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Don’t put your partner in a box: 3 Ways to be a Lifelong Learner in Your Relationship

When you graduated from school or university, did you say to yourself, “Well, that’s it! I now know everything I need to know. My days of learning are over!” Probably not. In fact, you’ve probably continued to learn about new topics, acquire new skills, and seek out random tidbits of information, even if your days of formal education are over. It’s not only fun and fulfilling, but also keeps your mind open and your heart young, among other tangible and intangible benefits.

Interestingly, in long-term relationships, we often get to a certain point and feel as if we know “everything” about our partner. But whether you’ve been together for 3 years or 30+, there’s a good chance that there are still new things to learn about each other – it just might require more digging than it did when you were first getting to know each other.

In the beginning, everything was a new discovery: favourite foods, pet peeves, embarrassing childhood memories, irrational fears. We’d converse for hours about everything and nothing, soaking up information about this new person in your life.

Time passes, and we become familiar with each other’s quirks and see new facets of each other across different situations. Somewhere along the way, the curiosity-driven questions start to wane. We begin to make predictions and assumptions about each other, without even realising it. It is comforting to know each other so well, knowing exactly how the other likes their coffee or whether they’ll feel like being social or staying in on a Friday night after long week. We no longer need to wonder, worry, or stress about each other’s preferences – we’re comfortable

But over time, we also change as individuals, which makes knowing everything about each other somewhat of a moving target. And that’s why we should strive to be lifelong learners about each other!

Here are some tips on how you can be a lifelong learner in your relationship.

Don’t put your partner in a box:

  • Let’s say you go out to eat at your favourite Italian restaurant. When the waiter takes your order of seafood ravioli, your partner exclaims, “Really? But you always have the chicken marsala!” Feels a little weird, right? A bit like a shirt that’s too tight across the shoulders—restrictive. There is probably no ill intent behind the comment, but if this keeps recurring, you might be a bit hesitant to venture out of your comfort zone in the future. You could start to feel a subconscious obligation to be the person they’ve always known. But you both need space and positive reinforcement to grow.
  • Let your partner surprise you now and then, and respond in a way that says, “That’s not what I expected from you, but I love you for it.”

Lifelong educational learning benefits your mind and well-being in a myriad of ways. Lifelong learning about your partner does the same for your relationship in the form of increased connection and positive growth as individuals and as a couple. It acts as a foil to complacency as it requires continuous communication.

After all, lifelong really is lifelong. The catch to lifelong learning is that the more you already know (whether it’s about car repairs, gardening, or your partner), the more effort you’ll need to put in to learn something new. But in the end, it will only enhance your journey together, and we think you’ll find it’s worth the effort.

Reference: https://blog.prepare-enrich.com/2017/12/3-ways-to-be-a-lifelong-learner-in-your-relationship/

Used with permission of PREPARE/ENRICH.

Shane Smith
Director PREPARE-ENRICH, Relationship Educator and Mediator
President, Marriage and Relationship Educators Association of Australia
Email president@mareaa.asn.au

Read on for various resources to assist you at this time. Finally, please let us know how you are going in these challenging times. 

For more information on the virus and the steps that can be taken to minimise its impact, visit the Australian Government Department of Health website.

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM.

Tune in next week for more discussion about relationships and mental health. 

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

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Reach out to someone today and say thank you or ask… RU OK?

Staying connected and having meaningful conversations is something we can all do. You don’t need to be an expert – just a great mate and a good listener. So, if you notice someone who might be struggling – start a conversation.

Good communication depends on you carefully listening to another person. Active listening involves listening attentively without interruption and then restating what was heard. Acknowledge content AND the feelings of the speaker. The active listening process lets the sender know whether or not the message they sent was clearly understood by having the listener restate what they heard.

Examples of Active Listening:

“I heard you say you are feeling ‘out of balance’, and enjoyed the time we spend together but that you also need more time to be with your friends… and you want to plan a time to talk about this.”

“If I understand what you said, you are concerned because you want to go skiing next winter. But you think I would rather to go to the beach. Is that correct?”

When each person knows what the other person feels and wants (assertiveness) and when each knows they have been heard and understood (active listening), intimacy is increased. These two communication skills can help develop kind and caring relationships.

Got a feeling that someone you know or care about it isn’t behaving as they normally would? Perhaps they seem out of sorts? More agitated or withdrawn? Or they’re just not themselves. Trust that gut instinct and act on it. Learn more about the signs and when it’s time to ask R U OK? here.

Reference: www.ruok.org.au

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the new video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM

Keep up with the latest from the MAREAA online:

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

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Relationship Education: Learning practical skills that focus on commitment, communication and good conflict

Clear commitment, good communication and good conflict resolution are the foundations of a successful relationship (Fincham et al 2007; Rhoades & Stanley 2014), the good news is that all of these factors can be translated into practical skills that can be easily taught (Markman & Rhoades 2012).

It is increasingly accepted that commitment comes in two main forms: “dedication” – the inner bond that makes a couple want to be with each other – and “constraints” – the added layers of a relationship that make it harder to leave, should either partner choose to do so (Stanley et al 2006).

  • “Dedication” is the key to a successful relationship, centring on the mutual decision to be a couple with a future.
  • “Constraints” increase in a relationship every time couples pass through a transition, such as moving in together, having a baby, or getting married.

In practice:

If we take a long-term perspective of our relationship, we can see above and beyond our day-to-day activities. By being intentional and making an effort to start with a clear understanding of our destination and where we are going, we create a sense of hope and purpose and we never stop growing – and we demonstrate our commitment.

Through careful planning and constant assessment and re-evaluation of our plans, we know where we are going, we can plan where we are heading and we can take time to see the bigger picture. This leads to a clear understanding of goals, dreams and your vision as a couple.

Just as the stagnant pond breeds disease, the flowing stream is always fresh and cool. Take a long-term perspective, determine a plan and assess/reassess your plan regularly.

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the new video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM

Keep up with the latest from the MAREAA online:

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

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Helping Couples in Isolation: Focus on how they resolve conflict, react to daily stressors and interact with each other

Couples in isolation are likely facing pressure from all angles and may find it impossible to avoid conflict. Stressors from work and home are all wrapped up in the same household, causing emotional or physical reactions. Working with couples, facilitators can help identify stress and work through this is 2 basic ways:

  1. Eliminate the stressor; or
  2. Change one’s reaction to stress.

When a stressor cannot be eliminated, it is important to look at how one reacts or copes in response to the stressor. Learning and using healthy coping mechanisms can help individuals respond to stress in healthier ways.

Married Couples and Stress 

Note the item rated as the number one stressor by married couples was Your Spouse. This was the number one stressor cited by both men and women.

Married couples who take PREPARE/ENRICH are often being seen in a counselling situation. It is not uncommon for individuals experiencing relational conflict to believe their problems would be solved if their partner would only change. Not only do they believe this, they often express it. Experienced counsellors are used to the finger pointing which often accompanies the initial sessions of marital therapy.

Unfortunately, one partner cannot change the other and this approach leaves individuals totally disempowered in the relationship. In fact, the more one individual focuses on the other person’s behaviour, the more resentment, anger, and resistance they typically receive in return.

It is much more productive to help these couples work on things that are in their control including the way they speak to one another, the way they resolve conflict, and the way each individual chooses to react to their daily stressors and interactions with their spouse.

In practice:

Good communication and productive ways of handling conflict depend on couples carefully listening to one another. Active listening involves listening attentively without interruption and then restating what was heard. Acknowledge content AND the feelings of the speaker. The active listening process lets the sender know whether or not the message they sent was clearly understood by having the listener restate what they heard.

Examples of Active Listening:

“I heard you say you are feeling ‘out of balance’, and enjoyed the time we spend together but that you also need more time to be with your friends… and you want to plan a time to talk about this.”

“If I understand what you said, you are concerned because you want to go skiing next winter. But you think I would rather to go to the beach. Is that correct?”

When each person knows what the other person feels and wants (assertiveness) and when each knows they have been heard and understood (active listening), intimacy is increased. These two communication skills can help you grow closer as a couple.

Suggested Ground Rules for Online Group Sessions
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Suggested Ground Rules for Online Group Sessions

The need for relationship education is escalating, service access is becoming more limited because of the increased lock-down and social isolation. Providers of support services must adjust to the conditions and search for innovative ways of working, to help those facing adversity – from the comfort of their own homes.

Group Programs lends themselves well to an online format, as they allow for a combination of teaching, demonstrating and discussion. Facilitated via Teleconference, couples can still learn from each other, however because much of the information is personal to each couple, the online experience can create positive tension. This sharing and learning together can help build a sense of community… even while online.

The following guide can help you work with couples online:

  1. Setting up the Meeting: Teleconferencing and videoconferencing are easy and effective tools, but there are often issues. Ensure you test your audio and visual technology prior to meeting and dial in early and be ready to deal confidently with issues the couples may have with their technology.

    Body language is important. Ensure you can see both couples. If they are in the same location, you need to be able to view both couples from waist up. Ask the couple to adjust their camera to assist with this. If they are both remote, same story, you want to be able to see them from their waist up – they can then also see each other clearly and their body language.

    Ask if they have removed distractions in their home. If possible, other family members, children, pets. Tell them that it is important that you have their full attention for the duration of the call. If another time is better, rescheduling to a time when they are both ready is important.
  2. Environment – safe, confidentiality (limits to confidentiality): As you would normally do, explain that the discussion is confidential and discuss the limits to confidentiality, such as if there is disclosure that someone is at risk of harm. Ensure the couple feel comfortable and safe, establishing an environment where topics can be discussed openly.
  3. Build rapport with couples – establish a relationship: Building rapport with couples online can be hard, but it is important to speak to each couple and to share that focus equally. Introduce yourself and start to get to know each couple. For example, ask the couple how they met; how long they have been together; what drew them to each other; what they hope to get out of the session.
  4. Share relevant information and praise feedback: Give each couple praise for taking intentional time out to focus on their relationship. Always seek to identify and always emphasise the positive aspects of their relationship throughout the discussion.
     
  5. Do they have any questions? Any reservations? Explore these and use examples of where the process will assist to explore these issues. Use an ice-breaker exercise to emphasise this.
  6. Explain the process: Summarise the process and topics that will be discussed. Explain that you are keen to understand each couple and where the ‘edges’ are between them as a couple. Emphasise that the process is one of developing awareness and learning new skills.

With online facilitation, most of the same rules apply but it can often be harder to build rapport and really connect with couples. From setting up your technology (and the couples) through to developing awareness, learning new skills and working through exercises.

Read on for various resources to assist you at this time. Finally, please let us know how you plan to deliver your services in these challenging times. 

For more information on the virus and the steps that can be taken to minimise its impact, visit the Australian Government Department of Health website.

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM.

Tune in next week for more discussion about relationships and mental health. 

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

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Helping couples strengthen their relationship remotely: A guide to working with couples online

As many organisations close their doors, schools close and public places deserted, many of us are forced to remain home and practice social distancing. With that, anxiety levels rise, fuses become shorter and frustration prevails – our routines are turned upside down and additional stress is placed on relationships and families leading to spikes in demand for family and relationship services.

The need for relationship education is escalating, service access is becoming more limited because of the increased lock-down and social isolation. Providers of support services must adjust to the conditions and search for innovative ways of working, to help those facing adversity – from the comfort of their own homes.

The following guide can help you work with couples online:

  1. Setting up the Meeting: Teleconferencing and videoconferencing are easy and effective tools, but there are often issues. Ensure you test your audio and visual technology prior to meeting and dial in early and be ready to deal confidently with issues the couples may have with their technology.

    Body language is important. Ensure you can see both couples. If they are in the same location, you need to be able to view both couples from waist up. Ask the couple to adjust their camera to assist with this. If they are both remote, same story, you want to be able to see them from their waist up – they can then also see each other clearly and their body language.

    Ask if they have removed distractions in their home. If possible, other family members, children, pets. Tell them that it is important that you have their full attention for the duration of the call. If another time is better, rescheduling to a time when they are both ready is important.
  2. Environment – safe, confidentiality (limits to confidentiality): Explain that the discussion is confidential and discuss the limits to confidentiality, such as if there is disclosure that someone is at risk of harm. Ensure the couple feel comfortable and safe, establishing an environment where topics can be discussed openly.
  3. Build rapport with couple – establish a relationship: Building rapport with the couple is crucial. Introduce yourself and start to get to know the couple. For example, ask the couple how they met; how long they have been together; what drew them to each other.
  4. Share relevant information: Give the couple praise for taking intentional time out to focus on their relationship. Always seek to identify and emphasise the positive aspects of their relationship. 
  5. Do they have any questions? Any reservations? Explore these and use examples of where the process will assist to explore these issues. Use an ice-breaker exercise to emphasise this.
  6. Explain the process: Summarise the process and topics that will be discussed. Explain that you are keen to understand each couple and where the ‘edges’ are between them as a couple. Emphasise that the process is one of developing awareness and learning new skills.

With online facilitation, most of the same rules apply but it can often be harder to build rapport and really connect with couples. From setting up your technology (and the couples) through to developing awareness, learning new skills and working through exercises.

Read on for various resources to assist you at this time. Finally, please let us know how you plan to deliver your services in these challenging times. 

For more information on the virus and the steps that can be taken to minimise its impact, visit the Australian Government Department of Health website.

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM.

Tune in next week for more discussion about relationships and mental health. 

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

Stress in the Workplace... wake up to it!
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Stress in the Workplace… wake up to it!

I couldn’t help but notice the change in Joe. The typically talkative and cheerful co-worker has become grumpy and dismissive over the last few weeks. This is how my conversation with an HR manager began. She was calling me to run a Wellbeing and Mental Health training for her staff and wanting me to answer the questions of “What should we be looking out for and how can we help?”

Joe was always the first to arrive at work, and among the last to leave. But then he started coming into work later and later, and was often in a rush to leave at the end of the day, too.  Eventually, after a few months, Joe handed in his notice and left.

Joe was suffering from stress, something that’s all too common in modern, high-demand workplaces. If this had been recognized and the people around him knew how to support him, he might have been able to get help and might still be with the company.

I want to help you learn how to identify stress in others, and explore a five-step strategy for tactfully offering your support, without becoming overburdened yourself.

How to Identify Stress in your Colleagues

Stress is what happens when the demands placed on someone exceed what he or she can readily cope with.

While a certain amount of pressure is a part of everyday life, and can actually help people to perform better, too much pressure can cause stress to build.

Even if your organization has a policy on mental health and an active HR manager or team, it’s most likely a friend or co-worker who’ll be the first person to notice a change in someone’s behavior that could indicate stress.

Signs of stress can include: 

  • Snapping at colleagues.
  • Losing concentration.
  • Putting off decisions.
  • Restlessness.
  • Emotional volatility.
  • Anxiety.
  • Erratic behavior.

Why Giving Support Matters

Even when you know that someone is suffering from stress, it can be difficult to broach the subject. You might be scared of causing offence, making it worse, or causing the other person to become angry or emotional. 

But offering your support can be a crucial first step in battling the often serious mental and physical problems caused by excessive stress, such as burnout, depression, sleeplessness, fatigue, and even heart disease (yes, you read that correctly!).

The problems caused by stress can also go beyond the individual who is suffering. It can begin to impact his or her performance at work, forcing others to “pick up the slack,” and relationships to break down.

Your support can help to the ease the impact of these “side effects” and to keep team relationships strong.

How to Support a Stressed Co-Worker

Here’s are 5 short, sharp and simple suggestions to help a colleague who is suffering from stress:

  1. Establish a Connection
  2. Find out if something else is going on 
  3. Suggest Practical Ways Forward (there’s heaps…feel free to contact me to discuss more)
  4. Offer Friendship
  5. Take care of yourself (I LOVE talking about Self-Care) 

Research shows that stress can have a “ripple effect” on the people that are close to the sufferer. Learning the skills to recognise the signs and symptoms and then take the next step towards helping people is paramount for any organisation.

By Amanda Lambros, Relationships, Mental Health, Grief and Loss Speaker and Counsellor, and Vice President MAREAA.

Tune in next week for more discussion about relationships and mental health.
 

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM Keep up with the latest from the MAREAA online: www.mareaa.asn.au

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

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It is in every company’s best financial interest to support employees and to invest in the promotion of Relationship Education and Family Wellness programs

If relationship education and family wellness improves a company’s overall financial health and increases profitability, it is then in every company’s best financial interest to support employees and to invest in the promotion of relationship education and family wellness programs at work (Turvey et al, 2006). To amplify the happiness and confidence of employees and to increase a company’s overall financial health and to maximise business potential, relationship education and family wellness programs can make a difference.

Various studies have demonstrated that employees who are happy in all aspects of their lives are more productive employees and hence improving relationships in and out of work is vital, for individuals, couples and families and for society. This suggests that the integration of marriage and relationship education and family wellness programs must be an economically driven priority.

Evidence shows that happily couples are more loyal and stable employees, have reduced job turnover rates, have lower rates of absenteeism, and are generally considered more dependable and motivated and have greater levels of engagement (Lavy, G. 2002). Another study found that when dual-income couples are happy, they have a greater level of commitment to their employers (Curtis, 2006).

Reflecting on the benefits of healthy relationships and family life to organisations, relationship education and family wellness programs should contain (or be extended with) a specific focus and integration of marriage and family wellness programs’ for those employees who are married or in a relationship to contribute to the overall productivity and profitability of businesses.

In order to help couple families and companies develop strategies to deal with the multiple demands on employees and their personal relationships, it is vital to devise and implement policies to enable employees to have healthy, functional personal relationships, and be fully engaged at work.

Tune in next week for more discussion about the Benefits of Relationship Education and Family Wellness Programs for Business Productivity.

References:

  • Curtis, J., 2006: The Business of Love. IOD Press: Florida.
    Turvey, M. D., & Olson, D. H., 2006: Marriage & Family Wellness: Corporate America’s Business? A Marriage CoMission Research Report. Minneapolis, MN.

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM Keep up with the latest from the MAREAA online: www.mareaa.asn.au

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

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More than 40 percent of all workers face high stress in their job, negatively affecting their productivity, health and family stability

High work stress and overload is often correlated with less positive relationships in and out of work, and while the issue of highly stressed workers is not new, the relentless pace of business today has made the problem worse (Schwartz, J et al, 2014). Driven by the always-on nature of digital business and 24/7 working styles, studies show that more than 40 percent of all workers face high stress in their job, negatively affecting their productivity, health and family stability (EKU Online, 2018).

Stress can be a two-way street between work and home where the subsequent stress from failing marriages begins to manifest in the workplace, increasing stress, leading to more stress at home, and the cycle continues. Learning and using healthy coping mechanisms can help individuals respond to stress in healthier ways.

Tackling the pressures and strains being experienced by Australian organisations, individuals, couples and families, leading companies are developing strategies that address societal concerns such as longevity and wellbeing, and the multiple demands on employees and their personal relationships. To enable employees to have healthy, functional personal relationships, and be fully engaged at work, employers are investing in Relationship Education and Wellbeing programs as both a social responsibility and a talent strategy. Highlighting the mutually positive benefits that a healthy dynamic between work and home-life can bring, this investment can help improve productivity and performance.

Relationship Education and Family Wellness programs are widely available to couples, intended to reduce the prevalence of relationship distress, divorce and the associated personal and social costs (Halford, W.K., et al 2003). Quickly learned and easily adapted, these programs have been proven effective in a variety of communities, cultures, and languages.

Well-being is becoming a core responsibility of good corporate citizenship and a critical performance strategy to drive employee engagement, organisational energy, and productivity (Agarwal, D. et al, 2018). If relationship education and family wellness improves a company’s overall financial health and increases profitability, it is then in every company’s best financial interest to support employees and to invest in the promotion of family wellness programs at work (Turvey et al, 2006).

Tune in next week for a discussion about work stress and home life stress and how both may impact negatively for businesses.

References:

  • Agarwal, D., Bersin, J., Lahiri, G., Schwartz, J., and Volini, E., 2018: Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends: The Rise of the Social Enterprise, 28 March 2018

  • EKU Online, ‘Work-related stress on employees health’, March 2, 2018

  • Halford, W.K., Markman, H, J., Galena, H,.K.,  and Stanley, S.M., 2003: Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, July, Vol. 29, No. 3, p385-406
  • Turvey, M. D., & Olson, D. H., 2006: Marriage & Family Wellness: Corporate America’s Business? A Marriage CoMission Research Report. Minneapolis, MN.

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM Keep up with the latest from the MAREAA online: www.mareaa.asn.au

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

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Separation and divorce represents a major life stressor that impacts work performance, resulting increased absenteeism and presenteeism, decreased health, increased anxiety and stress

Relationship quality at work or home is often a cause for decreased productivity – productivity impacted directly by work conflict or relationship breakdown.

We know work conflict between leaders and employees can have a significant impact on performance, however outside of work, where failing, unhealthy relationships or those in relational decline, businesses tend to bear the consequences in a variety of ways.

Despite the changes in community attitudes and family patterns, separation and divorce still represents a major life stressor for the individuals involved (Australian Psychological Society, 2018). Typically involving economic stress, with new residence arrangements, moving schools and work, and increased travel, separation and divorce exerts financial demands that can have flow-on effects for parent and child wellbeing (Smyth, 2004), and ultimately work performance.

Failing relationships at home can lead to affairs in the workplace, and up to 25% of these relationships lead to decreased productivity, and once couples divorce, this can disrupt the productivity of an individual worker for as long as three years (Lavy, 2002).

One study found that in the year following divorce, employees lost an average of over 168 hours of work time, equivalent to being fully absent four weeks in one calendar year (Mueller, 2005), this means that recently divorced employees are absent from work due to relationship-related reasons for over 8% of their annual time on the job (Turvey et al, 2006 p7).

While the financial implications of separation differ for men and women, women and single parent families typically experience significant economic disadvantage after separation (Austen, 2004; Cairney, Boyle, Offord & Racine, 2003; Smyth, 2004; Smyth & Weston, 2000) and these effects have direct implications for the workplace.

Primarily, as employees experience stress, their physical health suffers and they tend to have lower immune functioning (Waite and Gallagher, 2000). Relationship stress tends to spill over into job functioning, resulting increased absenteeism and presenteeism (being physically present but mentally absent), decreased health, increased anxiety and stress, and increased health insurance costs (Turvey et al, 2006 p7-8).

In order to help couple families, it is vital that companies develop strategies to deal with the multiple demands on employees and their personal relationships and implement policies to enable employees to have healthy, functional personal relationships, and be fully engaged at work.

Tune in next week for a discussion about work stress and home life stress and how both may impact negatively for businesses.

References:

  • Austen, S. 2004: Labour supply and the risk of divorce: An analysis of Australian data. Australian Economic Review, 37(2), 153-165.
  • Australian Psychological Society 2018; Child Wellbeing After Parental Separation, A Position Statement prepared for the Australian Psychological Society by the APS Public Interest Team.
  • Burnett, S. B, Coleman, L, Houlston, C and Reynolds, J., 2015: Happy Homes and Productive Workplaces – Summary Report of research findings. OnePlusOne and Working Families UK
  • Cairney, J., Boyle, M., Offord, D. R., & Racine, Y. 2003: Stress, social support and depression in single and married mothers. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 38(8), 442-449.
  • Mueller, R. 2005: The effect of marital dissolution on the labour supply of males and females: Evidence from Canada.” Journal of Socio-Economics, 34, 787-809.
  • Smyth, B. 2004: Parent-child contact and post-separation parenting arrangements. Melbourne Australian Institute of Family Studies.
  • Smyth, B., &; Weston, R. 2000: Financial living standards after divorce. Family Matters(55), 11-15.
  • Turvey, M. D., & Olson, D. H., 2006: Marriage & Family Wellness: Corporate America’s Business? A Marriage CoMission Research Report. Minneapolis, MN
  • Waite, L., & Gallagher, M. 2000: The case for marriage. New York: Doubleday.

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM Keep up with the latest from the MAREAA online: www.mareaa.asn.au

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

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To support higher levels of work engagement, employees adopting flexible working need support in managing the interface between work and home-life

A stable, positive home/family life was shown to enable people to be more engaged in their work, with the resulting reduction in Work-Family Conflict, improving Work Engagement scores. Furthermore, a stable, positive home/family life has been shown to improve Relationship Quality, which, in turn, may predict higher levels of Work Engagement, creating a virtuous cycle.

The headline finding in a 2015 UK study (Burnett et al: 2015) found that there was a positive association between Relationship Quality and Work Engagement that exists independently of the other work-centric, relationship-centric and socio-demographic factors. That is, high Relationship Quality would extend to improvements in Work Engagement. Likewise, improvements in Work Engagement would predict increases in Relationship Quality.

To support higher levels of work engagement, employees adopting flexible working need support in managing the interface between work and home-life given the association with Relationship Quality.

This UK study shows that it is in the employers’ interest to do what they can to maintain or improve levels of Relationship Quality among their staff to improve productivity and performance. This could range from creating more family-friendly workplaces, offering paid parental leave, flexible working arrangements and personal leave for caring responsibilities and mental health care.

Additionally, by offering online relationship support or counselling through to having support available for those that could face relationship difficulties in the future (such as those becoming parents for the first time), can make a significant impact on work engagement.

Following are a some (but not all) of the pitfalls employers need to observe to ensure work engagement is maximised:

  • Employers need to ensure that flexible working does not become ‘all the time working’, preventing expectations that employees are permanently available.
  • Employers should avoid the assumption that women will not want to focus on their careers if they have children, additionally ensuring that they monitor the effects of discrimination and unconscious bias.
  • Employers should observe and monitor men to ensure that flexible working policies are aligned and communicated in such a way that men are able to access them equally, without concern over it damaging their career.

Based on this evidence, employers are encouraged to view Relationship Quality as an asset, and one that requires investment.

Tune in next week for a discussion about work stress and home life stress and how both may impact negatively for businesses.

References:

  • Burnett, S. B, Coleman, L, Houlston, C and Reynolds, J., 2015: Happy Homes and Productive Workplaces – Summary Report of research findings. OnePlusOne and Working Families UK

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM Keep up with the latest from the MAREAA online: www.mareaa.asn.au

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

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Research has found that there is a positive association between Relationship Quality and Work Engagement, independent of the other work-centric, relationship-centric and socio-demographic factors

For the employee and for businesses, research suggests that happy employees increase profitability and have the potential through strengthened relationships at home and with business partners to accelerate business growth (Turvey et al, 2006).

In a UK study of British organisations, individuals, couples and families (Burnett et al: 2015), the researchers highlighted the mutually positive benefits that a healthy dynamic between work and home-life can bring and how an increased understanding about the connection between Relationship Quality and Work Engagement. They found that the association between Relationship Quality and well-being is now recognised as unequivocal.

This is especially pertinent at a time of increased divorce rates and declining marriage rates and the increased projections of the proportion of relationships likely to separate. Additionally, the increased likelihood of cohabiting relationships breaking down compared to those married and the subsequent increases in the number of children experiencing the separation of their cohabiting parents and the impact on the level of relationship quality, raises complex and competing factors for couples and their children and the workforce.

Research suggests that cohabitation prior to marriage is usually associated with lower levels of relationship satisfaction and where children are involved, higher levels of family instability are experienced in the first 12 years of children’s lives (DeRose et al, 2017).

The UK researchers identified the following five factors associated with Relationship Quality:

  1. Work Engagement: those who were more engaged at work reported better Relationship Quality with their partner;
  2. Parental-status: Parents had lower Relationship Quality than non-parents;
  3. Work-Family Conflict: Those with greater levels of Work-Family Conflict (work-life impacting on family-life) reported worse Relationship Quality;
  4. Family-Work Conflict: Those with greater levels of Family-Work Conflict (family-life impacting on work-life) reported worse Relationship Quality;
  5. Flexibility: Those who worked flexibly reported lower levels of Relationship Quality compared to those who do not.

The headline finding in the UK study (Burnett et al: 2015) found that there was a positive association between Relationship Quality and Work Engagement that exists independently of the other work-centric, relationship-centric and socio-demographic factors. That is, high Relationship Quality would extend to improvements in Work Engagement. Likewise, improvements in Work Engagement would predict increases in Relationship Quality.

Tune in next week to understand how the Value of Healthy Couple Families to Business.

References:

  • Burnett, S. B, Coleman, L, Houlston, C and Reynolds, J., 2015: Happy Homes and Productive Workplaces – Summary Report of research findings. OnePlusOne and Working Families UK
  • DeRose, L. Lyons-Amos, M.; Wilcox, W.B.; and Huarcaya, G. 2017: The Cohabitation-go-round: Cohabitation and Family Stability Across the Globe, Social Trends Institute, World Family Map 2017
    Turvey, M. D., & Olson, D. H., 2006: Marriage & Family Wellness: Corporate America’s Business? A Marriage CoMission Research Report. Minneapolis, MN

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM Keep up with the latest from the MAREAA online: www.mareaa.asn.au

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf