Tag Archives: Intentional Relationship

Are you sharing the household responsibilities in your relationship? If this is an issue for you, you may need to explore each other’s family of origin

Exploring relationship roles and your expectations about how household responsibilities will be shared is vital towards understanding each other’s preferences for traditional or equalitarian roles in your relationship.

  • How do you plan to balance your work with household tasks and responsibilities? 
  • Are there certain tasks that neither of you like to do? 
  • What would need to happen in this area to make it feel most fair?

Often our traditional or equalitarian behaviours are bought into out relationship from our family of origin. If you expect to have an equal relationship, where you and your partner share household responsibilities or you feel that you would be happier if there was a more even balance in your relationship, then you should explore family of origin in more depth.

When it comes to roles and responsibilities, both partners should be willing to adjust.

  • What adjustments do you feel a wife must be willing to make?
  • What adjustments do you feel a husband must be willing to make?
  • What type of adjustments are you not willing to make?
  • Have you talked about the adjustments both of you will have to make when you are married?

Have you shared with each other what you would like for your roles to be regarding household tasks? 

If not then you get talking, else you may need to or seek assistance from a marriage educator or relationship counselor.

One approach is to complete the PREPARE/ENRICH assessment or Couple Checkup. Each tool is customised to your relationship type and helps identify each other’s unique strengths and growth areas. For the PREPARE/ENRICH assessment, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills. For couple checkup, the assessment and resulting reports are self-administered.


Contract: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich

For more information on the use and analysis of the Couple Checkup or to simply use the tool, please contact: www.couplecheckup.com.au #couplecheckup #relationship

 

Take the Couple Checkup

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

The Couple Checkup is an online couple assessment based on the PREPARE/ENRICH couple inventories. The Checkup assessment and Checkup report are designed to go directly to couples at any stage of their relationship (dating, engaged or married). The online system allows for dynamic customization of the assessment to each couple based on how the couple answers background questions. The goal is for the Couple Checkup to reach a more diverse group of couples, to empower couples to deal with issues on their own and to emphasize prevention over remediation.

Exploring family of origin: Family experience is a significant predictor of difficulties in a couples relationship

As shown in a previous article, there can be little doubt that the experience of family of origin is an important area for investigation among couples taking PREPARE/ENRICH or any relationship assessment.

A booklet by Dr Alan Craddock (National Coordinator of PREPARE/ENRICH Australia and Honorary Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology, The University of Sydney) has been written solely for PREPARE/ENRICH Administrators. 

This booklet is entitled Origins: Family Experiences of premarital Couples and has three main aims:

1. To identify the different types of premarital couples in a large national sample of Australian couples participating in the PREPARE/ENRICH program. In particular, the aim is to identify and explore the main differences between highly satisfied (vitalised) and more troubled (conflicted) premarital couples.

2. To examine the differences in family background of vitalised versus conflicted premarital couples in the National sample. Of major interest is any link between negative experiences within family of origin in the past (separateness, rigidity and exposure to abuse) and present difficulties in couple relationship.

3. To explore the practical implications of these findings, particularly when working with conflicted premarital couples. General strategies for working with conflicted couples are also described.

The study represents the drawing together of trends and patterns identified in the data from over 500 Australian PREPARE/ENRICH couples, with a view to identifying areas for work with conflicted premarital couples. These areas for work are not based on biased speculation but are identified by means of careful investigation of the research data. An addendum is included in which the relevance of this material to the Customised Version is described.

Origins: Family Experiences of premarital Couples is available for purchase for $12 (including postage and GST).

If you have any questions regarding work with couples and family of origin or you simply need assistance setting up your couple, please call us on (02) 9520 4049.

Strengthening Relationships Since 1979

Couples may struggle with Roles and Responsibilities when one partner is dominant and the other feels an imbalance (Positive and Negative cycles in Relationships: Partner dominance – Part 4)

Partner dominance is problematic when a person does not want their partner to be in such a controlling position. A high score on Partner Dominance should trigger a discussion with the person scoring high.

Based on the research, PREPARE/ENRICH has discovered that there is a positive cycle linking assertiveness and self-confidence and a negative cycle linking avoidance and perceived dominance.

In the positive cycle, as a person uses more assertiveness, their level of self-confidence tends to increase. As a person’s self-confidence increases, their willingness and ability to be more assertive increases.

In the negative cycle, when one person perceives their partner as dominating, a common reaction is for that person to avoid dealing with issues. As a person uses more avoidance, they will often perceive more dominance in their partner.

Often a goal of marriage and relationship education is to increase the assertiveness and active listening skills of one or both partners. This series of posts discusses assertiveness and self-confidence, and avoidance and perceived partner dominance.

4. Partner Dominance:

Partner dominance assesses how much a person feels his/her partner tries to control them and dominate his/her life.

There is considerable evidence in U.S. samples demonstrating couples who have an equalitarian relationship tend to have a more successful marriage (Olson and DeFrain, 1997). There are, however, exceptions. These include couples in which both partners genuinely want more traditional relationship roles, often based on their religious beliefs or their cultural heritage. The traditional relationship is one in which the male is the leader of the family.

Engaged couples who want and expect to have a more equalitarian relationship in terms of Relationship Roles will struggle if one partner is overly dominant. Married couples may also struggle with their Roles and Responsibilities when one partner is dominant and the other feels the imbalance.

As partners in a relationship improve their assertiveness and active listening skills, their self-confidence will increase. This is the positive cycle of more assertiveness increasing self confidence. Increasing assertiveness also tends to decrease avoidance and partner dominance, which is a common negative cycle in couples.

For more details on this exercise, refer to the Couple’s Workbook.

#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.

Do you need help with an issue or problem? Our approach helps to generate deep and productive conversations that couples would not otherwise have about their relationship. These conversations can restore insight and understanding about one another.

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

More tips at Intentional-Relationship.com

Avoidance tends to be highest in people who are passive or non-assertive (Positive and Negative cycles in Relationships: Part 2 – Avoidance)

Based on the research, we have discovered there is a positive cycle linking assertiveness and self-confidence and a negative cycle linking avoidance and perceived dominance.

In the positive cycle, as a person uses more assertiveness, their level of self-confidence tends to increase. As a person’s self-confidence increases, their willingness and ability to be more assertive increases.

In the negative cycle, when one person perceives their partner as dominating, a common reaction is for that person to avoid dealing with issues. As a person uses more avoidance, they will often perceive more dominance in their partner.

Often a goal of marriage and relationship education is to increase the assertiveness and active listening skills of one or both partners. This series of posts discusses assertiveness and self-confidence and avoidance and perceived partner dominance.

Avoidance: Avoidance is a person’s tendency to minimise issues and his/her reluctance to deal with issues directly.

Avoidance tends to be highest in people who are passive or non-assertive. Conversely, people who are very assertive tend to be low on avoidance. There is increasing evidence that an avoidant style creates problems in close relationships.

People who score high in avoidance tend to report they feel dominated by their partner, dislike the personalities of their partner, and dislike the way they communicate and resolve conflicts with their partner.

John Gottman (1994), a prominent researcher on marriage, described three common styles of relating in couples. One of his three types of couples was the avoidant couple.

Avoidant couples tend to minimise conflict and often don’t resolve their differences, agreeing to disagree. Gottman has found an avoidant marriage is one style that can endure, but states, ‘…there is a low level of companionship and sharing in the marriage.” He goes on to report, “Another hazard of this type of marriage is that it can become lonely” (Gottman, 1994, p. 46). Individuals in such marriages may often feel disconnected, misunderstood, and ill-equipped to deal with conflict should it arise.

As partners in a relationship improve their assertiveness and active listening skills, their self-confidence will increase. This is the positive cycle of more assertiveness increasing self-confidence. Increasing assertiveness also tends to decrease avoidance and partner dominance, which is a common negative cycle in couples.

For more details on this exercise, refer to the Couple’s Workbook.

#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.

Do you need help with an issue or problem? Our approach helps to generate deep and productive conversations that couples would not otherwise have about their relationship. These conversations can restore insight and understanding about one another.

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

More tips at Intentional-Relationship.com

Assertive people are able to ask for what they want without demanding it or infringing on the rights of others (Positive and Negative cycles in Relationships: Part 1 – Increasing Assertiveness)

Based on research, PREPARE/ENRICH have discovered there is a positive cycle linking assertiveness and self-confidence and a negative cycle linking avoidance and perceived dominance.

In the positive cycle, as a person uses more assertiveness, their level of self-confidence tends to increase. As a person’s self-confidence increases, their willingness and ability to be more assertive increases. In the negative cycle, when one person perceives their partner as dominating, a common reaction is for that person to avoid dealing with issues. As a person uses more avoidance, they will often perceive more dominance in their partner.

Often a goal of marriage and relationship education is to increase the assertiveness and active listening skills of one or both partners. This series of posts discusses assertiveness and self-confidence and avoidance and perceived partner dominance.

As partners in a relationship improve their assertiveness and active listening skills, their self-confidence will increase. This is the positive cycle of more assertiveness increasing self confidence. Increasing assertiveness also tends to decrease avoidance and partner dominance, which is a common negative cycle in couples.

Assertiveness: Assertiveness is the ability to express one’s feelings to their partner and the ability to ask for what they would like.

Assertive communication involves the honest expression of one’s thoughts, feelings, and desires. Assertiveness is self focused and, therefore, is marked by use of “I” and “me” statements rather than “you” statements.

Assertive people are able to ask for what they want without demanding it or infringing on the rights of others. Assertive people tend to feel better about themselves because they are able to express themselves.

One important goal of working with a couple is to try to help both people become more assertive with each other. Increasing assertiveness will positively affect the other three relationship dynamics assessed in this section of the inventory. If each person becomes more assertive, this will increase a person’s self-confidence, reduce the partner’s dominance and reduce the tendency to use avoidance.

When both partners are assertive with each other, this tends to increase the level of intimacy because they are able to share their honest feelings and ask for what they want and, thereby, increase the probability they will connect and understand one another’s needs.

As a person’s self-confidence increases, their willingness and ability to be more assertive increases.

For more details on this exercise, refer to the Couple’s Workbook.

#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.

Do you need help with an issue or problem? Our approach helps to generate deep and productive conversations that couples would not otherwise have about their relationship. These conversations can restore insight and understanding about one another.

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

More tips at Intentional-Relationship.com

The Top 5 Stressors for Couples: Married couples report higher stress levels than dating or engaged couples

In today’s fast paced society, it is impossible to avoid stress in our lives. Stressors being external events which cause an emotional or physical reaction can be handled in 2 basic ways:

  1. Eliminate the stressor or
  2. Change one’s reaction to stress.

When a stressor cannot be eliminated, it is important to look at how one reacts or copes in response to the stressor. Learning and using healthy coping mechanisms can help individuals respond to stress in healthier ways.

Top 5 Stressors for Couples 

Based on results from the first 20,000 couples to complete the PREPARE/ENRICH Customised Version, the top 5 stressors for each relationship stage are listed below. Overall, married couples report higher stress levels than dating or engaged couples.

Dating Couples

  1. Your job
  2. Feeling emotionally upset
  3. Inadequate income
  4. Your partner
  5. Too much to do around the home
  • Engaged Couples: 
    1. Your job
    2. Financial concerns
    3. Cost of wedding
    4. Lack of exercise
    5. Lack of sleep
  • Married Couples: 
    1. Your spouse
    2. Your job
    3. Feeling emotionally upset
    4. Inadequate income
    5. Too much to do around the home

    Tune in for part 3 next week.

    Do you need help with an issue or problem? Our approach helps to generate deep and productive conversations that couples would not otherwise have about their relationship. These conversations can restore insight and understanding about one another.

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

    More tips at Intentional-Relationship.com

    It seems impossible to avoid stress in our lives: 2 basic ways to cope with stress

    In today’s fast paced society, it is impossible to avoid stress in our lives. A recent survey of Australian adults found that 1 in 4 respondents reported moderate to severe levels of stress, highest amongst 18-25 and 26-35 age groups. Almost 1 in 5 (17%) reported that current stress levels are having a strong to very strong impact on physical health (Australian Psychological Society, 2014).

    Stressors are external events which cause an emotional or physical reaction. The impact of the event depends on whether one views the event as positive or negative. When stress levels are high or chronic, it is common for physical symptoms (headaches, backaches), psychological symptoms (anxiety, anger) and relational issues (conflict, disconnection) to emerge.

    There are 2 basic ways to cope with stress:

    1. Eliminate the stressor. Some stressors represent things that are controllable (working too many hours). In some cases, it is possible to make choices that actually eliminate the stressor (change jobs).
    1. Change one’s reaction to stress. When a stressor cannot be eliminated, it is important to look at how one reacts or copes in response to the stressor. Learning and using healthy coping mechanisms can help individuals respond to stress in healthier ways.

    Stress and Couples 

    A study of 82 couples demonstrates how high stress levels can negatively impact marriages (Neff & Karney, 2009).
    The greater the stress levels, the more strongly partners react to the normal ups and downs of life. In other words, when stress levels are high, we experience perceived stress more intensely.

    The study also suggests high stress levels make it more difficult to effectively use one’s positive relationship skills such as communication and conflict resolution abilities.

    Finally, couples are more likely to evaluate their relationship negatively when they are experiencing prolonged exposure to stress. High stress negatively colours a couple’s perceptions of their marriage.

    References:

    • Australian Psychological Society (2014): www.psychology.org.au
    • Neff, L.A., and Karney, B.R., (2009). Stress and reactivity to daily relationship experiences: How stress hinders adaptive processes in marriage. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97 (3), 435-450.

    Tune in next week for part 2.

    More tips at Intentional-Relationship.com

    For more information about PREPARE/ENRICH, contact: https://www.prepare-enrich.com.au/for-couples or call is on (02) 9520 4049.

    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.