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
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Setting and achieving goals in your relationship in 2020

This year, my wife and I have set goals for ourselves individually, as a couple, family goals and work goals. Sure, we cover all the obvious areas such as finances, career, sex, time together, time with friends and family, but what we always find is that our couple goals are what makes up most of the discussion. To drive the discussion we started with the following broad questions:

  • How can we gain a greater awareness of our relationship strength and growth areas?
  • What do we need to do about the areas we need to work on?
  • How do we gage success and how often do we check-in?
  • Once achieved, how should we celebrate; and importantly
  • How do we ensure open and constant communication!

The Journey When you put effort towards something, it can be helpful to foresee the target goal. Whether you work through these in a single session or over a few weeks, articulating outcomes now and being mindful of them along the way will help guide you and your partner to find success through this journey.

Accountability (or lack of it) can be the reason you reach (or fail to reach) a particular outcome. Write down a few goals and put them where you and your partner can see them. Maybe it’s a shared calendar or on a note taped to the bathroom mirror. Keeping these visual reminders present during the time you are discussing progress to remind you of the energy you are putting into your relationship.

Review: When you create your goals, make sure they are realistic and clearly stated. If you are unsure of what outcomes to commit to, take some time with your partner and talk through what you want to get out of this experience. Will they:

  • Increase relationship satisfaction?
  • Provide greater understanding?
  • Enable greater support of each other?
  • Enrich our relationship?

Reflect on the goals you’ve set for your relationship in 2020 and consider how you each will contribute. Revisit your list of desired goals within a week after setting them, then continually assess where progress was made and consider articulating relationship (and family) outcomes to continue the momentum.

Source: DISCUSSION GUIDE FOR COUPLES, PREPARE/ENRICH 2019

Tune in next week for more relationship tips and ideas.

The team at MAREAA wish all our members, friends and families and supporters, a happy, safe and enjoyable Christmas and New Year break.

We thank you for your support in 2019 and we look forward to connecting and making 2020 a special year for marriage and relationship education across Australia.

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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Make it your new year resolution to grow as a couple

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the idea that New Year’s resolution should result in a “new you.” But it’s your unique personality quirks that attracted you to your partner in the first place, and those traits are unlikely to change. By focusing your time and energy on creating positive growth in yourself and in your relationship, you can set yourself up for future success.

In practice: The key to relationship harmony is taking complex tasks and distilling them into a short list that you and your partner can understand and remember. And that list should be no more than three, at most. The fact that there are only three seems to be the sweet spot for what our brain can remember day-to-day.

This skill – to create simplicity out of complexity – is important for relationship harmony. In intimate relationships, planning requires two respectful minds communicating to create solutions. Beyond positioning and compromise, seeking to understand our partners growth areas, their needs and interests and finding solutions to satisfy both is vital.

Discussion:

List your three areas of growth in 2020 and discuss how you can achieve these goals, and how your partner can assist. When you create your goals, make sure they are realistic and clearly stated. If you are unsure of what outcomes to commit to, take some time with your partner and talk through what you want to get out of this experience. Will they:

  • Increase relationship satisfaction?
  • Provide greater understanding?
  • Enable greater support of each other?
  • Enrich our relationship?
  • Write them in a place where you can see them daily… maybe it’s a shared calendar or on a note taped to the bathroom mirror or the fridge. Keeping these visual reminders present during the time you are discussing progress reminds you of the energy you are putting into your relationship.
  • Accountability (or lack of it) can be the reason you reach (or fail to reach) a particular outcome. By reviewing your goals regularly (weekly if necessary) and holding each other and yourself accountable for achieving your goals is key.
  • Get cracking and make 2020 a year to remember.
  • Tune in next week for more relationship tips and ideas.

    Reference:

    The team at MAREAA wish all our members, friends and families and supporters, a happy, safe and enjoyable Christmas and New Year break.

    We thank you for your support in 2019 and we look forward to connecting and making 2020 a special year for marriage and relationship education across Australia.

    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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    Managing Step-families at Christmas can be challenging: Choosing Realistic Expectations

    Step families and remarrying couples enjoy the many benefits of married life together, but they also face many challenges of raising children and balancing family ex-partner visits as well as communicating effectively and resolving the issues involved with running a household, parenting and managing finances.

    Christmas can be a joyous time for many but it can also exacerbate these challenges for step families and remarrying couples that need to be managed carefully. It may be useful to work through the following myths with your couple or your partner. Read through these common myths, noticing if any of them resonate.

    Myth 1: Because we love each other, the other family members will also love each other.

    Reality: Love and/or good relationships may or may not happen between step-family members. It will likely take time for emotional bonds to develop; some will bond quickly, others slowly, and it is possible that some individuals may never bond.

    Myth 2: Our children will feel as happy about this new family as we do.

    Reality: The truth is children will at best be confused about the new marriage and at worst, they’ll resent it. Remarriage is a gain for adults and a challenge for children. Only after much time, when family stability is obtained, does the remarriage also become a gain for children. Be patient with them.

    Myth 3: The step-parent(s) will quickly bond with the children and act like another parent.

    Reality: Sometimes stepparents want so badly to be accepted they try to manage the children as a parent would. They may also try to show affection like a biological parent would. Children often need some space initially to build a relationship with the stepparent. It is often a good idea to let the child set the pace and follow their lead.

    Myth 4: We’ll do marriage better this time around.

    Reality: Those who have experienced a breakup or divorce often have learned tough lessons from the past.While a new marriage involves different people and different dynamics, it is not uncommon for individuals to slip into the same old patterns and routines (e.g., being avoidant during conflict). Be mindful not to repeat mistakes of the past.

    Myth 5: We will be able to easily form a new family.

    Reality: In most cases, children didn’t ask for this new family, they need time to develop a history and sense of family. Don’t push to create relationships. It is often better to have minimal expectations of how relationships will develop rather than grand expectations which may fail to materialise.

    Discussion:

    1. Which of these myths have you been tempted to believe?
    2. How could having these unrealistic expectations set you up for frustration and disappointment?
    3. How are you going to balance/prioritise the challenges of a step-family while also nourishing your couple relationship?

    The team at MAREAA wish all our members, friends and families and supporters, a happy, safe and enjoyable Christmas.

    We thank you for your support in 2019 and we look forward to connecting and making 2020 a special year for marriage and relationship education across Australia.

    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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    Family breakdown and divorce directly costs companies in absenteeism and higher turnover expenses, and indirectly supporting less motivated and less healthy employees

    Whilst Australia has seen a declining rate of marriage since 1947 – similar to other western nations – today more than 70% of women will marry in their lifetime, 1 in 5 marrying at least twice; with 4 in 5 couples living together before marriage (an increase from less than 1 in 5 in 1975). Lasting an average of 12 years, 1 in 3 of these relationships will end in divorce, most occurring in the primary producing years, around 45 for men and 43 for women in 2016 (ABS, 2016).

    There is a significant impost on society and the impact on children and on government funding of supporting families in crisis is significant. In Kevin Andrews book ‘Maybe I do’, he claims that >$3 billion p.a. was spent on social security benefits associated with family breakdown in the 1990’s (Andrews, 2012). That figure is a lot larger today. In the UK, the cost to the economy of family breakdown in 2015 was estimated at £47 billion [or AUD$86 billion] (Ashcroft, J. 2015).

    In understanding the effects of family breakdown and divorce on businesses, it is useful to understand that relationships are dynamic, that relationships are constantly progressing toward happy satisfying marriages, or regressing toward employees failing in their relationships and spiraling downward in dissatisfying relationships that often end in separation and divorce.

    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). Additionally, research suggests that family role commitment is beneficial to managers, strengthening their leadership skills and overall well-being (e.g., Ruderman et al., 2002).

    However, when relationships go wrong, these workers directly cost companies in absenteeism and higher turnover expenditures, and indirectly supporting less motivated and less healthy employees and through the societal effects of broken couple families. In Australia, research indicates divorce costs taxpayers an estimated ~$14 billion in federal and state expenditures annually (Andrews, 2012).

    As the line between work and play continues to blur, employers are investing in wellbeing programs as both a social responsibility and a talent strategy. Leading companies are developing strategies that address societal concerns such as longevity and wellbeing – and doing so in ways that help improve productivity and performance.

    If relationships are integral to all aspects of a fulfilled life – from exploring communication and conflict, to developing parenting skills, through to improving relationships and effectively communicating with family, friends, colleagues and business partners –  then it is in the interest of every organisation to assist employees to strengthen and build strong relationship skills.

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

    References:

      Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 2016: Marriage and divorces, Australia
      Andrews, K, 2012: Maybe ‘I Do’: Modern Marriage & the Pursuit of Happiness
      Ashcroft, J., (2015) www.relationshipsfoundation.org, Research note : https://relationshipsfoundation.org/publications/httpwww-relationshipsfoundation-orgcost-of-family-failure-47-bn-and-still-rising/ 23 November 2015
      Ruderman, M. N., Ohlott, P. J., Panzer, S., & King, S. N., 2002: Benefits of multiple roles for managerial women. Academy of Management Journal, 45, 369 –386.
      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