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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Couples (Habit 3: Put First Things First)

The seven habits are not a quick and easy formula for success, but together they form a powerful model for personal change. Adapted for couples, this series of posts is a respectful homage to Stephen R. Covey who died on July 16, 2012, age 79. Covey will be remembered as a transformational thinker on leadership and personal effectiveness.

His book ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ his most lasting legacy.

The seven habits can be divided into two groups – the first three focus on “private victory” and the second three on “public victory”, with Habit 7 rounding the previous six to work towards refinement, self renewal and continuous improvement. Covey says “Private Victory precedes Public Victory” which means that you must master yourself before enjoying success outside of ourselves and with our partner.

Habit 3: Put First Things First

  • If Habit 2 is about beginning with the end in mind, or imagining and establishing the end state, then habit 3 is about focusing on the important matters to achieving your mission. If you tend to spend a lot of time doing things that are not that important, Habit 3 recommends you identify what is important in order to keep you heading towards your destination. Putting first things first is about staying on track, taking the initiative, exercising willpower and getting the important things done.
  • Think leverage and influence and do all things in a disciplined way. Balance the short and long-term priorities to ensure your effort is expended effectively. Implement and live the values and principles of Habits 1 and 2.
  • If you don’t practice Habit 2, if you don’t have a clear idea of what is important, of the results you desire in your life, you will be easily diverted into responding to the urgent. The urgent things are often those that keep you away from focusing on what is important.
  • A practical approach to keep you on track is to capture and track your tasks and review then weekly. Ensure they are always aligned to your couple or family mission statement.

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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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Couples (Habit 2: Begin with the End In Mind)

The seven habits are not a quick and easy formula for success, but together they form a powerful model for personal change.

Adapted for couples, this series of posts is a respectful homage to Stephen R. Covey who died on July 16, 2012, age 79. Covey will be remembered as a transformational thinker on leadership and personal effectiveness.

His book ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ his most lasting legacy. The seven habits are a step by step model that empower couples to be intentional, to make decisions and to act, to move towards a known destination rather than reacting to whatever is happening at the time. Emphasising the importance of self awareness before successful engagement with your partner, the model is a process of learning new habits to create personal and interpersonal effectiveness.

The seven habits can be divided into two groups – the first three focus on “private victory” and the second three on “public victory”, with Habit 7 rounding the previous six to work towards refinement, self renewal and continuous improvement. Covey says “Private Victory precedes Public Victory” which means that you must master yourself before enjoying success outside of ourselves and with our partner.

Habit 2: Begin with the End In Mind

Stephen Covey talks about how easy it is to get caught up in the busy-ness of life, working hard to climb the ladder of success, only to discover that all this time the ladder has been leaning against the wrong wall. By creating the future in your mind, you can imagine a course of action, pursue it and then conscientiously decide what you will do (and won’t do) with your time, talents and tools. This ensures your ladder is up against the right wall before you start climbing.

Through careful planning and constant assessment and re-evaluation of your plans, you know where you are going, you can plan where you are heading and you take time to see the bigger picture. This leads to greater personal effectiveness and synergy as a couple.

  • A practical approach to keep you on track is to develop a couple or family mission statement. Through developing this with your partner (or family) and by the process of defining and sharing your objectives and clarifying your vision and purpose – creativity, innovation and empowerment are activated. Through negotiation, the agreed mission statement demonstrates your commitment to a shared mission fostering mutual understanding and greater intimacy.

Tune in next week for Habit 3.

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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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Couples (Habit 1 – Be Proactive)

In 2012, the world lost one of its most highly effective teachers. Stephen R. Covey died on July 16, 2012, age 79. Covey will be remembered as a transformational thinker on leadership and personal effectiveness.

His book ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ is and continues to be an extraordinarily influential book delivering powerful lessons in personal productivity and growth. The seven habits are not a quick and easy formula for success, but together they form a powerful model for personal change.

Adapted for couples, this series of posts is a respectful homage to his most lasting legacy – the 7 habits. The seven habits are a step by step model that empower couples to be intentional, to make decisions and to act, to move towards a known destination rather than reacting to whatever is happening at the time. Emphasising the importance of self awareness before successful engagement with your partner, the model is a process of learning new habits to create personal and interpersonal effectiveness.

The seven habits can be divided into two groups – the first three focus on “private victory” and the second three on “public victory”, with Habit 7 rounding the previous six to work towards refinement, self renewal and continuous improvement. Covey says “Private Victory precedes Public Victory” which means that you must master yourself before enjoying success outside of ourselves and with our partner.

Habit 1: Be Proactive

  • Being proactive is more than just taking action. In this first habit, you have the ability to consciously choose how you respond to your partner rather than responding to the prevailing conditions or instincts or conditioning.
  • As John Gottman says in his book ‘Why Marriages Succeed or Fail and How to Make Yours Last’, you must err from using criticism and contempt with your partner, and alter your usual response.
  • Think about your start up conversation with your partner and stop being a ‘hot reactor’ and start being a cool, responsible chooser. By consciously choosing the way you respond to your partner, you act to achieve growth and mutual benefit in your relationship.
  • As a proactive partner, one who is self-aware, you accept responsibility for your actions and you don’t blame or accuse when things go wrong. You work continuously within your circle of influence, you change and develop yourself first in order to be a better partner.
  • Work to reject past behaviours and ways of reacting and determine your own destiny to become who you want to be for your partner.

By being proactive you take responsibility for your response, often looking for what you can learn from what happened. You are always intentional and proactive in your thoughts, words and actions.

Tune in next week for Habit 2.

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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Practice makes perfect: 4 tips to break patterns of negativity

They say practice makes perfect, but when it comes to our relationships, we are likely to make mistakes.

The key to relating better is building awareness, developing skills and practicing those skills: awareness of the ineffective ways we resort to when there is conflict and understanding the physical signs that give us an indication that things are getting heated. Then developing skills to engage more effectively and to practice them over and over to ensure we relate better.

The following four strategies from relationship guru John Gottman will help you break patterns of negativity and take a positive approach to solving problems.

Keep practicing what you have learnt:

  • Once you have learnt the techniques of fighting fair, practice them over and over until they become second nature.
  • When you are next in a dispute or disagreement with your partner, take a deep breath and consider a different a approach.
  • Use these techniques during the heat of a battle instead of resorting to your old, ineffective ways.

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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Validate what your partner says: 4 tips to breaking patterns of negativity

Having an argument does not mean that your relationship is in trouble. By listening and speaking in a non-defensive fashion, avoiding criticism you can help foster healthy discussion.

Disagreements and differences are an inevitable part of life but by speaking non-defensively, this positive posture will benefit your relationship.

The following of four strategies from relationship guru John Gottman will help you break patterns of negativity and take a positive approach to solving problems:

3. Validate what your partner says: Validate your partners emotions by looking at the situation from his or her viewpoint. Often, simply empathising is enough. Back your partner – take their side. You don’t have to agree or solve their problem, just validate the feeling.

Validation foils criticism, contempt and defensiveness, areas that you should keep out of your relationship. Take responsibility for your words and actions, take a deep breath and listen, and experience the intimacy that ensues. Try it this week and notice the change.

Tip four, next week…

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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Speak non-defensively – 4 tips to breaking patterns of negativity

Having an argument does not mean that your relationship is in trouble. By listening and speaking in a non-defensive fashion, avoiding criticism you can help foster healthy discussion.

Disagreements and differences are an inevitable part of life but by speaking non-defensively, this positive posture will benefit your relationship.

The following four strategies from relationship guru John Gottman will help you break patterns of negativity and take a positive approach to solving problems:

2. Speak non-defensively: Listen and speak in a way that does not engender defensiveness but, instead, fosters healthy discussion. “Praise and admiration” are the best weapons to keep negative thoughts at bay.

Empathise. Realise that your partners anger might be an effort to get your attention. Adopt a receptive body posture and an open facial expression. Limit yourself to a specific complaint rather than a multitude of criticisms.

Try these approaches:

  • Remove the blame from your comments;
  • Say how you feel;
  • Don’t criticize your partner’s personality;
  • Don’t insult, mock or use sarcasm;
  • Be direct;
  • Don’t mind-read.

Tip three, next week…

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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What matters is how we discuss and solve disagreements: 4 tips to breaking patterns of negativity

Having an argument does not mean that your relationship is in trouble. Disagreements and differences are an inevitable part of every relationship but what matters is how we discuss and resolve those disagreements.

The following four strategies from relationship guru John Gottman will help you break patterns of negativity and take a positive approach to solving problems:

  1. Calm down: You can’t resolve your differences productively if your heart is racing and you feel overwhelmed. Before you respond, take a deep breath, count to 5 and think about your response.
  • Halt the negative cycle of your thoughts by replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. This is often hard to do but by taking a deep breath and calming yourself physically, you have a chance.
  • A proven approach is to repeat back to your partner exactly what you heard. You can then seek to understand what was said, giving yourself time to reflect.
  • If the argument starts to get out of hand, ask for a “time out.” Taking 5 to 20 minutes away from your partner will calm you enough to allow you to listen better and discuss the subject objectively rather than emotionally.
  • Soothe yourself by taking deep breaths, a short walk, or even a short drive.

Read on for various resources to assist you at this time. Tip 2 next week.

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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Marriage presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities for couples

Married Couples enjoy the many benefits of married life together, but they also face the daily challenges of communicating effectively and resolving the issues involved with running a household, parenting children and managing finances.

The PREPARE/ENRICH couple assessment integrates the multiple versions of the previous inventories into one dynamic system automatically tailored to assess the relevant stage and structure of a couple’s relationship. Unlike previous assessment tools that assess overall couple functioning across a predefined inventory or set of scales, the PREPARE/ENRICH couple assessment is dynamically generated based on the individual characteristics of each couple.

Relationship Stage:

Relationship Stage is assessed by asking couples to identify if they are dating, engaged, or married. Each of these relationship stages presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities for couples.

Married Couples:

  • Along with the core scales, the PREPARE/ENRICH couple assessment includes scales on Forgiveness, Personal Stress, and Personality for married couples.
  • The standard Children and Parenting scale is interchanged with scales for Parenting Expectations, Becoming Parents, Intergenerational Issues, or Step Parenting when relevant.
  • Health Issues, Role Transitions, Interfaith/Interchurch, and Cultural/Ethnic Issues are brought in when relevant for the couple.
  • The Spiritual Beliefs scale is customised for Protestant, Catholic, or Jewish groups when indicated by the facilitator.

Whereas the focus of the couple assessment with premarital couples tends to be preventive and educational in nature, evaluation with married couples is more varied. Some couples interested in enriching their relationships may wish to use assessment tools as a means of learning more about their marriage. More often, evaluative instruments are used by Relationship Educators and Counsellors as a vital aid in relationship education and marital therapy.

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

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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Are you dating and wondering whether marriage is for you? Couple assessment provides insights and discoveries that can last a lifetime.

It can be a useful exercise for Dating Couples to assess the health of their current dating relationship, their level of commitment and to consider their future together.

Couple assessment does not assume a dating couple will be getting married. Instead, it is designed to help them understand their strengths and growth areas in their dating relationship today. PREPARE/ENRICH for example is one dynamic assessment tailored to assess the relevant stage and structure of a couple’s relationship, based on the individual characteristics of each couple.

Relationship Stage

Relationship Stage is assessed by asking couples to identify if they are dating, engaged or married. Each of these relationship stages presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities for couples.

  • Dating Couples evaluate the quality of their relationship as they attempt to determine their level of commitment to a future together. The assessment does not assume a dating couple will be getting married. Instead, it is designed to help them assess the health of their current dating relationship and consider their future together.
  • Beyond the normal core scales, dating couples also assess their relationship against a Character Traits scale, Finances, Relationship Expectations and Stress scales relevant for dating couples, and the SCOPE Personality section.
  • Children & Parenting and Relationship Roles, may included only if one or both of the dating couples have children.
  • Cohabitation issues, Interfaith/Interchurch, and Cultural/Ethnic Issues, are utilised when relevant for the couple.
  • Spiritual Beliefs can also be customised for Protestant, Catholic, or Jewish groups when indicated by the couple.

Couple relationships are quite complex and take on many variations such as dating, engaged, cohabiting, married, stepfamilies, and mature couples. Instead of using a static assessment tool, there are many scale variations in the PREPARE/ENRICH customised version couples may need based on their stage and family structure. This ensures maximum relevance for each couple’s relationship needs.

Read on for various resources to assist you at this time.

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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Marital Check-up: Designed to activate dialogue, discovery and increase the overall quality of your relationship

Tools such as the CoupleCheckup are designed to help couples build a more satisfying and intimate relationship. By answering the questions the tool is designed to stimulate thoughts and attitudes about a couples relationship, activating dialogue, discovery, aiming to increasing the overall quality of a couples relationship.

The CoupleCheckup evaluates up to 25 important areas in a couple’s relationship including: couple and family systems, personality and age and stage of relationship. Couples are encouraged to schedule a time (preferably after a meal) to talk constructively about each topic and what you both could do for the benefit of the relationship.

The assessment includes statements such as those below where couples select Strongly disagree; Disagree; Undecided; Agree; Strongly Agree:

  1. I am very satisfied with how my partner and I communicate
  2. We are creative in how we cope with our differences
  3. We feel very connected to one another
  4. My partner seldom seems too controlling
  5. My partner is able to understand my opinions and ideas when we discuss problems
  6. Our sexual relationship is satisfying and fulfilling to me
  7. We have a good balance of leisure time spent together and separately
  8. My partner’s friends or family rarely interfere with our relationship
  9. We usually agree on how to spend money
  10. I am satisfied with how we express spiritual values and beliefs

Adapted from www.prepare-enrich.com.au, the CoupleCheckup evaluates up to 25 important areas in a couple’s relationship including eight core scales (i.e. communication, conflict resolution, role relationship and sexual relationship), four couple and family system scales (closeness and flexibility), five personality scales (based on the Big Five Personality Scales), and between four and eight specific scales relevant to the age and stage of the couple based on background questions ( i.e. cohabiting, children from previous relationship, and intergenerational issues).

The CoupleCheckup generates deep and productive conversations that couples would not otherwise have about their relationship. These conversations restore insight and understanding about one another. The CoupleCheckup can help to revive a relationship and increase intimacy.

The goal is for the CoupleCheckup to reach a more diverse group of couples, to empower couples to deal with issues on their own and to emphasise prevention over remediation.

For more information on the use and analysis of the CoupleCheckup or to simply use the tool, please contact: www.couplecheckup.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #couplecheckup #relationship

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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Stress levels of Australian Couples impacting Physical Health: Wedding Stressors and Engaged Couples – Consider whether deeper issues are underlying your conflict (Part 5)

Engaged couples are typically embroiled in the countless details of planning their wedding service and reception. They are also faced with the pressures of a very high price tag.

In many ways, planning a wedding provides the first big set of decisions a couple will make together and tests their ability to function as a team. From finances to family, and communication to conflict, the wedding preparations trigger many of the issues a couple will face throughout their married life providing a symbolic practice field for their relationship.

In looking at the PREPARE/ENRICH data, the Cost of the wedding is the number 3 overall stressor for engaged couples. Two other items from the wedding items also made the top 10; Decisions about wedding details was number 7, and Feeling overwhelmed by wedding details was number 10 out of the 25 stressors reported by engaged couples. Differences and disagreements are as inevitable in wedding planning as they are in marriage itself. This is a good time to learn how to deal with them. Here are some strategies you might find helpful to work through with your wedding plans or to discuss with the couple you are working with:

5. Consider whether deeper issues are underlying your conflict:

  • When you are doing your best to deal with your differences and yet remain polarized, consider whether deeper issues are underlying your conflict. For example, sometimes the issue is not about the size of the wedding but about a feeling of envy or competition because one of you has a bigger family or circle of friends. Sometimes the issue is not between the two of you, but between one of you and your family members.

The standard tools of effective communication taught in PREPARE/ENRICH are particularly important when there is tension between couples. Examples are speaking for yourself using “I-statements” rather than attacking the other person, listening to understand before proposing solutions, and choosing the best time and place to talk about difficult matters. Everyday communication patterns might be fine for everyday matters, but when you are negotiating a wedding, it’s good to be at your best!

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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Stress levels of Australian Couples impacting Physical Health: Wedding Stressors and Engaged Couples – Teach and learn from one another rather than assuming the other “gets it.” (Part 4)

Engaged couples are typically embroiled in the countless details of planning their wedding service and reception. They are also faced with the pressures of a very high price tag.

In many ways, planning a wedding provides the first big set of decisions a couple will make together and tests their ability to function as a team. From finances to family, and communication to conflict, the wedding preparations trigger many of the issues a couple will face throughout their married life providing a symbolic practice field for their relationship.

In looking at PREPARE/ENRICH data, the cost of the wedding is the number 3 overall stressor for engaged couples. Two other items from the wedding items also made the top 10.

Out of the 25 stressors reported by engaged couples:

  • Decisions about wedding details was number 7;
  • Feeling overwhelmed by wedding details was number 10 out of the 25 stressors reported by engaged couples.

Differences and disagreements are as inevitable in wedding planning as they are in marriage itself. This is a good time to learn how to deal with them.

Here are some strategies you might find helpful to work through with your wedding plans or to discuss with the couple you are working with:

4. Teach and learn from one another rather than assuming the other “gets it”.

Sometimes one of you will not see a problem that is quite clear to the other. You can both educate each other about your families and their traditions. For example, the groom from a Catholic family should explain to his Protestant bride what is involved in a traditional Catholic wedding, rather than having surprises keep coming up.

The standard tools of effective communication taught in PREPARE/ENRICH are particularly important when there is tension between couples. Examples are speaking for yourself using “I-statements” rather than attacking the other person, listening to understand before proposing solutions, and choosing the best time and place to talk about difficult matters. Everyday communication patterns might be fine for everyday matters, but when you are negotiating a wedding, it’s good to be at your best!

Tune in for part 5 next week – the top 5 stressors for couples.

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