Relationships Advent Calendar . Day 9 . Write it down

Words mean a lot to some people and less to others.

If words are important to your love why not write your sweetie a note to let them know how you feel .. or if you have writer’s block pop into a card shop and find the perfect message

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Relationships Advent Calendar . Day 8 . Be Happy

Have you ever tried walking round smiling all day? Smiling at strangers? As well as people thinking you’re slightly unhinged I’m sure others will have smiled back, because smiling is infectious!!

So when you see your baby tonight SMILE :-)))))))))) and see them catch it off you ..

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Relationships Advent Calendar . Day 6 . Tell All

The number one thing couples ask for when I meet them for the first time is improved communication. What they often mean is how to disagree in a more graceful way, but also when a relationship goes wrong what is missing is a sense of appreciation for each other.

Research shows that 5 positive interactions to every 1 more difficult interaction serve to strengthen our bond and make disagreements easier to manage.

So get into good habits .. Tell your beloved what they did to make you happy today.

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Relationships Advent Calendar . Day 4 . Get texting

Maybe you text your sweetie all the time, but how many of those messages are about your relationship, especially if you’re managing a family together. Using all the opportunities to communicate our love and appreciation is vital in order to stay connected in the face of multiple responsibilities.

Text your sweetie you miss them today, even if it’s just from the shed!

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Relationships Advent Calendar . Day 3 . Be Complimentary

It’s lovely to hear something nice about ourselves .. and how much nicer when it’s coming from someone we love. Find a reason to compliment your beloved today, whether it’s how they look, what they do or how they do it.

#adventcalendar #relationships #relate

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Relationships Advent Calendar . Day 2 . Give thanks

Sharing gratitude is so important in our relationships and it’s such a shame that it so often gets lost in the busyness of our everyday lives. Stop and think how you might feel if someone thanked you for something you do every day at work for example .. now .. does it feel good?

Your challenge is to give your partner the gift of gratitude today .. Thank your sweetie for something they do for you today, or simply for being who they are.

Notice the difference that one small action makes, and consider making gratitude a bigger part of your relationships.

#adventcalendar #relationships #marriage #couples

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Relationships Advent Calendar . Day 1 . Forgive for 5 minutes

Happy December .. and welcome to the first day of this challenge that we’ll be carrying out together in the days leading up to Christmas!!

Today is about preparing the ground for the month ahead.

Holding on to hurt from the past can prevent us from enjoying our present .. so today take some time to think about someone who hurt you in the past, breathe deeply and send them forgiveness for 5 straight minutes.

Forgiveness is a funny thing, ideally it takes remorse and taking responsibility from the person who hurt us as well as the willingness to let go on our side.

Sometimes though the other person either won’t, or maybe can’t ask for forgiveness if they’re no longer in our lives .. this exercise isn’t for them, it’s for us to be able to let go of that hurt just a little bit more ..

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Christmas-proof your relationship

“Advent is the perfect time to clear and prepare the Way. Advent is a winter training camp for those who desire peace.” – Edward Hays

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Tomorrow is the first day of December, and it’s so easy at this very special time of year to get caught up with the chores of Christmas: the cards, the gifts, the cooking .. and put our couple relationship on the back burner until the New Year.

Christmas is a wonderful time, but sometimes the stress can take its toll on our relationships, with many couples seeking counselling from me after the holiday season, when stress, the family, disappointed expectations (and one too many Baileys) have resulted in relationship melt-down.

December is a great time to take stock of our relationships, and to make sure loving each other is part of the run up to Christmas. Those of you who read my posts regularly will know I’m a firm believer in the power of small sustained actions to build and sustain loving relationships.

So for the third year in a row I invite you to follow my new and improved Relationship Advent Calendar Challenge, a great way to build acts of love into each day from December 1st, as my seasonal gift to you.

And if you haven’t met your sweetie yet .. you’re still warmly invited to take part .. use this time to practise the actions I suggest on your friends and family.

So, what’s a “Relationship Advent Calendar?

A lot of advent calendars are about getting, but this one’s all about giving, because in a relationship we give to receive. Every day in December until Christmas, I’ll reveal a new action to build and sustain your couple relationship.

Subscribe to the blog, follow me on Twitter or Facebook and & get 25 acts of love delivered to your inbox each day, starting on December 1!

I’ll be doing all of these right along with you .. I’d love to hear how you get on ..

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Are you excited about this advent project? Get in touch using the Comments box below or my Contacts details to the right of your screen .. happy adventing!

Let’s talk MORE about sex

I was still a little sleepy when I got a call from BBC Radio 5 Live on Wednesday morning, asking me to talk about the sex survey featured by the BBC on whether Britons are having less sex. Now there’s nothing I enjoy better than being asked to talk about sex on national radio so of course I jumped at being given the opportunity.

Because from the conversations I have with others, either in the therapy room or with friends and family, I see that we are not talking enough about sex. My take on this is if you can’t talk about sex with someone, it’s probably not a good idea to be having a sexual relationship with them.

Sex is communication of course, a wonderful way of talking with our bodies, but it’s not enough, and it’s too easy to miscommunicate, to get our wires crossed.

It made me chuckle when Nicky Campbell admitted to blushing when he was reading out listeners’ texts and tweets about their wonderful sex lives, because I remember clearly sitting in my training with the Relate Institute pushing through that discomfort of asking people about sex. I remember sitting in a counselling room at Relate asking couples the first few times about their sex lives and blushing furiously.

But soon I saw that talking about sex was a relief and a release. Starting to support people in sharing what they wanted and needed from each other in their closest moments, seeing the changes, made me realise that it’s more embarrassing NOT to talk than to talk about our desires, what turns us on, where we like to be touched, how we like to be touched.

If you’re interested the BACP wrote a little summary of the piece here.

So, today, right now , whether you’re single or coupled up .. ask yourself .. what do I want, what do I need from my sex life, and who can I share my thoughts with?

Stepping Forwards

I’m up early again today .. not just to enjoy a beautiful North Tyneside sunrise, but to put my walking boots on to raise money for Acorns, a charity that supports the recovery of children and young people affected by domestic abuse.

I spotted the charity walk in January on the North East Guides website when I was feeling a bit run down and looking for things to get me out. At the time April seemed pretty far away and I had ideas of sauntering along Hadrian’s Wall on a sunny Spring day, enjoying the views.

Well .. it’s looking a bit different now, rain forecast, and it’s pretty exposed up on the tops there.

I know it’s going to be tough. Sitting in a counselling room with my clients is massively rewarding for me, and together we make so many mental and emotional leaps forward that sometimes I forget to physically move enough. I’ve been practising but this will be the longest walk I’ve done in a long while.

I chose Acorns because I know what drives me in work and life is playing a part in making kids lives safer and happier. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realised how much fear had played a part when I was growing up, and that’s what led me to what I do today. Acorns provides a safe and welcoming place where children can make sense of what they’ve seen and heard, and start to recognise what loving behaviour looks like.

We can’t choose where we came from, and often we don’t choose what happens to us, but we can choose where we go from here.

So when I’m wet and cold and I can’t see the end in sight I’m going to put my head up and keep stepping forwards. I’m going to think of all the wonderful people who are supporting me in doing this walk and I’m going to remember that although sometimes life can be tough I am so very blessed in this life I’ve stepped into.