9 ways to improve your relationship

Apply These 9 Behaviours to Improve Your Relationship

By | Consulting For Men, Men Mending Marriage | No Comments

Creating meaningful relationships takes effort…

If there were just a few proven ways to increase the chances of a relationship succeeding, the 9 tips provided in this post would probably be among them. Taken from research and evidence based practice we understand that men and women often have the same needs but are expressed differently.

…Women reach out in ways that sometimes are perplexing to the average man and this post is an attempt to show men what that reaching out might look like and, how to respond appropriately and what traps to avoid.

…While ignoring just one of these points will not determine the success or failure of your relationship put together they present an overwhelming case for separation. While this post is directly mainly towards men, women will gain a lot from reading it also. So applying these suggestions to your relationship will improve the communication and in all likelihood create a better partnership:

1. Listen to what she is saying 

The rule here is to pay attention to her attempts to connect with you. This is in effect what she is doing. Your partner is attempting to make contact and a connection with you. She may be talking about her workday and describing ‘who said what and where and how’, how her boss is overlooking her contributions and so on. It critical that you empathise with her here. Turn from whatever else is distracting you and give her your full attention. Leave the phone down, turn off the box and focus. When she sees that you are listening she feels connected. And one last thing’ try not to offer any solutions at this time. Just be there and listen.

2. Acknowledge what she is saying

When you acknowledge that her opinions are valued, or at the very least she is adding constructively to the conversation then this really shows that you care. Often when men don’t want to listen or acknowledge her contribution they clam up and attempt to remain silent until she has lost interest in talking to you. This is called stonewalling and research shows that stonewalling can contribute to a failed marriage.

3. Respect her opinion and influence

Following on from point 2 you must allow yourself to be influenced by her opinions and suggestions. Getting into the habit of bouncing ideas off each other and validating what she is saying will be the beginning of mutual understanding and gratitude.

4. Compliment her on what she is wearing

Its no secret that woman dress for other women but really appreciate your opinion and being validated. So before she even has the chance to say “How do I look”? Tell her. “Honey you look beautiful in that dress”. Don’t make stuff up but equally don’t hold back. A genuine comment that is kind and sensitive will get you in the good books.

5. Approach intimacy with her needs in mind

Your partner has a need for intimacy just as you have a need for sex. Learn to give her that intimacy by being kind, thoughtful and caring. Your desire for sex will morph into intimacy and both partners’ need’s will be met. There are countless books, DVD’s websites out there that can help you create that intimacy but why start by asking her what she wants.

6. Stop putting her down or belittling her

With just a few kind words you can lift her up and make her feel special. A number of potentially bad habits such as comparing her to other women should be stopped immediately. Research shows that to create a meaningful relationship there needs to be 5 positive comments made to your partner for every one bad comment made. One very powerful way to do this is find things you are grateful for in the relationship and tell her. Telling her she is a great mum and caring neighour is good for the soul.

7. Showing displays of empathy

The order of the day here is to display kind tender affections to your wife and allowing her to offload junk from the day. Empathy is about identifying and understanding where she is coming from and how she feels at that moment. Doing this will demonstrate to her that you are on the same side and you ‘have her back’.

8. Make Apologising a habit, and mean it

Saying sorry for messing up equates to admitting you are only human after all. It does not by any stretch mean you are inadequate.” If you make an apology then you are admitting that you value the relationship because you care for her. Keep in mind that avoiding having to make an apology means justifying your own behaviour, and it shows. An apology means something quite different to a woman than a man. Making an apology shows that you are taking responsibility for your part of the relationship.

9. Always make a genuine attempt to discuss issues.

When she says “We can’t go on like this” she is saying something totally different to what you are hearing. What she is saying is that the way you argue has to change, not “This is the end of the relationship”. So don’t panic and refer to point 1. Listen! Women will often engage in an argument, not to win, but to connect. It’s their way of saying ‘lets talk about this awkward situation’. They want to thrash it out with you not against you.

Following these simple rules can increase the love between you and go along way to ensuring that you have a long and fruitful relationship. But if you want to avoid feelings of remorse, guilt, blame and shame then it would be advisable to consider these points.

As a male counsellor I am committed to helping men create better relationships with the women they love. Making deeply held connections with your partner not only strengthens the relationship but creates an atmosphere of love and companionship.

Stop the lame blame game.

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Stop the lame Blame game.  There are better ways to play.

If you want to change the behaviours and habits in your relationship when it comes to conflict, you must step out of the “you said, I said” trap. It just becomes a circular argument. One of the things you have to do is stop the blame. It’s probably the number one thing you have to do.

You must stop blaming the other person and recognise when you are actually laying blame. Because what happens when you stop blaming is that you must take responsibility. You can’t take responsibility for the other person but you can take responsibility for your own actions. What a relief!

People who are not taking responsibility  for their own actions and what they’re doing, will, in an argument, say: “Hey, you parked the car on the street and I asked you to park it in the garage and by the way, you didn’t do the laundry… and you didn’t pack up the business things in the living room… and they start to bring in everything.

They want to bring it all to the party and pile everything in because it’s a defence. We do that to protect ourselves – if I can one –up you,  I’m going to be able to protect myself. It’s actually got very little to do with your character, though it looks like it.

It’s more a case of ‘if I can bring you down, I’m OK.’

It’s a pattern many people fall into and while it looks narcissistic on the surface there are often childhood wounds behind this.

And even those who’ve had wonderful upbringings with caring parents can have some aspects where something didn’t fit perfectly. There can be learned behaviours – when people criticise you all the time, for example, you might criticise other people.

So my theory, and this is backed up by research, is that behind  the arguing when we want to defend ourselves is often a case of the core hurts behind who we are that drives the anger because we don’t want to believe those things are true – but we think they are.

So there’s a fixed belief about ourselves that deep down might be that we are unworthy or inadequate.

You need to have agreements in place.

Going back to the car on the street scenario, you might say, ‘let’s park the car in the shed on Tuesdays and can we also make sure that all the business items are put away at the end of the day, and that the laundry gets done when the basket is full’. So we have an understanding of what has to happen. Then you can say, hey honey we had an agreement, why didn’t that happen. It’s a question, not an attack… so when you do that you hand the responsibility back to the other person but also the opportunity to explain.

If you are still feeling frustrated about the car being on the street a few weeks later then it’s time to ask yourself why it’s so important to you… and there might be some more discussions to have.

But the main thing to remember is: STOP BLAMING.  You can’t have helpful discussions – the kind that move your forward – when you’re playing the blame game.

The body signal path to anger

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Couples argue sometimes. Fact.  But learning to recognise some signals your body is throwing out can change everything.

This is something I see a lot – it happens with so many couples. But it can be avoided – it’s when a man becomes defensive in a discussion with his partner. If that defensiveness leads to him getting angry then he often enters that fight, flight or freeze response. His brain is shutting down, he’s not engaging with her anymore.

All the time this is happening his body is giving out signals that if he just listens to, he can change the outcome of the argument.

Most men are unaware of this but his body will be sending out signals that he is getting angry. I had one client who said his hands would get sweaty, some people’s nostrils flair or the hair on the back of their head stands up.

What you may try to do is ignore it but you don’t recognise that your body is telling you you’re getting angry.

So, you are talking with your partner and feel yourself getting annoyed with them pay attention to what your body is saying. Then you’ll know when you’re feeling angry and when it’s time to go and cool down.

A lot of people have trouble walking away because the other part of the equation is the partner saying, ‘why are you walking away from me?’ So, she will want to pursue.

But if he firstly says ‘I can feel myself getting angry here. I need to calm down’ he knows he needs to walk away, take a deep breath and cool down.

Before all of this, you need to have an agreement with your partner that says ‘when I am getting angry I’m going to walk away and I’m going to come back later so we can engage.’

It’s very effective

So if you’re sitting with your partner and having a coffee you can say, ‘you know if I do get crazy, because I know it’s upsetting for you, I’m going to tell you that I can feel my body getting ahead and I’m going to move away. And we can revisit it when I’ve calmed down’.

The key is paying attention to what your body is telling you when you are starting to get angry.

Dan Siegel, author of Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation, talks about this. Remember Maxwell Smart? And all those doors closing? It’s like all the departments in our brain closing in this situation – you stop to empathise, you’re not attuned with each other, you stop identifying who they are… all these things shut down in our brain and we are unable to talk and we know we’ll get angry.

It happens to all of us.

But the most important thing to remember is just pay attention to your body and know when to walk away.

Making Valentines Special with the five love languages

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The five love languages heart

Make this Valentine’s Day Special with Love’s Five Languages

 

Have you ever wondered how to make Valentine’s Days special? Have you somehow managed to always miss the mark when you try?

 

It’s all right. A lot of people struggle with Valentine’s Day, but they don’t have to. Not when they understand the five love languages.

 

It is not rocket science figuring out that St. Valentine’s love language was gift giving. But this isn’t the only love language and a lot of people express their love differently.

 

If you are unfamiliar with the concept of the five love languages, it goes like this. There are five primary ways we express love to those we care about and love, and we respond favourably when someone expresses our way of loving to us. These acts of love are called love languages and are the five expressions of love Gary Chapman coined as Acts of Service, Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Gift Giving, and Physical Touch.

 

For example you might like doing things for others like washing their car without them asking, doing chores, cooking a meal, and doing other acts of service you know your spouse or partner would like you to do. This might be your way of showing love. When someone does something like this for you, you know that they are showing you that they love you too. This is only the love language termed as Acts of Service. There are still five others ripe for the use of showing your loved ones that they are indeed loved.

 

No love language is better than another. Each is equal and each means so much to the person who finds love in that act. When you take a look at the love languages, you should be able to find a language that resonates with you.

 

Words of Affirmation is another of the five love languages and is often a big one with men. Being told you are awesome, caring, and a valued person can do amazing things for them. A compliment, word of appreciation, or an encouragement are all powerful communicator’s of love. So when you hear someone you love praising you and others, often this is their language. Speak it back to them. Tell them they look fantastic and beautiful and handsome and whatever the case may be. It will mean a lot to them.

 

Quality time is often very popular with women. Spending time talking to your woman, listening attentively and being present and available goes a long way. Make sure they have your undivided attention by putting the phone away, newspaper down, eyes off the TV screen and instead staring into theirs. They know they are loved when they are heard.

 

 

Of the five love languages, Physical Touch is the easiest one to see in others. You know these people, the ones that are always hugging, always touching you, patting you on the back, caressing your arm. This language is not about sex or physical intimacy, but rather closeness and connection. On your date, hold their hand, walk arm in arm and please refrain from saying anything like “I’m just not a touchy-feely person”.

 

And of course, the last one is the language of giving and receiving gifts. These people enjoy getting gifts as much (or possibly even more) as they enjoy giving them. It doesn’t matter the size of the gift, but rather the intention and sincerity behind it. Be sure to give authentically and always give them a thoughtful gift, even if it’s as simple as an “Oh, this reminded me of you so I got it” gift. It’s often the smallest gifts that mean the most.

 

Now that you know the five languages of love, take the time to get to know yours and the person’s you love. It will be worth it and I can guarantee that when you converse with your love languages, this valentines day will be a chocolate box full of romance.

You can check out them out here!

 

 

 

 

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What The Divorce Stats don’t tell you

By | Consulting For Men, Family & Children, Intimate Relationship, Men Mending Marriage | No Comments

…How much should you believe in the statistics about marriage?

One of the most common myths about marriage is approximately 50% of all first time marriages will fail. The big question is, however, where did these statistics come from? How robust and thorough was the data collected and what if any factors contributed to these figures? For those who have gone through a divorce, they’ve also been told that their chance of having a successful second marriage is only  30 – 35%!

These ‘ugly’ marriage myths have actually convinced many men and women to think that marriage is hard and being married is a crap-shoot! Why bothered tying the knot based on this well-known and accepted statistic?  ‘Why risk it’ has become the prevailing attitude…

We can only imagine if these statistics weren’t true, what might be the case? If they were true, as so many tell us, wouldn’t we be seeing countless friends and couples heading to the divorce court along with us? It is also true that some statistics get misused. The Gottman institute states that half of all marriages end before they have reached the 7 year mark. This is very different from half of all marriages. According to Gottman once you are past that magic number, the chances are your marriage will not only be surviving but also thriving.

What do marriage researchers say?

According to other research carried out in the last 7 years, the chances of having a lasting marriage is around the 70-80% mark. In other way, only around 20-30% chance that your marriage would be in trouble. Now that is very different from the bandied around number of 50%.

Shaunti Feldhahn (a Harvard-trained researcher and author of some of the best seller books about marriage), claims that most marriages are actually happy marriages, and that NOT only happy couples remain married but rather couples-who-are married-describe-themselves-as-happy. Feldhahn and her colleague also carried out extensive research into why there was such a high divorce rate only to discover that some, if not a lot of the statistics and claims were erroneous, or sometimes exaggerating!

Let me give you some examples from these research….

In some cases within those marriage studies, those who were widowed into the statistic giving a false impression. What in fact was happening was that women, more often than men, were being widowed and this was called a separation. What Shaunti Feldhalm found is echoed by John Gottman. In a research carried by the Gottman Institute, it was proven that relationships don’t crash and burn, they just fade out from a lack of connection. People start to neglect each other and often unintentionally. Neglect turns into indifference and then separation, followed by a divorce.

Shaunti discovered that it is not the big-ticket items that take a marriage down, like the affair, or an addiction, or mental illness but rather the day-to-day small things: things like… forgetting to acknowledge one another, or not paying attention to each other and so on…

My takeaway from the research, as a marriage counsellor

As a marriage and relationship counsellor, I am very impressed with this robust research – the researchers never attempted to debunk the 50% marriage failure myth. It just happened that way. So my dear friend, now you know that your relationship actually has a (great) fighting chance of surviving, does it make getting hitched a much more attractive proposition?

…You don’t have to take my word for it. You can see for yourself here what the research shows.

PS: My key takeaway from this book is that marriage is a fine place to have a relationship. Marriage is way more robust than we give them credit for. What are your thoughts on this? Leave a comment below and we can start a fruitful discussion around marriage!

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Men And Anger Control Problems

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Men out there, can you control your anger?

…You hate getting angry.

…You promised your partner you wouldn’t let your anger consume you. But here you are – fuming again. And regardless of how you got here, again, you want to get advice for better anger control.

Picture this! Your partner raises a once very scary issue with you. But this time you calmly listen to her and together you come up with a plan to solve it. She may say something like: “I don’t think we have enough money this month to cover all these bills” And you say: “Ok honey, where do you think we might be able to delay payment or – (fill in the space) -. Lets look at our options!”

Wouldn’t that be nice eh! NO anger, just reasonable responses to reasonable situations. Unfortunately there is a long way between the first paragraph and the next paragraph if you are prone to anger. A very long way!

…Imagine no more explosions of anger. No more threatening behaviour. No more begging and pleading for forgiveness. No more depressive mood swings. Can you imagine your partner’s delight and surprise to discover that the man she loves has changed into a loving caring partner and father? The kids will even want to hang with you. Would you dare to believe that anxiety would vanish, depression become a thing of the past, and you see a family worth fighting for?

With a few simple tools and an attitude adjustment you can make the change for better anger control. But before you embark on life changing heart and head surgery you must first identify and eliminate a few things in your life that are preventing you from giving your best.

If you answer YES to any of these questions then it is probably time to take a good hard look at yourself and your behaviour. Nothing is scarier than a man who doesn’t know why he is angry.

6 Things to consider for better anger control:

1. Are you surrounding yourself with the wrong people?

You will never get ahead or break bad habits if you are running with a crowd that is constantly trying to one up one another or encourage each other to do stupid reckless acts. I am not suggesting you to ditch your good friends, but I do think it’s smart to consider whether your friends always act in your best interests.Likewise listen to their language and make a distinction between words that promote healthy thinking or words that bring others down.Instead, look for like-minded people who appreciate you for who you are even if you can’t be doing some of the things you did in the past.

2. Do you have an “as soon as…” mentality?

This is the downfall of many. There is always had an excuse for why you can’t get your anger under control.

  • As soon as the holidays are over, I’ll do an anger course.
  • As soon as I get a better paying job, I’ll stop being angry.
  • As soon as she stops arguing with me I’ll stop getting angry.
  • As soon as I get the respect I deserve the sooner I will quit shouting.
  • As soon as the kids start doing what I say I’ll start being calmer.

The timing will never be perfect. Smart anger management is like dieting and exercise. You will always find a reason to put it off. Waiting for the stars to align is a sure-fire way to remain an angry man indefinitely.

Remember that learning to control your anger and ultimately behave in a more productive way requires starting now with the view that this is a ‘work in progress’. There is no magic bullet, or blinding light that will take your anger away. You must commit to making the positive changes that are necessary to have a life free of anger outbursts.

3. Do you have a character flaw?

Let’s get right down to it; you may be an angry man and you may stay angry all your life because you are simply too lazy, too weak or too self-indulgent. Perhaps you even like the idea that you can intimidate people through fear and anger.Ouch. Right!Please keep in mind that I’ve sat across from many an angry man. So I’m not judging; I’m just making an observation. Some men think that being the angry man and using intimidating and threatening words means they have the power. Sorry, but thinking that is ‘power,’ is anything but power.

For many, their character flaws are self-indulgence, weakness and self-pity. They have a hard time saying no to themselves when they could so easily justify their anger with the idea that “everyone gets angry at times.”

4. Are you making excuses and playing the Blame-Game?

We want to think our anger is the result of forces outside ourselves – the extended family, the lousy economy, the job situation, the partner not respecting you, the kids shouting back. However, at the end of the day, we need to take responsibility for our own actions.I am talking to you as a respectable working man. You take responsibility for your income, your career prospects, and your social obligations. So why not take responsibility for your anger outbursts? We need to acknowledge our part in the tension in the home. The fact is maybe, just maybe, if you lived with the belief that you are ultimately responsible for your own behaviour, you might just create an environment where together you can weather life’s storms a little better.

5. Is your anger hiding something?

Chances are good that the anger you display is covering up for something in your private life. Perhaps something happened in your earlier formative years that brings a feeling of shame. There could be any number of things that are stuck just below the surface and just because you get violently angry doesn’t mean you know what it is that is hidden.

6. Are you a man of ‘Justice’?

Most of us know right from wrong but we can still get caught doing things that shouldn’t be done. For example, not sticking to the road rules, the speed limit to be more precise. Getting away with stuff that should be punishable. Do you find yourself coming to the defense of others even if you don’t know them? Do you hate seeing injustice and that gets you all fired up? Sometimes this can be mistaken for depression. As you become increasingly powerless in the face of injustice you start to retreat into yourself and hate the world. Under the mild mannered surface is a raging inferno, ready to blow as the slightest sign of unfair treatment.

If you can identify with any of these then you should probably be seeking some help. Even if it is just to get a ‘check up’. Remember that anger can and will wreak your relationship guaranteed.

Not only will you reek havoc on your family but you will be teaching your children to do the same. They will either become the aggressor or the victim with no middle ground.

Don’t let shame prevent you from seeking the help you need. You and your family deserve a better future.

Until next time. God Bless.

Anger management

What Fixed Belief is Hiding Behind Your Anger?

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Is Anger always Negative?

Anger is in fact an emotion that can be used for good and more often than not, for bad. But it is worth keeping in mind that it is not always a negative emotion.

Like all emotions, anger can be controlled. Just like you can withhold laughter, or stop the flow of tears, you can stop being angry. Of course saying you can stop your anger rages and outbursts is one thing, actually stopping them is quite another.

The problem is of course is that with anger there is another emotion that lies underneath. For many of you who get angry on a regular basis you might find it difficult to identify this other emotion. For a lot of angry men, this is one emotion that they do not want people to see that they have.

But of course all emotions are universal, unless you’re a psychopath, but that’s another topic. So trying to hide an emotion successfully is like trying to hold your breath indefinitely. Sooner or later that emotion surfaces or you die from no oxygen. And for a lot of angry males this other emotion is hidden under the surface and masquerading as anger.

What is that other emotion? Of course it is fear.

Why is Fear related to Anger?

Fear is a chain reaction in the brain that starts with a stressful stimulus and ends with the release of chemicals that cause a racing heart, fast breathing and energized muscles, among other things, also known as the fight-or-flight response.’

You could almost replace the word ‘fear’ with ‘anger’ and still get the same answer. So they are often intertwined. So now you might be thinking why am I raising fear with anger.

…Lets suppose for moment that every angry man is hiding something. Something that he himself doesn’t even understand. A better way is to suggest that he has buried something deep within himself and can’t bear to have a look at it. In fact he will do almost anything to avoid being reminded of this. He will go to such lengths as, dare we say, hit someone, bash a stranger, or kill his partner. He will get to extreme levels of violence to avoid this ‘PAIN’.

Now most men don’t get to the level of harming those they love but I would imagine many have come very close. Before I go any further please understand that I do not condone violence on any level ever! There is no justification for it unless you need to protect someone’s life from someone else trying to kill them.

If there are people or organisations out there who have suggested to you that doing ‘anger’ exercises will solve anger issues for you then they only telling you half the story. They are well meaning and I support them in their attempts to help angry people but the biggest part of the recovery is not being told.

The role of Fixed-Beliefs and Anger

There is another aspect of anger that very few people in counselling mention, let alone understand. Without this understanding anger cannot be managed properly and any interventions are short-lived.

So what is the third string in this bow? A fixed-belief. For many of us, regardless of our emotions hold many fixed-beliefs, about ourselves, our environment and the world at large.

But what is particularly important about the fixed-belief of an angry man is that it is almost always untrue. Because as you can see, in the word ‘belief’ there is a ‘lie’.

So what is this fixed-belief that drives a lot of men, and women, to anger and sometimes rage?

Well that is a difficult question to ask without having the opportunity to talk with someone face-to-face but ultimately, for men in particular, it is the fear of being inadequate and that fear leads to shame.

Shame is the silent killer of all men. Please keep in mind that avoiding shame is the goal of most men and we will go to extraordinary lengths to achieve it.

So if you, or someone you know is experiencing a high level of anger on a regular basis then you or they need to seek help. Remember that your anger is hiding a fear and that fear is feeding a fixed-belief. And the good news is that fixed-belief is not true.

Ultimately that fixed-belief is built on a feeling of inadequacy or not measuring up. There are a number of other important core hurts that contribute to an angry state but being inadequate is top of the pecking order. And so in order to understand and appreciate this fact, those with anger issues need to talk to someone and uncover the driving force that controls your life.

You will be glad you made the effort, and so will your partner, family and friends.

Until next time. God Bless.

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The Sandwich You Can’t Eat But You Can Digest

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Follow my story, and discover how you could help build a child’s self-worth…

On the weekend I was at the farmers market in Eagle Farm when I saw a dad berate his young daughter for not doing something. What really annoyed me was that he was attempting to use adult logic with a 7 year old. Good luck my friend! It really bothers me when I see a mum or a dad ripping into their kid about something they have done or said or even a way they have behaved without any explanation or forethought. You often see them erupting like a volcano on the kid without any thought for the feelings of the kid or the circumstances surrounding the offense. But before you start on me for suggesting all kids are angels let me explain.

Not all kids are angels, I know, I have two of my own and countless nieces and nephews. Two of which are the spurn of the devil. I’m not kidding! I know we have all heard how we should talk to our children respectfully and model the kind of behaviour we expect from them, but sometimes they just don’t, can’t or won’t listen. The truth is kids will be kids and that’s about all we can expect from them.

I raise this topic because of the countless times I have had to listen to a man or woman tell me about their dreadful upbringing and how they were never affirmed, never given the benefit of the doubt and never respected. They were always told they were bad kids, naughty children etc. And it is no surprise why they are seeing me with the expectation I will help them out of this mess.

The truth is that for many people in this situation there is often no hope. They will repeat theirs parent’s mistakes and cause untold damage on their own children. But for those of you who are just starting out in the parenting world and don’t want to burden your children with heavy criticism and low self-esteem here is a little advice. Advice I have used myself and helped others use as well.

Have you ever considered that there might be a better way to raise a topic or start a discussion around something that is sensitive?

So if you are one of those people who has walked away from a run-in with your child thinking, “Damn I wished I hadn’t said that!” or “Bugger, I could have handled that differently” then you are not alone. But help is at hand.

The CRAP Sandwich – A Child’s Self-Worth Building Tool

Forgive me if you have heard this one before but I find it is very effective in building a child’s self-worth. In fact it is a very effective tool for anyone, be they friends, pupils, siblings etc.

This technique works particularly well with kids, specifically teenagers. For want of a better name I have called it the Crap sandwich. I know it is elegant and charming in its own way but stick with me and you too will be charmed by its simplicity.

Here’s the best description I can give you.

…So for a moment picture in your mind a sandwich. Now for simplicities sake let us imagine you have two white slices of bread and some filing. Two pieces of nice buttered white bread and in between, the discipline stuff.

Here’s how it works:

Once again it works equally well with peers, colleagues, cousins and aunts as it does with children. So lets say you are away from the home at work perhaps and your partner is taking care of the kids. As kids will do they play up somewhat and by the time you arrive home your partner is pulling her hair out.

She gives you the usual commentary about how badly behaved the kids were with the expectation you go in there and sort them out. And you dutifully do that. Of course the result can never be predicted and if things are not handled well, everything quickly downs south and everyone is left feeling bad. You especially, because you had to lay down the law and get a bad outcome to boot.

Unfortunately this pattern keeps repeating itself. What is needed is a little bit of charm offensive. It is worth keeping in mind that most kids, and in fact most adults respond positively to kind and encouraging words of affirmation. No real surprise there.

So the next time you want to race into their room and start yelling and laying down the law first consider checking in with your partner to get the low down on what actually transpired.

1. First piece of WHITE BREAD:

As you start to engage with the kids be sure to ask them about their day first and engage in simple conversation. No Yelling! When it comes time to disciple you might say to the offender. “Hey Chris you know I think you are an awesome kid and I love you and want to remind you that you did a fantastic job cleaning your room the other day (or whatever thing they did that merits attention, something good). It really makes me proud that you get in there and help. “Well done son!”

2. The filling (crap).

So you are nice, you have approached the situation calmly and been gentle with you child. Now that you have done the ‘soft start-up’ you can proceed to get to the real reason why you have cornered your kid. You might want to start with this: “You know mum tells me you have been misbehaving a bit and being a little naughty and you know we had this conversation a little while ago. Chris I really need your help to look after mum until I am back from work. I need your help. But you also need to do the things mum asks you to do. OK?” “You know, helping mum equals helping me”. That kind of stuff!

Remember to remain calm as they put their case forward and always bring them back to the agreement you made together. Don’t raise your voice to meet theirs (or anyone’s for that matter) but keep an even keel soft voice. (You will be surprised to find that if you keep a soft voice while arguing with someone they will start copying the tempo and level). Remember to remind them that you had an agreement by asking them why the agreement is so important. Now I understand that some kids are just plain unruly and will act up no matter what. But in my experience most kids respond well. And think about this for a moment. How would you feel if you witnessed someone talking poorly to your kids, the way you sometimes do?

3. White Bread

Here is where we lay the last piece of bread down and its ready to eat. Remember how it is when the sandwich is almost done! It’s a good moment. So we get the ugly stuff out of the way but we can’t leave it at that. We now need to reinforce their good behaviour and encourage them to keep up the good work. So you might say something like: “Hey Chris I know you can do what is asked of you because you are a great kid and you always want to do what is right. You make me proud.”

Children, like all adults, who were all once children, lap praise up. Kids love to hear it. I have come across many adults who bulk at this idea and they say daft things like “I don’t want to make them think they are the best kid ever and that they are better than everyone else” or “They don’t deserve praise, they’ve been naughty” Just a word of advice my friend “Pull your head in”! There is no denying the fact that as a child you swam in affirmation. You looked forward to it whether you got it or not. Please don’t deny the child a right to feel good about themselves because you were never affirmed. Please don’t get caught up in the false notion that you are creating a vain, self-serving child. You are not. You are giving praise where it is called for and appropriate. Try this approach and adjust it, as you need to.

The bottom line is this: if we don’t try a new approach to raising our kids we are going to get the same results we have always gotten. There is no shame in sitting down with your children and discussing important issues. What is needed above all else is their buy-in. If they feel they are being heard you can bet things will change.

Like most of us, your children have a need to feel secure and a need to feel appreciated (affirmed).

Remember when we affirm our family we are giving them a gift. But we cannot take these gifts, they must be given and received.

Good Luck

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How Sharing Housework Increases Intimacy

By | Consulting For Men, Intimate Relationship | No Comments

It’s no secret! Helping with the housework increases intimacy for couples

The truth is this is not so much a tool as it is sound advice. Research has shown that women are often required to do more around the home than their husbands/partners. They are often also expected to work full-time and do the child rearing. If you are honest you can see that this really is not a fair deal. It is no surprise that it is often a topic of discussion in the counselling environment.

If it is your intention to increase the level of intimacy between you and your female partner then here are some reasons why you should be contributing to the housework. Back to the research which says that people report higher and more satisfying levels of intimacy, and this includes sex, when both partners are involved in doing chores, hanging washing, cleaning up and so on.

Are you shirking your responsibilities?

It is not uncommon for women to hear ‘You and me’ equals ‘us’ in most shared things  but when it comes to housework it’s ‘hers’. Men will often can spend hours cleaning their beloved car yet not ten minutes vacuuming the house? There exists a close correlation between the amount of housework you do, or don’t do, and the amount of sexual intimacy you are both experiencing?

According to some researchers those men who participate in housework get better sex, and a better overall relationship, and generally experience better marriages. So not only is cleaning the house good for physical life, it’s also good for your sex life!

It is not often that the words ‘respect’ and ‘housework’ are found together. Doing our share of the housework equates to her feeling that she is being respected. She sees your helping out as you respecting and honouring her. So just remember she wants respect just as much as you do. Doing one’s fair share around the house is not only necessary, but ultimately beneficial to your relationship.

492500957-smallSo what is your fair share?

It may be changing the sheets, throwing them in the laundry, vacuuming and/or washing the floors. you might even consider hanging the washing. Whatever activity is chosen be sure to do it with a corporative attitude. If you are committed to lean a hand, then start by showing some keenness. For those of you unfamiliar with a good strategy do as follows. The real trick is to get into a rhythm. Throw on some of that favourite music, play it loud, have a strategy in place and GO!

Housework is not hard, its just time consuming. It can also be very therapeutic.

Ask what chores you can do and what you should be responsible for. If you need some explanation just ask her. Asking for some cleaning advice is humbling but she will see it differently. She will love you for it.  What are you in this relationship for in the first place? If I am not mistaken it is to share a life with that special person in your life. I said ‘SHARE’. Sharing is caring. What part of NOT helping around the house is ‘sharing’.

At the end of the day I want to say to you that you owe it to your partner to pull your weight. She deserves your respect and you need to give her it.

My last tip is….

no-man-argued
Good luck!

 

 

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7 Ways To Reconnect With Your Wife – Must Read Relationship Advice

By | Consulting For Men, Intimate Relationship, Men Mending Marriage | No Comments

It all comes down to communication….

If one word could summarise the following list it would be communication. It is not always true that when couples are talking they are communicating. Sometimes, as is the case with many men, they think they are communicating but in fact they are just being present, and even that can be fleeting. The Gottman Institute has carried out hundreds if not thousands of hours of research into why couples divorce and why they stay together.

They then discovered that there are a number of factors that can determine if a relationship is going to make it. This has been borne out in therapy rooms all over the world including Australia. From personal experience as a counsellor hearing the stories of relationships lost I can attest to the Gottman research. New information continues to surface that suggests that these 7 ways to reconnect with your wife are truly life changing.

1. Listen

2. Acknowledge

3. Engage (demand-withdraw)

4. Apologise

5. Accept Influence

6. Share

7. Be Pro-active

It is my firm belief that if  you can learn adopt these strategies you will greatly reduce the likelihood of experiencing a separation or worse still, a divorce. That is not all. It is fully expected that you could well be on your way to a fantastic intimate relationship.

What one man didn’t do – A true story:

Some years ago a recently separated man came to therapy. His wife of 18 years had recently and suddenly informed him that the relationship was over. Naturally he was very hurt, confused and angry with his wife for suddenly leaving him.To him it came out of the blue that she up and left with not so much as a “Go to Hell!” No amount of promises to change persuaded her to reconsider and she did not return.

Unfortunately this man’s story is a familiar one. Many men have poured out their hearts and souls to counsellors all over the world in an attempt to understand and make sense of the separation.

Naturally there are signs to look out for when a relationship is heading for trouble but these simple rules can help anyone avoid problems before they start.

My hope is that you at least consider what is outlined below. In fact you could do yourself a favour and involve your better half in the discussion. Reconnect with your wife from today!

How to apply these 7 golden rules?

Rule 1 – Listen!

Reconnect with your wifeListening is more than just being present.  Imagine for a moment that you are observing a group of women sitting around a café table and chatting. Watch them talk then listen, talk then listen. In the meantime they are making approving sounds like ‘oh ok’ ‘oh and then what happened?’ They will keep eye contact and nod or make facial expressions that indicate to the other woman that what they are saying is important.

Now imagine for a moment that you are part of the conversation but when it comes to your turn to talk, you must first acknowledge and paraphrase back to them what the previous speaker said, and you must allow them to correct you if you misunderstood. A final word of warning. Do not attempt to offer a solution.

Your wife or partner is not looking for you to solve her problems. She just wants to know that you support her. She needs to know that you are on her side and above all you are present and listening. If she wants you to help her solve a problem she will tell you. Here are a couple of tips to get you started:

  • Keep eye contact at all times while talking
  • Nod or shake your head in unison with her explanations.
  • Say things like: “Wow, what happened then?” “You must have felt terrible” Be sure to make the sounds that indicate you are listening.

Remember listening is very powerful and demonstrates a level of care that is attractive to you spouse.

Rule 2 – Acknowledge her input

7 ways to reconnect with your wifeAcknowledge her contribution, acknowledge her opinions and acknowledge her input. Acknowledge that she has a valuable contribution to make and that without that contribution you are sunk. Give her space to tell you how she sees things and allow her to influence you. You can say things like “I see your point” “I hadn’t thought to look at it that way”. Both of you will grow in confidence as you have open discussions.

 

 

Rule 3 – Engage

When talking to anyone there is always the risk of talking about absolutely nothing and just waffling. I mean you have experienced this when talking with other men right. We tend to just talk crap. You can do this with your wife too but only expect that at some point the conversation will drift to more meaningful stuff. After all, you are in an intimate relationship right? This is where rules 1 and 2 come into play. But now you become more involved in the conversation with a back and forth flow happening. Give her access to your fears and concerns. Talk to her about what bugs you at work for example and what you are thinking about doing. Share your life with her. Allow her into your world. Remember the Demand-Withdraw rule and catch yourself when you feel you are subconsciously running away from her.

Rule 4 – Apologise

Don’t abandon me here fellas. Confessing to a mistake takes us right to the heart of shame. It is not so much about being wrong as it is about not wanting to feel shame. Saying sorry opens us up to feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness. We are at our most vulnerable when we have to admit a mistake or apologise. It’s a man thing and women find it very difficult to understand. The trick here is not to fight it. Just bite your tongue and apologise. Initially there will be fall out. Her jaw dropping and tongue falling out of her mouth in shock for one thing. An appropriate apologise opens up the lines of communication so stay the course.

Rule 5 – Accept influence

I briefly mentioned this above but it is important that you allow yourself to accept influence from her. An example might be that you want to head off on a camping holiday with mates. But she suggests that the family goes camping instead. She may give you very sound reasons for doing that and this is where you need to be influenced. You may find the discussion is really about quality time with the family and your involvement in their lives rather than your need to bond with other males. The important to remember here, is that you can only make an informed decision once you may all the facts. Listening to her side of the story gives you that opportunity.

Rule 6 – Share

This is where you get to discuss things that are important to you both. You talk about your day, the issues you face at work. When sharing you both get to explore options for remedies for problems you encounter. You get to spend quality looking at issues together and coming up with ways to solve them together.

Rule 7 – Be Pro-active

When you take all of the 6 previous rules and put them together you have a pretty good idea of what to do to enhance your relationship. However when you activate this rule then you are effectively sending your marriage into the stratosphere. So the task ahead is to create opportunities to talk, create opportunities to be together, create opportunities to listen and be listened to. When you say to your partner “Lets go out for coffee Saturday morning” you are being pro-active in creating an opportunity. Saying things like “Tell me about your day” is taking the initiative and staying ahead of the curve. It demonstrates to your partner that you are willing to listen, willing to be influenced, willing to engage and so on. So go ahead and create! I would like to encourage you to take a good hard look at your current behaviour to determine where you might be able to make small changes for the chance to see big results.

There is no point being the King-of-the-Castle if she is not in it.