Tag Archives: love

Thank you for all you’ve done for me Mum: Every thing big and small

You’ve been there by my side through thick and thin, through good times and bad and you’ve done all those small things that a mum does. Thank you, I didn’t go unnoticed.

To my wife, who is always considering our children’s needs before her own, thanks. For every dinner, for every sock that founds it’s partner, for every drop off and pickup, thanks.

Happy mother’s day mum!

Noticing things that others do and expressing your thanks can bring instant intimacy back into your relationship.

Research has shown that successful couples maintain a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions. Considering this and noticing the small things that others do and expressing simple messages of appreciation like, “I really enjoyed dinner tonight” “you really look great today,” and, “thanks for doing the laundry!” will go a long way. As John Gottman says: making deposits into the emotional bank account will come in handy during times of stress and conflict.

Assessing your relationships with your partner and your children

The Parenting Version of PREPARE/ENRICH is designed to guide couples through the emotions of parenting by empowering them with insight into their parenting style, family dynamics, and couple relationship.

When should the Parenting Version be administered?

The Parenting Version is a good choice for any committed couple whose primary concerns are children and parenting issues. While the Parenting Version does assess some relational constructs (communication, conflict resolution, finances, partner styles & habits, and relationship dynamics), the main focus is on parenting issues.

Frequently asked questions:

  • Is it appropriate for couples in blended (step) families?
    Yes, the Parenting Version is customized by the couple based on background questions they answer regarding children.
  • Can it be used with single parents?
    No, like all PREPARE/ENRICH assessments, the Parenting Version is a relationship assessment which assumes the couple is in a committed relationship with one another.
  • How many children/teens can be considered as part of the assessment?
    In addition to global parenting/child/teen statements, the Parenting Version provides each parent the opportunity to evaluate their style of parenting with one to four children. If couples are parenting more than four children, they should select the children most relevant to the parenting issues they are managing.
  • Do the children/teens also complete the assessment?
    No, the Parenting Version is only completed by the parents. However, the facilitator will need the first name, gender and ages of the children in order to type them into the system so the couple can answer questions about the children.
  • What information is needed to set up a couple?
    The facilitator will need the couple’s information (first name and email address) and the following information about each child: first name, age, and gender. The Facilitator will also have the option to include the Family Spiritual Beliefs scale.
  • Would it be appropriate for parents of a newborn?
    No, the parenting scales address issues of discipline, rules and parent-child communication.
  • Can it be used in a group setting?
    Yes, it could be used in a parent education/support/enrichment group setting.

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

For Facilitators:

  • To get started with the Parenting Version of PREPARE/ENRICH, you will need to become PREPARE/ENRICH Certified by attending a Workshop.
  • Once trained, Contact Us to activate the Parenting Version in your facilitator account.
  • The cost to activate the Parenting Version is $40

The PREPARE/ENRICH Parenting Version is Now Available: Register here >

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 the Parenting Version or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich

Stress levels of Australian couples impacting physical health: Everyday communication patterns might be fine for everyday matters, but when you are negotiating a wedding, it’s good to be at your best!

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.

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:

  • Consider the Big Picture
    The standard tools of effective communication taught in Couple Checkup 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.

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.au

    More tips at Intentional-Relationship.com

    Take the Couple Checkup

    Take the Couple Checkup

    Simply click on the Register button below relevant to your relationship – it couldn’t be easier. Once you have finished the questions you should receive your comprehensive personalised report in about 30 seconds.

    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.

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

    Stress levels of Australian couples impacting physical health: Planning a wedding provides the first big set of decisions a couple will make together and tests their ability to function as a team

    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 data of PREPARE/ENRICH engaged couples, 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:

    • Consider the Big Picture
      The standard tools of effective communication taught in Couple Checkup 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 4 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.au

      More tips at Intentional-Relationship.com

      Take the Couple Checkup

      Take the Couple Checkup

      Simply click on the Register button below relevant to your relationship – it couldn’t be easier. Once you have finished the questions you should receive your comprehensive personalised report in about 30 seconds.

      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.

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

      Stress levels of Australian couples impacting physical health: Top 5 Stressors for 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

      Married Couples and Stress 

      Note the item rated as the number one stressor by married couples is Your spouse. This was the number one stressor cited by both men and women.

      Married couples who take PREPARE/ENRICH are often being seen in a counselling situation. It is not uncommon for individuals experiencing relational conflict to believe their problems would be solved if their partner would only change. Not only do they believe this, they often express it. Experienced counsellors are used to the finger pointing which often accompanies the initial sessions of marital therapy.

      Unfortunately, one partner cannot change the other and this approach leaves individuals totally disempowered in the relationship. In fact, the more one individual focuses on the other person’s behavior, the more resentment, anger, and resistance they typically receive in return.

      It is much more productive to help these couples work on things that are in their control including the way they speak to one another, the way they resolve conflict, and the way each individual chooses to react to their daily stressors and interactions with their spouse.

      Tune in for part 3 next week – Wedding planning and stress levels.

      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

        Take the Couple Checkup

        Take the Couple Checkup

        Simply click on the Register button below relevant to your relationship – it couldn’t be easier. Once you have finished the questions you should receive your comprehensive personalised report in about 30 seconds.

        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.

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

        Stress levels of Australian couples is impacting physical health: 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).
          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.

        Stress and Couples 

        A recent 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 colors a couple’s perceptions of their marriage.

        References:

        • Australian Psychologicsl 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

        Take the Couple Checkup

        Take the Couple Checkup

        Simply click on the Register button below relevant to your relationship – it couldn’t be easier. Once you have finished the questions you should receive your comprehensive personalised report in about 30 seconds.

        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.

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

        The cost of family breakdown: The burden on society, the impact on our children and the impact on government funding to support families in crisis is significant.

        Marriage is not for everyone. But for those that seek successful marriage and a fulfilling family life in which to raise healthy and happy children, functional families are seen as the bedrock of successful societies. But whilst attempted by many, many fail.
        In 2015 there were 118,962 marriages in Australia down from 123,244 in 2011, with 72% being a first marriage and 28% a remarriage, with brides aged 29 and grooms 34, with 73% conducted by a marriage celebrant, with the remaining 27% by a religious organisation. The average length of marriage increased from 10.7 years in 1993 to 12.1 years in 2015 with the median age of divorce females 42.9 and 47 for males however there is estimated to be 2/3 of marriages that are unhappy after 5 years. And remarriages didn’t fair any better, with a greater proportion more likely to divorce than those who had not been previously married.

        De facto partnering should not be excluded from discussion as many of the attributes and impact to society are prevalent in this cohort also. ABS stats suggest that 4 in 5 couples live together before marriage however research suggests that cohabitation is usually associated with lower levels of martial satisfaction and whilst two thirds of people are partnered, cohabiting has increased to 9.5% with those in married households 50%. One-parent households make up 16% of all households.

        The Cost of Family Breakdown

        The burden on society, the impact on our children and the impact on government funding to support 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 marriage dysfunction in the 1990’s. That figure is a lot larger today. In the UK, the cost to the economy of family breakdown has been estimated at £47 billion (Ashcroft, J. 2015).

        In Australia 31% of children aged 0-17 met with their separated parent on a daily/weekly basis whereas, 51% of children did not spend a single night with their non-resident parent and one in four children saw the parent they were not living with less than once a year or never. According to 2011 census data, almost 1 in 5 families were headed by a single parent.

        An investment focussed on preventing marriage breakdown and developing relationship skills to assist with the success of your relationship is important, for you and your partner and society.
        References:

        • Ashcroft, J. (2015) Counting the Cost of Family Failure, 2015 Update. Relationships Foundation, Cambridge.
        • Benson, H 2013: The myth of “long-term stable relationships outside marriage”, The Marriage Foundation, May, extrapolated from Census and ONS data.
        • Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., Markman, H. J. 2006: Pre-engagement cohabitation and gender asymmetry in marital commitment. Journal of Family Psychology, 20(4), 553-560

        More tips at Intentional-Relationship.com

        Take the Couple Checkup

        Take the Couple Checkup

        Simply click on the Register button below relevant to your relationship – it couldn’t be easier. Once you have finished the questions you should receive your comprehensive personalised report in about 30 seconds.

        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.

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

        The fastest growing family type is the cohabiting family but it is the least stable: The myth of long-term stable relationships outside marriage

        The trend away from traditional marriage is driving the increase in family breakdown. The fastest growing family type in the UK is the cohabiting family which has grown by 30% since 2004 but is the least stable.

        In Australia the rates of living together without marrying appears to have increased by one to three percentage points across each Census year since 1971, reaching 16% in 2011.

        Every year in the UK, 215,000 children will see their parents split up. Of the 47% of children born today outside of marriage, only 11% will reach 16 with their families intact. 83% of babies live with both parents, of whom 65% are married. By the time children are 15 only 53% live with both parents, of whom 93% are married.

        In Australia there are >46 thousand divorces, with almost 22 thousand involving children under 18 years of age (or 47% of all divorces), with an average of 1.8 child per divorce. In 2013, almost 42 thousand children experienced the divorce of their parents.

        The Marriage Foundations Harry Benson in “The myth of long-term stable relationships outside marriage”, claims the key factor is marital status at birth: couples who are married are far more likely to stay together than those who marry later or remain unmarried.

        If marriage is an intentional, public act of commitment, then cohabiting couples who drift into cohabitation and drift into shared financial responsibilities are much more likely to separate. The failure to marry is often the decision of only one partner, and their unwillingness fully to commit destabilises the relationship from the outset (Rhoades, Stanley, and Markman: 2006).
        References:

        • Ashcroft, J. (2015) Counting the Cost of Family Failure, 2015 Update. Relationships Foundation, Cambridge.
        • Benson, H 2013: The myth of “long-term stable relationships outside marriage”, The Marriage Foundation, May, extrapolated from Census and ONS data.
        • Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., Markman, H. J. 2006: Pre-engagement cohabitation and gender asymmetry in marital commitment. Journal of Family Psychology, 20(4), 553-560

        More tips at Intentional-Relationship.com

        Take the Couple Checkup

        Take the Couple Checkup

        Simply click on the Register button below relevant to your relationship – it couldn’t be easier. Once you have finished the questions you should receive your comprehensive personalised report in about 30 seconds.

        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.

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