation)
  9. I get that things have been tough lately so I thought that a weekend away with your friends might allow you to have some time out – I’ll look after the kids/house etc. (Shows respect & a wonderful surprise)
  10. If you feel bothered about anything I want you to know that I am here to listen, and to be supportive. (Shows empathy)

The TV series ‘Frasier’ portrayed by Kelsey Grammer, has some valuable insights. This New Year let’s all adopt more of Frasier Crane’s phrase ………“I’M LISTENING” ……… and have a backup maintenance plan of action.

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The Heart of the Matter

The Heart of the Matter

Christmas is fast approaching and I felt it was time to get to the ‘heart of the matter’ when it comes to our expression of Christmas love, cheer and what it means to give from the heart.

The heart has, in the past, been a reasonably misunderstood organ whose sole function was to pump and circulate blood for survival. Needless to say we would not be here if that integral function ceased. Interestingly, the heart actually affects us in more ways than we realize. It has now been deemed to be our ‘second brain’ as there is more evidence to support the fact that the heart plays a much larger role in every aspect of our life than previously thought.

Heart Memory

So, what is this telling us about our heart? Medicine & Science is recognising that it is far more complex than first thought. It appears that our hearts hold memories. Could some of these memories have been inherited from previous generations? Why not? People are quick to point out physical features that are similar to a great aunt or uncle, or a great great grandfather or grandmother, and yet science has been relatively slow to recognise that emotions and behaviours are also inherited.

Society likes to blame everything on parents if the child is ‘acting out’ or somehow ‘different’ however it does not account for the fact that the child is an individual in their own right with their own learned behaviour from their environment, both family & society, and also their own inherited emotions and behaviours. We all carry individual characteristics – our foibles, strengths and weaknesses ever evolving over time. Many parents would agree that at times they wonder who their child is, and wonder what they’re on about. Conversely, many offspring think the same about their parents. Thank goodness most families manage these differences. Unfortunately, some find it difficult to navigate emotional issues, and sadly, in some cases separation comes into play, which causes immense grief and pain to both adults and children.

Humans are complex in their makeup. Some things we understand about ourselves, while other things are baffling to us. When we are blinkered to some of those other things, it inevitably creates conflict & contradiction in our lives and blaming others seems an acceptable easier option than looking at self. Ultimately, as adults the onus is on every one of us to review and take stock of the wonderful achievements & understandings that are enhancing our lives, but to also be open to the areas that aren’t working that well, and require fine-tuning. In other words, being prepared to ‘take the blinkers off’ and see it for what it is, how it affects self and others, and most importantly taking an action for constructive change.

Regardless of our genetic makeup, and our learned behaviours, most individuals strive to do their best. Their intent is not to cause trouble and pain, however if this is occurring then it may be time to ‘bite the bullet’ and seek help.

ChristmasDuring this Christmas Season seek to feel with your heart rather than your head. Immerse yourself fully in that part – feeling and sensing yourself and the world from there. Notice any blocks – soften them as you breathe into that area. Ask what life looks like from there. If you’re pondering something, or trying to make a decision, try it out from there. You will be much more connected and gain more wisdom using mindfulness from the heart. Our head driven, somewhat selfish western culture deters us from listening to our hearts and listening from our hearts.

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” – Confucius

To you all, I thank you for your openness and sharing in times of need. Through this stepping out learning, understanding, repair and rebuilding can further evolve.

May we all embrace being more heartful and heartfelt. Feeling joy, empathy, kindness, love and compassion through our hearts – the place where true authentic connection comes from. Reach out to one another – your family and friends, and those in need, especially those that are doing it alone.

Heartfelt Christmas Joy & Cheer to you All!

Politics in Relationships

Politics in Relationships

man and woman on megaphone Here we go again, another election and another possible change of government. I should imagine that the medical profession has revised asking suspected concussion patients the question, “Who is our Prime Minister?”. It may not be the best question to ask given the many changes of leadership.

Speaking of changes, one of the critical strategic plans in politics is that parties make promises that capture the attention of enough voters for that particular party to lead the nation. I have heard moans and groans about “here we go again”, “they’re all the same”, and “they promise everything before they’re elected then don’t deliver.”

It’s understandable that trust and faith in our politicians wanes when the goods are not delivered.

Promises with disappointing outcomes become wearing.

It seems that we can draw a parallel between political promises and promises we make to one another. On reflection, how often have we expressed our intention to deliver with our partners, children, friends – making promises that never come to fruition? I believe the expression is “talk the talk, but not walk the walk”. Is this the same strategic line as political “clap trap?” We would probably shudder to think that this could be so. The truth is that whatever you wish to call it, it does cause problems and pain in relationships.

Depending on the severity, most people are able to cope with some disappointment and broken promises. However, if these are not addressed and continue as “clap trap” or rhetoric the frustration increases and tolerance wears thin. Believing that the other person needs to “just accept it” or “stop complaining about it”, is counter productive. Talk is cheap unless it is backed up by action. Actions have always spoken louder than words. Action is a verb – it’s a doing word that gives evidence to people we most care about that we are prepared to get past our ego and review our thought patterns and our manner of speak. We want to show others that we are prepared to encompass flexibility in our attitude, and be willing to be influenced.

There is a way of making this a very different scenario whereby the action of revisiting and renegotiating comes into play. For whatever reason it is not always possible to fulfill previously made promises, so rather than becoming defensive, ignoring and avoiding, it calls for a stepping out to communicate the difficulties and working together to draw up another plan. This involves having the ability to recognize the bend and be flexible. If we did not action this in the workplace most people would be unemployed. Being open to possibilities creates a wonderful effortless fluidity that flows between 2 people that can swap and change for smooth flow of the relationship. The terrible discomfort of “I don’t count” transforms into we both are considered and respected.

LOVE starts as a feeling, and remains a feeling until it is fueled by consistent action. This fueling and actioning takes love to another level. It supports the fundamental elements of that which constitutes healthy, thriving relationships. The all-important fundamental elements of honesty, respect, co-operation, accountability, safety and support create a firm foundation for the furthering growth of love & trust. It is important to create shared meaning and to witness evidence of that commitment. This creates a connectedness and a passion that leaves you yearning for more.

heartIf love in action is not evidenced then the love base becomes fragmented; there is a turning away from the other as distrust and hurt eats away at the heart – the very same heart that was overjoyed and open to so many wonderful prospects & possibilities. If unattended, the feelings of hopelessness and despair permeate. The restoration of faith seems near impossible, respect crumbles, distrust grows, and an uncomfortableness becomes apparent.

Clap trapping is futile and leaves a horrible emptiness. It creates unnecessary trouble, doubt and hurt, and drags us away from the values of sincerity, honesty and integrity.

Our task is to see and use adversity as an advantage. Learning from our experiences heightens resilience and passion for love & life!

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New Mindset = New Results

New Mindset = New Results

new mindset“If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’re always going to get the result you’ve always gotten.”

Approaching situations or individuals the same way over and over again and then expecting different results is highly frustrating.

Building on a sound information base, a willingness to open up to new possibilities, exploring options, and moving forward with sound practical skills & strategies makes the world of difference.

Engaging in life with a renewed perspective lifts unnecessary burdens and turns difficulties into mere short term challenges that are able to be resolved.

To Forgive, or Not to Forgive

To Forgive, or Not to Forgive

Forgive or Punish Sign PostThis truly is an interesting question and has raised much controversy amongst professionals and individuals in society. In my opinion there is no ‘one solution that fits all’.

Nearly everybody has been hurt by some action, word or deed. Perhaps you were bullied at school, or your parent constantly criticised your parenting skills, your colleague sabotaged a project, your son/daughter showed little respect or gratitude, or your partner had an affair. These wounds can leave you with lasting feelings of hurt and anger – sometimes leading to bitterness, or for some hate and even vengeance.

Holding on to these negative emotions for a lengthy period of time changes who we really are – it causes us to react when our ‘buttons are pressed’ rather than managing the situation and responding constructively. We loose sight of seeing things in their true perspective.

Almost everything that has been written about forgiveness tells the hurt partner, or party, to forgive. “Forgiveness is good for us,” we’re told. “Good people forgive.” But in my clinical practice of 25 years I have made some interesting observations. When an individual acts in a hurtful way, shows no remorse, or is totally unwilling to make meaningful repairs – there is a dilemma. The hurt party is expected to forgive somebody who doesn’t care about being forgiven, or worse still, believes that their actions were justified – showing no remorse, and no willingness to admit or change unacceptable behaviour.

In a relationship situation where a partner cheats, remarries and shows no remorse – the hurt party would be extremely reticent to voyage on the idea of forgiveness. This makes perfect sense. Why is it that only the hurt party needs to ‘fix things’? Why is there less attention given to the offenders and have them earn forgiveness?

We are told that we need to forgive in order to heal our wounds and get on with our lives. That’s easier said than done and not always wise advise. Forgiveness that is not earned is “empty, cheap forgiveness.”

What is Forgiveness and Acceptance?

Generally, forgiveness is an acceptance – a conscious decision to accept what has happened and to find ways to let go of hurts, resentment and negative thoughts about another by building constructive thought patterns about self. It’s about coming to a realisation that we are only hurting ourselves by hanging on to ‘past rubbish’ that blocks us and weighs us down. The memory of the hurt or offence might always remain a part of life, but acceptance and forgiveness toward self for ‘torturing oneself’ can lessen its grip, and help focus on other positive parts of life. Memories fade as we rebuild our lives on stronger foundations and get back to our core values.

Acceptance doesn’t mean that you deny the other person’s responsibility for hurting you, and it doesn’t minimise or justify the wrong – it does not excuse the act. Forgiveness and acceptance brings a kind of peace that promotes moving on with life.

What are the benefits of Acceptance and Forgiveness?

  • Healthier relationships
  • Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Fewer symptoms of depression
  • Lower risk of alcohol and substance abuse
  • Honouring the full sweep of emotions
  • Giving up the need for revenge but continuing to seek a just resolution
  • Stemming obsessive focus on the injury and reengaging with life
  • Protecting oneself from further abuse
  • Framing the offender’s behaviour in terms of the offender’s own personal struggles, which may have begun before the hurt party came on the scene
  • Looking honestly at their own contribution to the injury
  • Challenging their false assumptions about what happened
  • Looking at the offender apart from his offence, weighing the good against the bad
  • Carefully deciding what kind of relationship they want with the offender
  • Forgiving self for entertaining blame and shame as the injured party

Acceptance is a healing alternative that asks nothing of the offender.

When the offender is not sorry, or is not physically available – when he or she is unable or unwilling to make meaningful repairs – it is not the job of the hurt party to forgive. But it is the job of the hurt party to rise above the violation and heal him or herself.

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