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Relationship Matters

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  • Clinton Power
  • January 29, 2010 08:14:53 AM
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Relationship Matters provides relationship tips, advice, information and the latest research to help you create a great relationship!

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How to Use a Time-out to De-escalate Conflict in Your Relationship

All couples have disagreements and fights at one time or another. Conflicts happen in all relationships and that’s okay. It’s important to express your thoughts, feelings, and needs even if you’re unhappy. So, having conflict in your relationship is never the issue. What’s more important is how you manage the conflict and whether you repair […] The post How to Use a Time-out to De-escalate Conflict in Your Relationship appeared first on Clinton Power +...

relationship time-out

All couples have disagreements and fights at one time or another. Conflicts happen in all relationships and that’s okay.

It’s important to express your thoughts, feelings, and needs even if you’re unhappy. So, having conflict in your relationship is never the issue. What’s more important is how you manage the conflict and whether you repair quickly.

But sometimes in a disagreement you may find yourself so frustrated, overwhelmed, or angry that you feel like you’re going to explode. If you feel like demons are about to come out of your mouth, you’re going to say something hurtful to your partner, or you’re feeling so many emotions that you can’t think straight, this is the point when you need to step back and call a time-out.

What is a time-out?

A time-out isn’t just a cool down period for an angry five-year-old, it’s a constructive technique for conflict resolution.

A time-out is a simple and effective way to pause an emotional conversation before someone has an uncontrolled outburst. This is important because these outbursts can be hurtful and are not conducive to resolving the conflict. A time-out is a break in the conversation so that the partner who is losing control of their emotions can step away and calm down.

What happens when you fight?

Let’s talk about what happens in the brain that causes you to ‘flip our lid’ or lose control of your emotions.

In an emotionally charged situation, such as a disagreement or argument, you can experience a phenomenon called Diffuse Physiological Arousal (DPA).

DPA, also commonly known as ‘flooding’  exhibits all the same symptoms as a fight, flight, or freeze response.

One of the first signs that you’re becoming flooded is your heart-rate rises above 95 beats per minute (85 if you’re athletic). So, arguing with someone can trigger your “emotional brain” to hijack a situation from your “thinking brain” and react to the disagreement with a fight or flight response.

This feels overwhelming. You stop thinking, you are flooded with too much information, and you act without conscious decision. Physically, your heart rate will pick up, your breathing will become fast and shallow, and your palms may become sweaty. You will also feel like you are losing control.

Dr. Daniel Siegel has a great explanation for the process of what happens to the brain when you ‘flip your lid’. Watch his explanation in the video below.

When you start experiencing the physical symptoms of flooding or notice that you are having a hard time thinking clearly, that’s your body’s alarm system letting you know that you need to step back and take a time-out.

It’s important to not continue a disagreement if you are flooded with emotions because you lose the ability to think rationally. You become more prone to outbursts based on irrational emotions and your contribution to the disagreement will no longer be conducive to resolving the problem or constructively expressing your point of view. It’s best to take a time-out so you can calm down and then revisit the disagreement when you can once again be rational and focus on resolving the conflict.

How to take a time-out

Therapist Terry Real outlines a set of rules to help you execute a time-out in a way that will give you or your partner the space you need to calm down, while ensuring the conflict is still resolved in a way that addresses everyone’s needs.

  1. Initiate the time-out

 A time-out is initiated with a combination of verbal cues and gestures:

Verbal cues

  • “I need to take a break from this conversation.”
  • “Time-out.”

Non-verbal gestures

  • Making a T sign with your hands
  • Putting your hand(s) up, palm out, in front of your chest in a non-threatening manner

It’s important that once the time-out is initiated, it’s acted upon and respected by both people immediately. This means you both stop the discussion immediately. No last words, no more comments – the fight has stopped for now.

  1. Establishing a timeline for checking in

Agree on a time limit when both people agree to check back in with each other. A time-out should be no less than 20 minutes and no more than 24 hours. A best practice is to start small, and then if you need more time, communicate that at the end of the agreed upon time limit. Gradual increases for a time-out interval include:

  • 20-30 minutes
  • 1-2 hours
  • Half a day
  • A whole day
  • Overnight

If no time is discussed, have a mutual understanding that the default time apart is 20 minutes.

  1. Separate and focus on self-soothing

Once the time-out has been called, you then spend time away from each other.

Pick an activity that you find soothing and do that for the duration of the time-out in a space where you cannot see or hear the other person. It’s critical that you both focus on self-soothing during this time. Don’t go over the fight in your mind or rehearse what you want to say or wish you had said. Now is the time for calming yourself.

Some examples of self-soothing activities include:

  • listening to soothing music
  • walking the dog
  • reading a book
  • going for a run/bicycle ride or any exercise
  • watching a favourite show
  • meditating or breathing exercises
  • doing chores
  • stretching or yoga

It’s helpful to have a list of self-soothing activities that work for you handy, such as creating a list on your smartphone. Start with 10 activities that you can pick from whenever you feel flooded but feel free to keep adding to your list.

  1. Check-in

When the agreed upon time for the time-out is up, check-in with each other. This does not need to be face-to-face, it could be on the phone.

The check in does not mean the time-out is over – it means it’s time to check with each other and see if everyone is calm and collected, or if more time is needed to cool off. If you’re still flooded with emotions and feel out of control, extend the time-out. If you started with 20 minutes, move up to the next time interval and have another check-in in an hour.

  1. Resolve the conflict

A time-out is not the conclusion of an argument. Once you have calmed down, you do need to revisit the disagreement and resolve the conflict in an effective manner.

However, the subject that triggered the initial argument should not be discussed for at least 24 hours after reconnecting. Give yourselves some time to focus on your relationship, above and beyond the disagreement.

Conclusion

Arguing with your partner is normal and healthy. It’s an important step to communicating conflicting points of view. However, getting so worked up that you can’t control yourself in an emotionally charged situation is not healthy and sometimes it’s not safe if the fight escalates.

If you feel like you’re about to lose control or you feel flooded with emotions, call a time-out. This is a safe and respectful way to give yourself time to calm down and prevents disagreements from becoming harmful. It allows you to revisit the subject when you can both be rational and calm and resolve the conflict peacefully.

Do you need relationship help?

If you need help with your relationship, contact Clinton Power + Associates on (02) 8968 9323 to discuss your situation and find out how we can help.

The post How to Use a Time-out to De-escalate Conflict in Your Relationship appeared first on Clinton Power + Associates.


A Beginners Guide to Casual Relationships

To understand how to build a casual relationship that fits your wants and needs, you first need to understand what a casual relationship is; the word casual can mean different things to different people. What is a casual relationship? A casual relationship is an emotional and physical relationship between two people that may include sex […] The post A Beginners Guide to Casual Relationships appeared first on Clinton Power +...

casual relationships

To understand how to build a casual relationship that fits your wants and needs, you first need to understand what a casual relationship is; the word casual can mean different things to different people.

What is a casual relationship?

A casual relationship is an emotional and physical relationship between two people that may include sex and might not include the commitments of a traditionally committed relationship. This is a good starting point because it’s simple, clear, and allows you to build boundaries that fit your wants and needs into the relationship. This is important because every relationship is different, even the casual ones.

There is no definition or set of rules that will work for everyone. A successful relationship is built on mutually agreed upon boundaries and expectations. Casual relationships are often easier because the relationship isn’t the top priority in the lives of the people involved; it doesn’t require as much time or maintenance as a committed relationship.

A casual relationship is not a relationship where you don’t talk about the relationship or what is going on in the relationship. It is healthy to talk about your relationship, even if you aren’t in love, don’t want to spend the rest of your lives together, or don’t want to be emotionally invested.

Why have a casual relationship?

There are many reasons you might be considering a casual relationship. It can be about anything from casual sex to the framework that best fits the amount of time you are willing to put into a relationship. Sometimes it’s because you are not ready to be heavily emotionally invested in a relationship or because you are looking for something to satisfy your needs right now but don’t want a relationship that may grow into the future.

This is not an exhaustive list. There are many other reasons to be in a casual relationship and these reasons do not need to exist independently of one another. A person may choose to be in a casual relationship for one or a combination of these reasons. As with any relationship, it’s all about building the relationship that meets your needs.

Is a casual relationship right for you?

If you’ve never been in a casual relationship before, it’s hard to know if it’s the right kind of relationship for you. Let’s look at some of the benefits and drawbacks of a casual relationship:

Benefits of casual relationships

  • More time for just you. In a casual relationship, the relationship is not the biggest priority in your life. As such, you have more time to focus on you and the things you need to be happy and take care of yourself. There is less emphasis on taking care of the other person’s needs. If you like always taking care of your partner, talking through everything together, and being there for all of their emotional needs, this probably isn’t the right relationship for you.
  • Your life can be less complicated. A casual relationship is simpler than a committed relationship. When a relationship gets complicated, it requires more time and effort to work through things. Casual relationships don’t require that time or maintenance. If you thrive off working through difficult situations with your partner, a casual relationship is probably not the best fit for you.
  • You can explore non-monogamy. This means you may not be seeing one person exclusively. Both you and your partner may be seeing other people. This works if you want to keep your options open, or if you’re just looking to have some fun. This might not work if you want to be with one person and you want that person to only be with you.
  • You can focus on the now. Casual relationships are not about building a future together. They’re focused on enjoying and appreciating what’s happening now. If you want someone to enjoy the moment with you, a casual relationship might be for you. If you want to grow into a future in your relationship, a casual relationship won’t meet those needs.
  • See people when it suits you. Casual relationships typically don’t involve talking everyday or rearranging your schedule to make time for the other person. A casual relationship generally works on whatever timelines are convenient for both of you. If you want to spend a lot of time with your partner and are willing to move things around in your life to make more time for the other person, you are probably looking for more than a casual relationship.

Drawbacks of casual relationships

  • You may feel jealous. Since casual relationships can often be non-exclusive, there isn’t room for jealousy. If you’re the jealous type, casual relationships probably aren’t for you.
  • Your emotional needs may not be met. Casual relationships are not emotionally heavy. They can be fun and you probably like the other person on some level, but emotions don’t have to come into it. This is great if you don’t want to get your emotions involved, but it also means the other person isn’t investing their emotions in you.
  • You may not feel supported. A casual relationship is not about being there for the other person and helping them through difficult situations. A casual partner is not someone to expect to be a reliable source of emotional support.
  • Your feelings may not be reciprocated. One person may develop stronger feelings for the other in a casual relationship. Since the aim of casual relationships is not to build a lasting relationship with a future, feelings can be hard to deal with, as they are often not wanted by both parties. One person can often end up with unrequited feelings.

So, how do you build the casual relationship that’s right for you? These 5 tips will help you to create the framework for the casual relationship that you want.

5 tips for building the casual relationship that’s right for you

1. Be clear in what you want and need

To do this, you need to know what you want and need from the relationship. Once you know your wants and needs, communicate that to the other person. For example:

  • I’d be interested in meeting a couple of times a week, but I don’t really have time for more than that
  • I want to be able to talk about our individual lives and get to know each other a little
  • I need someone who can respect that my work and family come first for me
  • I need someone who can be open with me about their wants and needs
  • I don’t like to use social media or text messaging, but you can call me anytime you want to talk

2. Outline your expectations

The expectations in a casual relationship will not be the same as the expectations in a committed relationship. In fact, there may not be any expectations in a casual relationship. Avoid making assumptions about the ground rules in the relationship; instead, establish the ground rules you want to use by outlining your expectations. For example:

  • The relationship will be open, with the option of seeing other people
  • If either of us become sexually involved with someone else, we will tell the other
  • If one of us decides they don’t want to do this anymore, they will at least call and tell the other

After you’ve laid out your expectations, they need to be agreed upon by the other person for them to become ground rules.

3. Communicate if something changes

As with all relationships, casual relationships aren’t rigid. You change, feelings change, life changes. If something changes, communicate that to the other person. For example:

  • I got a promotion at work, I know we’ve been seeing each other once or twice a week, but I won’t have that much time anymore. Are you okay with seeing each other once every couple of weeks, instead?
  • I’m not really interested in seeing other people anymore. I would rather be in an exclusive relationship than the open one we originally talked about. Would you be comfortable with that?
  • I enjoy spending time with you but I’m not really interested in a casual relationship anymore.

4. Use clear, honest communication

If you are communicating in a way that causes people to ask “What does that mean?” then you are not communicating clearly. Make sure both people can easily understand what you’re expressing. Be honest with yourself about what you want and then be honest with the other person about those things, too. It will only be hurtful later on if you express things because you think that’s what they want to hear, instead of what you really want or feel.

5. If you don’t know, talk about it

If you are unclear about something in your relationship, get clarity by asking or talking to the other person. Assuming or guessing what something means won’t give you and clear understanding and opens the way for miscommunications and confusion. For example:

  • Would you be comfortable if we texted about more than coordinating meetings?
  • How would you feel about being invited to an event with some of my friends?
  • I thought we agreed to an open relationship; I want to make sure we are on the same page about that.

Listen to Clinton speak on ABC Radio about casual relationships

I was recently interviewed on triple j radio about the pros and cons of casual relationships. Click the player below to listen to my comments.

The take-away

Casual relationships aren’t right for everyone, and they may not be right for you. That’s okay. Every person and every relationship is different. Whether you want to explore this kind of relationship, develop new ways to have casual relationships, or just learn more about how they work it’s important to make sure you are building a relationship that is right for you and takes care of your needs.

Do you need relationship help?

If you need help with your relationship, contact Clinton Power + Associates on (02) 8968 9323 to discuss your situation and find out how we can help.

 

The post A Beginners Guide to Casual Relationships appeared first on Clinton Power + Associates.


How to Know When it’s Time to Break Up

How do you know when you should break up your relationship? It’s a question that doesn’t have an easy answer, yet it’s something many of us with a history of relationships have grappled with at one time or another. Many people think that a relationship counsellor only helps couples stay together. But in my 16 […] The post How to Know When it’s Time to Break Up appeared first on Clinton Power +...

time to bre

How do you know when you should break up your relationship?

It’s a question that doesn’t have an easy answer, yet it’s something many of us with a history of relationships have grappled with at one time or another.

Many people think that a relationship counsellor only helps couples stay together. But in my 16 years of working with relationship problems, I’ve also helped my fair share of couples break up.

Breakups can occur for a range of reasons, and sometimes it’s because there’s been so much hurt and betrayal in the relationship, the couple has gone past the point of no return by the time they enter couples therapy.

In fact, alarming research shows the average couple waits 6 years from the start of a problem before seeking professional help (and many couples never seek help.)

One of the sad reasons for this terrible statistic is there is still stigma associated with reaching out for help and accessing professional therapy services when your relationship is in trouble. I have seen this stigma reduce somewhat over the years of my professional life, but we still have some way to go.

Why do relationships break up?

Sex and relationship therapist Esther Perel says the 4 core reasons a relationship ends are:

  1. Indifference: feeling like you don’t care about your partner, or your partner doesn’t care about you anymore.
  2. Neglect: this often occurs when everything else in life gets prioritised other than your relationship and you no longer feel valued or important to your partner.
  3. Contempt: this is the degradation of your relationship through talking down to your partner with superiority or disgust
  4. Violence: when Esther says violence she is referring to micro-aggressions, not physical violence where your safety is at risk. Violence often shows up through taking your partner for granted and expecting they will treat bad treatment because they are ‘family.’

Have a listen to her speak about this on the short video below.

I recently spoke on ABC Radio about how to know if it’s time to break up. It was an interesting conversation where we had listeners call in and share their experiences of breaking up, as well as ask me questions on this topic.

Have a listen to my interview below, or you can read the transcript below the audio player.

Click the play button below to listen to Clinton Power on ABC Radio speaking about how to know if you should break up your relationship.

Transcript of audio interview:

Nat Tencic Hey, I’m Nat Tencic.

We know that relationship advice is full of messages like it’s not always gonna be easy and you gotta work at it. But how are you meant to know when you’re better off just walking away? How did you know when it was time to end a relationship?

And I want to talk a little bit more about this with some experts to break down exactly how you know and how you can recognise these feelings. I’m joined on The Hookup by a psychologist Gemma and Clinton Power, both of you, welcome to The Hook Up.

Clinton Power Thanks. Good to be here.

Nat Tencic Yeah, it’s always a pleasure to have you guys.

We got a text in here from Emily. She says this speaks to me on such a personal level. I broke up with my serious partner after watching that Daniel Sloss stand up special I mentioned earlier. The one that’s broken up a whole sea of couples. And she says that it became so clear that I was more into the idea of us being together than us actually being together. So I just couldn’t do that to him anymore.

Nat Tencic Clinton why do we have a tendency to dwell on the past and how does that disconnect start to happen with the person we’re with in the present?

Clinton Power I think that really comes down to physiology, Nat. You’ve probably heard of the negativity bias in the brain; that the brain is Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive experiences.

So, the dilemma is when we get hurt in the past, when we experience pain we remember that and when it happens with someone we love it can be a challenge to get over it because we’re kind of drawn, even just on that neurological level, we’re drawn back to painful experiences and sometimes we keep reliving them over and over again unless you really repair that well as a couple. It can be hard to move forward.

Nat Tencic Clinton,  what are some of the other warning signs that a relationship is maybe starting to peter out.

Look I think there are a lot of warning signs. If you’re noticing your mental health is deteriorating that can be quite an obvious warning sign. If you’re feeling depressed and moody, if you’re feeling anxious all the time and it’s directly related to your partner and what’s going on in your relationship that can be a warning sign that something is not healthy in your relationship that you need to have a look at.

I’m stating the obvious here but if there’s any kind of abuse whether that’s ongoing verbal abuse, psychological abuse, emotional, physical or sexual, they’re some of the most extreme and serious warning signs to watch out for in a relationship that it may not be a good relationship for you and potentially you need to leave.

Nat Tencic Oh well absolutely. In that case in particular if something is dysfunctional and it’s not working that’s really important. And if that’s kind of bringing up to you. Anything for you as well. We’ll get into it in a moment here on the hook up on triple j but Lifeline is also there 13 11 14.

I’m speaking with psychologists Gemma and Clinton Power about how to know when you should end a relationship and when it’s time to call it. And obviously I think feelings are a really hard thing to go on but they’re kind of all you have to go on. But at what point do you do you need to be sceptical of your feelings? How do you approach and treat some of your more extreme kind of vibes on things?

Clinton Power All couples have ups and downs good days bad days. Every couple has a conflict. If you’re not having conflict sometimes I worry about those couples more than the ones that are fighting. But the important thing is what are you doing with that. Like are you making movements to repair to get things back on track to make up with each other?

We know the strongest couples do experience conflict, they do have disagreements and they’ll have tough times but they have intentions to make up get things back on track relatively quickly. And that’s just a part of all healthy relationships.

But if those kinds of feelings and experiences are going on for long periods of time and you’re not starting that repair process or there’s just ongoing distress there can be a serious sign that the relationship is not healthy for you.

Nat Tencic Nat Tencic is my name and we’re talking about how you know when it’s time to break up. Sometimes timing’s really difficult sometimes just like actually working out what your feelings are really difficult and sometimes there’s just so much more in the mix that you’ll consider to stay with somebody.

I’m with psychologist Gemma and psychologist Clinton Power taking your questions tonight. Got a question for you here guys. This one says when I was with my girlfriend I was bored and I just didn’t feel much towards her. But then once we go into a break or decide to break up I want to be together again. I want her back. Am I just scared of not having her or do I just need to push through those feelings instead of all those feelings of missing her?

Clinton Power It’s so hard to know isn’t? I mean it could be a number of things whether it’s this guy is idealising his partner so when he’s away and it’s very easy to do that. And we’ve talked about this in long distance relationships you start to only think about the best qualities of your partner and even amplify them in some ways. And that can happen when you’re apart and then you start to long and yearn for the person. And then, as he says, if he spends time with her then he gets bored. Well if that’s happening consistently, that’s a pretty strange feeling to have with someone you supposedly care about.

Nat Tencic Absolutely. There’s a question here that says has going on a break ever worked to make the relationship better? Or is it just a stepping stone to an actual breakup?

Well I guess it’s maybe a little bit of what Helen’s feeling there or the kind of situation she might see as something to help her feeling a wandering. Do relationship breaks actually work, Clinton?

Clinton Power  No that’s a great question. I’m in two minds about this. I hear people say this to me all the time.

I think that sometimes a temporary separation can work but it needs to be time-limited. You have to have really clear boundaries and agreements about how is it going to work and what is the intention of the temporary temporary separation.

Are we going to be dating? Are we going to be working on our relationship while we’re apart? If this is a temporary separation to see other people, I don’t see those ones working very well. And sometimes a temporary separation is actually a soft breakup. It’s just a way to go, “I’m just gonna ease myself out of this relationship in a gentle way and hopefully none of our feelings will get hurt.”

Nat Tencic It’s yeah it seems like kind of one of those things that you should really you know maybe take it for what it is. But breaking up is hard. And you know we’ve talked about a few of the reasons why breaking up Is hard and that’s why you might not let yourself know that it’s time to break up. Whether those things, as we were sort of talking a little bit about before, the fear of the unknown or the fear of being by yourself. It could be also the fear of hurting that person’s feelings. How do you kind of push past that Clinton?

Clinton Power Look I absolutely agree with you breaking up is hard to do. I know I know there’s a song called that but it’s very true because it is about endings. It’s about farewells and goodbyes and frankly most people are very uncomfortable with that. People find saying goodbye difficult.

And of course when there’s been love, deep affection and love, and you’ve shared a history and particularly if you’ve been together many, many years, it’s a big loss. You’re saying goodbye to a lot.

And people handle it in different ways. You know some people put it on a ‘post it’ note. Some people send a text message and those people were generally trying to avoid the pain and the hurt. And then you’ve got the other end of the spectrum. If you think back to Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin all those years ago and doing the ‘Conscious Uncoupling,’  they had a whole kind of therapy process around saying goodbye in a very authentic apparently – I wasn’t there – but very authentic and real way where they just honoured the past. And this is a great way of thinking about how you can end a relationship. That you can do with integrity, face-to-face, eye-to-eye and also celebrate the positive aspects of the relationship that even though the relationship is ending it doesn’t mean it was a failure.

Nat Tencic Yeah, do a bit of a “thank you, next” and be so grateful for your ex.

That’s the hook-up on triple j at 10. Nat Tencic with you. Dominique in Cairns, what’s your question for Clinton?

Dominque So my question is I’m in a long-distance relationship. I’ve been engaged with the person for about two years and he’s been unfaithful to me for quite some time but he still wants to continue the relationship and wants me to move back over to Canada. What do you feel about that?

You know it’s been it’s been great for that period of time and we both haven’t been you know perfect people their relationship. I guess it’s just me trying to figure out whether I should you know they move overseas and leave my friends and family here and sacrifice. I’m compromising a lot more than what he would be doing.

Clinton Power There’s a there’s a lot at stake. Have you considered doing couples therapy with this with your partner – with your fiancee?

Dominque I’m here in Canada and I’m in Australia.

Clinton Power Yes, when when you when you reunite. You see the thing about infidelity is it has a huge impact on relationships. And from my experience if you want to want the relationship to thrive it can be really challenging to get through that on your own without professional help. Depending of course on what type of infidelity it was. But you know a lot of couples don’t survive infidelity when they try to get through it on their own. So it might be something I want to consider.

Nat Tencic Dominque, I hope that helps a little bit. Thanks for the call.

Dominque Thank you so much.

Nat Tencic A lot of conversation tonight has centred around this desire not to be selfish. That there’s guilt about looking out for yourself and your feelings and that we’re told, “Well you know what. It’s not nice to them. You got to stick it out.”.

Like we did have somebody text in here kind of on this point that says, “one thing I always see people overlooking is whether or not they’re making their partner happy because it’s one thing to question whether or not they make you happy but are you giving all and striving to be a positive impact in their life?”.

Where does this come from that we don’t actually want to look after or look out for ourselves or we find it quite difficult or feel guilty about actually looking out for our own needs?

Clinton Power I’m not sure where it comes from Nat but I think it’s a universal human dilemma that I hear there is this the dilemma of “how can I be me and be with you?” And I think we all experience it in relationships and then part of that is how can I be myself and be independent and have my own interests and sometimes it’s about wanting to be separate and have freedom and also be with you and know that at times when you know we want to be close we want to be intimate. There’s that pull together and I know a lot of couples struggle on that spectrum of moving between the pull to be very close and intimate and the need for autonomy and separateness. I don’t think there’s any easy answer for it.

Nat Tencic It’s a real hard balance to strike. But you’ve got to. That’s a thing like you do still have to kind of look out for your mental health. You’re the one who has to live with you. You know what I mean? That’s kind of what I came to in this whole thing. Nick has called in and you and your partner ended things and you tried. You tried the working option. How did that work out for you?

Nic Really, really badly. So we were together for about 18 months and I feel like he sort of stopped putting in effort after maybe ten months, like that honeymoon period sort of ended and I felt like he’d stop putting in effort. So I was sort of compensating for him as well as just keeping up my end of the bargain. And it felt like I was fighting like a losing battle pretty much. And we actually ended up going overseas together and we had a really great time. And I thought, “Great. This is fixed, this is done. All good.” And then just under a month after we got back he decided to call a break. We were on a break for three months which I really shouldn’t have committed to. And then he ended up breaking up with me.

Nat Tencic Yeah. Yeah. Clinton, you wanna weigh in on that?

Clinton Power Yeah tough. That sounds like, as I was mentioning before, the soft the soft breakup. And I think just in terms of general themes of some of your callers, one of the most important things when you start to have some of these feelings and even if you know that you’re contemplating the possibility of breaking up is that it’s really essential to talk to your partner about this. And it can be a tough conversation but that’s the starting point – the first place you want to go because that’s – even with those tough conversations you never know where it’s going to go. You know you never know without talking to your partner what’s possible and can the two of you negotiate or work something out that actually works for both of you. Even when it appears sometimes that it can’t or even maybe it looks like a dealbreaker from the outside.

Nic Yeah.

Nat Tencic So is it worth getting back together and trying to do the work if those feelings still linger or you know like what do you think?

Nic That’s like my main question.

Nat Tencic Yeah. Clinton, you want a way out weigh in on this?

Clinton Power It is an interesting dilemma. It’s not until you have a complete break from someone – a complete separation – where you can really test the reality of what is it like not to have this person in my life.

And it sounds like you are in a bit of a limbo because you’re not together but you’re also in contact. So it is a tricky one. I don’t have a simple answer for you but you know you can try one or the other. You either have a complete break with no contact or you spend more time together and you can use that as an experiment and just see what is it like. What do you notice about how you feel we know how you feel about yourself and the two of you together? What was that like? And then at least you have more data to kind of make a decision.

Nic So true.

Nat Tencic Definitely worth exploring. Hey thanks so much for the call. Thank you so much.

Nat Tencic It’s the hook up on triple j and I’m so sorry we didn’t get to all your calls and texts tonight and talking about how to break up but there’s been so much wisdom coming through on the text line I really appreciate you being involved in the conversation tonight. Thanks heaps to Gemma and Clinton Power psychologists joining me on our panel tonight. Thanks so much for being here guys.

Do you need relationship help?

If you need help with your relationship, contact Clinton Power + Associates on (02) 8968 9323 to discuss your situation and find out how we can help.

 

The post How to Know When it’s Time to Break Up appeared first on Clinton Power + Associates.


The Best Advice for Anyone in a Long-distance Relationship

Whoever said long-distance relationships aren’t hard has undoubtedly never been in one. Long-distance relationships are becoming more common for many couples due to ‘fly in, fly out’ (FIFO) work, the massive increase in people travelling overseas, and the globalisation of today’s world where living and working in another state or country is easier to achieve […] The post The Best Advice for Anyone in a Long-distance Relationship appeared first on Clinton Power +...

best advice for long distance relationships

Whoever said long-distance relationships aren’t hard has undoubtedly never been in one.

Long-distance relationships are becoming more common for many couples due to ‘fly in, fly out’ (FIFO) work, the massive increase in people travelling overseas, and the globalisation of today’s world where living and working in another state or country is easier to achieve than ever before.

But with a long-distance relationship comes lots of unique challenges for a couple. Some couples survive, and other couples don’t last the distance. So why is this?

I recently spoke on the ABC Radio show, The Hookup, to share some of my best advice for long-distance relationships and to discuss if they can work.

In this interview with Nat Tencic, we discussed:

  • why long-distance relationships can be so hard and how to know if it’s worth having one
  • the big mistakes couples make when in a long-distance relationship
  • how to prepare for a long-distance relationship
  • the difference between a long-distance relationship in the same country vs. an international separation
  • whether an open relationship is a smart move when you’re in a long-distance relationship
  • how to manage the need for physical closeness in an open relationship
  • the value of quality communication and avoiding over-communication
  • how to prepare for a partner living with you again after a long period apart

We had some interesting callers that shared their long-distance relationship stories, and I shared tips for helping couples navigate this challenging area.

You can listen to the audio of the interview or read a copy of the transcript below.

Click the player below to listen to the interview of Clinton on ABC radio:


Read the transcript of this interview below:

Nat Tencic Hey it’s Nat Tencic with you.

If you’ve had to be away from your partner for any amount of time. You know it’s pretty hard but what do you do when you’re at a long distance for the long haul? I want to help you with long distance relationships tonight and making the wrong distance go all right.

Are you finding long distance really tough right now? And that’s what we’re talking about right now long-distance relationships.

I’m currently in a state of long distance and thankfully it’s about to end but it sucks and I wish we’d been better prepared for how difficult it would be.

Some of your questions and comments coming in – Tilly says the timing of this show tonight is either terrible or amazing because me and my boyfriend have been in a long-distance relationship for about a year and a half since he joined the army. He’s in Brisbane. I’m in Wollongong. I’m on my way home now from visiting him this weekend to wish him well on his deployment for the next eight months. I’m already feeling incredibly heart sore and scared about the whole thing but I’m hopeful it’ll go quickly and he’ll get home safe.

Heart goes out to you Tilly. And Lucy says, “shout out to my long-distance boyfriend Morgan from Perth. He’s going to be in Melbourne next week. I miss you and I can’t wait to see you.”

Oh, it’s making me really, really want to see my partner again and we’re talking about it now. Yeah, because I’m going through it. You’re going through it and to help us out a bit with this pretty crappy time honestly, is our relationship counsellor and friend of the show Clinton Power. Clinton welcome to The Hook Up.

Clinton Power G’day, Nat. Great to be here.

Nat Tencic Yeah, it’s really great to be with you. Now as we know they say long distance is the wrong distance. I mean I could tell you why it sucks so much but from your standpoint as a professional why does it suck so much?

Clinton Power Well, look, inherently there are so many challenges even as some of those people calling in and contacting the show are saying because the normal progression of a relationship is disrupted.

You know when you meet someone in the same city you start to date, you see each other on a regular basis, you get to know each other and then suddenly when you’ve got a huge distance between you and your new love everything in a way the breaks go on.

So all those things are those routines and rituals of connection suddenly get interrupted and you have to kind of find creative ways to continue the development of your relationship.

But the good news is technology is your friend today. I remember I had a love interest back in the 80s – I was in London and my love interest was in Sydney and we had to send letters and you’d wait seven or ten days for them to write back and it was just absolutely so painful. But now with technology it is so much easier to stay in touch. And there are pros and cons for that.

Nat Tencic Yeah, you saying that made me think long distance is nothing new. Like wartime letters being written to each other and all that sort of thing but it’s so much easier now at least you can see someone’s face when you’re talking to each other.

What are some of the big mistakes you can make get getting into a long-distance situation but there’s a few mistakes you can make?

Clinton Power I think one of them is not making plans to visit because the research shows that relationship quality is actually affected by how certain the partners are that they’re going to reunite.

So, if you go to long periods of time and you don’t have plans to visit or you don’t have that next trip booked in, it can really affect your relationship satisfaction.

And the other thing that happens over time is you idealise your partner but we also know the partners who sees each other less frequently they actually idealise each other more and and the interesting thing here is that that actually can leads to greater likelihood of breakup. So you kind of want some idealisation like thinking of your partner in a really positive way. But if there’s too much you can actually be dangerous for the relationship.

Nat Tencic Yeah right. There’s a question that’s coming in for you on the text line. This one says similar to Dan who called in a little earlier, “I’m considering moving to the UK for a couple of years when my girlfriend’s visa is up but I have a really good job here in Sydney that might be hard for me to transfer over there. I’d be sacrificing a bit of the progression I’ve made with my career here. What should I do?”.

Clinton Power That’s a tough one isn’t it, Nat? The question is is that a deal breaker? And sometimes there are deal breakers that no matter which way you go the relationship just can’t survive you know. And other issues can be negotiated and work through. So, it’s very much on an individual basis when it comes to those big life decisions.

Nat Tencic Rob had gotten in touch with us during the week and he’s got a question for you. Here’s Rob.

Rob Hi I’m Rob. My fiancée’s moving away. Most likely this ends this year for work which is stressful on its own but we’re also in an open relationship and just wondering how best to prepare for that.

Nat Tencic What do you think, Clinton?

Clinton Power Okay. That can be a tricky combination. I think open relationships had the best of times can be challenging. And you know you need to have great communication, really clear boundaries, and I think when it comes to long distance relationships this is even more amplified. You have to be really clear about how is this going to work. And and you need to communicate what the boundaries are. So essentially you can keep the primacy of your your main relationship at the forefront.

And I think sometimes when there’s distance it can be more problematic when it comes to negotiating an open relationship, only because you know the threat of jealousy is is much higher.

Nat Tencic So just keeping things really open and saying this is exactly what I’ve done. And this is what we’re doing. What can I do?

Clinton Power Yeah, every couple needs to develop really their own ground rules. A mutual understanding of how it’s going to work but communication is really essential and even the best couples, the strongest couples that have open relationships still run into problems sometimes.

Nat Tencic Do you think it’s like if you have the open relationship tack here that it can help in a way because you’re satisfying like that need for physical closeness that you’re not getting from your partner or does it just throw more spanners in the works?

Clinton Power Well it can do. And for some couples that are really robust and maybe you know the foundations are really solid, they can negotiate that and be okay with that. A.

And then there are other couples, maybe even one partner in the couple that may feel very threatened by that and actually having an open relationship may not be the best way to go because the safety and security of the relationship is undermined.

Nat Tencic It’s the Hookup on triple j. I’m Nat Tencic, and we’re with relationship counsellor Clinton Power. We’re talking all about long distance relationships and how to make the wrong distance just a little bit better. And some people are asking and Riley has a question for you, Clinton, and a few people mentioned this whether you just you go ahead with it or not.

Riley says I’m going away to America for six months in May and my girlfriend is still studying while I’m away. Should I keep a relationship or let it go? What would be best? I mean the question essentially is like is long distance worth it?

Clinton Power These are just kind of make or break questions are they. It really depends on the strength of the relationship. I mean if you have a really strong robust relationship now and and then you’re going to be apart for a period of then it’s very possible to do.

I mean look at FIFO workers – lots of people who are married and suddenly one partner becomes a FIFO worker and you know every month they’re away for three weeks or even longer. So, you can you can negotiate. But what we do know is the really essential thing is you need to have relationship certainty. So even if you’re going to be away for six months like Riley, you need to know when will you next be seeing each other. Because one of the worst things that can happen is just not having any plans, not having a definite time to meet, and the relationships that don’t tend to make the long-distance ones are the ones where they’re open ended. There are just no plans. There’s no long-term plans and a plan for an end. And so, I think that’s essential.

Nat Tencic Contact us if you have a question right now on the Hookup about long distance relationships. Jeremy from Ballarat you’ve called in and you were talking about being away for work. That’s kind of your situation, Right?

Jeremy It’s not as much now as it was but when I first got married to my wife I was in the army and we only spent three months of our first 12 months of marriage together, if that.

Nat Tencic Yeah and how did you make it through? What were your some of your strategies?

Jeremy We communicated a lot. So, we had at times three different lines of communication. So, we would send each other letters or packages in the mail. We emailed and we also had phone calls and instant messages. I think we spent too much time doing that because we run out of things to talk about.

So, if I was to go away again, I think we would actually leave it to maybe one phone call a week just because we would sit on the phone for ages there’s nothing to say.

Nat Tencic Yeah. I feel that pretty hard actually because I’ve had a few calls with my partner where we’ve sort of been like. All right well, what’s going on? Still on the phone now. So, Clinton, what do you think about maybe giving yourself more to talk about and creating more distance.

Clinton Power I think that’s important – your first caller Dan, alluded to this as well – is that even though with all the technology and it’s so easy to instantly communicate now I think there is a danger that you can actually over-communicate and this is this is what some of your callers are saying is that because it’s so easy to contact each other and you start to have so much communication.

One, you run out of things to say. But also, the quality of the communication it may not be as good because maybe you’re washing the dishes, or you’re kind of half watching TV and you’re half communicating and so that the quality of that connection is really disrupted.

You might be better off just setting aside a certain time where you could be 100 percent present really connected and the quality is improved. Ot the other alternative is you can do mutual things like you know games or quizzes, playing Words with Friends. That’s one way you can maintain the contact maybe you’re chatting at the same time but you’re not having all of this white noise going on because you don’t know what to say.

Nat Tencic I’m Nat Tencic and I’m joined by relationship counsellor Clinton Power and we’re trying to help you with your long-distance woes.

A shout out to this one, who says my girlfriend just left three days ago to work rurally for three months and it’s already pretty hard.

 She’s in Australia from the UK on a working holiday and I miss the cuddling, the watching Netflix together on the couch, and seeing each other when we’ve had a shit day. She left me a bunch a little present hidden in my in my apartment which makes me miss him more but it reassures me that she loves me and is thinking of me.

That’s really cute. If you have a story like that to get in touch. Clinton, there is a question or a comment here rather from Megan and I’d like to put it to you.

She says, “I found my sex drive has really diminished from my boyfriend frequently being away for months at a time.” One of the big problems with long distance relationships is the lack of physicality and the sexual frustration that’s in it. How can you keep things alive and sexually happening while your super far apart?

Clinton Power Yeah this is a challenge, Nat. Look again I think this is where technology is definitely your friend because of that instant communication.

What I recommend to couples in this kind of situation is create a private channel that’s just for the two of you to really support your erotic life. So, you don’t use this for anything else. You can choose what the channel is.

It might be just one dedicated e-mail address you both have access to; it could be a WhatsApp channel. But the really important thing is that nothing else is in this channel except the two of you connecting erotically, emotionally, really making this a special place.

So you know you’re not you’re not going to say, “oh the credit card bill just came in” in this channel. You can do that in other channels. But I think that’s important because I’d recommend this to couples who live in the same city as well because this is the upside of a really difficult situation.

You can reconnect with the lost art of writing love letters or even sexy letters – it doesn’t matter  – but you can build anticipation, you can you know you can share your innermost thoughts and fantasies. There’s a real opportunity here to to open up in a way that if you’re sitting on the sofa with your partner and watching Netflix you’re probably not going to be talking about these things.

Nat Tencic I know that there’s also some really good devices you can invest in they can be operated via the Internet or long distance. Which is worth thinking about really.

Clinton Power It’s amazing how far we’ve come.

Nat Tencic It’s crazy. Call me if you have a question for Clinton Power. He’s a relationship counsellor helping you with your long-distance woes.

Lucy from Newcastle, what’s your question for Clinton?

Lucy I just was wondering – I’ve been doing long distance about two years now and it’s about time I’m moving back with my partner and I’m a bit worried about the fact that we’re doing long distance so well and the change is going to come with being back in the same place with him. And maybe things I’ve learned to do on my own I’m going to have to share and adapt now. And some coping tips to deal with and manage that.

Nat Tencic Clinton, what do you reckon?

Clinton Power That’s a great issue that you raised there Lucy because I’ve seen so many couples fall into this trap.

Even again with the FIFO work. You know if you’ve really got into the routine or if you might have a partner who’s who flies and you can really get into the enjoyment of having your space and your time and as you say Lucy not sharing as well.

And suddenly if your partner’s work changes and they’re living in the house and in your space,  it can be a bit of a shock to the system.

So, I would say expect that it’s going to be difficult it’s going to be challenging and there will be a transition period. And the important thing is just to talk to each other about how we’re going to manage this transition because this is a big change. You’ve gone from having so much space and time to yourself and doing whatever you want whenever you want and suddenly you’ve got to start negotiating and talking things through with a partner. So, I think communication is the way to go here.

Nat Tencic Hope that helps a little bit Lucy.

Lucy Yeah. Thanks for that. Yeah.

Nat Tencic Yeah. Talk it out. And I guess making sure that whatever you’ve learned or whatever sort of routine you’ve gotten into while you guys have been apart just say how important it is to maintain some of those things that keep you independent. I suppose if that’s what you really value. Thanks for calling Lucy.

It’s the Hookup on triple j.  If you have a question about long distance relationships here’s one on the text line it says, “my boyfriend and I got together after I left Canada and we’ve been doing long distance. We both have our own lives and jobs on separate sides of the world. And I just don’t know how it’s all going to end. How do you know when or if it’s worth packing up your life and moving halfway across the world for someone?”

Clinton Power That’s a really tough one isn’t it? I mean again it comes back to how much time have you actually spent together; she doesn’t say it does she?

Nat Tencic No she doesn’t say no.

Clinton Power I mean this is one of the challenges I think within international. Because there’s a big difference to an international long-distance relationship and a local.

Obviously local it is so much easier because even if they’re in another city maybe you’re in Sydney they’re in Adelaide you really are a few hours away there’s a flight there’s less pressure you can spend more time with each other and you can surprise each other which is a really nice thing to do when you’re in a long distance relationship is just create little surprises and you can turn up on their doorstep.

But when you’re on opposite sides of the globe logistically it’s a lot more challenging. Of course, there’s the expense of just travelling and when you do have the time together it can feel really pressured because you think, oh my god I’ve only got a week or two weeks I’m not going to see them again for six months. So, it does put a lot of stress on the relationship.

Nat Tencic Yeah absolutely. And I mean there’s time difference as well which is really difficult if you’re trying to get it on a good talking routine together. What are some of the ways to deal with that particularly the international ones that can keep you maybe from having to just you know make the move

Clinton Power It can be really helpful to have what I call rituals of connection. So like you were saying Nat, maybe you work out what is the kind of ideal time that when I’m in a good space and you’re in a good space and it might you know depending on where your partner is a might only be a window of like an hour or 30 minutes in a day. But it’s important to find that because one of the challenges a lot of people have internationally is that you know one partner is going to bed as the other partners waking up, so one partner is always tired, the other partner is always refreshed and it can really colour your interactions.

So just talking about how can we find a time that works for us and that can be our ritual so we’re going to we’re going to connect with each other each day this time and you look forward to it.

But if you’re able to even have a little ritual around going to sleep that can be helpful that maybe you even have a quick video call before one of you goes to sleep. Going to go to bed is a vulnerable time so that can be helpful just to have that little connection before you go to sleep as well. But there are a lot of challenges with the international long-distance relationship.

Nat Tencic Yeah absolutely. I mean yeah, I know. I mean you those long those in-person visits especially in an international sense, but even when you’re doing it locally, they’re so important. Really. How do you make the most of those visits?

Clinton Power Look I think there’s two things you need to do. The first is that you plan for something fun including novelty and mystery. You can create anticipation you can kind of you know tell your partner got a surprise for you and you know kind of you build up the excitement. That’s a great thing because it helps each of you look forward to the next in-person visit, getting excited about it and when you have that time you really maximizing the time together. So maybe you do something adventurous or you do something you wouldn’t normally do.

But I also say there’s a balance here because if you’re only doing something amazing or something fun or novel, that’s not really real life. So, it can be helpful to actually do some ordinary stuff as well so I can. So, let’s go to the shops and get the groceries and stay in and cook a meal and we’ll sit on the sofa and watch a movie tonight. Because that’s what real life is like when you do live together. And you’re not skydiving every day the week when you live in the same city as your partner. So just try and find a balance between the two.

Nat Tencic It’s the Hookup on triple j, Nat Tencic with you and I’m joined by relationship counselor Clinton Power. We’re talking about doing long distance and how tricky it can be and a lot of people are going through it. Bit of a shout out to Josh, he says it’s funny you should mention long distance. My mate Andy and I are just driving home from Canberra after a weekend of visiting our long-distance girlfriends or maybe having a friend who’s also going through it can be can be a little bit of a galvanizing thing for you.

Paul from Melbourne, you’re looking for some help on a really difficult decision around a long-distance relationship. What’s going on.

Paul Yeah pretty much. I’ve been dating this girl for about a year and she’s oved to Thailand to work in the Elephant sanctuary. And I’ve started seeing someone while she’s been overseas. And she’s moving back in about a month and I just really don’t know what to do right.

Nat Tencic Is this a consensual extra relationship?

Paul No, no.

Nat Tencic And are you guys are still together?

Paul We’re still together. But I don’t want to hurt her, but do I tell her or just pretend it never happened?

Nat Tencic Clinton what do you think?

Clinton Power Which relationship are you leaning towards, Paul?

Paul Well I love my girlfriend so much, but I’ve definitely enjoyed the other one.

Clinton Power So it sounds like you are kind of torn between the two, is that the case?

Paul Yeah, definitely.

Clinton Power Well this is this is a really sticky situation you’ve got yourself in. I guess the big issue here is that, as Nat said, it wasn’t consensual and not something you agreed. So whichever way you go if you decide to be honest to your partner who’s coming back from Thailand that’s going to potentially cause a lot of pain and grief for you and for her.

Paul Yeah.

It’s the Hookup on triple j. Jack from Geelong has a question for you, Clinton.

Jack says, “Me and my boyfriend have a different type of long-distance relationship. I’m a rotating shift worker on the railways. We find it hard to find time with each other. It really takes a toll on our relationship. How can we combat this for a more fulfilling relationship for us both?”

Clinton Power This is hard. I’ve worked with a lot of couples with what I think is almost like a modern disease, Nat. People struggle to find time for their relationship – time together. And they don’t necessarily have to be shift workers or having a long-distance relationship.

And the consequences are really quite severe because what happens over time is you start to feel that you’re not the most important person in your partner’s life. That kind of sense of primacy and priority really dissipates and it does have a negative impact on the relationship.

I’m not sure what the solution is for Jack but I would encourage him to sit down with his partner and just really brainstorm and talk about how they can start to find some more quality time because no relationship can operate in a vacuum. You do need to spend time together you need to have fun. You need to do novel and interesting things. There are probably also times where you need to just talk about the logistics of life and the practicalities.

You know, who’s paying the bill where we up to with this? And then there’s a check in, how are we going how’s our relationship going? That’s an important conversation to have every now and then. And I think if you’re even struggling to have a date night you know every once every couple of weeks that can really be problematic.

Nat Tencic Yeah so just like making sure that you can make time for those sorts of date nights and yeah, I mean I wonder what if Jack and his boyfriend are living together as well because at least if you’re even physically in the same room most nights then that helps a bit. But yeah, it’s a tricky thing to deal with.

Clinton Power It is and sometimes you know it can be about quality not quantity. So, I often encourage couples to have problem free time just 30 minutes a week that’s all you – need minimum 30 minutes – put it in the diary so it’s scheduled and it happens. The only reason it wouldn’t happen is an absolute medical emergency. And you just do something that’s fun or enjoyable or you can take turns in deciding what to do.

But it can be as simple as going for a walk in the park. But the idea is during this time you don’t all talk about problems, you don’t talk about issues, you just enjoy each other’s company and even that 30 minutes a week to people that are incredibly busy can make a big difference.

Nat Tencic Lauren from the Gold Coast, how did your long-distance story work out?

Lauren So I met my ex while I was travelling Ireland. So, I was there for the last two weeks that was over. He came and he joins me and was doing all the touristy things.

That two weeks went up; I came back to Australia and a week later he booked tickets to come and see me. And he got a working visa and a month later he actually joined me and he came and he stayed with me. I think for about nine months of the year and then we did long distance again. I went over there for Christmas and then yet again it was just long distance. So probably about two years of our relationship, the majority of it was long distance.

Nat Tencic Yeah. Did you decide to. Did you decide to call it or did he what happened?

Lauren By the end of it it just kind of got to the point where both of us didn’t really feel like we were in a relationship anymore. It became more platonic than romantic. So, it was a mutual thing.

Nat Tencic Was there anything in particular you would have wanted to change that would have kept you guys together or do you think it was just kind of an inevitable part of being long distance?

Lauren Towards the end I think it was just becoming kind of an inevitable because they’re both uni students and then obviously the time difference between Australia and Ireland just got too much. So, he was kind of waking up that they were going to bed. And yeah just the communication towards the end definitely reduced itself quite a bit.

Nat Tencic I’m sorry to hear that. Clinton is there anything else you can do to keep that to keep that from happening keep yourselves from growing apart with the distance?

Clinton Power One of the important things is that I think is critical is you have to develop a long-term plan. So if you get through the honeymoon stage and you know this relationship really has legs that you’re both serious about it, it can be incredibly valuable just to discuss your future and maybe it doesn’t have to be set in stone but just to talk about, where do you want to be in a year or two years or five years, or is marriage on the cards? Do you want to have kids? Because those long-term plans can really help you have a sense of purpose as a couple. And I think this is an important thing in a long-distance relationship is feeling that you are aligned and you’re heading in the same direction.

It can help you get through the tough times and those times when you do feel lonely or sad or you’re really missing your partner. And I find that when couples don’t have something to look forward to or they’re not making plans for the future, the relationship sometimes can start to dissipate and people just drift apart because they don’t have that sense of motivation and purpose.

Nat Tencic Hey Lauren, thanks so much for calling in and sharing your story. We appreciate it.

It’s the Hookup. Thanks so much for all your calls and texts on this topic. And thank you so much to Clinton Power for joining us tonight.

Clinton Power My pleasure.

Do you need relationship help?

If you need help with your relationship, contact Clinton Power + Associates on (02) 8968 9323 to discuss your situation and find out how we can help.

The post The Best Advice for Anyone in a Long-distance Relationship appeared first on Clinton Power + Associates.


 Intimacy: What is it and how do you do it?

Guest post by Amanda Woolveridge I often hear the word “intimacy” in my therapy room when talking to couples about their relationship. But what does it mean and how do we achieve it and maintain it in our significant relationships? It isn’t just the domain of our romantic relationships, it goes to the heart of […] The post  Intimacy: What is it and how do you do it? appeared first on Clinton Power +...

what is intimacy

Guest post by Amanda Woolveridge

I often hear the word “intimacy” in my therapy room when talking to couples about their relationship. But what does it mean and how do we achieve it and maintain it in our significant relationships?

It isn’t just the domain of our romantic relationships, it goes to the heart of our closest and most endearing relationships with family members and friends too

So if intimacy describes “Into-Me-See,” how do we allow that to happen? When is it okay and when is it not?

Do you struggle with vulnerability?

Often I hear my clients say they “don’t do vulnerable.” When I ask why, they say they see it as a weakness, or they apologise for having a tear – saying they ‘don’t normally do this’.

That is such a common mistake, as being intimate means allowing yourself to be vulnerable enough that your partner sees how wobbly you might be around a certain subject or in the telling of a particular story. Your fragile sense of exposure can be exquisitely uncomfortable and yet so connecting at the same time

Have you ever had the experience of a partner or friend speaking of how they have been struggling with an issue, which was really quite upsetting for them?

Have you felt the first stirrings of the warmth of connection as they speak more about what may have happened, a kind of ‘moving towards’ them with empathy? This is the experience of intimacy.

When intimacy is a missed opportunity

Or perhaps you have you felt the door close on that blossoming feeling as your partner or friend tells you they have dealt with it, possibly quite masterfully, and now the crisis is well and truly over?

Why do you experience a sudden cool current flushing out the warmth?

Because they are safely on the other side of whatever it was that was troubling them and have regained composure. And you were kept out at the time. They did it without reaching out to you, which denied you the chance to be a listening ear, to provide empathy – in short – to be intimate. They didn’t let you see.  

“I didn’t realise…” you might begin, feeling a mixture of guilt and hurt simultaneously. You weren’t there for them but – wait – how could you be? They didn’t let you in and a golden opportunity to build trust and intimacy was lost. (We are talking major relationships here – not acquaintances where you may well be right to feel you’ve dodged a bullet!)

Your partner might have been well intentioned – not wanting to trouble or upset you. But how’s that working out for you? Wouldn’t you rather have had the opportunity to support and nurture them through a tricky time? Wouldn’t you relish the opportunity to create another rich layer in your relationship history? You bet you would. But they have put the block on that, only ‘showing up’ when they are in control again.

It is even worse for you if you know you’ve been vulnerable in front of them, leaving you with the thought: ‘How come they keep it together and I end up being the messy one?” Doesn’t feel good, does it? So what happens next? There is another little tear in the relationship, which starts to weaken the fabric of your bond.

The relational playing field needs leveling otherwise you are consistently going to feel exposed while your partner consistently ‘has it all together.’ Not so good for an equal partnership.

How to respond to your partner after the event

Next time your partner tells you, after the event, about their struggle you might respond like this:

“I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been upset. And I can only imagine how it must have been for you. It sounds like you’ve managed it well. But next time you feel upset, I would like you to share it with me. I’m your partner and that is what partners do. I would love the opportunity to be there for you when you are down. When you tell me afterwards, I feel kind of shut out. I’m sure your intentions were good – perhaps you didn’t want to worry me or maybe you were just plain uncomfortable, looking vulnerable. But I promise you; it will only make me feel more connected to you. And then I know I can be wobbly in front of you without always feeling like the messy one! How does that sound?”

If you can do this, it will make all the difference to the level of connection you feel with your partner and build new neural circuitry in your brain and your partner’s brain, which grows the capacity to be intimate. Your relationship will become a safer and more loving place for each of you.

About the author

Amanda Woolveridge - northern beaches counsellorAmanda Woolveridge, M.App.Sci, Member AABCAP, is a psychotherapist and couples counsellor with 24 years of experience who currently works from her home consulting room on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. Her relational work is largely informed by PACT (Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy) and her studies in Gestalt, Narrative, and Mindfulness. Find out more about Amanda on her website.

The post  Intimacy: What is it and how do you do it? appeared first on Clinton Power + Associates.


The Gottman Relationship Checkup for Couples: How Healthy is Your Relationship?

Many people interested in couples therapy hesitate because they’re not sure what to expect. That can be scary, but I’m here to allay your fears. If your relationship needs professional help, you can count on the Gottman Relationship Checkup to kickstart your work together as a couple and help you get the most out of […] The post The Gottman Relationship Checkup for Couples: How Healthy is Your Relationship? appeared first on Clinton Power +...

Many people interested in couples therapy hesitate because they’re not sure what to expect. That can be scary, but I’m here to allay your fears.

If your relationship needs professional help, you can count on the Gottman Relationship Checkup to kickstart your work together as a couple and help you get the most out of relationship therapy.

What is the Gottman Relationship Checkup?

The Gottman Relationship Checkup is a therapist-aided online assessment that determines your strengths as a couple and the challenges you may face.

The process is an efficient one, which can be done at any time and in any setting, and that allows your therapist to dig deep into your life as a couple in a minimal number of sessions.

The online assessment is 480 questions that deals with friendship, intimacy, how well you know and understand your partner, how well you manage emotions and conflict, how you share your values and goals, and what gives you and your life meaning. There are also additional questions about parenting, housework, finances, trust, and other subjects.

If you’re concerned about confidentiality, don’t worry: this test is fully HIPAA compliant and the only viewer of your results will be your therapist. Even your partner won’t be able to see the results of the test.

Who created the Checkup?

Drs. John and June Gottman created this research-based assessment along with the Gottman Institute, with the goal of helping therapists create a personalised but rigorously science-based treatment plan for their clients.

Dr. John Gottman is a clinical psychologist with over 40 years of research on couple relationships under his belt. He’s been recognised as one of the top 10 most influential therapists of the past 25 years. Dr. Julie Gottman is a clinical psychologist as well, regularly sought by the media and clinical organisations as an expert relationship advisor. They have dedicated their lives to helping other couples and developing the Sound Relationship House Theory, and the Gottman Relationship Checkup is the result of that hard work.

What is the Sound Relationship House Theory?

Imagine the floors of a house, which all stack up together to create one sturdy building. The Sound Relationship House Theory uses this as a metaphor, detailing the “levels” that it takes to build a sturdy relationship. We can take a quick look at these levels, which will be a map for you as you improve your relationship going forward.

The Sound Relationship House – The Gottman Institute.

The first three levels of the House deal with friendship. It may seem unimportant, but a strong friendship is actually the core of romantic relationships.

  • The very first level is called Love Maps, meaning how well you know the other person’s inner landscape. That can include their worries, stresses, goals, and dreams.
  • The second level is Fondness and Admiration— the opposite of contempt. This level requires both affection and respect for each other.
  • The third level is Turn Towards. This has to do with whether a person responds when they are given a “bid,” or a gesture for positive connection, including conversation, humour, affection, or support. These tiny moments in relationships can be opportunities to Turn Towards the other person and to build up the Emotional Bank Account.
  • The fourth level is The Positive Perspective, which is shaped by the first three levels and can be positive or negative. This level represents what it feels like within a relationship. To be in good shape, this level requires positivity during problem-solving discussions and success after attempts to fix these problems.
  • The fifth level is Manage Conflict, which its name because some conflict is natural and can be functional and positive. The Gottman’s outline two types of conflict: perpetual problems (long-term differences in personality, values, priorities, and behaviour) that need to be discussed constructively, and solvable problems. You will learn about the six skills for effective problem-solving, which are Practicing Self-Soothing, Using Softened Startup, Repair and De-escalate, Listening to Your Partner’s Underlying Feelings and Dreams, Accepting Influence, and Compromise.
  • The sixth level is Make Life Dreams Come True, meaning that both partners need to create an atmosphere where each person can speak honestly about their dreams, values, convictions, and aspirations so that they can be honoured in the best way possible.
  • The seventh level is Create Shared Meaning, which is where we address narratives, myths, and metaphors about your relationship and your family. This can mean Rituals of Connection (both formal and informal), working towards and achieving Shared Goals, supporting each other’s life roles, and agreeing about basic symbols like “what does home mean?”

How does the Couple Checkup work?

First, I will send you a link via email and you need to accept the invitation to the test, each partner gets a separate email invitation. Then, you and your partner will create individual profiles so you can save your results.

At your convenience, you and your partner will complete the questionnaire separately. Neither partner will be able to see the other’s answers at any time during the process, and you’re encouraged not to share your responses or log into the other’s account.

The online assessment portion of the process should take about 45 – 60 minutes.

Once you have completed it, I will be notified and will log in to review your scores and analyse your answers so I can discuss the results with you and formulate a treatment plan.

Want to get started with the Gottman Checkup?

If you’re ready to get started, call to book an Initial Couple Assessment Session.

Each of the three introductory sessions is 90 minutes.

The first session is a couple assessment. We will talk about what brings you to me, what your problems are, and what your goals are. Then we will form a short history of your relationship (like how you met and what your major life transitions have been).

Before the second session, partners do the online assessment, and then I get the results to review and analyse them.

The second session is split in half: each partner gets 45 minutes to themselves with me to talk about issues privately.

For the third session, I will meet with you both again and deliver the Gottman Couple Checkup results. Together, we will form treatment goals and a plan to go forward.

Remember that there is always hope for you and your relationship, and by making an appointment with me today, we can work on your future together.

Book Your Gottman Couple Checkup Today!

If you want to book a Gottman Couple Checkup or need help with  your relationship, contact Clinton Power + Associates on (02) 8968 9323 to discuss your situation and find out how we can help.

The post The Gottman Relationship Checkup for Couples: How Healthy is Your Relationship? appeared first on Clinton Power + Associates.


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