Relationships Advent Calendar Day 15 . Express your Gratitude

Yeah yeah, been there done that .. but gratitude and appreciation are one of the single most important indicators of a relationship’s success ..

So today your task is to think of all the things you’re grateful to your sweetie for .. then pick one and make sure you let them know ..

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Relationships Advent Calendar Day 14 . Fix it!

Today I invite you to pay into that relationship bank account by finding something to fix  around the home. Especially things that would make a difference to your loved ones.

Maybe you could hang a picture that’s been leaning up against the wall for a year; sew those pesky trouser hems up; back up your spouse’s computer; oil that squeaky door or check your honey’s car is all ready for the cold weather, with de-icer, screenwash, a shovel, snacks, water and an extra warm blanket in case of getting stuck in a traffic jam.

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Relationships Advent Calendar Day 11 . Be Kind to our World

Today, widen your focus and do something to give back to this beautiful world we live in ..  pick up litter that you spot in the street, pop some money in a charity collecting tin or bag up some unwanted possessions in good condition for your local charity shop, save energy by having a short shower (after that yummy long bath you had yesterday), turn the lights off and have an early night with your sweetie ..

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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. #adventcalendar

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? Do get in touch using the Comments box below or my Contacts details to the right of your screen .. happy adventing!

Online Digital Counselling

I’ve been spending this summer honing my skills in online counselling, working on the Relate Live Chat service. It offers 30 minute chats with highly qualified and experienced relationship counsellors.

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It’s been a while since I’ve had to type quite so much, and fast, and it’s also been incredibly motivating! Often I’ve been able to help people who would never book a traditional face to face counselling appointment because of isolation, or mobility issues, or sometimes because of the nature of what they’ve wanted help with.

Online counselling, in the form of web chat or email counselling, can be a godsend for new parents, airline crew or anyone working shifts because it’s on demand and people can engage when and how they want to. I’ve spoken with many more young adults than I would when I’m in my counselling room and they’ve told me that our chats have been helpful.

I’m so excited about adding online counselling to the ways I can connect with people because of the frustrations I’ve had in the past in not being able to provide a service for people who can’t turn up to a face to face session regularly. We have a lot of people here in the North East who work offshore so I’ve had many conversations about different ways to access support and this feels like a big step forward.

And of course it’s good for me to keep fresh and challenged, to continue to grow just as I encourage my clients to do!

It’s your fault!!

2014-02-13 09.28.18 - Copy (1)I was down at the beach last week, the weather’s been so great, and there was a festival or some kind of party going on. I noticed something that stuck with me and I wanted to share it with you.

There’s a food stall that sells amazing barbecue. They also sell alcohol, but as part of their licence you have to buy food in order to order alcohol. So people start buying their cheapest dish, which is a pot of yummy fried potatoes, and then ordering loads of drinks, effectively turning it into a bar type situation.

Now this is out of order, as any British people reading this will appreciate, and could have led to the stall being shut down, but the people buying drinks didn’t put themselves in the shoes of the poor guy running his own small business, they just wanted to drink and party. I would have been pretty peed off if I was him. I would have been tempted to go have a stern word with the party people and get them to accept how rude their behaviour was.

But instead of sending them off with a flea in their ear, or feeling the need to explain to these drunk people how disrespectful they were being, the staff just quietly went to the menu board and removed the potato dish.

It struck me as an elegant way to set a boundary when we can’t trust those around us to overstep the mark. We don’t have to explain, or justify ourselves, when we reinforce a boundary that isn’t being respected, just notice, accept, course correct and carry on.