Tag Archives: Marriage

Practical skills that focus on commitment, communication and good conflict

Clear commitment, good communication and good conflict resolution are the foundations of a successful relationship (Fincham et al 2007; Rhoades & Stanley 2014), the good news is that all of these factors can be translated into practical skills that can be easily taught (Markman & Rhoades 2012).

It is increasingly accepted that commitment comes in two main forms: “dedication” – the inner bond that makes a couple want to be with each other – and “constraints” – the added layers of a relationship that make it harder to leave, should either partner choose to do so (Stanley et al 2006).

  • “Dedication” is the key to a successful relationship, centring on the mutual decision to be a couple with a future.
  • “Constraints” increase in a relationship every time couples pass through a transition, such as moving in together, having a baby, or getting married.

In practice:

If we take a long-term perspective of our relationship, we can see above and beyond our day-to-day activities. By being intentional and making an effort to start with a clear understanding of our destination and where we are going, we create a sense of hope and purpose and we never stop growing – and we demonstrate our commitment.

Through careful planning and constant assessment and re-evaluation of our plans, we know where we are going, we can plan where we are heading and we can take time to see the bigger picture. This leads to a clear understanding of goals, dreams and your vision as a couple.

Just as the stagnant pond breeds disease, the flowing stream is always fresh and cool. Take a long-term perspective, determine a plan and assess/reassess your plan regularly.

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

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Children with step parents are more at risk

Experts have previously suggested it was better for children from broken homes to have a step-parent, because it offers greater financial stability and another authority figure. However, children also face the stress of a ‘new family structure’, according to Norwegian researchers.

Children of divorced couples who live with a step-parent are at increased risk of mental health problems, a study has found.

Teenagers living with a stepfather or stepmother were more troubled than those who split their time between parents.

They reported more symptoms of mental health problems, such as depression and dishonesty, and more bullying at school.

The study compared more than 7,700 teenagers, who lived with either single parents, step-parents, between their parents in joint custody or with both parents in a traditional family. The results showed children living with a stepfather had the worst mental health, although living with a single parent was not significantly better for the child.

Stepfathers faring worse than stepmothers may be explained by evidence that men monitor children less and have a generally more uninvolved parenting style. The study results suggested the best arrangements for children if parents did separate was shared custody. Children in a family with a step-parent had significantly more adjustment problems than those in nuclear families and those who spent time living with both parents.

The authors from the Regional Centre for Child and Youth Mental Health and Child Welfare in Bergen, Norway, wrote: ‘An interpretation of these findings is that possible benefits of introducing a step-parent to the family (eg. increased economical and parental resources) might be counteracted by the stress related to establishing a new family structure.’

The researchers established 16 to 19 year-olds’ mental health with questions including how worried they were, if they were often downhearted or tearful, were bad-tempered, restless or often lied or cheated. A score from this Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire was compared to their living arrangements.

The resulting poor scores for children with step-families suggested remarriage did not alleviate the negative effects of growing up with a single parent.

Around one in ten families in Australia (13.3%) are step-families with at least one child living in the house, but little research has been done on how this set-up affects children. The study, in the Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, showed children with step-parents felt better off financially than those with single parents, but this did not appear to be reflected in their mental health.

Lead author Sondre Nilsen wrote: ‘It could be that certain factors associated with better child adjustment and with living in joint physical custody (such as better family economy, less conflict between parents etc.) lead them to report lower levels of mental health problems.’

Source:

  • Australia Bureau of Statistics, Family Characteristics and Transitions 2006-07, 2008: Australia Bureau of Statistics (4442.0)
  • Moon, M, 2011: The Effects of Divorce on Children: Married and Divorced Parents’ Perspectives, Journal of Divorce & Remarriage. Vol. 52, Iss. 5

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

Cohabitation in Middle and Later Life is becoming more popular

Cohabitation is gaining popularity across the life course. In the US, the 2014 American Community Survey found that the number of older men and women (defined as those aged 50 and older) in a cohabiting relationship was about 1.2 million (or 1.6% of older adults). Since then, the number of cohabiting older adults has nearly tripled to 3.2 million in 2014 (Brown, Bulanda, & Lee, 2005).

The study also found that for the population of cohabitors aged 50 or older, they were younger, on average, than their married and single counterparts; the average age of cohabitors was 60 compared to 67 and 63 for single and married individuals, respectively.

In Australia, marriage has fallen progressively from 58% in 1986 to 49% in 2011. The proportion of marriages has fallen in all age groups up to and including 65–69 years. The decrease among Australians aged 50–54 years and 55–59 years has been greatest — more than 3% since 2006, and 7% since 2001.

In 1975, just 16% of marriages were preceded by cohabitation however by 2016, 81% of marriages took place after the couple had lived together.

According to the latest census data – Marriage and divorces, Australia 2016 – Marriages where both partners were marrying for the first time accounted for 72.3% of all marriage in 2016. The number of marriages where one partner was marrying for the first time decreased by 0.3 percentage points to 16.0% in 2016, while the proportion of remarriages for both partners increased from 11.7% in 2015 to 11.8% in 2016.

The proportion of adults living with a partner has declined during the last two decades, from 65% in 1986, to 61% in 2006. Factors such as the trend towards partnering at a later age, and the increased financial and social independence of women, may be associated with this decline, as well as legal changes in recent decades which have improved access to divorce (ABS, 2009).

While cohabitation is most prevalent among young people, the US experience and census data suggests that cohabitation is becoming an increasingly common experience among older Australians also.

Source:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016: Marriage and divorces, Australia
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2009: 4102.0 – Australian Social Trends, March
  • Brown, Bulanda, & Lee, 2005: National Center for Family & Marriage Research, Bowling Green State University.

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

Valentines Day: a timely reminder about what we should be doing daily for our partner (small things often)

What a lovely reminder Valentine’s Day on 14th February is for those in a relationship – however it is a timely reminder that we should be thinking about what we should be doing daily for our partner.

Leading relationship expert, Dr John Gottman says this: “Small Things Often” and it is the small things often – more often, which make a relationship fulfilling and keeps couples connected.

Some of my favourite quotes highlight this:

  • “The greatest gift you can give your children is a strong relationship between the parents”
  • “Great relationships are built on a deep friendship, mutual respect and enjoyment of each others company”
  • “What you do everyday matters more than what you do once in a while”

So if it’s the small things daily and not just the biggest box of chocolates, an expensive dinner out, a bunch of flowers, a new shirt or tie… that count in the long-term.

What is it that you can do to show your partner that you are living your love intentionally?

Here are a few ideas which may get you thinking of how you can do “small things often” and turn towards your partner to show them you are loving them intentionally. In turn these small things will add to your emotional bank account, deposits that create a stronger bond in your partnership.

  1. Kiss like you mean it (remember your dating kisses and now due to being busy a peck on the cheek is the daily routine) – always kiss hello and goodbye on the lips;
  2. Ask you partner what a great night in is and plan it by surprise after work one night or this weekend;
  3. Take over one of their jobs or responsibilities for the next week or two;
  4. Ask your partner their favourite meal and cook it this weekend;
  5. Break routine – go out for breakfast during the week before you both head off to work;
  6. Show an interest in your partners world by asking questions and listening and then ….. asking more questions about the topic – and stay interested;
  7. Compliment your partner often;
  8. Play a board game;
  9. Suggest an evening walk after dinner to buy ice cream or coffee;
  10. Take a packed dinner to the beach or park;
  11. Ask your partner often “what do you need from me right now”;
  12. Buy the book “7 Principles of Making a Marriage Work” and read it together; and
  13. Never stop saying thank you or being polite to your partner;
  14. Here is an idea for Valentine’s Day: Write a list of the things you love and admire about your partner and hand it to them on Valentines day with a credit note saying – How can I help you today?

That doesn’t sound too hard (but some would say not that’s not very exciting) but it is these small gestures which are going help you stay connected and ensure your partner feels a priority or special.

Have a great Valentines Day – for me a reminder day – what should we be doing more often!
By Robyn Donnelly, Co-ordinator Marriage and Relationship Education – CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning.

More tips, next week…

Robyn has been involved in the field of Marriage & Relationship Education for over 20 years; approximately 14 of these with Catholic Care (formerly known as Centacare). Robyn’s passion for supporting couples at all stages of their commitment – pre, post marriage and parenting is contagious, she is a strong believer that prevention is better than cure. Robyn is a FOCCUS facilitator, Co-ordinator & Facilitator of Before We Say I Do Group Programs and Bringing Baby Home Workshops as well as a program called ENHANCE, enrichment sessions she created for post marriage couples in Newcastle, NSW. Robyn was awarded the Inaugural 2014 Marriage and Relationship Educators Association (MAREAA) Award for Innovation and Excellence in the marriage & relationship field and is currently the NSW Representative for MAREAA NSW.

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

Cohabitation is gaining popularity across the life course

According to the latest census data – Marriage and divorces, Australia 2016 – couples who lived together prior to marriage accounted for 80.8% of all marriages registered in 2016, an increase from the 76.1% recorded in 1996. In 1975, just 16% of married couples had lived together first, and by 1981 cohabitation had doubled with 31% of married couples recording their pre-marriage cohabitation.

Whilst cohabitation has become popular, these relationships tend to be of short duration and this changing landscape raises complex and competing factors for cohabiting parents.

According to the Australian Family Formation Project, 25% of de facto relationships lasted 12 months, around half ended after two years, and three quarters ended by four years. Many also end in marriage.

According to recent research by Smyth, Hunter, Macvean, Walter & Higgins (2017), the research reveals:

  • For Children, a significant proportion (34%) are born out of wedlock
  • 1/5 of all children have a parent living elsewhere.

Such growth suggests that cohabitation is becoming an increasingly common experience among people today.

Source:

  • National Center for Family & Marriage Research, Bowling Green State University
  • Smyth, B., & Higgins, D. (2017, 23 Nov). Education for Family Life in Australia: A recent snapshot. Presentation at Marriage and Relationship Educators Association of Australia Conference 2017. Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre: 22-23 November

Read more: https://magic.piktochart.com/output/16793753-hemez-brown-cohabitation-middle-later-life-2014-fp-16-20_w

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

Married families still tend – on average – to do better: The UK Marriage Foundation found

The results of their recent study, which you can download from the Marriage Foundation website, are extraordinary. Regardless of family and social background, those born to married parents were:

  • 23% more likely to have been to university
  • 10% more likely to have got married, and
  • 16% less likely ever to have received government benefits

Having richer parents also made no difference in the probability of ever needing to go on welfare if those parents weren’t initially married.

To marry before starting a family is more likely to create a stable family setting, more likely to help children go through to higher education and ultimately make children more financially resilient. This is such a simple and great gift to bestow on the next generation.

Source: Marriage Foundation.

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

Cohabitation provides a test for marriage

“Majority of Americans Now Believe in Cohabitation.” That’s the headline and conclusion from a national survey conducted by the Barna Group.

They surveyed 1,097 adults in April 2016, finding that 65 percent of Americans now approve of cohabiting prior to tying the knot, while 35 percent do not.

Given that nearly 70 percent of Americans marrying today will cohabit before getting married, these findings are not too surprising. The Barna Group also found that 84 percent of those who support premarital cohabitation do so because it provides a test of compatibility prior to marrying.

In Australia the figures are very similar or higher in the case of cohabitation before marriage. According to the latest census data – Marriage and divorces, Australia 2016, couples who lived together prior to marriage accounted for 80.8% of all marriages registered in 2016, an increase from the 76.1% recorded in 1996. In 1975, just 16% of married couples had lived together first, and by 1981 cohabitation had doubled with 31% of married couples recording their pre-marriage cohabitation.

In the US study, findings from the report include:

  • Millennials are more likely (72%) to endorse cohabitation prior to marriage than the older generation (36%).
  • Those identifying as liberal are more likely (86%) to endorse cohabitation prior to marriage than those identifying as conservative (37%).
  • Those identifying as more religious, particularly those who report being practicing Christians, are the least likely (41%) to endorse cohabiting before marriage while those reporting no faith at all are the most likely to embrace cohabitation (88%).

Source:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics – Marriage and divorces, Australia 2016
  • Stanley, S,. and Rhoades, G., 2016: Testing a Relationship Is Probably the Worst Reason to Cohabit @DECIDEORSLIDE

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