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Unrealistic expectations: Set up to take a fall

It may be no surprise that seriously dating and engaged couples are more prone to “agree” or “strongly agree” with statements such as “We are as happy as any couple could possibly be!”

While the phenomenon of being love struck is quite normal, it can also be a setup when experienced in extremes. There are several problems associated with unrealistic marriage expectations.

Set up to take a fall: It has been said that the distance between one’s expectations and the reality experienced is equal to the hurt and disappointment one will feel. It is not a matter of “if” but “when” reality will set in for couples. Passionate romance always fades or at least changes to something less intense, and all couples face challenges and problems at some point in their marriage.

It may be the norm for engaged couples to be love-struck, embracing romanticised notions regarding love and marriage or perhaps it may just be that humans are designed to function at a physiological level. Don’t sound the alarms or be overly critical but understand that couples may need to be more realistic about what they should expect from their relationship.

Relationship Expectations is a challenging, yet fun area of discussion for premarital couples, however whilst these couples often have a lot to discuss as they prepare for marriage, healthy dialogue about expectations is critical. The key question for exploration for engaged couples is:

  • “My partner is the only person with whom I could have a happy marriage.”

by Peter Larson, Ph.D.

Tune in next week for part 3.

References: Olson, D. H. (2004). PREPARE/ENRICH Counselor’s Manual. Minneapolis: Life Innovations.
Slater, L. (2006). True Love. National Geographic. February, 32-49.

Source: Peter Larson, Ph.D. 
References: Olson, D. H. (2004). PREPARE/ENRICH Counselor’s Manual. Minneapolis: Life Innovations.
Slater, L. (2006). True Love. National Geographic. February, 32-49.

Marriage Expectations is a challenging, yet fun area of discussion for premarital couples, however whilst these couples often have a lot to discuss as they prepare for marriage, healthy dialogue about expectations is critical. The key question for exploration for engaged couples is:

  • “My partner is the only person with whom I could have a happy marriage.”

Source: Peter Larson, Ph.D. 

References:

Olson, D. H. (2004). PREPARE/ENRICH Counselor’s Manual. Minneapolis: Life Innovations.

Slater, L. (2006). True Love. National Geographic. February, 32-49.

By Shane Smith, Director PREPARE-ENRICH, Relationship Educator and MediatorPresident, 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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Some couples move too quickly towards engagement and marriage, not allowing themselves time to really get to know one another: Exploring relationship expectations

It may be no surprise that seriously dating and engaged couples are more prone to “agree” or “strongly agree” with statements such as “We are as happy as any couple could possibly be!”

Almost intoxicated by love, engaged couples are often known for being infatuated with one another. They tend to be confident that they’ll never have problems or that existing problems will just fade away with time, they’ll never question their love, never experience a drop in romance, and already know everything there is to know about their partner. They truly are love struck.

The Problem with Unrealistic Expectations

While the phenomenon of being love struck is quite normal, it can also be a setup when experienced in extremes. There are several problems associated with unrealistic marriage expectations.

Moving too quickly: If I believe that nothing could cause me to question my love and I already know everything there is to know, why wait? Some couples move too quickly towards engagement and marriage, not allowing themselves time to really get to know one another.

It may be the norm for engaged couples to be love-struck, embracing romanticised notions regarding love and marriage or perhaps it may just be that humans are designed to function at a physiological level. Don’t sound the alarms or be overly critical but understand that couples may need to be more realistic about what they should expect from their relationship.

Marriage Expectations is a challenging, yet fun area of discussion for premarital couples, however whilst these couples often have a lot to discuss as they prepare for marriage, healthy dialogue about expectations is critical. The key question for exploration for engaged couples is:

  • “My partner is the only person with whom I could have a happy marriage.”

by Peter Larson, Ph.D.

Tune in next week for part 3.

References: Olson, D. H. (2004). PREPARE/ENRICH Counselor’s Manual. Minneapolis: Life Innovations.
Slater, L. (2006). True Love. National Geographic. February, 32-49.

Source: Peter Larson, Ph.D. 
References: Olson, D. H. (2004). PREPARE/ENRICH Counselor’s Manual. Minneapolis: Life Innovations.
Slater, L. (2006). True Love. National Geographic. February, 32-49.

Marriage Expectations is a challenging, yet fun area of discussion for premarital couples, however whilst these couples often have a lot to discuss as they prepare for marriage, healthy dialogue about expectations is critical. The key question for exploration for engaged couples is:

  • “My partner is the only person with whom I could have a happy marriage.”

Source: Peter Larson, Ph.D. 

References:

Olson, D. H. (2004). PREPARE/ENRICH Counselor’s Manual. Minneapolis: Life Innovations.

Slater, L. (2006). True Love. National Geographic. February, 32-49.

By Shane Smith, Director PREPARE-ENRICH, Relationship Educator and MediatorPresident, 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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My partner is the only person with whom I could have a happy marriage…

Almost intoxicated by love, engaged couples are often known for being infatuated with one another. They tend to be confident that they’ll never have problems or that existing problems will just fade away with time, they’ll never question their love, never experience a drop in romance, and already know everything there is to know about their partner. They truly are love struck.

Addicted & Obsessed?

Science can explain the phenomenon of being love struck. One article (Slater, 2006) summarised several intriguing findings on the topic. Helen Fisher, a professor from Rutgers University, has used MRI technology to study couples who report they are “madly in love”. While in the MRI machine, subjects were shown two photographs, one neutral and the other of their lover. The results showed that the pictures of the loved ones evoked a powerful chemical reaction in the pleasure centres of the brain, lighting up the neuronal receptors for a neurotransmitter called Dopamine. Dopamine is associated with intense energy, focused attention, exhilaration and motivation. Certain addictive drugs, such as cocaine, can activate the same regions and chemicals in the brain. In other words, brain physiology suggests couples can feel “addicted to love”.

It may not be unusual for such couples to feel like they have found their one true soul mate, the only person on earth with whom they could have a happy marriage.

Italian researcher, Donatella Marazziti, explored the similarities between being passionately in love and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). The neurotransmitter, serotonin, seems to be the culprit in OCD. Marazziti looked at three groups of subjects, one group of “lovers”, one group suffering from OCD, and another group free from mental illness and passionate love. Results showed that the levels of serotonin in both the OCD group and the lovers were 40 percent lower than in the normal subjects. In other words, there were similar chemical markers in OCD and being madly in love.

We’ve all seen young couples who seem to be obsessed with one another, spending every moment possible together. Perhaps this is why premarital couples taking PREPARE/ENRICH expect all of their needs for companionship, even after marriage, to be met by their partner.

Marriage Expectations is a challenging, yet fun area of discussion for premarital couples, however whilst these couples often have a lot to discuss as they prepare for marriage, healthy dialogue about expectations is critical. The key question for exploration for engaged couples is:

  • “My partner is the only person with whom I could have a happy marriage.”

Source: Peter Larson, Ph.D. 

References:

Olson, D. H. (2004). PREPARE/ENRICH Counselor’s Manual. Minneapolis: Life Innovations.

Slater, L. (2006). True Love. National Geographic. February, 32-49.

By Shane Smith, Director PREPARE-ENRICH, Relationship Educator and MediatorPresident, 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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My partner is the only person with whom I could have a happy relationship: Exploring Unrealistic Expectations

It may be no surprise that seriously dating and engaged couples are more prone to “agree” or “strongly agree” with statements such as “We are as happy as any couple could possibly be!”. Almost intoxicated by love, engaged couples are often known for being infatuated with one another. They tend to be confident that they’ll never have problems or that existing problems will just fade away with time, they’ll never question their love, never experience a drop in romance, and already know everything there is to know about their partner. They truly are love struck.

Unrealistic Expectations: Findings and Couple Types 

In reviewing data from a sample of 15,000 couples who have taken PREPARE-ENRICH, scoring revealed that marital couples often have lower scores in the Marriage Expectations, with an average score on Marriage Expectations at 35%. In other words, the average couple expresses healthy agreement on just 3 or 4 items out of 10. In the case of Marriage Expectations, healthy agreement often means both partners need to disagree with a naïve or unrealistic notion. The data demonstrates that it is common and perhaps even normal to be oblivious to the natural challenges and difficulties that accompany marriage.

It may be the norm for engaged couples to be love-struck, embracing romanticised notions regarding love and marriage or perhaps it may just be that humans are designed to function at a physiological level. Don’t sound the alarms or be overly critical but understand that couples may need to be more realistic about what they should expect from their relationship.

Marriage Expectations is a challenging, yet fun area of discussion for premarital couples, however whilst these couples often have a lot to discuss as they prepare for marriage, healthy dialogue about expectations is critical. The key question for exploration for engaged couples is:

  • “My partner is the only person with whom I could have a happy marriage.”

Source: Peter Larson, Ph.D. 

References: Olson, D. H. (2004). PREPARE/ENRICH Counselor’s Manual. Minneapolis: Life Innovations.

Slater, L. (2006). True Love. National Geographic. February, 32-49.

Source: The Couple Checkup: Find Your Relationship Strengths. By David Olson Ph.D

By Shane Smith, Director PREPARE-ENRICH, Relationship Educator and MediatorPresident, 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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Avoid passive or aggressive communication: Seek win-win and your relationship will grow (Part 4: The Assertive Style)

No one is perfect, and there will likely be times when you or your partner succumb to using passive or aggressive communication. Notice when this happens, make amends and vow to make this the exception rather than the norm, and your relationship will grow!

tin_can_telephone communication styles

What is your communication style? Generally, there are four common styles:

  • Passive
  • Aggressive
  • Passive aggressive
  • Assertive

Following on from last weeks post, it is important to recognise your primary communication style and that any combination of passive and aggressive communication styles can be detrimental to your relationship over time, as they result in lower levels of intimacy.

4. Assertive

Assertive communicators are able to express themselves in a healthy, non-defensive, and non-insistent way. They can ask for what they want while remaining positive and respectful. Exercising assertive communication encourages the other person to respond assertively as well, creating a positive cycle in relationships.

If only one person is assertive and the other is passive or aggressive, the relationship may still suffer. The chart below shows that there is really only one “win-win” combination:
communication_styles_graph

No one is perfect, and there will likely be times when you or your partner succumb to using passive or aggressive communication. Notice when this happens, make amends and vow to make this the exception rather than the norm, and your will relationship grow!

Source: The Couple Checkup: Find Your Relationship Strengths. By David Olson Ph.D

By Shane Smith, Director PREPARE-ENRICH, Relationship Educator and MediatorPresident, 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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Avoid passive or aggressive communication: Seek win-win and your relationship will grow (Part 3: The Passive-Aggressive Style)

No one is perfect, and there will likely be times when you or your partner succumb to using passive or aggressive communication. Notice when this happens, make amends and vow to make this the exception rather than the norm, and your relationship will grow!

tin_can_telephone Communication styles

What is your communication style? Generally, there are four common styles:

  1. Passive
  2. Aggressive
  3. Passive aggressive
  4. Assertive

Following on from last weeks post, it is important to recognise your primary communication style and that any combination of passive and aggressive communication styles can be detrimental to your relationship over time, as they result in lower levels of intimacy. 

3. Passive-Aggressive

Passive-aggressive communicators will often behave passively to a person’s face, but display aggression when that person is not around. On the surface the communicator’s goal is to avoid conflict (like passive communicators), but they will often convey anger or seek vengeance later.

An example of this would be a stay-at-home-dad who feels resentful of his spouse for always working late and not helping out with any of the housework. Instead of actually talking to his partner about his feelings, he complains to his parents and brothers that she is underachieving as a wife and mother; meanwhile, his wife has no idea that there is any issue at all!

Any combination of the passive and aggressive communication styles can be detrimental to a relationship over time, as they result in lower levels of intimacy. If only one person is assertive and the other is passive or aggressive, the relationship may still suffer. 

The chart below shows that there is really only one “win-win” combination:

communication_styles_graph

Consider your communication style and notice when you slip into dysfunctional patterns and turn your relationship towards win-win!

Always consider your limitations in terms of time, experience, and professional expertise when working with abusive couples. Consult or refer to other mental health professionals including marriage and family therapists and psychologists trained to work with abusive couples. Create connections with local domestic violence counsellors and agencies and utilise their expertise and support groups or contact us.

Source: The Couple Checkup: Find Your Relationship Strengths. By David Olson Ph.D

By Shane Smith, Director PREPARE-ENRICH, Relationship Educator and MediatorPresident, 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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Avoid passive or aggressive communication: Seek win-win and your relationship will grow (Part 2: The Aggressive Style)

No one is perfect, and there will likely be times when you or your partner succumb to using passive or aggressive communication. Notice when this happens, make amends and vow to make this the exception rather than the norm, and your relationship will grow!

What is your communication style? Generally, there are four common styles:

  • Passive
  • Aggressive
  • Passive-aggressive
  • Assertive

Following on from last weeks post, it is important to recognise your primary communication style and that any combination of passive and aggressive communication styles can be detrimental to your relationship over time, as they result in lower levels of intimacy. 

2. Aggressive

On the other end of the spectrum is the aggressive communicator, often blaming and making accusations, as well as making over-generalisations such as “You always put me down in front of our friends!” or “You never want to spend time with me!” This style is generally used when one person is feeling threatened or having negative thoughts/feelings; it often focuses on the negative characteristics of the person, rather than the situation. 

tin_can_telephone communication styles

Any combination of the passive and aggressive communication styles can be detrimental to a relationship over time, as they result in lower levels of intimacy. If only one person is assertive and the other is passive or aggressive, the relationship may still suffer. The chart below shows that there is really only one “win-win” combination:
communication_styles_graph

Consider your communication style and notice when you slip into dysfunctional patterns and turn your relationship towards win-win!

Always consider your limitations in terms of time, experience, and professional expertise when working with abusive couples. Consult or refer to other mental health professionals including marriage and family therapists and psychologists trained to work with abusive couples. Create connections with local domestic violence counsellors and agencies and utilise their expertise and support groups or contact us.

Source: The Couple Checkup: Find Your Relationship Strengths. By David Olson Ph.D

By Shane Smith, Director PREPARE-ENRICH, Relationship Educator and MediatorPresident, 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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Avoid passive or aggressive communication: Seek win-win and your relationship can grow

No one is perfect, and there will likely be times when you or your partner succumb to using passive or aggressive communication. Notice when this happens, make amends and vow to make this the exception rather than the norm, and your relationship will grow!

What is your communication style? Generally, there are four common styles:

  • Passive
  • Aggressive
  • Passive aggressive
  • Assertive

1. Passive

Passive communicators are often unwilling to share thoughts, feelings, or desires in an honest way. This tendency may stem from low self-esteem, but it is also used to avoid criticism or hurting others’ feelings. Being the recipient of passive communicators tend to leave their partner feeling angry, confused, and mistrustful.

tin_can_telephone Communication styles.
Consider your communication style and notice when you slip into dysfunctional patterns and turn your relationship towards win-win!
Tune in next week for part 2.

Always consider your limitations in terms of time, experience, and professional expertise when working with abusive couples. Consult or refer to other mental health professionals including marriage and family therapists and psychologists trained to work with abusive couples. Create connections with local domestic violence counsellors and agencies and utilise their expertise and support groups or contact us.

Source: The Couple Checkup: Find Your Relationship Strengths. By David Olson Ph.D

By Shane Smith, Director PREPARE-ENRICH, Relationship Educator and MediatorPresident, 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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Consider your couples communication style and notice when they slip into dysfunctional patterns

No one is perfect, and there will likely be times when couples succumb to using passive or aggressive communication. Notice when this happens and guide couples towards making this the exception rather than the rule, and their relationship will surely grow!

What are their communication styles? Generally, there are four common styles:

  • Passive
  • Aggressive
  • Passive aggressive
  • Assertive

1. Passive

Passive communicators are often unwilling to share thoughts, feelings, or desires in an honest way. This tendency may stem from low self-esteem, but it is also used to avoid criticism or hurting others’ feelings. Being the recipient of passive communicators tend to leave their partner feeling angry, confused, and mistrustful.

2. Aggressive

On the other end of the spectrum is the aggressive communicator, often blaming and making accusations, as well as making over-generalisations such as “You always put me down in front of our friends!” or “You never want to spend time with me!” This style is generally used when one person is feeling threatened or having negative thoughts/feelings; it often focuses on the negative characteristics of the person, rather than the situation.

3. Passive-Aggressive

Passive-aggressive communicators will often behave passively to a person’s face, but display aggression when that person is not around. On the surface the communicator’s goal is to avoid conflict (like passive communicators), but they will often convey anger or seek vengeance later.

An example of this would be a stay-at-home-dad who feels resentful of his spouse for always working late and not helping out with any of the housework. Instead of actually talking to his partner about his feelings, he complains to his parents and brothers that she is underachieving as a wife and mother; meanwhile, his wife has no idea that there is any issue at all!

4. Assertive

Assertive communicators are able to express themselves in a healthy, non-defensive, and non-insistent way. They can ask for what they want while remaining positive and respectful. Exercising assertive communication encourages the other person to respond assertively as well, creating a positive cycle in relationships.

Any combination of the passive and aggressive communication styles can be detrimental to a relationship over time, as they result in lower levels of intimacy. If only one person is assertive and the other is passive or aggressive, the relationship may still suffer.

Always consider your limitations in terms of time, experience, and professional expertise when working with abusive couples. Consult or refer to other mental health professionals including marriage and family therapists and psychologists trained to work with abusive couples. Create connections with local domestic violence counsellors and agencies and utilise their expertise and support groups or contact us.

Shane Smith
Director PREPARE-ENRICH, Relationship Educator and MediatorPresident, 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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Taking a long-term perspective can create a sense of hope and purpose and facilitate growth

With the stresses of the day, COVID, elections, uncertainty… it is impossible for couples to avoid stress in their lives.

Suggesting couples take a long-term perspective, where they can see above and beyond their day-to-day activities is vital. By being intentional and making an effort to start with a clear understanding of the destination and where the couple is going, they can create a sense of hope and purpose and facilitate growth.

Through careful planning and constant assessment and re-evaluation of plans, couples get a better sense of where they are going, and can plan where they are heading and can take time to see the bigger picture. This leads to a clear understanding of goals, dreams and their vision as a couple.

Just as the stagnant pond breeds disease, the flowing stream is always fresh and cool. Taking a long-term perspective, determining a plan and assessing/reassessing the plan regularly brings a sense of hope and purpose.

Shane Smith
Director PREPARE-ENRICH, Relationship Educator and MediatorPresident, 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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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