The iconic Australian songwriter Paul Kelly wrote,
“Little decisions are the kind I can make, Big resolutions are so easy to break”.
The waters are yet to calm on the COVID 19 landscape; certainty and predictability still remain fragile commodities. As we enter 2022, it is the little decisions we can make that can provide more stability and direction for our future.
As you know the John Gottman mantra of ‘small things often’ is more important than ever as we contend with looking after our relationships, families, work and ourselves. Did you know that if the navigation calculations and trajectory were out by only .1 degree for the Apollo mission to the moon, the spacecraft would have missed the moon by 6709 km. Over time, little things become significant. Importantly this is true for both positive and negative acts.
So here are 5 practical ways to create small change across time in your relationship.
When childhood trauma presents as part of couple distress.
Imagine a couple in their late 40’s, they have teenage children. The presenting problem is described as a parenting problem. Helen (not her real name) reports that when the kids are arguing, yelling, playing loud music or rumbling – making thumping noises, Tony (not his real name) “over-reacts”.
We know what makes relationships work and what doesn’t.
Let us teach you, as therapists, how to guide couples to improve their relationships through Gottman Therapy Level 1 Training.
The Gottman Therapy has clear and specific goals:
- increasing connection and friendship,
- addressing conflict constructively and reducing negative interaction,
- building a life of shared meaning together.
Level 1 Clinical Training - Gottman Method Couples Therapy provides a comprehensive, research-based, professional development pathway in relationship therapy excellence. There are four brilliant levels of training that include a deep dive into research, theory, assessment, formulation, interventions and skills development. Gottman training is world-renowned and highly valued.
A variety of experts such as Gottman, Johnson, and Tatkin, say one of the most common conflict cycles in relationships is the pursuer-distancer dynamic. In other words, if one partner becomes frustrated, agitated or (in extreme cases) aggressive - the other partner's reaction may be to become increasingly defensive and/or physically distant. This includes leaving the room, house, or neighbourhood.
Words like ‘change’, ‘unprecedented’, ‘crazy’, have been thrown around daily in our lives over the past 7 months. COVID, shut-down, quarantine, isolation have become conditions we have had to learn to live with. They have all become associated with negative feelings, fear, hopelessness, and most of us feel like we are in a constant state of survival. This is a very hard way to live and yet we are managing it. The conditions that have led to this state of affairs have changed irrevocably how we will live in the future - greater awareness on hygiene, social distancing, management of viral illness both at a macro and micro level. On top of that, we are also aware that trying to go back to our old ways leads to community relapse and results in a re-emergence of infections, loss and distress.
These same conditions can be found when we take a look at relationships that begin to struggle.
Marathon therapy is an intensive form of couples therapy. It can come in many forms depending on the individual therapist’s preferences and approaches. Generally speaking though marathon couples therapy is not that different from standard weekly or fortnightly couples therapy, it just all gets done in a couple of days and creates a more emotionally intense process for the couple. So how do we do it?
At Relationship Institute Australasia we have been offering marathon therapy for the last 6 years and have found a process that seems to work well for both us and for our couples. Like standard couples therapy there are still 3 phases that we take each couple through.
The ‘Baby Blues’ is the common term used to describe a new parent’s feeling of depression that can usually develop between the birth of a baby and 3 months of age. It can affect 8 in every 10 new mums and studies have shown that 1 dad in 10 can also suffer from postnatal depression.
Whilst it is generally a temporary condition, the good news is that the Baby Blues is nothing to be afraid of and is completely treatable with awareness and focus.
Being prepared for what to expect will make all the difference in getting through this time and supporting your partner to get back to normal as quickly as possible. Here is your simple list to follow with some tried and true advice for any new parent.
Imagine Sally and Ron, they have been together for several years, they are walking through their local park when Sally says, “Wow, look at that beautiful flower!” Ron is now confronted with a sliding door moment. If he takes door 1 he will turn towards Sally by saying something like, “Yes, it’s very beautiful. You really love flowers don’t you.” Or he could make a more neutral response by saying simply acknowledging her with a “Mmmm.” This is called turning towards a bid for connection.
If he takes door 2 he will completely ignore Sally’s comment and just keep walking. This is called turning away from a bid for connection. Or if he takes door 3 he might say something like, “For goodness sake, how often do we have to admire a pretty flower. They’re flowers, they’re pretty, I got it!” This is called a turning against a bid for connection.
Many couples ask, what changes in your life after you have a baby?
The better question to ask is … what DOESN’T change!
These transformations, modifications and reformations can be too many to list here today – but we will focus on 4 facts that are backed by research – that do affect many couples once they bring a new baby home.
1. Did you know that 67% of all couples become unhappy during the first 3 years of their baby’s life? Only 33% remain content!
The transition to parenthood can be a complex maze that many couples simply do not know that they need to prepare for. The new parenting books often fail to acknowledge the challenges that a couple will face when they bring a new baby home that often can affect the very core of their relationship.
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