Strategies to help both partners get what they need out of their relationship
Everyone deserves to have a healthy relationship. But healthy relationships don’t just happen on their own. Each party actively shapes a dynamic that’s either healthy or unhealthy.
Oftentimes, people disempower each other with complaining, berating, and shaming (aka ‘parenting’ our partners), and not understanding what each gender requires as a baseline to feel safe. The best strategy for making sure that both partners get what they need out of relationships is to understand as much about the other person as possible – including their triggers, wounds, sore points, and Achilles heels. In fact, this knowledge is gold and a lot less work in the long run, because we can keep our partner's love chemistry running like well-oiled machines – giving them what they need to feel loved, special, and understood.
So, exactly how can men and women empower their partners? Here are several ideas.
1. Women and Men Disempower Each Other By Accident: Gender Currency
Over the years as a counsellor, I have noticed that couples often neglect knowledge about the opposite gender and therefore don’t make use of brownie points: They wonder why their marriage jar runs on empty (See Marriage Jar Blog). Gender currency is that thing that is the baseline need of your partner:
Men need admiration and praise from their partners. Women need safety and protection first and foremost.
This is before any other good stuff, like hot sex or compatibility. Without these basic requirements from you, your partner is going to become resentful and hurt and state their disappointment often. The next important element is a person’s love language...
2. A Partner’s Love Language
There are five categories of Love Language: Acts of Service, Words of Affirmation, Gifts or Tokens, Quality Time, and Physical Touch. If you know your partner’s love language you can love them accordingly and score extra big bonus points with them when you give them what they want in the way of demonstrated love. It is vital that you know your own Love Language and can tell them how you want to be loved also.
5lovelanguages.com has a great quiz for free.
Unfortunately, few of us are ever taught how to practice healthy behaviors in interpersonal relationships in the same way we’re taught how to drive a car or use a mobile phone. This lack of knowledge leaves us vulnerable to getting caught in unhealthy relationships, something that can happen without us even consciously realising it.
3. Empower Yourself: Personal Empowerment
While it is great to empower our partners, most of their power doesn’t come from us. It comes from having a strong sense of self. With this in mind, decide who you want to be in your relationship. In my own relationship, I want to be considerate, affectionate, caring, supportive and honest with my partner. These are the values that ultimately empower my other half - even if he doesn’t know it.
We have to start with ourselves and consider what we bring into the relationship. We don’t have to completely overhaul our lives in order to see improvements. Just taking even the smallest step to empower yourself in a relationship can have a huge impact on creating a healthier dynamic. Here are a few simple ways you can start practicing healthy behaviors to empower yourself:
Exercise Boundaries: Say “No” Unapologetically
In a balanced relationship, both parties should feel that their needs are recognised, valued, and addressed. There should be no dominance of one over the other; where one person always gives in and feels compelled to say “yes” when they want to say “no,” especially when doing so conflicts with their needs or values.
However, it is not easy to say “no” to someone you care about. No one likes conflict. Most people want to keep the peace. But being overly agreeable to seek approval and to avoid confrontation consistently minimises our needs in favour of satisfying the needs of others. This has a detrimental effect on your personal well-being and that of your relationships.
People-pleasing causes resentment over time and can be very disempowering. You will eventually feel like a doormat. Negative feelings of resentment, powerlessness, anger, and frustration bubble under the surface of relationships, unrecognized until they boil over. Over time, people-pleasing can also prime you as a target for more dangerous manipulation tactics – such as by a narcissist.
Saying “no” doesn’t make you a bad person. What it means is that you respect yourself enough to honor your own needs, boundaries, and priorities. This display of self-respect is a powerful signal to others to treat you with the respect you know you deserve and is behaviour that helps pave the way for a healthy relationship.
How to Say “No” Examples:
“I’ll get back to you.” “Let me check.” “Unfortunately, that doesn’t work for me.” “I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I’m not going to be able to.” “No, I’m unavailable.”
4. Take Turns Making Decisions
Taking turns at decision making is normal and takes the pressure off one person always making decisions. Being overly agreeable with decision-making, however, can also set the stage for unhealthy relationships to flourish. Constantly delegating minor decisions (like deciding which movie to watch) may also seem inconsequential, but it becomes a habit. For if you habitually delegate decisions, it sets a precedence for potential manipulation and abuse. For example, let’s say you always end up letting your friend pick the movie for your weekly movie night. Eventually, she stops asking and makes the decision on her own. Then one day her boyfriend shows up to your movie night and she explains that she thought it wouldn’t be a big deal since you’re so chill—you don’t even care which movie you watch. And even though you’re annoyed he’s crashing your BFF time, you let it slide because you are so easygoing. Haven’t we all had that happen at some point?
In healthy relationships, one person shouldn’t make all the decisions; even if it’s been that way in the past, you always have the ability and the right to change it. Some healthy challenges may occur, particularly if you’re stepping out of a very passive role and becoming newly assertive. However, a supportive friend, partner, or family member will listen to and respect your opinion.
So the next time a small decision comes up, don’t pass it off, make the decision. Even if it doesn’t turn out great—for example, the movie you choose is a dud, you’ll begin to develop a new sense of empowerment that you can carry over to bigger and more important decisions when they arise.
5. Be Honest With Each Other: Speak Up When Something Upsets You
In relationships, don’t let the “small” stuff slide when it upsets you. Doing so poses the same potential danger as deferring small decisions to someone else, for it is a slippery slope that can move undetected into unhealthy territory when not speaking up becomes a habit that another person can take advantage of.
A big reason people don’t speak up when the small stuff upsets them is because they question their right to be upset at a situation that seems trivial. You have the right to feel whatever feelings come up. Whatever negative emotion you feel is valid and a signal to you that you need something that you’re not getting.
When these negative emotions arise in a relationship, it’s an opportunity to discuss needs and boundaries with the other person. Try broaching the subject in a non-blaming way so the other person doesn’t feel attacked or get defensive. For example, “I felt [insert negative emotion] when you [insert their action that the caused emotion].” The formula is to speak from the “I” perspective and to include feelings and state the issue. This is called Reflective or Active Listening. This is a Gottman exercise and workshop that I do with couples who have problems communicating.
6. Laugh at Your Partner’s Imperfections as Well as Your Own
The nature of being human means that we all have imperfections, flaws, make mistakes, etc. And anyone close to us, whether in the shape of a partner, friend or family member, can use our greatest fears and weaknesses to manipulate us. Therefore, it is natural that we might try to hide these imperfections from the world. But the best thing you can do is own them proudly. Openly making light of your flaws takes away powerful ammo from anyone who tries to use them to hurt, manipulate, or control you.
Laughing at your personal imperfections also communicates to others that you accept yourself as you are and you expect them to do the same. It’s like saying, “Here I am, take it or leave it!”
All relationships, even ones that are already healthy, require active work to get and stay that way. With practice, you’ll become more empowered and better equipped to lead healthy relationships with others.
Blog: Ghita Andersen Counsellor
The gender ‘CURRENCY’ of Relationships is what motivates the other partner to remain in a relationship. It offers an idea for how to repair conflict and maintain a connection. When the currency is absent it has often been replaced with ‘CONTEMPT.’
Each Partner's Relationship Needs Based on Gender:
Women: Beloved: A ‘Special’ Damsel in Distress
Men: Hero: Dragon Slayer
TIP: Use a person’s gender currency combined with their love language for a bonus effect:
There are 5 Love Languages:
Words, Quality Time, Touch, Acts of Service, and Gifts.
Copyright 2020 Ghita Andersen
Print out available: https://www.ghitaandersen.com/ebooks-for-couples.html
Every week, I have clients come in to counselling who say that their partners spend too much time on their devices or mobile phones. Phones and computers are known to be addictive and we have become very used to using them to both organise and amuse ourselves 24/7. It is not uncommon for people to feel that their phones are a private device however and to be annoyed that their spouse looks at their social media posts, messages and emails. But is it okay to look through your partner’s phone?
In general, it is an invasion of of person’s privacy. While it is true that there should not be anything on your phone that hints of cheating, or secrecy, it clearly demonstrates mistrust if you make a habit of looking at another person’s phone (or computer).
Questions to Ask Yourself if You Think it is Your Right:
Let’s have a chat about your insecurities, either one-on-one or in a couples session. It is good to normalise what other couples/ people do.
For those who choose to marry or live together, it's easy to get into a pattern of bad habits over time. Whether your work life is creeping into the time you used to spend together or you simply can't remember the last time the two of you sat down to talk, relationships can get stagnant, and couples can grow apart.
The good news? Keeping your marriage as fun and exciting as it was when you first said "I do" is easy with a few additions to your regular routine. Here are 50 tips for keeping the love alive.
1 Plan Regular Date Nights
Keeping the spark alive in your marriage means spending quality time together, and that doesn't just mean nights at home on the couch. Plan romantic dates like the ones you had when you were dating and you'll keep that spark alive. In fact, research suggests date nights can have serious benefits in terms of bringing long-term couples closer. If you're in the market for some terrific inspiration, check out these 40 Irresistible Second-Date Ideas.
2 Say Thank You
It's easy to forget your manners when you've been with someone for a long time. However, saying "please" and "thank you" to your significant other can go a long way toward making them feel respected and appreciated. In fact, researchers have found that expressing gratitude to a partner helped strengthen relationships. Bonus: saying "thanks" is also a mood enhancer.
3 Staying Intimate
Keeping your relationship intimate, whether in or out of bed, can make a big difference in how fresh your romance feels over time. In fact, research published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior reveals that the frequency with which couples were intimate was significantly related to their overall relationship satisfaction.
4 Surprise One Another
Break out of the monotony of your day-to-day routine by surprising your spouse. Whether you're bringing home a gift or just leaving a note reminding them how much you love them, it's a gesture that won't go unappreciated.
5 Put Your Relationship First
Everything from a hectic work schedule to kids at home can make it hard to keep putting your marriage first. However, whenever possible, make time to do routine maintenance on your relationship, whether that means taking a vacation with just the two of you or just talking at the end of a long day.
6 Treat Your Significant Other Like Your Friend
Treating your partner like your friend, from patiently listening to them to acting happy to see them when they walk through the door, can make a major difference in how romantic your relationship remains in the long run. Give them the benefit of the doubt when you disagree.
7 Journal About Your Disagreements
Don't leave your fights unresolved. In fact, for a healthy marriage, you should be writing them down. According to a study, marital decline was significantly diminished among couples who did a regular journaling exercise about the status of their relationship. And for more amazing relationship advice, read these 50 Relationship Quotes to Reignite Your Love.
8 Kiss More
Even if you're not in the mood for something more intimate, that doesn't mean you should limit your physical affection toward your spouse. Kiss them before you go to sleep, when they head off to work in the morning, and any time you want to remind them just how much you love them. In fact, kissing can boost your feel good homrones (dopamine), making you feel happier and more content every time you do it.
9 Ask Questions
One-sided relationships rarely last. When you want to make your marriage feel like more of a two-way street, make sure you're asking your partner questions. Ask about their day at work, their friends, or just ask them what they've been thinking about. Asking questions will go a long way toward making them feel appreciated. Just remember the 20 Things No Husband Ever Wants to Hear.
10 Listen More
And when you ask questions, take the time to really listen. Don't just wait your turn to talk, but focus on what your partner is saying, and offer constructive advice, if that's what they want.
11 Admit When You're Wrong
As hard as it may be, admitting when you're wrong can go a long way. Remember: in the long run, being kind is more important than being right. Everyone has a unique perspective and because of your values and mental filters the other party is never going to see things the same way as you. They don’t have the same parental conditioning. Okay?
12 Go Out Without One Another
Absence really does make the heart grow stronger from time to time. Spending time without your spouse, whether that means going to a concert or heading to a bar with friends, can give you plenty of exciting stuff to talk about with your spouse when you get home.
13 Remind Yourselves of Your Priorities
It can be easy to lose sight of your priorities when you're in a long-term relationship. Keep them in mind by making a list of what you both want out of your marriage and revisit it from time to time when it feels like you're going astray. And for more sound relationship advice, here are 30 Things Straight Couples Can Learn from Gay Couples.
14 Create Rituals Together
Creating new rituals and traditions together can help bring you closer together, no matter how long you've been married. Have a special seat at your favorite restaurant. Create new holiday traditions. Keep making new traditions and memories together and that spark will remain lit, no matter how long you've been with one another.
15 Dress Up for One Another
Don't let sweatpants and ratty t-shirts become your uniform just because you've been together for a long time. Put on your hottest LBD or a nice suit and make it a point to take your significant other out on the town to show them off as often as possible.
16 Be Transparent About Your Finances
Money issues are one of the biggest factors leading to divorce. Keep your relationship romantic by being honest about how much you're making and how much you're spending; a little transparency can go a long way. One person should not dominate on spending nor control the finances as this can lead to major fights or financial abuse. Agree on who spends what. Make a team plan for your combined budget. Make sure that you have the conversation about what roles you expect of each other surrounding money. What you expect the other person to contribute. Talk to a counsellor if you find this difficult.
17 Check In Throughout the Day
Instead of just waiting until the end of the day to talk to your spouse, check in periodically with texts and ask him or her how her day is going. Those little romantic gestures can keep your relationship feeling fresh, even when you've been together a long time. However, a word of warning: Being chatty or checking in too often can come across as needy or mistrusting. It also ruins your air of mystery. Limits your texts to 3 a day.
18 Say "I Love You"
Three simple words can make a big difference in how you and your spouse feel about each other. Even when you fight, make sure you still say "I love you" to one another before you go to bed or leave for work. Even if you don't like each other in the moment, remind them that the love is still there whether or not you are negotiating on some topic. Resect should be there whether or not you are in a happy place.
19 Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Did your partner put down a cup without a coaster? Did they make the bed weirdly? If your partner keeps making the same mistake over and over, you can mention it, but letting little things go will make you both happier and less resentful in the long run. Positive Reinforcement works better than punishment. If you punish your partner for their sloppy bedmaking or other chores they may not want to do the task again. Relationships can turn into Parent/ Child Relationships easily and these will die. No one wants to be treated like a child and no one wants to parent their spouse. There is no team (intimacy) in domination. Effort must be 50/ 50. How you accomplish this distribution is up to your particular strengths and weaknesses. Work with their strengths, not against them. Many couples write up a chores list that they can agree on so that there is no argument over silly stuff. This list or chart goes on the fridge.
20 Drink Together
If your partner's having a glass of wine, go ahead and have one with them. Psych research has proven that discrepancies in your drinking habits can lead to marital strife, so don't hit the bottle solo if you want to keep your relationship in working order.
21 Try Some Role Play
Make things more exciting by adding a little role play into your date night. Let your spouse pick you up at a bar as though you're just meeting for the first time and you'll keep things fresh and fun. Furthermore, roleplays can be also fun in the bedroom.
22 Get Outside into Nature
It's easy to slip into a pattern of spending every evening on the couch with your significant other. Make a commitment to get outside together on a daily basis, even if you're just taking a short walk to the store, and you'll not only get more exercise, you'll have more to talk about, too.
23 Tell Your Partner What You Appreciate About Them
Make time to show your spouse just how much you appreciate them by reminding them (and yourself) what you love about them. Tell them how you love their laugh, the smell of their hair, or just how much you love waking up to them—it will make your relationship feel romantic, no matter how long you've been together. See Marriage Jar Blog
24 Keep a Gratitude Journal
Feeling like you're drifting away from your spouse? Try keeping a gratitude journal. By listing the things you're grateful for in your relationship, you'll make it easier to remember why you fell in love in the first place. It is easy to take for granted all the wonderful things that you noticed they did for you in the beginning. Revaluate your perspective. Imagine all the things you would have to do if they were not around. Having a partner around is also emotional/ moral support in of itself.
25 Foster Your Personal Interests
Having a life outside your marriage is essential for the health of your relationship. Making time to pursue personal passions will keep the spark alive during the time you and your spouse do get to spend together.
26 Put Down Your Phone (Electronics Free Time)
Nothing breaks down communication more than having your phone in your hand when you're supposed to be listening. When you're talking to your partner, put your phone away. A method I use for my couples clients is to suggest an electronics free period around family time in the evening. Some select 6pm to 8pm to have a period free of phones, laptops and tablets. This is re-connection time for partners after work or for families to talk. If you don’t do this everyone will become dissassociated in the family creating selfishness and separation.
27 The Marriage Jar Concept
One of the best things I was ever taught at uni was by my professor Dr Jodie Bradnam, who taught the 'Love, Sex and Relationships' class. Jodie taught me her secret for marriage and it really stuck with me. So much so, that I use it with my couples counselling clients.
Anyhow, the 'Marriage Jar' is a simple concept that the mind can easily 'get.' It is amazing how this simple idea can adjust one's behaviour everyday. Basically, it works like this: When you are first together, the jar is full. As time goes by, the jar empties. For every kind gesture, kiss, supportive comment, intimate moment, lunch pack made, etcetera, a marble goes in. For every sarcastic remark, episode of not listening or avoidance of connection, five marbles come out.
Some clients actually use a marriage jar to pop in notes of appreciation or love. Others just use the concept in their minds that they have to work 2.5 times harder after a disagreement or disconnection. Repairing your relationship between fights is compulsory.
28 Exercise But Don't Overdo It
Want to spice things up in bed? Try hitting the gym first. According to research published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, exercise can help make women and men friskier.That doesn't mean you need to become a CrossFit champion any time soon, though. Beware: Researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill found that intense exercise lowered libido among men.
29 Do Something Impulsive from Time to Time
Break out of a relationship rut with a little impulsivity. Take a spontaneous vacation. Host a last-minute party with your friends. Doing something out of the norm can make your relationship feel fresh, even if you've been together for decades.
30 Give Yourself Homework on How to Do Better
Tackling your relationship issues sometimes takes more than just initiative. Try talking to your partner about the things they'd like you to change, and make a point of doing them, as though they were actually assigned tasks. Counsellors often give couples clients homework like Active Listening. This is something couples can do at home.
Active or Reflective Listening is a game changer for couples with communication problems. Talk to me about learning this method. www.ghitaandersen.com
31 Make New Friends
Adding some new people to your inner circle can make your relationship feel fresh in no time. Making new friends outside of your relationship can broaden your horizons and your spouse's while bringing you closer together.
32 Maintain Some Air of Mystery
Don't become the people with the shared Facebook account. Also, don’t plaster social media with relationship memes when you have a fight. Keep your relationship in your relationship bubble. There should only be two people in there and the ony person (other than your therapist) that you talk about your spouse to, should be them. Don’t drag your extended family or mates into your marriage.
Furthermore, if you treat your spouse like a platonic mate, your passion will die. Don't become the people who use the bathroom when the other one is showering, or fart in bed. Keep some mystery in your relationship and you'll feel a lot more connected in the long run. Want to know what you shouldn't be sharing? Start with the 13 Secrets You Should Always Keep From Your Partner
33 Get a Babysitter
Kids can be a joy, but they are a romance killer. Whenever possible, book yourself a babysitter and go out with your spouse like you did when you were dating. Even if you don't have time for a night on the town, just a few uninterrupted hours at home together can do a world of good. If you find that your budget is a problem, then swap babysitting nights with other couples or bribe your parents. If you don’t invest in your relationship it will wither. It is the best investment you can make.
34 Add Some Romantic Viewing to Your Routine
Want to keep things spicy? Add some romantic movies to your roster. According to research conducted at various universities show that watching romantic movies (Chic Flicks) made couples significantly less likely to split than those who shunned the rom-com viewings. And when you want to brush up on your classic cinema, add the 37 Movies Every Man Over 40 Should Be Able to Quote to your must-watch list.
35 Be More Giving and Generous
Even if you typically go Dutch, treat your partner whenever you can afford to. Take turns in shouting each other. Those little gestures will make a major difference in your appreciation of one another over time. See Marriage Jar blog.
36 Develop a Mutual Hobby
Want to get closer to your spouse? Try participating in a mutual hobby. Whether you're taking cooking classes or hitting the gym together, a new common interest will keep things hot.
37 Send Each Other an Occasional Flirty Text
Hearing "I love you" is great, but if you want to keep things spicy, send your partner something a little more flirtatious from time to time. "I can't wait until you get home" or "You look hot tonight" is always nice to hear.
38 Tell Your Significant Other When They Look Good
Your significant other deserves to know more than just that they're loved. They need to feel wanted, too. Whenever possible, tell them how good they look and how much you appreciate the time they take to do so. And when you want to show off for your partner, tone up with some workouts, yoga, or gym exercise. When a person is appreciated, they will work harder to get the praise and for you to be proud of them.
39 Take Some Work Off Their Plate
If chores feel like they're the only thing you and your spouse do together, try taking something off their plate. Give them a break to do something they'd enjoy more; it won't go unappreciated. Notice whenthey are bogged down with some issue. Ask them if they want to talk about it. Put off chores until then if you can.
40 Write Each Other Love Letters
Make your spouse feel wanted and loved by writing him or her a love letter or pop a cute note in your marriage jar or lunch box. See Marriage Jar blog.
41 Spend Time Apart
Marriage often involves marathon togetherness, and that kind of time spent together can be draining. From time to time, take a solo weekend away from your spouse to relax and you'll return home feeling more excited to see them than ever. Self care is important. Fill your cup up before you fill up others. Men and women appreciate partenrs who take care of themselves.
42 Don't Shy Away From Corny Ideas
Just because you think leaving a trail of rose petals is corny doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. Those grand romantic gestures you see in movies can make your spouse feel loved and appreciated. At the very least, you'll have a good laugh over how cheesy it is. Need some inspiration? Look on Google or Video Social Media. And who doesn’t like spontaneous gifts in the mail?
43 Be Each Other's Cheerleaders
Whether your partner is up for a promotion at work or shaved a minute off their mile, make sure they know how proud you are of their accomplishments. And when they fail, be there to catch them, too. There is no “I” in team.
44 Pack on the Passion
Kissing doesn't have to be an inside-only activity. Show the world how proud you are to be with your significant other by giving them a big old smooch in public when the mood strikes. Of course, kissing isn't the only way to show your affection. When you're out with your partner, hold their hand; not only can this make you feel closer to one another.In fact, research suggests it may even limit stress and pain.
45 Find Out Your Partner’s Love Language
The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman: Acts of Service, Quality Time, Physical Touch, Gifts and Tokens and Words of Affirmation. https://www.5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/
Look at the quizz online and make use of this knowledge. How your beloved wants to be loved is how you should love them. Loving them your way will not give you brownie points, unless theirs is the same. If they like physical touch, use it to connect. If they like Words of Affirmation, tell them you love them. Etc.
46 Leave Work at Work
Bringing your work home can have a profoundly detrimental effect on your relationship. Make your home a sanctuary for your relationship by trying to compartmentalize your work stress and don't let it spill over into your marriage.Some couples have a habit of double tapping the door frame when they get home to leave their work stuff at the door, or showering away the day as soon as they get home.
47 Flirt, then Flirt Some More
Go ahead and give yourself permission to be a little flirtatious with someone other than your spouse from time to time. Doing so can help fuel a little bit of healthy jealousy and keep things hot at home.
48 Don't Go Any Further than is Appropriate
But make sure you don't take things too far. Talking to someone at a bar is one thing, but exchanging numbers—or worse—won't do any favors for your marriage in the long run. This includes online dating apps, messenger chats to old girlfriends and boyfriends, sexting apps or exhausted social media chatrooms. If it looks lke emotional cheating it is emotional cheating. Why can’t you get what you need from your spouse?
49 Ask Before You Make Major Decisions About Your LIfe
Make your partner feel included and important by asking their opinion before you make big decisions. Whether you're making a big purchase or are trying to decide where to dinner, making your decisions a collaborative process will keep you closer in the long run.
50 Get to Bed at the Same Time
Want to keep your marriage happy for the next 10, 20, or 50 years? Make sure you're hitting the hay at the same time. Research published in psych magazines reveals that women viewed interactions with their partners more positively when they went to bed together. Leave your electronics in the lounge. Don’t use them just before bed because they interfere with the body’s biorythms. Avoid bright fluoro alarm clocks. Make your bedroom a haven of comfort and intimacy. Put happy photos of you both in your special room. This room is for you to sleep and make love, it is not a room to have your children or pets.
Despite the Corona virus, people are still needing counselling for their issues or relationships. Therefore, we are doing our best to ensure the safety and health of our clients.
Our therapy room has Glen20 sprayed on furnishings between clients. Everything is cleaned daily with soap or iodine. I am not shaking hands with clients at the moment and there is a no hug policy in place until further notice.
Many psychology clinics on the Gold Coast will have high traffic and dirty magazines handled by many. It makes sense to go somewhere local with a cleaner premise. You also do not need to get a doctor's referral before coming in. It is better to avoid any clinics handling sick people.
I highly recommend that clients take high dose vitamin C (about 3000 to 5000mg a day - although you can take up 10,000 before you start needing to visit the toilet), iodine drops (potassium iodide), zinc, vitamin D3, magnesium and selenium - as well as daily walks and keeping up fresh produce, probiotics and superfoods.
Let's keep our mental health well and our families safe.
Call me on 0439888070 if you would like a chat before booking an appointment.
“Love is destroyed when self-interest dominates.” - Ghita
Problems occur in partnerships when reality departs sharply from our expectations, hopes, desires, and concerns. It’s human nature to try and change one’s partner instead of adjusting our expectations. This aspect of human nature is what keeps counsellors in business.
Common Reasons for Counselling:
How to Maximise the Value from Your Couples Therapy Sessions
In order to get the most from your couples counselling sessions, it is helpful to be aware of unproductive patterns, so that you know what to avoid when you go to your therapy sessions. A common, yet unproductive pattern in couples counselling, is focusing on the problem that you have at the moment. This is a reactive (and mostly ineffective) approach to resolving issues.
The Unhelpful Things Couples do:
The hardest part of couples counselling is accepting that you need to improve your response to a problem (how you think about it, feel about it, or what you need to do about it). Very few people want to focus on improving their response. It’s more common to build a strong case for why the other person should do the improving. This is not a good attitude to have when going to couples counselling. If you want to create a win-win solution, you cannot hold a position that has caused your partner to lose in the past.
Learning About Yourself and Your Reactions
How to tell if you are not focusing on your own behaviour: In the session, you will be talking more about what your partner is doing, or not doing, and building a case as to why they should change. There is only one antidote - re-focus back on yourself! What this means is, you get to understand what annoys you, what pushes your buttons, and how to handle things.
To Create Sustained Improvement in Your Relationship, You Will Need:
Trade-offs, Tough Choices and Time
To create the relationship you really desire, there will be some difficult trade-offs and tough choices for both of you. The first trade-off will be time. It simply takes time to create a relationship that flourishes: time to be together, time to be with family, time to play, coordinate, nurture, relax, hang out, and plan. This time will encroach on some other activity.
The second compromise is comfort: That means emotional comfort, like going out on a limb to try novel ways of things, listening (active listening) and being curious instead of butting in, speaking up instead of becoming resentfully compliant or withdrawing. In the beginning, there will be emotional risks in taking action, but you will never explore different worlds if you always keep sight of the shoreline. In addition, few people are emotionally comfortable being confronted with how they don’t live their values or being confronted with the consequences of their actions.
The other comfort that will be challenged is energy comfort. It simply takes effort to sustain improvement over time, staying conscious of making a difference over time, remembering to be more respectful, more giving, more appreciative, etc. It takes effort to remember and act.
Don’t pull the pin on your relationship just because you fight!
Sessions might pass in silence as you and your partner remain angry over perceived wrongs, or you might yell or argue during sessions. Both are okay. Your counsellor can act as a mediator and help you cope with the resulting emotions.
In couples counselling there is a fair bit of direction from a counsellor. This is because people can get caught up in a blame story, or are in therapy to demonstrate some sort of justice. When clients are defensive, or hypersensitive to criticism, a session can end up being wasted on just placating one party who is sulking.
In all these areas, there is generally a conflict between short-term gratification and the long-term goal of creating a satisfying relationship. The blunt reality is that, in an interdependent relationship, some effort is required on the part of each person to make a sustained improvement. It is like pairs figure skating – one person cannot do most of the work and still create an exceptional team.
Successful Couples Counsellors Have to Blunt
Counsellors such as myself, try to be as neutral as much as possible, however sometimes it is their job to confront people with story inconsistencies, contrary body language and to do a type of reality checking. Moreover, this can be hard for some people to accept if they are not in touch with their emotions, or they they have a habit blame others to avoid conflict. While counsellors try to appear unbiased and sensitive to both parties, in order to do their jobs properly and to keep therapy on track, they do have to call clients out on their junk and tell clients when their behaviour is counter-productive, alienating or abusive.
To get the most out of your money in session, our job is not to be your friend, but to show you the best methods for getting your relationship back on track, and sometimes this means asking you to take responsibility for past events, so that you can move forwards and focus on the future.
You Can’t Fix a Marriage in One Session
Couples should be aware that because there are two people telling their side of a story, it is unlikely that one session will sort out a couples’ issues. Please expect to invest in your healing for anywhere from 4 -12 sessions.
Attitude is Key
Positive Attitude - You Can do it! When working towards improving your relationship, your attitude towards change is more important than the action you need to take. It is relatively easy to determine what to do and how to do it. The real challenge is getting yourself to actually do it.
Learning how to think differently about a problem is often more effective than thinking about what action you need to take. The fact is, your partner is limited in his or her ability to respond to you and vice versa. Accepting this fact is a huge step towards maturity.
There is a definite possibility that you have flawed assumptions about your partner’s motives and that he/ she may also have flawed assumptions about yours. The problem is, most of the time, we refuse to believe that those assumptions are flawed.
Focus on Changing Yourself Rather than Your Partner
You can learn a lot about yourself by understanding what annoys you and how you handle it. Couples Therapy works best if you have more goals for yourself than for your partner. I am at my best when I help you reach the objectives you set for yourself.
When the Honeymoon is Over
It’s easy to be considerate and loving to your partner when the vistas are magnificent, the sun is shining, and breeze is gentle. But when it gets bone-chilling cold, you’re hungry and tired, and your partner is whining and sniveling about how you got them into this mess, that’s when you get tested.
“The more you believe that your partner should be different, the less initiative you will take to change the patterns between you.” - Ghita
You can’t change your partner. Your partner can’t change you. You can influence each other, but that doesn’t mean you can change each other. Becoming a more effective partner is the most efficient way to change a relationship.
Zen and the Art of Body Language
All significant growth comes from disagreements, dissatisfaction with the current status, or striving to make things better. Paradoxically, accepting that conflict produces growth and learning to manage inevitable disagreements is the key to more harmonious relationships.
Asking the right questions of yourself and your partner, helps you uncover causes beneath causes.
The Importance of Communication
The three most important elements for effective communication are respect, openness, and persistence. Communication is the number one presenting problem in couples counselling. Good communication is much more difficult than most people want to believe. Effective negotiation is even harder.
A couple’s vision emerges from a process of reflection and inquiry. It requires both people to speak from the heart about what really matters to each. We are all responsible for how we express ourselves, no matter how others treat us.
Effective communication means you need to pay attention to:
Sometimes, counselling helps couples to realise that their differences truly are irreconcilable and that it's best to end the relationship. Sessions can then focus on skills for ending the relationship on good terms (conscious uncoupling). It is worth noting that Ghita can refer couples to family dispute mediation (FDR) if they have children (or property), as she also works in mediation.
*Please note that Ghita cannot mediate the same couples that she counsels for ethical reasons.
You Can Attend by Yourself
If your partner refuses to attend marriage counselling sessions, you can still attend individual sessions. It's more challenging to mend a relationship this way, but you can benefit by learning more about your own reactions and behaviour.
Sometimes, during couples counselling one party will become angry and walk out of the session. Please note that counselling fees must still be paid and appointments require 24 hours notice of cancellation. See ghitaandersen.com for further FAQ.
I often suggest communication exercises for couples to use at home to help clients to practice what they have learned during the session. For example, talk face-to-face with partners for a few minutes every day about nonstressful things - without any interruptions from electronics or children. Alternatively, having two hours each evening of no electronics (phones, internet) to benefit family time, eye gazing - a five-minute exercise, or scheduled date nights once a week for couples.
Some Final Thoughts
I look forward to helping you work to overcome your issues and have the relationship you desire, and for you to be the person you aspire to be in your life. Change is possible!
Thanks for taking the time to improve your relationship by reading this blog.
One thing I see a lot in couples on the verge of a separation is complaints about unequal workload for household chores. This causes a lot of resentment in parents (often the wife). Sometimes though, it is not too late to turn it around.
Here is a reality check for both parents.
If you blame your partner for expecting you to be supermum (or superdad), but you have - for all intents and purposes, made yourself indispensable for years, ask yourself how that happened?
Some advice for parents:
Balance the chores between husband and wife at home so it is just, equal and fair. Negotiate often. Sort it quickly. Get your kids to do chores.
Have a weekly date night.
If you need emotional connection to get in the mood for sex, then turn yourself on and turn the social media off.
Put your partnership (marriage) first, above the kids.
Don't over-extend yourself and put yourselves last, and then get resentful when you feel last on everyone's priorities.
Put yourself first. There are no medals for putting yourself last.
It is hard to be intimate and to patch things up when you are in resentment mode.
If you need personal time. Take it. Martyrs don't get sympathy from society.
Go to the gym. Ask people for help.
Have a makeover to feel sexy.
Turn phones off between 6 and 9pm! This is family time.
See a counsellor when you have arguments that cycle. Don't wait until contempt lives in your house.
Remember, a mother or father who does everything for their kids but neglects their spouse, is not in actuality a good parent.
Invest in your marriage. Don't think the grass is greener, because it isn't. And the statistics say that 65% of second relationships fail because of the problems with the first wife, or step-kids.
Something to think about
Got some lovely feedback today from a corporate client I have had for a few years; a Surf Club on the Goldie that send their staff to me.
"...thanks heaps, the staff speak very highly of you."
It is so nice that I can help their staff with stress, anxiety or relationship issues. I am a big supporter of the surf clubs because they do amazing work. I nearly drowned twice when I was young. I got caught in a rip in Coromandel, and one time as a toddler in the bay we lived in (because I couldn't swim yet). I will probably always live near a beach. (Don't tell, but I am totally hooked on Bondi Rescue.)
Ps. This is a photo I took of a Burleigh SLS tower.
Latest Google Blog:
As one the the busiest couples counsellors on the Gold Coast, I have noticed that there is a new trend in counselling. About half of my relationship clients are de Facto couples and I am also finding that lovers who are not living together are seeking help with their relationships too. Those who are in a long-term relationship, and are planning to be together and to eventually live together, are looking for help when they have miscommunications or a crisis in their partnership.
This is a wonderful trend to see. It was only twenty years ago that there was stigma attached to seeking help. I think that modern couples are more careful in considering their long-term plans before marriage or living together. A kind of pre-nuptial planning. Which is excellent. If couples can sort out values differences early, or plan how work, finances and raising children will work, they have more chance of having a successful partnership.
Self-esteem is everything. It is the natural vibe around you that promotes your identity. It says, I am worthy, I can do this, I deserve what I want, I can have this.
Indeed, the view you have of yourself skews your world to being either positive or negative. In psychology we call this thinking 'attribution theory.' An example of this is how some people are always broke or sick. You can bet that their external and internal narrative is negative, and that they literally push away many avenues for getting support, love, abundance or wellness. By talking about something, you reinforce it. The same goes for thinking about something over, and over. A basic idea becomes concreted into the mind and then the automatic pilot (attribution) takes these thoughts as short cuts and runs with them without any effort at all.
The old phrase, "What you think about comes about' is actually scientific. The mind creates, controls, destroys, rejects, loves, hates and ignores before it is even conscious thought. However, you can control the mind with practice and reinforcement. It is not about looking externally to find our self-worth. NO.
No one person can or will give us 100% of what we need.
Therefore, we have to get it for ourselves. I am not saying that you will never doubt yourself again, or never feel intimidated by someone better than you, that is impossible. But, you can weed out a good percentage of of this automatic control system; and when you do feel that you have more control over the outcome of events in your life, there is less frustration, less doubt, and fewer people can take away your power.
I am an expert on self-esteem, it is my biggest challenge. Most people think I am extremely confident; and I am on the outside, but I battle daily with memories of rejection and harsh words heard in childhood. The only person that can help you forward, through the painful limiting beliefs created during your childhood, is one who has overcome the very thing that you struggle with.
Moreover, this is what many people come to see me about for life coaching. These clients know full well what they need to do, but they have an invisible barrier of fear that paralyses them from doing what they need to get the life that the want.
Methods for increasing self-esteem
1. Regression: Look at the specific moments in time that caused the self-doubt (we will get nowhere if the hurdles aren't eliminated)
2. Exercise these events, speak of them until they matter no more than a mild annoyance. (I use a combination of NLP, rehearsal, and CBT for this.)
3. Look at the methods you used to stall or sabotage the progress before (this can then be used in strategies)
4. Exactly specify the goals/ dreams one wants to achieve
5. Create a strategy for achieving the goals at a pace that is comfortable (baby steps work too)
6. Keep up the momentum for the work. Check in, reassess, tweak, tweak, tweak...
Talk to me about overcoming a lack of self-esteem, I will understand completely. I have clients who are discovering themselves and working on their self-love. And you too can work towards eliminating the negative voice (internal critic), and planning the new you. How exciting!!
Call or SMS for a free 10 minute phone chat on 0439 888 070.