Relationship Tips

Be curious, not furious

Be curious, not furious when it comes to negative behaviours in our partners. Seeking to understand the "why" behind the behaviour, will help to keep frustration and anger at bay. Because when we ask questions rather than assuming or allowing frustration and anger to build up, it allows for a more open conversation, where we can be more empathetic and compassionate towards our partners. The ideal way to communicate is to slow down, ask questions and try to see things from our partner's perspective. We can then talk about strategies and come to a better solution.
I hope that helps and if you need further help, please book online for an appointment.

Love Languages

Do you know what your partner's love language is? Usually, we have one or more that make us feel loved, valued and cared for. The five love languages are Acts of Service, Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Gifts and Physical Touch.
When we know our partner's love languages and vice versa, we can be more intentional in making one another feel loved and appreciated.  Something to be aware of as well is that we often show love to our partner how we ourselves feel loved. The better way is to find provide love to them in the way they feel loved, not us.
You can take the 5 Love Languages quiz by going to the link on my Resources page.
I hope that helps and if you need further help, please book online for an appointment.

Staying together isn't easy and separating isn't easy

Sometimes couples come to see me because they are not sure if they want to stay together or separate. Sometimes one partner has had enough but the other is desperately trying to hold on to the relationship and this can be quite challenging and upsetting for both partners.
I remind them that either choice is not easy, but whatever decision they make, the way forward will then become clearer. If they decide to stay together, we can then work towards making their relationship better and that requires commitment and taking things one day at a time.
If they decide not to stay together then they can also use a counselling session to discuss the grief and loss aspect of a relationship break-up and how to separate in an amicable way which is good for all concerned.
I hope that helps. If you need a safe space to discuss this, please book online for an appointment.

Communication tip for couples

A common problem I hear when helping couples is that their partner is quite non verbally expressive. This frustration is then followed by the verbally expressive person by the phrase, "If they would just give me something!".
It is quite common that this dynamic exists in a relationship, where one person talks alot and the other prefers to keep silent. A tip to help couples in this situation is for the verbally expressive to be more aware of making sure that they are calm, that it is the right time and to share the main points of what they want to say. This will make it easier for their quieter partner to sit and listen and therefore minimise frustration. For the quieter partner, it is helpful for their partner to know that they are being heard, so offering minimal responses such as "okay", "I see" or "tell me more" as well as eye contact and staying present, will help the conversation go smoothly.
I hope that helps. Please book online for an appointment.

Tip to improve intimacy

A common problem that couples share with me is that there has been little or no sexual intimacy in their relationship for weeks, months or even a couple of years. While this is not the only thing that helps couples to feel close, it is definitely a mutual need for most couples so they do not end up feeling like just friends or housemates.
With the busyness of life, kids, work and other commitments, sometimes finding time for intimacy can be a real challenge. One tip I suggest for couples is to actually schedule time in their calendars for it. This may not sound romantic, spontaneous or exciting but something is better than nothing and it can help them get back on track again. Scheduling in intimacy can also help couples have something to look forward to that is just for them, apart from the daily demands of work and kids! Of course any time together helps couples to feel close and connected.
I hope that helps. Please book online for an appointment.

People Crave Validation

A good friend recently said to me that people crave validation. I thought to myself how true this is, because we all want to have a voice and feel like we are being heard and respected in expressing our thoughts, feelings and opinions.
I recently read in a couples counselling book, that validating our partners is the single most important thing we can do in our relationships. Validating someone is not about agreeing with them, but rather acknowledging and accepting that their opinions, thoughts and feelings are important to them.
Validation is a great way to show your partner that they are important to you, because you have stopped, listened and acknowledged what they have just said to you.  In this video, I share some practical examples of how we can validate our partners. I hope that helps, if you need further help, please book online for an appointment.

Tips for Couples in Lockdown

Lockdown can be a particularly stressful and challenging time for couples. This is largely due to having to find more patience to deal with their partner's negative behaviours and attitudes, as normally they may get to have a break from their partner for a few hours a day. Couples in lockdown can also be confronted with issues that re-surface that may have been avoided or swept under the carpet. My three tips (two of which I share in the video) to help couples are:
  1. It is important that both partners are aware of the higher level of stress that being in each other's spaces can cause, therefore it is also good to be aware and give each other space and time alone if needed.
  2. Lighten the environment at home with some humour. Watch a funny movie together, or share some funny stories. We all need a good laugh, even during stressful times, as it helps balance our negative emotions with some positive ones.
  3. Dream about the future. This may seem a futile activity given many dreams have been put on hold already during the COVID-19 outbreak. However, dreaming can help couples feel close and connected and also give them some hope for the future, once life goes back to the new normal again.
I hope that helps.
If you would like to make an appointment, please book online for an appointment.
I am also available for telehealth appointments. Take care.

Resisting the temptation to bring up past hurts

When couples are trying to do things a bit better, improving communication, trust and intimacy, it is important that they resist the temptation of bringing up all the past hurts, wounds, things that were said and negative behaviours. What this does is causes the relationship to stop moving forward and the couple then gets stuck in the past, or what's worse, one partner feels like things can never change or get better because their partner is always reminding them of their past failings.
In this video I share how couples who are trying to rebuild their relationship, need to focus on the here and now, addressing current issues and looking towards a better future together.
 
If you need help in your moving your relationship forward, please book online for an appointment.

When our partner won't share their feelings

One problem that often comes up when helping couples is that their partner never shares their feelings.  Of course, some people by nature are more verbally expressive than others and feel comfortable sharing their emotions. Some people, do not want to burden their partners or others by sharing what is going on for them. 
In a relationship sometimes, what can happen is, that our partner has tried to share their feelings with us, however, we have become defensive, or dismissive and not been able to listen and give the empathy that they need in that moment. So, therefore, this can prevent and turn our partners from sharing emotions in the future. 
Being able to listen to our partners and say something like "thank you for sharing" or "I'm sorry you feel that way" helps them to feel listened to.
In this video, I suggest a possible reason for that and a way forward to help our partners begin to open up and share their feelings.
If you need further help please reach out or simply book online for an appointment.

Balancing out negatives and positives in our relationships

We all have areas in our relationships that need a bit of work, but that doesn't mean the whole relationship is bad! It is easy to focus on the negative aspects as our brains are chemically wired towards focusing on negative thoughts and experiences.  While it is important that we keep working on negative parts in our relationships, in the meantime, we need to remember and be grateful for the positive parts of our relationships. For example, we may be working on improving our listening skills while at the same time enjoying the fact that we have more free time to spend together due to the children getting older. Another example is that we may be working on improving physical intimacy, however, we are always loving and caring towards one another.
In this video I share more on how a healthy balance in our relationships is needed, where we are grateful for the positives while working on the negatives.
If you need further help please reach out or simply book online for an appointment.

Tip for couples feeling disconnected

There are many problems that couples come for counselling about such as lack of trust, respect, communication and infidelity, but one problem that couples often express through their session is that they feel disconnected, or not close to one another anymore.
Disconnection or not feeling close can happen over time due to a number of reasons such as work and family commitments or having little time to spend with one another. It can also happen when one or both partners have unresolved issues, which can bring about a sense of disappointment within the relationship. So, a simple tip to help couples begin to feel closer again is I suggest they put aside a short amount of time each day, say 20 mins, where they share, plan and generally talk and I have seen a noticeable difference when couples return a week or two later and  have applied this tip. It is called being intentional to spend time with one another, even if it's a short time.
I hope that helps and please book online for an appointment.

Emotional Security

We all crave emotional security in our close relationships. Emotional security takes commitment, care, and a sense of loyalty. We all want to know that our partner is going to be there for us in the good times and the bad times. We want to know that no matter how tough things become, no matter what we are going through personally, that our partners won't abandon us and that they are committed to us. For couples who have said their marriage vows to one another, no doubt they included the words "through sickness and in health, til death, do us part." These words immediately bring a sense of security, devotion, and commitment. Another way to describe a loving relationship is a committed relationship.
In my video I share how feeling emotionally secure in a relationship can be as simple as saying to one another, "If you are upset or hurt, I will be there for you".
If you need further help in creating emotional security in your relationship, please book online for an appointment.
Date Night

Date nights

Couples often tell me it has been months since they have been out on a date night together, which means they are not getting much valuable connection time. This leads to feeling disconnected and even resentful towards one another.
Date nights can be wonderful because they can help couples to reconnect and ignite the spark back into their relationship.
However, a lack of time, energy, the challenge of finding childminding and having enough finances can make date nights feel almost impossible to organise!
Spending time together does not need to be expensive, energy draining or time consuming.
Here are some simple suggestions for other ways to reconnect as a couple:
  • Share a favourite dessert together when the kids are in bed.
  • Curl up on the lounge together and watch a movie.
  • Fish and chips at the beach.
  • Chatting together while the kids are playing outside or at a park.
  • Setting aside time daily to share your day and plan future goals.
I hope that helps. If you need further help in your relationship, please contact me or simply book online for an appointment.

Working on my own relationship

Believe it or not, I also need to work on my relationship on a consistent basis!
Recently a relative paid my husband and me a compliment that our marriage is a great example to others. While those words were lovely and humbling, the reality is we have had to navigate some really tough times together. After hearing her comments, I felt the need to share some tips that have helped our 34-year marriage manage the ups and downs of life.
In this video, I share some tips that have helped, such as:
  • Learning to laugh at one another as well as ourselves!
  • Always plan to spend time together.
  • If we hurt one another, say sorry and follow it up by a changed behaviour and attitude.
  • Allowing challenges to draw us closer rather than further apart.
If you need further help, please contact me or book online for an appointment.

A simple phrase - communication tip

Communicating to our partners about what we need at any given moment does not need to be stressful or frustrating, especially when it is coming from a place of love for one another. In fact, I love that communication in relationships can be light and not heavy, simplistic and not complicated, fun rather than frustrating. A simple phrase to help us communicate what we need to our partners and to minimise frustration is to begin a sentence with:  "I would really love it if...".
 
For example, "I would really love it if you cooked dinner tomorrow night as I will be working late".
In this short video I share a few more examples. I hope it helps and please book online for an appointment if you need further help with your relationship.

Bringing up past mistakes

Some of us have a filing cabinet full of memories when it comes to mistakes or past hurts caused by our partners. We can remember the date, time, place, what was said, who said it and all the details that are stuck in our memory. When we are feeling angry it is easy to bring up past mistakes as extra ammunition to state our case or to inflict blame or hurt on our partner. The problem is our partner can feel like we will never forgive them and this can lead to them feeling disappointed and that the relationship cannot improve while ever these past mistakes are being brought up.
In this short video I share a better way forward when it comes to solving conflict in our relationships. It is called 'sticking to the here and now' and the problem that is current today, then working on a solution together to move forward.
Please reach out if you need further help or simply book online for an appointment.

Our partners aren't mind readers

We can often forget that our partners are not necessarily mind readers and they don't always pick up on what we are needing emotionally. This can lead to feeling frustrated and like they don't care about us. 

If we are feeling stressed, sad, angry, upset and tired, but are not letting our partners know, how are they able to have the opportunity to console, comfort, or help us? What we tend to do instead is that we walk in the door, coming home from work for example, and go around the house huffing and puffing and projecting our emotions onto our partners, and perhaps even blowing up at the tiniest little comment they make.

Or we can do the opposite, where we disengage, disconnect and vege out in front of the TV or on our devices, all the while our partners thinking that we are either okay or we are ignoring them. 

In this short video, I share some thoughts on how to let our partners know what we need emotionally. 

I hope this is helpful and if you need further help, please book online for an appointment.

Moving on after a relationship loss

Moving on after a relationship breakdown or loss is tough and painful as it can set off a grief-like response, similar to when a loved one passes, with a range of emotions such as deep sorrow, confusion, anger, denial and loneliness.
Even if the relationship was an unhealthy one, there are still good memories that will be missed because of the bond and attachment formed in the relationship which is hard to let go of. Some small tips that can help you are to find a supportive person with whom you can share your feelings. Sometimes it is helpful to find someone who has also been through a difficult breakup as they will understand more how you are feeling.
In my video, I share some more tips to help let go and move forward into the future.
I hope that helps and please reach out if you need further help, or  book online for an appointment.

Affection in a relationship

The busyness of life can mean that couples can go through periods where they just feel like best friends or even housemates. This is even truer if there are little or no displays of affection between them. This can then lead to the 'spark' or 'romance' to go out of the relationship, and that situation is definitely no fun. Being affectionate is similar to filling up our emotional bank account as it helps us feel close and connected through the good and not so good times.
For couples to re-fill their emotional bank account, it is important to begin to show small displays of affection again. Kissing one another goodbye and goodnight, holding hands, light physical touches, hugs, sitting close together and massages are all ways to show affection and for couples to feel less like best friends and more like they are in a romantic relationship again.
Displays of affection make us feel loved, cared for and valued by our partner. When couples are trying to implement affection back into the relationship it can feel awkward and uncomfortable, and perhaps even 'fake'. However, before long it will feel familiar and comfortable and will remind couples that they are definitely much more than just 'friends'.
I hope that helps and if you would like more support, please book online for an appointment.

Building trust takes time

When there has been infidelity, dishonesty and mistrust in a relationship, building trust again is very challenging.
Building trust takes alot of time and alot of patience. It takes a concerted effort to gradually over time be able to observe that your partner is making an effort and that repeated patterns are not present. Trusting again is a moment by moment, day by day process and it is good to have a balance between giving your partner the benefit of the doubt and of course seeing the changed behaviour and attitude that is needed to help build trust again.
Honest, transparent communication is also now key in moving forward to a trusting relationship. Spending time together talking helps as well, as you will both feel more comfortable with one another. There is no time limit to how long it will take, but building trust can happen through time and patience.
I hope that helps. Watch my video and please reach out if you need more support or book online for an appointment.

Burying your relationship

Sometimes what couples need to do is just 'bury' their relationship! Now that sounds a little drastic...
What I mean by 'burying' their relationship is that couples who are bored, stuck or too argumentative, need to re-commit, re-connect and make a fresh start! This takes a real commitment of letting go of the past and being intentional about spending time together, communicating and re-building intimacy and trust.  It is never too late to resurrect a relationship that has become boring, stuck or too argumentative. I hope that helps. Please reach out if you need more support or book online for an appointment.
I hope that helps. Watch my video and please reach out if you need more support or book online for an appointment.

Self-Empathy

When empathy is lacking in a relationship, it can be quite hurtful and disappointing, so it needs to be communicated to your partner so they can be aware and then start to make some changes.

However, sometimes your partner will not always be able to provide the level of empathy that you need.  So, what can you do about that? You can apply something called 'self-empathy'.

Self-empathy is about looking into your own life, having a non-judgmental attitude towards yourself, and applying understanding to your own situation. It is also about acknowledging that both your past and present experiences are valid and important. Self-empathy is a helpful skill to learn for everyday life in any situation you find yourself in.

I hope that helps. Watch my video and for an appointment for individual and couples counselling book online for an appointment.

The pain of rejection

Have you ever felt rejected? I know I have.
They say that the brain responds to rejection in the same way as it responds to physical pain. No wonder it hurts!
Rejection affects our sense of belonging and acceptance and it damages our self-esteem. Rejection especially hurts the hardest when it is from someone we are closely attached to. If you experience rejection from your partner, it is important to let them know by saying 'I felt rejected when I went to give you a hug you and you turned your back on me' for example.
Here are three tips for handling rejection:
1. Allow yourself time to heal, knowing that rejection really does hurt.
2. Remind yourself of your own qualities and resist negative self-talk.
3. Surround yourself with people who accept you and make you feel valued.
I hope that helps. Watch my video and for an appointment for individual and couples counselling book online for an appointment.

Love in a healthy relationship can be expressed through being generous to one another

Did you know that research has shown that couples that practice generosity on a regular basis are generally much happier? That is because generosity is one of those values and qualities that releases feel-good chemicals into our brains, so both the giver and receiver win with the side effect being their level of happiness increasing.

So, it makes sense that if you want a happier relationship, start being more generous to one another. It's such a simple but powerful thing to do with wonderful long-term results!

Generosity is really about giving good things abundantly and freely. We can demonstrate generosity in our relationship through small acts of kindness, such as making our partner a cup of tea, allowing them to choose which TV program to watch, giving gifts of course and also being kind and generous with our words and time.

So what does love look like in a healthy relationship? Being generous to one another.

I hope that helps. If you need to reach out, please contact me by sending me a message or book online for an appointment.

What does love look like in a healthy relationship?

In a couples session recently, a lady mentioned that on this one occasion, when she was feeling unwell, she would have loved it if her partner took the initiative to buy her some medicine from the chemist as this would have shown her that he cared about her feeling unwell. She was quite upset at the fact that he did not take the initiate to find out how he could help her. It made her feel unloved.

As much as it is important to say you care, taking some action can really speak volumes. That's because it's often the little things we do for one another that show we care. When those closest to us do not show they care, especially in practical ways, it can lead to feelings of resentment and generally feeling unloved if it happens time and time again.

So, what does love look like in a healthy relationship?

Showing you care.

I hope that helps and for further help or to see me please book online for an appointment.

What does love look like in a healthy relationship?

With it being the month of love, as in February, I wanted to share some thoughts on ‘what does love look like in a healthy relationship’?
We all know that love is more than a feeling (there’s a song about that!). It is more than those romantic feelings that can come and go the longer we are with one another.
One of the things that I believe shows love in a relationship is having a real commitment to one another. It’s about knowing that you will be there for one another in the good times and the not so good times.
It’s a commitment that says, ‘I’m not going to jump ship when the waters get choppy’, that I will stick around through the storms of life. It also involves being dedicated and faithful to one another. It is a conscious decision on a day-to-day basis.
Of course it is easy to enjoy a relationship and life when things are going great, but real commitment is tested with the challenges of life come. So what does love look like in a healthy relationship? It is a real commitment and dedication to be there through the good and not so good times. I hope that helps.
For more help, please contact me through my website or book online for an appointment.

What is the most important thing in a relationship?

Recently I was asked what I thought was the most important thing to have in a relationship. I rattled off things such as love, good communication, care, and while those things are important, this person told me, and I should really believe them, because they are one of my supervisors, that one of the most important things to have in a relationship is respect.
And I thought to myself,  that is so true, because often how we treat others shows the level of respect that we have for them.  When couples come into my office, sometimes their level of respect is definitely shown in the way that they speak to one another.  
Harsh and critical words really do affect the relationship in a negative way so a gentle reminder, that they need to be speaking kindly to one another and about one another, makes a difference when they come back after they have been practicing that. 
So my thought on what respect looks like in a relationship? Respect looks like, speaking to

one another in a kind way and speaking about one another in a kind way. I hope that helps and 

I look forward to sharing more thoughts on topics such as relationships. 
If you need further help, please contact me through my website or my social media platforms or book online.
Couples

What does respect look like in a healthy relationship?

Valuing one another's feelings and needs.

Dismissing or minimising our partner's feelings and needs sends the message that we don't think their feelings and needs are important to them and over time, this can be detrimental to a relationship, as they will shut down, withdraw and not engage in conversation as freely as they would like.

Listening and validating their feelings and needs sends the message we respect them and value them as a person, and that whatever is going on for them, we will stop, take notice and offer validation.

 
If you would like further help with your relationship or would like to have some couples counselling you can book online for a confidential appointment.

What does respect look like in a healthy relationship?

Recently I read a definition of respect that I really really loved, and it said that respect is the freedom to be yourself and to be loved for who you are.

When couples come to see me, sometimes they complain about the fact that their partner thinks and behaves differently to them, yet these same differences are what attracted them to one another in the first place! Couples would do better to accept their differences, which will bring a sense of freedom and lightness to their relationship.

 
So what does respect look like in a healthy relationship?
 
To allow your partner the freedom to be themselves, and to be loved for who they are.
 
I hope that helps and if you need further help, please book online or contact me through my website.