Author Archives: intentional-relationship.com

About intentional-relationship.com

Intentional-Relationship.com is a destination designed to assist you towards growing stronger, healthier, happier relationships at Home, at Work and in the Community. The relationship and advise on offer aims to ensure you begin and remain intentional about making your family, work and community relationships a priority.

8 ways to be intentional with the time I have to spend with my family

Did you know that only about 8% of New Year’s resolutions are actually followed through?

Shocking, right? This is because we tend to make lavish goals that seem farfetched, like exercising 30 hours a week while balancing 2 kids’ schedules or going to visit every state in Australia this year. These resolutions tend to get thrown to the side to make room for other, every day priorities, like going to the supermarket, or spending that holiday money on your child’s traveling football team.

While we tend to make unobtainable resolutions for the New Year, many people still feel like the New Year is a fresh start, whether or not we make resolutions. Researchers call this feeling the “fresh start effect”. They have found that we tend to motivate ourselves into good habits by using a new beginning (like the start of the week, month, year, season, etc.) as a marker to put past behaviour behind us and focus on being better. It brings opportunity to reflect on the previous year and anticipate what you want the New Year to look like.

Many people make resolutions around their own lifestyle changes that will improve their quality of life. Try focusing on what motivations the New Year will bring for you instead of an extravagant resolution. Keep in mind these motivations don’t have to be just for you. Parents and families can benefit from new beginnings.

For 2020, we have come up with 8 ways to be intentional with the time I have to spend with my family. Try using these motivations in your own household.

  1. Spend 1:1 time – If you have more than one child how can you make them feel special and loved? Spend time with them individually! Kids crave one-on-one time with their parents. It makes them feel special, you get to connect and catch up with that child, and it can strengthen your bond. Make sure both parents take turns. Some examples: have one child run errands with you, take a walk around your neighborhood, do your chores/projects together, play a favorite game with them, use your time in the car driving your child to activities.
  2. Take time to unplug – When I get home from work I try to put my phone on the counter so I’m not tempted to look at it and can give my family my full attention. Think about when you are out with friends or on a date. Do you find it rude, or distracting when they are on their phones the whole time? I don’t want my kids to feel neglected because dad is always on her phone. It’s also a great way to model good behaviour when it comes to setting rules on screen time for your children.
  3. Make self-care a priority – It’s okay to take care of yourself and put your needs first. You can’t pour from an empty tank! Your kids will benefit from you taking time for yourself because you will be a more patient and energised parent. Try picking one thing each week that is just for you (i.e. working out, eating healthier, more sleep, pamper session).
  4. Date your partner – Most couples know that they are supposed to have regular date nights. I’ll be honest, in this season of life it’s hard to take time to go on an actual date with my husband. It’s not cheap to go out to dinner and hire a babysitter for three kids every week or month. Put the kids to bed and commit to a date night at home.
  5. Establish routinesRoutines get children involved and give them a sense of responsibility. They make mornings run much smoother and provide predictability for their ever-growing brains. As your child learns and grows, having a routine they know is in place will help them be prepared for the day. Just like you have a routine every morning on your way out the door to work, your child needs a routine as well.
  6. Spend time together – Life is busy. I have found that as my children get older, the more activities and social events get added to the calendar that pull us in opposite directions. It is important to make sure you are taking time as a family to enjoy each other, connect, and most importantly have fun! Spending time together doesn’t have to cost money to create the best of memories. Remember it is the time together that you will remember. Be creative by having each member of the family make a list of things they like to do and do them together.
  7. Create rituals and traditions – Family rituals are things that you do together regularly so they can look forward to, and expect them to happen. Our family has adapted to Friday Pizza Night, and then we talk and eat together. Most week nights in the warmer months we like to go on a walk together after dinner. These activities don’t have to be set in stone if something else comes up.
  8. Eat healthy – Providing healthy meals is important. This can often seem overwhelming and unattainable with our busy schedules, but when we take the time to sit down on Sunday to meal plan and prep for the upcoming week, we are able to enjoy each other and more varied meals. We find we ate then less stressed and saving money, which is a great bonus!

By setting intentions for the New Year, it takes pressure off of you and your family to accomplish those unreasonable resolutions. Use this year as an opportunity to create a fresh start. Be intentional with your family.

Remember that these motivations aren’t all or nothing. Some days you will succeed in some areas and lack in others, and that’s okay. The purpose of setting intentions is to make your goals obtainable for you and your family.

References

  1. Hengchen Dai, Katherine L. Milkman, Jason Riis (2014) The Fresh Start Effect: Temporal Landmarks Motivate Aspirational Behavior. Management Science
  2. PREPARE/ENRICH blog, 2018

Tune in for more tips next week… or contact me Shane Smith shane@intentional-relationship.com or @ www.workofheart.net.au

#PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

For more information on PREPARE/ENRICH or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich #strongerrelationships

Balancing relationship roles is crucial for all couples, and particularly important for remarrying couples

Exploring relationship roles and a remarrying couple’s expectations about how decision making and responsibilities will be shared is vital, and assists understanding each others preferences for traditional or equalitarian roles in their relationship.

Of course all this discussion may be conducted with one or both partners having had the experience of becoming a parent. Whatever the dynamic, it is a great opportunity to raise the issues for further thought and to examine the assumptions they often make about this transition and about one another.

It is important to be on the lookout for divergent views between the couple about having children.

Encouraging individuals to discuss their expectations with regard to career and children, what happens now, how that might change and more importantly how the couple might feel about those changes is vital.

In the case of PREPARE/ENRICH couples remarrying it can be even more complex for the couple who want to become parents together but who have other children. Half and step sibling relationships have to be managed respectfully while the couple negotiate their own roles with, and rules for, their biological child. These may be different to those for the other children who may move between houses and be subject to different rules. A useful starting point for this discussion is:

  • “My partner and I are adequately prepared for the realities of blended family living”.

In summary, PREPARE/ENRICH covers most of the key areas including, seeking a difference of opinion about number of children – difficult when one party does not want children) and the timing (very interesting in view of the older couples we are seeing in our couple work).

Participant responses always make for an interesting session.

Tune in next week for further discussion on traditional vs equalitarian roles.

Getting Started:

For Parents:

  • To get started with the Parenting Version of PREPARE/ENRICH, you will need to locate a qualified facilitator of relationship and parental education. PREPARE/ENRICH Certified facilitators can be located in your area by contacting PREPARE/ENRICH or by using the search facility on the website: For Couples

Tune in for more tips next week… or contact me Shane Smith shane@intentional-relationship.com or @ www.workofheart.net.au

#PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

For more information on PREPARE/ENRICH or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich #strongerrelationships

Couples can be ethnically different, but it’s important to have similarities

Relationships in general are challenging, and coming from different cultural backgrounds can create its own set of challenges. As intercultural marriages continue to increase, it’s important to acknowledge and understand how different cultural backgrounds are likely to impact marriages and family life of the couples you work with.

Couples can be ethnically different, but it’s important to have similarities. From a counseling point of view, if the couple has agreement in the most important areas of their life, then the greater success in marriage they will have.

Even a trained, skilled therapist may take several sessions to get the information you can get at a glance from the biographical background page. Don’t make assumptions, even when working with couples who are of the same ethnic background.

The facilitator’s role is to coach the couple so they know how to play the game, but the coach does not play in the game. You teach them the skills they need so they know how to play the game, how to navigate the marital waters.

In Australia in 2016, 31.6% (ABS, 2016). So the likelihood of coming across couples from culturally diverse backgrounds is high.

References:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Marriage and divorces, Australia 2016

Tune in for more tips next week… or contact me Shane Smith shane@intentional-relationship.com or @ www.workofheart.net.au

#PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

For more information on PREPARE/ENRICH or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich #strongerrelationships

For couples with ethnic and cultural differences it’s important to acknowledge and understand how different cultural backgrounds are likely to impact marriages and family life

Did you know that in 2016, 31.6% of couples married were born in different countries, and 13.9% were born in the same overseas country. 54.5% of couples married were both born in Australia (ABS, 2016).

Relationships in general are challenging, and coming from different cultural backgrounds can create its own set of obstacles. As intercultural marriages continue to increase, it’s important to acknowledge and understand how different cultural backgrounds are likely to impact marriages and family life of the couples you work with.

PREPARE/ENRICH tailors itself not only to the unique stage and structure of each couple’s relationship, but also the larger cultural context in which they live.

The Cultural and Ethnic Issues scale assesses how each individual feels about differences in their ethnic or cultural background and whether these differences are negatively affecting their relationship. It can provide a framework on which to help couples deal, address and explore cross-cultural issues.

How does it work?
There is a customised scale that is triggered during the decision-tree questions at the beginning of the assessment (completed by the first partner that logs in). The first partner is asked: Do you and your partner come from ethnic and/or cultural backgrounds that you feel are very different from one another? If answered “yes”, the couple will receive the scale.

Below is a sample scale item and some follow up questions you can ask during feedback sessions to further explore this topic with the couple:

  • Differences in our ethnic/cultural background can some times strain our relationship.
  • What differences seem to cause the most relational strain?
  • How do you handle these differences?
  • Have you shared your thoughts and feelings about this with one another?

From a counseling point of view, if the couple has agreement in the most important areas of their life, then the greater success in marriage they will have. Couples can be very ethnically different, but it’s important to have similarities.

Tune in next week for tips and insights for facilitating culturally diverse couples.

References:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) – Marriage and divorces, Australia 2016

Tune in for more tips next week… or contact me Shane Smith shane@intentional-relationship.com or @ www.workofheart.net.au

#PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

For more information on PREPARE/ENRICH or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich #strongerrelationships

The top 12 remarriage stumbling blocks

In 2010 David Olson, Amy Olson-Sigg & Peter Larson carried out a study in the US using >50 thousand premarital couples (both partners), whose marriages were about to create a stepfamily. The survey identified the top twelve Remarriage Stumbling Blocks.

Out of the 12 items, 4 deal with stepfamily concerns. The other items deal with money issues, fear of relationship failure, and resolving damages from the past. Seven of the 12 items deal with specific issues relating to the resolution of their past or the complexity of their present stepfamily.

The top twelve specific issues for married couples come from six general relationship categories:

  • marriage expectations and concerns;
  • children, parenting and step parenting;
  • finances and debt;
  • personality issues;
  • conflict resolution; and
  • communication

Remarriage Stumbling Blocks (in rank order):

  1. They expect difficulty dealing with complex stepfamily issues (88%)
  2. They believe having children from previous relationships will put an additional strain on their marriage (86%)
  3. Creating a stepfamily puts more stress on their relationship (85%)
  4. Having different patterns of childrearing in their birth family can be problematic (82%)
  5. They expect stepfamily adjustment to be difficult (78%)
  6. They don’t have a specific plan for money management (73%)
  7. They have concerns over unpaid bills, debts, or settlements (66%)
  8. They feel their partner is too stubborn (65%)
  9. One or both of the partners goes out of their way to avoid conflict with the other (63%)
  10. They have a fear of marital failure (63%)
  11. One or both partners feel responsible for the problems when they argue (61%)
  12. One or both partners have not yet worked through the issues and hurts from previous relationships (58%)

Notice how many of the stumbling blocks pertain to the complexity of marriage in a stepfamily and the couple’s past.

In order to empower couples, it is important to focus on the resources
used by strong marriages. This study of marital strengths is in contrast to most studies of marriage that focus on only marital problems.

Source:

  • David H. Olson, Amy Olson-Sigg & Peter J. Larson 2010: National Survey of Remarried Couples.

Source:

  • David H. Olson, Amy Olson-Sigg & Peter J. Larson 2010: National Survey of Remarried Couples

Tune in for more tips next week… or contact me Shane Smith shane@intentional-relationship.com or @ www.workofheart.net.au

#PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

For more information on PREPARE/ENRICH or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich #strongerrelationships

Couple Flexibility and Couple Closeness are most important for step-parents

In a study in the US using >50 thousand premarital couples (both partners), whose marriages were about to create a stepfamily, an important discovery was the role in conflict resolution.

Problems arise in everyday marriage issues in addition to the various stressors of step-parenting. In healthy couples 91% resolve these problems while 84% of unhappy couples are unable to do so.

While most past studies have identified the importance of communication and conflict resolution, the significance of couple flexibility and couple closeness identified demonstrates their growing importance in our high stress society.

In order to empower couples, it is important to focus on the resources
used by strong marriages. This study of marital strengths is in contrast to most studies of marriage that focus on only marital problems.

Source:

  • David H. Olson, Amy Olson-Sigg & Peter J. Larson 2010: National Survey of Remarried Couples

Tune in for more tips next week… or contact me Shane Smith shane@intentional-relationship.com or @ www.workofheart.net.au

#PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

For more information on PREPARE/ENRICH or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich #strongerrelationships

Encourage couples and professionals to focus more on the strengths of marriage, especially remarriage and the creation of stepfamilies, rather than only problems

In 2010 David Olson, Amy Olson-Sigg & Peter Larson carried out a study in the US using >50 thousand premarital couples (both partners), whose marriages were about to create a stepfamily. The survey identified the Five Keys to Intimacy, which is made up of the top five strengths that clearly distinguish great relationships from unsatisfying ones, along with the Top Ten Strengths of Happy versus Unhappy Couples Creating Step Families.

Using these top ten strengths, it is possible to discriminate between happy and unhappy marriages with 90% accuracy.

The top five categories in rank order of importance were:

  • Personality
  • Communication
  • Conflict resolution
  • Leisure activities and
  • Couple flexibility

While most past studies have identified the importance of communication and conflict resolution, the significance of couple flexibility and couple closeness identified demonstrates their growing importance in our high stress society.

In order to empower couples, it is important to focus on the resources
used by strong marriages. This study of marital strengths is in contrast to most studies of marriage that focus on only marital problems.

Source:

  • David H. Olson, Amy Olson-Sigg & Peter J. Larson 2010: National Survey of Remarried Couples

Source: PREPARE/ENRICH Discussion Guide for Couples.

Tune in for more tips next week… or contact me Shane Smith shane@intentional-relationship.com or @ www.workofheart.net.www.workofheart.net.au

#PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

For more information on PREPARE/ENRICH or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich #strongerrelationships