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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
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    A healthy workplace considers the performance of the organisation and the health of its employees

    If adults on average spend at least a quarter to a third of their waking life at work (Harter, Schmidt, & Keyes, 2003) and job satisfaction accounts for a fifth to a quarter of life satisfaction in adults (Harter et al., 2003), it is understandable that many organisations spend a significant amount of time and energy developing, implementing, and monitoring health promotion programs (Grawitch et al, 2014, p.130) to improve the performance of the organisation and the health of their employees.

    The headline finding in a 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.

    This 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. This could range from 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). Based on this evidence, employers should be encouraged to view Relationship Quality as an asset, and one that requires investment.

    A stable, positive home/family life was shown to enable people to be more engaged in their work. By reducing Work-Family Conflict, this may improve Work Engagement. Further, it may improve Relationship Quality, which, in turn, may predict higher levels of Work Engagement, creating a virtuous cycle.

    Companies wanting to increase their profitability will do well to realise that business takes place in the boardroom and in the family room. Whether married or cohabiting, studies of the best programs teaching relationship skills to adults, centred around commitment, communication, and conflict resolution show that these programs can successfully reduce conflict, improve satisfaction and reduce divorce across a variety of settings and socio-economic groups (Carroll & Doherty 2003; Stanley et al 2006; Stanley et al 2014).

    Tune in next week to understand the impact of stress in the workplace and how it impacts relationships.

    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
    • Carroll, J. & Doherty, W. 2003: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Premarital Prevention Programs: A Meta-Analytic Review of Outcome Research. Family Relations, 52, 105–118.
    • Grawitch, M.J., Gottschalk, M., & Munz, D.C. 2006: The path to a healthy workplace: A critical review linking healthy workplace practices, employee well-being, and organizational improvements.  Consulting Psychology Journal, 58, 129-147
    • Harter, J. K., Schmidt, F. L., & Keyes, C. L. M., 2003: Well-being in the workplace and its relationship to business outcomes: A review of the Gallup studies. In L. M. Keyes & J. Haidt (Eds.), Flourishing: Positive psychology and the life well-lived (pp. 205–224). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association
    • Sauter, S.L., Lim, S.Y., & Murphy, L.R., 1996: Organizational health: A new paradigm for occupational stress research at NIOSH. Journal of Occupational Mental Health, 4(4), 248–254
    • Stanley, S., Kline, G., & Markman, H. 2006: Sliding vs. Deciding: Inertia and the premarital cohabitation effect. Family Relations, 55, 499-509.
      Stanley, S., Rhoades, G. K. Loew, B. A., Allen, E. S., Carter, S, Osborne, L. J., Prentice, D., and Markman, H. J., 2014: A randomized controlled trial of relationship education in the US Army: 2 year outcomes. Family Relations, 63, 482-495

    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:

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

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    Relationship Quality at home has a positive impact on Work Engagement

    We all know that work life and family life are intertwined, and research supports this by demonstrating that companies benefit from employees who are highly committed to their roles as parents and spouses (Graves, et al, 2007). Conversely, employee performance and satisfaction occur easiest when outside influences like family are considered through workplace contracts and the provision of flexible work arrangements (Ford, et al, 2007).

    However, the business world has typically underestimated the impact and value of marriage and relationship education and family wellness in affecting financial outcomes, and while there is a rising interest and investment in workplace health promotion programs, businesses and governments must recognise that there are significant benefits for profitability and productivity if they were to be more supportive of the relational and marital health of their employees.

    How many employees are we talking about?

    In Australia and according to ABS figures (June 2017), there were 5.7 million total couple families*, 2.6 million couple families with children or dependants including children under 15 and dependent students aged 15–24 years, and 3.1 million couple families without children under 15 or dependent students. 2.6 million were from opposite sex couple families with dependants and 57,900 same-sex couple families. There were 1.7 million couple families with children or dependent students where both parents were employed.

    The chief Economist for the ABS, Bruce Hockman said that in June 2017 that 64% of couple families with children had both parents working, while a decade ago the proportion was 59%. “The increasing proportion of couple families with children where both parents work is an ongoing trend we have been observing for a decade, as female participation rates in the labour market have increased to the current record high of around 60%,” Mr Hockman said “Couple families with children with one parent employed full time and the other part time were still the most common group, at 35% in June 2017.” The proportion of jobless families (couple and lone parents) with children remained steady over the past decade at 12%, as did the proportion of couple families with children, at around 5% (ABS, 2017).

    What can companies do?

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

    Companies wanting to increase their profitability will do well to realise that business takes place in the boardroom and in the family room. Whether married or cohabiting, studies of the best programs teaching relationship skills to adults, centred around commitment, communication, and conflict resolution show that these programs can successfully reduce conflict, improve satisfaction and reduce divorce across a variety of settings and socio-economic groups (Carroll & Doherty 2003; Stanley et al 2006; Stanley et al 2014).

    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.

    * Individuals who would identify as not being in a relationship and/or single are active and highly valued employees within the workplace and the content in this blog post is not intended to undervalue or de-value the important role they play in life more broadly as well as in the workplace.

    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
    • Carroll, J. & Doherty, W. 2003: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Premarital Prevention Programs: A Meta-Analytic Review of Outcome Research. Family Relations, 52, 105–118.
    • Graves, L.M., Ohlott, P.J., & Ruderman, M.N. 2007: Commitment to family roles: Effects on managers’ attitudes and performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 44-56
      Ford, M.T., Heinen, B.A., & Langkamer, K.L., 2007: Work and family satisfaction and Conflict: A meta-analysis of cross-domain relations. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 57-85
      Stanley, S., Kline, G., & Markman, H. 2006: Sliding vs. Deciding: Inertia and the premarital cohabitation effect. Family Relations, 55, 499-509.
      Stanley, S., Rhoades, G. K. Loew, B. A., Allen, E. S., Carter, S, Osborne, L. J., Prentice, D., and Markman, H. J., 2014: A randomized controlled trial of relationship education in the US Army: 2 year outcomes. Family Relations, 63, 482-495

    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:

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

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    The Benefits of Relationship Education and Family Wellness Programs for Business Productivity

    We all know that work life and family life are intertwined, and research supports this by demonstrating that companies benefit from employees who are highly committed to their roles as parents and spouses (Graves, et al, 2007). Conversely, employee performance and satisfaction occur easiest when outside influences like family are considered through workplace contracts and the provision of flexible work arrangements (Ford, et al, 2007).

    If a healthy workplace is one that maximises the integration of worker goals for well-being and the company’s objectives for profitability and productivity, then positive experiences in family roles could contribute to enhanced behavioural outcomes at work, particularly where work-family balance environments are encouraged for employees. Conversely, when relationship problems lead to unhappy relationships and marriages and employees experience separation and divorce (which most often occur in the primary producing years), the impact on employee engagement and profit will impact negatively on companies.

    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.

    This series of blog posts examines the link between healthy relationships (especially the impact of marriage and relationship education and family wellness programs) on work engagement and business productivity, the factors that affect the quality of work and non-work life and explores the following questions:

    1. Does relationship quality impact on work engagement?
    1. Would the building and integrating of marriage and relationship education and family wellness programs at work increase a company’s overall financial health?
    1. If so, should marriage and relationship education and family wellness be an economically driven priority?

    It is important at this stage to clearly articulate the focus of this series of blog posts is specifically about ‘couple families’ and the intersectionality with work/employment. According to the Australia Bureau of Statistics (2017), “Couple families are based around a couple relationship between two persons who are either married or in a de facto partnership and usually resident in the same household. Couples can be same-sex or opposite-sex, and their dependants or children may also be members of the couple family if they all reside in the same household”.

    Individuals who would identify as not being in a relationship and/or single are active and highly valued employees within the workplace and the content in this blog post is not intended to undervalue or de-value the important role they play in life more broadly as well as in the workplace.

    Tune in next week to understand how Relationship Quality has a positive impact on Work Engagement.

    References:

      Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 2016: Marriage and divorces, Australia
    • Graves, L.M., Ohlott, P.J., & Ruderman, M.N. 2007: Commitment to family roles: Effects on managers’ attitudes and performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 44-56
    • Ford, M.T., Heinen, B.A., & Langkamer, K.L., 2007: Work and family satisfaction and Conflict: A meta-analysis of cross-domain relations. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 57-80

    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:

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

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    The Two Faces of Commitment: Acknowledging expectations is the first step to managing them effectively in your relationship

    Commitment is crucial and an essential ingredient in the recipe for marital success, relationship satisfaction, as well as trust in longevity. Commitment is pledging yourself to each other by word, action and giving up or making choices. However, couples often struggle with commitment due to disenchanted, resentfulness, experiencing conflict or having ‘grass is greener’ visions.

    When couples stop acting on commitment in their relationship, they can get off track (something we never dream of when we first get together). The success of a relationship is a strong sound friendship with our partner, staying deeply committed to each other and the partnership so that we can continually build a strong emotional bank account.

    Unfulfilled expectations often become the source of conflict because preconceived notion distorts the actual experience.

    Acknowledging expectations is the first step to managing them effectively in your relationship. Once you and your partner both know each other’s expectations, adjustments can be made based on the how realistic they are. In doing this, it’s important to remember not to compromise the integrity of your original expectations. Instead restate them to better set you and your partner up for success.

    In practice:

    Wanting and expecting your relationship to stand the test of time:

    • Believe in a long-term future together, even in conflict or the hard times.
    • Don’t make threats or ‘out-plans’ when it’s not going well.
    • Have a support system that agrees that marriage is for life and that you can achieve this.

    I believe we can expect great things in our marriage when commitment, love and skill work together. Sure, there are times in our lives when we have to concentrate on some of these areas specifically or seek support to help us overcome challenges but with support and understanding, we can all enjoy the blessings of a strong and committed partnership.

    I hope these tools prove useful and help you enrich your relationship. If you would like further reading on commitment, please contact me on 4979 1370 or robyn.donnelly@mn.catholic.org.au.

    by Robyn Donnelly
    Co-ordinator, Marriage & Relationship Education CatholicCare and Secretary and NSW Representative MAREAA.

    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:

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

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    The Two Faces of Commitment: Strengthen and preserve your identity, make time for each other, have rituals, be friends, talk, walk and listen

    Commitment is crucial and an essential ingredient in the recipe for marital success, relationship satisfaction, as well as trust in longevity. Commitment is pledging yourself to each other by word, action and giving up or making choices. However, couples often struggle with commitment due to disenchanted, resentfulness, experiencing conflict or having ‘grass is greener’ visions.

    When couples stop acting on commitment in their relationship, they can get off track (something we never dream of when we first get together). The success of a relationship is a strong sound friendship with our partner, staying deeply committed to each other and the partnership so that we can continually build a strong emotional bank account.

    It’s critical to nurture closeness and intimacy in your relationship, but don’t forget to maintain your own sense of independence and identity. Through open and overt communication with your partner, seek to find an appropriate balance.

    In practice:

    Make time for yourself and time for each other, have rituals, be friends, talk, walk and listen:

    • Strengthen and preserve your identity.
    • Think about yourselves as ”WE” and support each other’s hopes and dreams.
    • Talk about long term goals, make decisions together, develop a shared vision for your future.

    Make Sacrifices:

    • Put off or postpone things to benefit your relationship.
    • Look for the joy that comes from choosing to do something that will make your partner happy.
    • Don’t tally and count what you do and what they don’t.

    I believe we can expect great things in our marriage when commitment, love and skill work together. Sure, there are times in our lives when we have to concentrate on some of these areas specifically or seek support to help us overcome challenges but with support and understanding, we can all enjoy the blessings of a strong and committed partnership.

    I hope these tools prove useful and help you enrich your relationship. If you would like further reading on commitment, please contact me on 4979 1370 or robyn.donnelly@mn.catholic.org.au.

    by Robyn Donnelly
    Co-ordinator, Marriage & Relationship Education CatholicCare and Secretary and NSW Representative MAREAA.

    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:

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

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    The Two Faces of Commitment: Commitment in partnership will grow when partners witness personal dedication and commitment to their relationship

    Pre-marriage programs, inventory workshops and enhance programs for married couples, each consider the true meaning and purpose of commitment.

    Commitment is crucial and an essential ingredient in the recipe for marital success, relationship satisfaction, as well as trust in longevity. Commitment is pledging yourself to each other by word, action and giving up or making choices. However, couples often struggle with commitment due to disenchanted, resentfulness, experiencing conflict or having ‘grass is greener’ visions.

    When couples stop acting on commitment in their relationship, they can get off track (something we never dream of when we first get together). The success of a relationship is a strong sound friendship with our partner and we need to stay deeply committed to each other and the partnership so that we can continually build a strong emotional bank account.

    What Grows Commitment?

    Commitment in partnership is a dynamic force and it will grow when partners:

    • Enjoy being together;
    • Each feel appreciated, loved and valued;
    • Witness personal dedication and commitment to their relationship; and
    • See their partner investing in their relationship and when they too show investment.

    In most relationships, commitment can be looked at as a symbol of security; when they share a deep sense of security they will feel safer and are more willing to show and strengthen their own personal dedication. So what are the keys to staying personally committed?

    Making the right choices for the relationship and your partner:

    • Making your partner and your relationship a priority! This means you have to say no to some people and other responsibilities.
    • Choose to show personal dedication – make “we” choices and see the positives in your partner more often than scanning for the negatives.

    I believe we can expect great things in our marriage when commitment, love and skill work together. Sure, there are times in our lives when we have to concentrate on some of these areas specifically or seek support to help us overcome challenges but with support and understanding, we can all enjoy the blessings of a strong and committed partnership.

    I hope these tools prove useful and help you enrich your relationship. If you would like further reading on commitment, please contact me on 4979 1370 or robyn.donnelly@mn.catholic.org.au.

    by Robyn Donnelly
    Co-ordinator, Marriage & Relationship Education CatholicCare and Secretary and NSW Representative MAREAA.

    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:

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

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    The Two Faces of Commitment: (2) Over time relationships can find themselves in trouble, with only Constraint Commitment holding it together

    Pre-marriage programs, inventory workshops and enhance programs for married couples, each consider the true meaning and purpose of commitment.

    With this in mind, the research on commitment by Dr Scott Stanley is an excellent area to cover with couples preparing for or enriching marriage (for further reading refer to Dr Stanley’s publications “12 Hours to a Great Marriage” and the “Power of Commitment”).

    Commitment is crucial and an essential ingredient in the recipe for marital success, relationship satisfaction, as well as trust in longevity. Commitment is pledging yourself to each other by word, action and giving up or making choices. However, couples often struggle with commitment due to disenchanted, resentfulness, experiencing conflict or having ‘grass is greener’ visions.

    When couples stop acting on commitment in their relationship, they can get off track (something we never dream of when we first get together). The success of a relationship is a strong sound friendship with our partner and we need to stay deeply committed to each other and the partnership so that we can continually build a strong emotional bank account.

    Dr Scott Stanley speaks of two faces of commitment:

    1. Personal dedication; and
    2. Constraint commitment

    This week: Constraint Commitment is the type of commitment referred to one enforced by circumstances.

    An example: Jane is committed to her organisation and her skills only match this particular organisation. She has huge responsibilities outside her work and needs the money. She is not personally fulfilled by her role and is often unappreciated for the work she does.

    How Commitment Erodes
    Lack of enjoyment or appreciation of the other can erode commitment. One of the biggest causes of dissatisfaction is conflict or unfilled expectations. When conflict isn’t handled well, marital satisfaction declines and with it goes personal dedication. When couples feel little commitment and that they don’t have a partner who understands them and supports them, they stop helping each other and stop doing things to make each other happy. Over time relationships can find themselves in trouble, with only constraint commitment holding it together. In this situation, partners can journey their relationship on autopilot – just being, not doing. The person with the lest commitment has the most power.

    Commitment can also erode when both partners continue to show dedication but neither one notices the other’s efforts, or life becomes so busy or distracted that they take the other for granted. When couples experience this they can take the ‘grass is greener’ view and the relationship is open to emotional or physical affairs. Unfortunately, the partner with the least commitment has the most power.

    I hope these tools prove useful and help you enrich your relationship. If you would like further reading on commitment, please contact me on 4979 1370 or robyn.donnelly@mn.catholic.org.au.

    by Robyn Donnelly
    Co-ordinator, Marriage & Relationship Education CatholicCare and Secretary and NSW Representative MAREAA.

    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:

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

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    The Two Faces of Commitment: (1) Personal dedication refers to the promise and actions to fulfil your promise to maintain and improve your relationship

    Pre-marriage programs, inventory workshops and enhance programs for married couples consider the true meaning and purpose of commitment.

    With this in mind, the research on commitment by Dr Scott Stanley is an excellent area to cover with couples preparing for, or enriching marriage (for further reading refer to Dr Stanley’s publications “12 Hours to a Great Marriage” and the “Power of Commitment”).

    Commitment is crucial and an essential ingredient in the recipe for marital success, relationship satisfaction, as well as trust in longevity. Commitment is pledging yourself to each other by word, action and giving up or making choices. However, couples often struggle with commitment due to disenchanted, resentfulness, experiencing conflict or having ‘grass is greener’ visions.

    When couples stop acting on commitment in their relationship, they can get off track (something we never dream of when we first get together). The success of a relationship is a strong sound friendship with our partner and we need to stay deeply committed to each other and the partnership so that we can continually build a strong emotional bank account. 

    Dr Scott Stanley speaks of two faces of commitment:

    1. Personal dedication; and
    2. Constraint commitment

    Personal dedication refers to the promise and actions to fulfil your promise to maintain and improve a relationship for the mutual benefit and satisfaction for both parties. It goes well beyond simply being there in the relationship but actively:

    • Doing what it takes to increase its quality;
    • Investing in and sacrificing for it;
    • Linking it to personal goals; and
    • Seeking to improve your own welfare and that of your partner.

    An example: Mary is sure she is dedicated and committed to the company she works for, she enjoys the people, believes in the company values and is treated well and is respected. Mary puts in energy and enthusiasm by turning up early and giving it her all, often going beyond what is required by her. She really enjoys her work.

    I believe we can expect great things in our relationships when commitment, love and skill work together. Sure, there are times in our lives when we have to concentrate on some of these areas specifically or seek support to help us overcome challenges but with support and understanding, we can all enjoy the blessings of a strong and committed partnership.

    Tune in for part 2 next week on Constraint Commitment.

    I hope these tools prove useful and help you enrich your relationship. If you would like further reading on commitment, please contact me directly on (02) 4979 1370 or robyn.donnelly@mn.catholic.org.au.

    by Robyn Donnelly
    Co-ordinator, Marriage & Relationship Education CatholicCare and Secretary and NSW Representative MAREAA.

    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:

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

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    Balance: Clarify values and your commitment, dedicating time to study, faith and/or meditation

    We are all in a state of entropy and only consistent and continued refinement and attention to Physical, Intellectual, Social and our Spiritual selves is vital to retain balance. To ensure an upward spiral of growth, change, and continuous improvement in ourselves and our relationships, learn to take care of yourself.

    4. Spiritual.

    Focus on clarifying values and your commitment, dedicating time to study, faith and/or meditation.

    Focus on getting better, rather than being good. Think improvement rather than thinking that you ought to be perfect. If you appreciate that change is inevitable, therefore focusing on getting better through enhanced awareness and careful exploration of issues and by developing and improving skills to deal with those issues we remain flexible and allow for error and therefore alleviate anxiety.

    Enjoy the journey as well as the destination.

    Reference:

    • Covey, S, 1989: Principle Centred Leadership.

    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:

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