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Money is a hot topic that many couples argue about. In fact, money is one of the most common issues couples fight about, along with kids, mess, in-laws, and sex. Fights about money often arise in the absence of open discussions. Views on money, spending, saving, and financial responsibility between you and your partner can […] The post 3 Common Fights About Money in Your Relationship and How to Fix Them appeared first on Clinton Power +...
In fact, money is one of the most common issues couples fight about, along with kids, mess, in-laws, and sex.
Fights about money often arise in the absence of open discussions. Views on money, spending, saving, and financial responsibility between you and your partner can vary widely.
Assuming your partner has the same opinions as you about financial matters and goals, without talking about it is a recipe for disaster.
The most common money arguments are about different views on spending or saving, spending habits, distribution of funds when income isn’t equal between partners, and the expenditure of individual and joint funds.
So, what do you do when these arguments become commonplace in your relationship?
When it comes to money, some people like to spend it, and some like to save it. In your relationship, this can get a little sticky when one of you wants to spend, and the other wants to save.
The difference between spenders and savers is a matter of values.
If you’re a saver, you likely value financial security. When you have money in savings and a financial buffer for unexpected life events like sickness, job loss, or economic recession, you will feel safer and more in control of your life. Your approach will be more cautious and defensive when it comes to spending and investing money, especially when it comes to purchasing products and services you deem to be unnecessary.
Spenders value living in the moment. If you’re a spender, you probably love to be spontaneous and maybe even impulsive at times. You value immediate gratification and prioritise pleasurable experiences over long-term financial security. You’re not concerned about the future because you’re happy to trust that everything will work out in the long run, and living in the moment and having fun and pleasure right now is more important.
So, if you’re in a spender-saver relationship, the challenge is to find common ground and find ways to meet both needs.
Sit down with your partner and have a conversation about goals. Focus on listening and avoid defensiveness.
Talk about what you each want in the short-term and the long-term. Once you know and agree on where you’re going, it’s easier to make a plan to get there.
Look at your goals and make a budget to help you achieve them. Budgets include savings to build security and reach long-term goals and amounts allotted for leisure, entertainment, and social events.
A crucial part of successfully maintaining your plans and reaching your goals is understanding how you each perceive risk. Your different risk profiles will guide you towards investments that will work best for you while helping you achieve your long-term goals. An online assessment such as this can help you each determine your risk profile.
A solid financial plan includes elements of both spending and saving. Having a plan that incorporates both tendencies will satisfy the spender and the saver in your relationship and result in a more robust financial framework in your life.
I work with many couples where one partner earns significantly more than their partner. It’s not unusual for one partner to have an income that is double or triple that of their partner’s income.
Earning significantly more (or less) than your partner can put a lot of pressure on your relationship. A power dynamic can evolve, that if left unchecked, creates a power imbalance between you and your partner.
Resolving an earning discrepancy in your relationship is all about balance. Find a solution that works for both of you. Remember that earning more doesn’t correspond to having more power in the relationship. You and your partner are equals.
One way to maintain the balance may be to put money towards the same costs by contributing a percentage of each of your earnings. This way, you are both paying for the same things, but the amount paid is proportionate to the amount earned.
For example, if you earn 50% more than your partner and you’re purchasing a product that is $1000, rather than split the cost 50/50 and both pay $500, you may choose to split the cost 25/75, so you pay $750 and your partner pays $250.
I’ve also worked with couples where they negotiate to have the partner on the lower income contribute what they would normally pay for cheaper experience, and the partner on the higher income upgrades them to both for a premium experience.
For example, if your partner has a small annual holiday budget and is used to flying economy class and staying in budget accommodation, they contribute what they would normally spend to the cost of the holiday. Then, as the higher income earning partner, you book 5-star accommodation and business class flights, while gladly paying the difference for the premium experience.
The critical point in bridging the income gap between you both is working together towards a solution. Don’t put your partner in a position of power over yourself. Always remember that you’re two halves working together to make a stronger, better whole.
You go to work and you earn a paycheque, that money is yours, right?
When you share a life and expenses with someone else, that answer isn’t always clear cut anymore. How much of your income goes toward meeting joint expenses, joint goals? How much of it do you get to keep for your own spending?
Having a joint bank account is an easy way to dispel this problem. Whatever funds are in the joint account is “our money” to meet joint expenses and goals, and funds in your separate personal account are “your money”, for your spending. You both contribute equally to the joint account so that you’re each carrying the same financial responsibility for your joint expenses.
The distinction between where your money is held for different purposes makes it easier to differentiate what funds you get to exercise free reign over, and which ones are set aside for meeting your financial responsibilities.
I often recommend Scott Pape’s, The Barefoot Investor to my clients with money issues who want to learn how to use a simple structure to divide and share income and build wealth for the future.
Scott recommends couples take 100% of their income and divide it into the following buckets/bank accounts:
Scott also recommends you have a Mojo Account. Once your debts are paid off, you then save 3-6 months’ worth of income for emergency savings in your Mojo account.
Having discussions about money with your partner doesn’t mean you’ll never fight about it. However, talking about money, getting on the same page about money matters, and planning how to handle these situations goes a long way to relieving tension around money problems as a couple.
The post 3 Common Fights About Money in Your Relationship and How to Fix Them appeared first on Clinton Power + Associates.
Relationships are living messy things, with plenty of ups and downs. Although we strive for the ups, we need to embrace the downs as well. All healthy relationships include doses of conflict. The trick to maintaining a strong relationship isn’t to avoid the conflict but to manage it in ways that are constructive and bring you and your partner together rather […] The post How the Four Horsemen Could Save Your Relationship appeared first on Clinton Power +...
Relationships are living messy things, with plenty of ups and downs. Although we strive for the ups, we need to embrace the downs as well.
All healthy relationships include doses of conflict. The trick to maintaining a strong relationship isn’t to avoid the conflict but to manage it in ways that are constructive and bring you and your partner together rather than pulling you apart.
Drs. John and Julie Gottman of the Gottman Institute created The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, a metaphor referencing the end of the New Testament, used to help you recognise and navigate 4 pitfalls of combative conversations. Instead of having destructive arguments, they aim to help you develop constructive communication patterns.
The Four Horsemen are criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. If these behaviours are present in your relationship, it’s over 90% likely that they’ll destroy your relationship. They have a significant impact. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of them and apply their solutions.
Each of the Four Horsemen has a solution when used in place of its horseman, helps you and your partner build your relationship up instead of tearing it down.
Image: Gottman Institute
Criticism is when your comments attack your partner or their character, instead of complaining about a behaviour. These comments make your partner feel attacked, rejected, and hurt. Criticism is the gateway horseman, as it opens your partner up to be vulnerable to the other 3 horsemen.
To counteract criticism, talk about your feelings using “I statements”. This approach focuses the conversation on your needs rather than your partner’s faults. Express a constructive need and allow your partner the opportunity to fill that need.
Criticism: “You’re so inconsiderate!”
“I” statement: “I need a quiet space to complete this task. I would appreciate it if you would listen to your music on your headphones for a little bit.”
Defensiveness is when you feel attacked and try to protect yourself by painting yourself as the victim. You try to spin the situation around to blame your partner. Neither one of you is accepting any responsibility for the circumstance
To counteract defensiveness, take responsibility for your part in the conflict, even if it’s only a small portion. If you both take responsibility, the conflict becomes about solving the problem together instead of fighting against each other.
Defensiveness: “I am not talking too loud!”
Responsibility: “I’m sorry. I could have come closer to talk instead of shouting from the other side of the room.”
Stonewalling is when you withdraw from a conversation and refuse to engage anymore. The objective is to avoid conflict and create a sense of distance and separation. Stonewalling usually happens gradually after the other horsemen are already active in your relationship.
To counteract stonewalling, take a time-out. Step away from the conversation for at least 20 minutes and do some self-soothing activities. Self-soothing, such as listening to music, stretching out your muscles, or taking a shower, makes you feel calmer and relaxed so that you’re in a better headspace to address the conflict.
Stonewalling: “Just forget it.”
Self-soothing: “I need to take a break from this conversation. I’m going to go and do [soothing activity], let’s check in again in 20 minutes.”
Contempt is the feeling of superiority, with which you regard your partner as mean, vile, or worthless. When you act with contempt, you attack your partner’s sense of self with the intent to insult or abuse, sometimes from a place of disgust. This disregard grows from longstanding negative thoughts about a partner and is the single greatest predictor of divorce
To counteract contempt, treat one another with respect. You don’t want to make your partner feel inferior. Think of your partner’s positive qualities and express gratitude for positive acts. Appreciation breeds positive feelings towards your partner instead of festering negativity.
Contempt: “You’re so stupid, what an idiot!”
Appreciation: “Thanks for trying. I appreciate your help.”
Watch Dr. John Gottman below discuss the 4 horsemen in relationships as he shows some real-life examples.
If you’re concerned that the Four Horsemen are impacting your relationship, you can take the Gottman Couple Check-up. It’s a tool that evaluates your relationship’s strengths and challenges and can be completed with a qualified relationship counsellor.
I use the Gottman Couple Checkup with almost all the couples I work with as it gives a great baseline report of your strengths and vulnerabilities in your relationship.
Conflict is normal and healthy in relationships. The way you manage conflict in your relationship has a significant impact on the success of your relationship. When the Four Horsemen enter your conflict dialogues, that’s a warning of serious problems in your communication. These problems often result in the destruction of a relationship, so it’s essential to be aware of them and work to counteract them.
The post How the Four Horsemen Could Save Your Relationship appeared first on Clinton Power + Associates.
Relationship success doesn’t come from grand gestures or declarations. What keeps a relationship strong and enduring is far more related to the work you put in. It’s about developing and maintaining a secure-functioning relationship and finding a partner that you can feel safe and open with. Defining a secure-functioning relationship According to PACT (Psychobiological Approach […] The post 3 Simple Tips to Build a Long-Lasting Relationship appeared first on Clinton Power +...
Relationship success doesn’t come from grand gestures or declarations. What keeps a relationship strong and enduring is far more related to the work you put in. It’s about developing and maintaining a secure-functioning relationship and finding a partner that you can feel safe and open with.
According to PACT (Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy) co-founder Dr. Stan Tatkin, a secure-functioning relationship is an interpersonal system based on principles of true mutuality, collaboration, justice, fairness, and sensitivity. Partners stand together against the world and protect each other. A secure-functioning relationship acknowledges and celebrates your differences in mind, history, and drive. It relies on interdependence, where both partners take up the burden and care of each other in equal measure.
There are many benefits to a secure-functioning relationship. A secure-functioning relationship means you have an inherent knowledge of always having support from your partner. True mutuality, in turn, means you’re also truly seen and understood by your partner.
Hurts are repaired quickly for the benefit and care of both partners. You both chose a survival teammate, so you know your partner has your back and will protect you when needed.
A secure-functioning relationship is based on clearly defined boundaries. Understanding and respecting these boundaries for both partners breeds safety, security, interdependence, support, and happiness in your relationship.
These benefits create a healthy relationship foundation on which your connection can grow and thrive into long-term happiness.
Any long-lasting relationship requires consistent effort and energy input. It’s an on-going task to build and maintain the structure of your relationship. Regardless of which boundaries, rules, practices, and habits you build into your relationship, these behaviours should reflect you and your partner and guide you in taking care of the foundation of your relationship.
Here are 3 PACT relationship essentials to help you build a strong foundation with your partner:
1. Be present with your partner
It’s easy to drift away from your partner amid the demands of everyday life. It may be effortless to run parallel to each other, taking on roles of taxi driver or life manager instead of intimate loving partner. Your energy and communication centre around what needs to get done rather than one another. For example, when you will be home, what time to pick the kids up, which bills still need to be paid.
Taking the time to be present with your partner and in your relationship is a counterbalance to the busy pace of life. It’s crucial to make time for just each other, with no distractions and no technology.
Gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes every day for at least 30 seconds – and longer is even better. The goal is to be mentally and emotionally present, as this has a profound neurobiological effect that allows you to calm each other’s nervous system. This activity also amplifies positive feelings toward each other, evoking earlier phases of your relationship, where you likely did this without prompting.
2. Quickly repair after a fight
Even the strongest couples have disagreements and fights, but what distinguishes them is the decision to make amends after a dispute promptly. When you prioritise repairing after a row, you fix the hurt, relinquish resentments, and focus on enjoying life again.
Neurobiologically, it’s vital to repair after a fight swiftly. Otherwise, painful experiences and emotions can get coded into your long-term memory system, which can make recovering from future conflicts and disagreements more difficult.
How can you effectively repair after a fight?
· Listen to your partner
· Use empathy
· Validate their feelings and thoughts
· Take responsibility for your part in the problem
· Sincerely apologise
The delivery of your apology is paramount. Facing your partner directly and gazing lovingly into their eyes with a soft facial expression and a song-like cadence to your voice helps prevent agitation and arousal in your partner. In turn, this aids in their acceptance of your repair.
3. Remain tethered to each other
We are wired to be connected to others. So, it’s important to be available for and respond to your partner when they indicate they need you – this shows that they’re able to connect with you. Without this connection, your partner is liable to experience pain and distress.
Cutting off communication, shutting down, and withdrawing can be harmful to your relationship in both big and small ways. For instance, your partner initiates a conversation with you, but you’re focused on something else and not actively listening to them. Your partner will likely feel annoyed about not receiving your full attention and may abandon the attempt to connect with you.
A common way to deal with hurt in an argument is to shut down. This reaction is an attempt to protect your feelings or punish your partner, but it undermines the safety and security of your relationship. It’s an active step that fights against the person who has your back.
It’s your role to protect each other. This includes protecting your partner from yourself.
Make a point to be available for contact when you’re separate from each other. This doesn’t mean communication from your partner takes priority over everything, but it does mean you can be relied upon to connect when you have free time. Check-ins throughout the day help in maintaining safety and security in your relationship.
In all crucial matters, you need to be each other’s first resort. Don’t let other areas of your life infringe on your partner or relationship.
Relationship essentials are significantly more impactful to your relationship than occasional gestures and symbols. A secure-functioning relationship based on PACT principles provides safety and security for both partners. Developing and maintaining these practices continually contribute to long-term relationship happiness.
The post 3 Simple Tips to Build a Long-Lasting Relationship appeared first on Clinton Power + Associates.
The changes in our lives caused by Coronavirus are stressful. That stress will have an impact on our relationships as well. What do you do if you find your relationship buckling under the pressure of COVID-19? And what do you do if it’s time to break up? Think about it; be certain of your decision […] The post COVID Break-ups: How to End Your Relationship with Dignity appeared first on Clinton Power +...
The changes in our lives caused by Coronavirus are stressful. That stress will have an impact on our relationships as well. What do you do if you find your relationship buckling under the pressure of COVID-19? And what do you do if it’s time to break up?
We never make good decisions when we’re stressed or managing a crisis. So, if possible, avoid making big decisions in the middle of the pandemic. Take the time to really explore and think about if your relationship has reached its end.
The tension in your relationship may be a result of the conditions brought about by COVID-19, rather than relationship issues. Reflect on what is causing you to consider a break-up.
Being in the company of your partner 24/7 and learning you can’t handle the way they talk on the phone with work colleagues is a direct result of the pandemic. Being in isolation with your partner and finding that you don’t feel supported or secure is a relationship issue.
Discovering that your relationship has issues isn’t necessarily cause for a break-up either. It may be possible to work through your problems and strengthen your relationship.
If you find you and your partner cannot resolve your issues, explore what other options are available to you. Couples therapy may provide the assistance you need, and most couples therapists now offer online services to accommodate the restrictions of Coronavirus.
If you feel any uncertainty about breaking up, now is not the time to be deciding to end your relationship. Be sure and choose free of stressful circumstances before you break up your relationship.
Break-ups are challenging, regardless of the circumstances. The tension can be exacerbated if you’re cohabitating in a time of quarantine. These practices can lessen the strain during a break-up.
Be clear and honest about your feelings: Tell your partner how you feel and what you need. Your needs are real, and your emotions are valid, clear communication is the easiest way to understand the situation. Sharing your needs and feelings doesn’t mean telling your partner what they did wrong or tearing them down. It’s about expressing what you feel and need. “I” statements” are a great tool to communicate your needs.
Make a clean break: Be upfront about what you want, don’t beat about the bush, and don’t use a “soft break” to avoid the situation. Have a difficult conversation and be clear and intentional about what you want and need. This communication ensures everyone is on the same page and clearly understands the situation.
Physically separate: If possible, have one of you move in with another family member or different accommodation. Physical separation helps reduce tension and opportunities for conflict. Maintaining distance is also an essential aide in accepting the demise of the relationship and helps with the grieving process.
Don’t send mixed messages: Since you’ve chosen to end the relationship, your actions are most beneficial if they reflect that decision. Choosing to break-up and then showing romantic interest or encouragement will hurt and confuse the other person. Be respectful of the other person’s emotions.
Take responsibility for the decision: Be responsible for what it means to terminate a relationship, and the steps involved. Ending a relationship with no communication or explanation is painful. Be present and talk through the needs, changes, and expectations with the other person. These steps are especially vital if your break-up will impact others, such as children.
A critical difference between a break-up in quarantine and a break-up under normal circumstances is the likelihood of not being able to physically separate and get the space needed to properly grieve, accept, and adjust to the loss of the relationship.
It’s an essential step in a break-up to mourn its loss. This step can be challenging when we’re not able to go out and participate in regular activities to distract from the distress.
In addition to not having adequate separation or space to grieve, being nearby under tense emotional circumstances can make it challenging to function peacefully as roommates. Striking this balance and finding a healthy and respectful way to communicate and interact is vital to navigating a successful break-up in quarantine.
Here are some tips to ease tension and maintain civility during a break-up in isolation:
Don’t rehash relationship grievances: This is a time to put your grievances aside and focus on finding an adult way to co-exist. Restating old issues is likely to cause more harm. An effective way to co-exist harmoniously is to find a common goal to orient yourselves around and work toward it.
Look for opportunities for one of you to move out: This doesn’t mean jumping on the first available opportunity to get one of you out of the house. Both of you need to be in safe and secure lodging. Look for supportive people that you can stay with for the duration of the quarantine. Family members and sometimes friends can offer alternative accommodation after a relationship breakdown.
Postpone discussions while in quarantine: Avoid getting caught up in your drama – you can’t get away and get space if things blow up while you’re in quarantine. Wait to have sensitive and provoking discussions until you’re both in a position to get distance if emotions run too high. However, do discuss how to function while continuing to cohabitate, a concise discussion about the break-up, and establishing boundaries.
Finally, if you have children together, remember to put them first. Break-ups are painful and emotionally draining, but prioritising your kids over relationship grievances is essential for your children’s welfare. It also provides a common goal of maintaining unity within the family unit rather than focusing your energies on discord and hurt feelings.
Break-ups are hard regardless of the circumstances, but being quarantined together during one can be extra challenging. Avoid making big decisions under such stressful conditions, and only act with certainty. Be upfront, concise, and fair. Work together to reduce as much tension as possible and physically separate if you can. Put your children ahead of your grievances and focus on family first.
The post COVID Break-ups: How to End Your Relationship with Dignity appeared first on Clinton Power + Associates.
The coronavirus has changed our lives. With change comes stress. A big adjustment we’re dealing with is the additional stress on our relationships. Some couples are adapting and flourishing under this new stress, while others are coming undone as underlying issues are pushed to the forefront of the relationship while remaining unresolved. So how do […] The post How to Ensure Your Relationship Thrives During COVID-19 appeared first on Clinton Power +...
The coronavirus has changed our lives. With change comes stress. A big adjustment we’re dealing with is the additional stress on our relationships.
Some couples are adapting and flourishing under this new stress, while others are coming undone as underlying issues are pushed to the forefront of the relationship while remaining unresolved.
So how do we cope with the added stress and the confinement?
Surviving the relationship stress of coronavirus is a process. Identifying what factors are adding pressure to your relationship is a significant step in that process.
Change breeds stress. A lot of this stress comes from the new circumstance of being confined to your house. Talk about this with your partner. Acknowledge the ways you’re each dealing with the situation.
There isn’t one right way to deal with stress, so if you and your partner are handling the strain differently, that doesn’t make one of you wrong.
Use your words to talk about your feelings, worries, and fears. “I’m stressed” isn’t helpful when everyone is constantly feeling stress, but articulating what’s causing you stress, or what emotion is manifesting that pressure can be a useful release for you and your partner.
Here are some examples of how to talk about your stress in a useful way:
Keep an open mind. Almost everything about our day-to-day lives has changed, so the standards by which we measure things have to adjust as well. Be supportive of your partner, and remember to approach this as a unified team. You’re in this together, so make an effort to tackle it together.
Laugh. It’s so simple, it’s easy to overlook, but humour is a great way to ease tension.
In the wake of uncertainty and crisis, laughter can defuse conflict, and it’s essential to continue experiencing pleasure, especially in times when it is difficult to find. If something makes you laugh, share it with your partner. Laughing together reduces the negativity as a shared experience.
Of course, in this time of isolation, we’re all stressed and worried about the people who are important to us. Checking in regularly with loved ones is an easy way to reduce that stress and surround yourself with people who will promote positive emotions.
Check-ins also provide the opportunity to make sure others in your life are okay amid this high-stress situation. It’s essential to do this with the people you’re distanced from right now, but it’s also important to check-in with your partner.
There are a lot of new stress factors in the wake of coronavirus, but reducing the stress in your relationship will have a considerable impact on how you navigate through this crisis and manage the other stressful factors in your life.
Once you’ve managed your stress (well done, that’s a huge accomplishment!), then you can turn your focus from external factors to internal ones. Couples flourishing in isolation are spending time self-reflecting and being aware of positive things in their lives.
With everything in our daily lives changed, it’s an opportunity to reflect on what you miss and what you don’t. Thinking about why you miss the things you do is also essential. Many people and couples are finding that their lives were full of things that held no value for them. With the forced absence of so much, we can turn our attention to the things that matter to us.
To identify vital things, you have to be able to reflect on who you are as a person. Reflect on your life, both individually and as a couple. This reflection is an excellent opportunity to develop yourself as a person and to work on personal growth. Once you have a clear idea of who you are and what’s significant to you, you can prioritise those things in your life.
Don’t be surprised if the way you had things prioritised in your life isn’t the same as how you want to prioritise them now. Growth begets change, but unlike the change put upon you by the coronavirus, you have control over how your personal growth affects your life.
You’ve managed the stress. You’ve reflected on what’s important to you and shifted the things you want to prioritise in your life. Now you get to look forward to the future.
Maybe you’ve decided you want to spend more time with your family and less time at the office, or that you want to save up for a new cultural experience instead of a fancy car. Whichever way you’ve decided to reprioritise things in your life, there’s an exciting journey waiting for you at the end of this period of isolation.
Amid all the uncertainty the future holds, there are things that you’ll have control over, and implementing the items you want to prioritise in your life is one of them. Having something positive to focus on and look forward to in the future is an excellent way to manage stress about future uncertainty.
I was recently interviewed for “Cuppa with Kumi” on the ABC TV Instagram Live Channel to discuss how COVID-19 is impacting love and relationships.
Watch the replay of the Instagram Live below.
There’s no doubt that Coronavirus has put a lot of extra stress on our relationships, as with everything else in our lives. Managing that stress is imperative to maintaining a positive and healthy relationship.
Couples who are having the most success navigating this pandemic are taking this a step further and making time for reflection and collecting the positive things in their lives. Having a positive change to look forward to in a future of uncertainty helps keep a positive attitude.
The post How to Ensure Your Relationship Thrives During COVID-19 appeared first on Clinton Power + Associates.
Being in quarantine or isolation in a pandemic is difficult. Taking care of children during a time of isolation with no schooling institutions or daycare increases that challenge significantly. Being a separated couple or blended family with children during a pandemic is just plain hard. Unfortunately, this is the reality many of us are navigating […] The post How to Bring Separated Families Together in the Pandemic Lockdown appeared first on Clinton Power +...
Being in quarantine or isolation in a pandemic is difficult. Taking care of children during a time of isolation with no schooling institutions or daycare increases that challenge significantly. Being a separated couple or blended family with children during a pandemic is just plain hard.
Unfortunately, this is the reality many of us are navigating in our new lives in the wake of COVID-19. Routines get boggled, custody exchanges feel like a health risk, new responsibilities surface, and we’re more limited in how we can address, accommodate, and adapt to these changes than usual.
The thing that you have in common as a separated couple is your children. To assist in navigating these new challenges as a separated couple, focus on coming at the problems or changes with the attitude of always putting your children first. This way, you can work together to solve the issues you’re facing instead of fighting against each other to get what you want.
Finding common ground may seem complicated, but the goals you’re reaching toward are that common ground – taking care of your kids’ needs. Goal-oriented problem-solving is much easier when you’re working toward the same goal.
I recently spoke with my colleague, Family law mediator, Gloria Hawke. She’s seeing a sharp rise in families requiring mediation to help with parenting matters during the COVID-19 crisis.
Here are her tips on managing the increased stress and anxiety as a separated couple during the new reality of COVID-19:
Communication: Take the time to talk. The situation that you’re in now is new for both of you. It’s time to set past grievances aside and discuss the current circumstances. If this isn’t possible on your own, look to a trusted third person to assist in discussions.
Be open about your concerns and feelings, help the other parent understand what isolation looks like in your home. Different people have different health risks, work situations, financial pictures, house rules, and anxiety levels. Remember that just as everything in your life has changed, so too has everything in the other parent’s – you’re both in a new set of circumstances.
Advanced planning: Plan for the necessity of at-home schooling for the foreseeable future and determine who will manage which responsibilities. At-home education might include home tutoring and online extracurricular activities. Don’t forget to discuss who will pay for educational changes.
Raising concerns: Be direct about the COVID-19 risks that concern you. Remember, you’re working together to meet your children’s needs, now isn’t the time for blame or accusations. Focus on the issue, share your point of view, and ask the other person for theirs as well. Explain why you feel the way you do and provide background information to help the other parent understand. The goal is to come up with a solution you can both accept.
Extra comfort: Remember that your children, from toddlers to teens, are feeling stressed and worried by the circumstances of the pandemic as well. They may be needier right now. Providing in-person physical and verbal reassurance can help reduce their anxiety. Additional phone or video communication with friends and family can provide comfort and assurance as well.
Custody agreements: The Coronavirus is enough to make you want to keep your kids away from anyone and anything. However, it is important to stick to your custody agreement as much as possible at this time.
There has been a marked increase in distress in families and relationships in response to COVID-19.
Here are my tips on managing the tension and strain with your family during self-isolation:
Maintain routines: Keep the daily schedule as healthy and regular as possible. Wake up and go to bed at the same time, have family meals together, and have set work and relaxation times. These efforts create a sense of normalcy for the whole family.
Manage privacy: Having your own time and space away from others is just as important as time together. Create a shared space within the house where you go to connect and a private space where you can go to relax and not be interrupted.
Deal with conflict: When conflict does arise, look for areas of agreement and seek to repair any upsets quickly. Never let a fight run longer than 10-15 minutes. The focus isn’t on avoiding or not having conflict – it will happen. Instead, seek to resolve the dispute rather than letting it fester.
Create a culture of gratitude: Share daily appreciations with your partner and family. Keeping a positive perspective about small things in the day helps maintain a positive outlook on the bigger picture.
Watch the video below to see my interview with Gloria Hawke, where we discussed:
We’re all managing a large amount of change in our lives. The COVID-19 lockdown measures have disrupted the regular patterns of our lives. This change is especially challenging for families with separated parents. Focus on putting your children first, setting aside previous grievances with their other parent, and working together to meet your children’s needs. Reducing the amount of stress we experience related to COVID-19 benefits us all.
Clinton Power now provides all counselling services online via Zoom video conferencing. If you need help with starting or maintaining a relationship, contact Clinton Power + Associates on (02) 8968 9323 to find out how we can help.
About Gloria Hawke
Gloria Hawke is one of Sydney’s leading family law mediators, as rated in the Doyles guide 2019 and 2020 by her peers, family lawyers, and barristers.
Gloria has worked with many hundreds of families in her private practice helping them navigate parenting plans and financial settlements through separation and divorce.
Gloria coaches mediation students at both the College of Law and Relationships Australia and is one of the co-founders of the Mediation Collective.
Gloria has qualifications in interdisciplinary collaborative practice and works with families to help them avoid litigation and court wherever possible.
The post How to Bring Separated Families Together in the Pandemic Lockdown appeared first on Clinton Power + Associates.
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