Calling Scottish Couples

I had to blog about Relationships Scotland’s current project: they’re looking for couples to take part in a couple counselling documentary.

The charity say on their website .. “.. we are interested in dispelling myths about relationship counselling and, where appropriate and with permission, telling the real life stories of the couples we support.”


Relationships Scotland are working with Zodiak Media on a new six part series following couples through the process of relationship counselling.

They plan to look at the very different issues that bring people to couples therapy, with couples across age groups and in different stages of their relationships, with the intention of removing stigma around couple counselling. Hopefully the project will show that therapy is something many couples could consider to improve their relationship before it reaches crisis point.

Both of these goals are hugely important: statistics and my experience suggest that if many couples accessed counselling earlier they would save themselves a lot of money and heartache by looking at making small changes that would make big differences in the quality and trajectory of their relationships. I personally am a strong believer that universal funding for short courses of relationships education and therapy at key stages, like high school, making a commitment, having a baby, moving to an empty nest and retirement would improve wellbeing throughout our nation now and for future generations.

Relationships Scotland’s next step is to find appropriate Scottish couples willing to discuss the opportunity further – they stress that there is absolutely no commitment at this stage.

If you would like an informal chat about taking part please email Ross McCulloch, Head of Communications at Relationships Scotland, or call 0845 119 2020.

I’ll be keeping an eagle eye out for the documentary when it comes out. What do you think, will this project be realistic and / or useful?


Books and Other Relationship Resources


Relate . . The Relationship People, UK

Project Happily Ever After blog . .

“I started this site because I didn’t want anyone to feel the shame, loneliness and despair that I felt when trying to fix what, to me, seemed like an impossible-to-save marriage. You are not alone. You are not a failure. You are not a bad person. Your life is not over. You deserve happiness and you can find it.”

One Plus One . .

“A UK charity focused on strengthening relationships, we create resources for frontline workers to provide relationship support for couples & families.”

Resolution . .

“Resolution’s 6,500 members are family lawyers and other professionals committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes. Our members encourage solutions that consider the needs of the whole family – and in particular the best interests of children.”



A selection of books and other lovely things that I have recommended to clients to help improve their relationships can be found by clicking here

useful relationship books

If you would like some more advice on useful resources for your specific situation, or to book a face to face session please use the form below or give me a call:

8 Ways to Babyproof your Relationship .. after the arrival

The goal is to have a conversation in a way so that you can have another conversation tomorrow . Unknown

babynewsmWhen your baby is born it may feel like it’s your birthday, with lots of attention, gifts and well wishers, but the reality is that looking after a new baby can be hard on your relationship as well as on you individually.

Children are both the best and hardest challenge for a couple, they bring joy and love as well as frustration, anxiety and test parents to their limits. Amidst all this it’s easy to lose track of what brought them here in the first place, your relationship.

Once your baby arrives it’s important to look after yourselves, not just for your own sakes but everyone in the family:

  • Take time out to talk, listen and to have fun together
  • Make time for each of you to be alone, hang out with friends and remember what it’s like to be you, not mum or dad
  • Be flexible, and be prepared to change your approach as your child’s needs develop
  • Be realistic about what you can manage .. Simplify, simplify, simplify!!
  • Avoid being territorial about the baby, share with your partner even if they do things differently to you
  • Be each other’s cheerleaders and point out successes at least once a day
  • Keep an eye on each other to watch for signs of postnatal depression or other indications that you’re finding the adjustment tough
  • Find outside sources of support in your community or online, like mumsnet or to help you through this time

And above all don’t give up, if you feel you need additional help with your relationship contact a specialist relationship counselling organization like Relate or a qualified private relationship counsellor.

With thanks for much of this material to Elizabeth Martyn, whose book Babyshock, is one of a series of books by Relate on maintaining happy and healthy relationships.

babynewWhat do you think? Have you been given any really useful advice about becoming a parent? Are you finding things difficult and would appreciate a confidential place to talk about it?

Get in touch using the form below or using my contact details.

4 Way to Babyproof your relationship .. before the birth

The greatest thing you can do for your children, is love your partner . Steven Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families

babybumpsmImagine someone moved in with you, and your partner fell deeply in love with them?

To make things even worse this person screamed every 3 hours day and night, demanded food and took your hard earned money?

Children are both the best and hardest challenge for a couple, they bring joy and love as well as frustration, anxiety and test parents to their limits. Amidst all this it’s easy to lose track of what brought them here in the first place, your relationship.

Whether you chose to become pregnant or not, parenthood is a shared adventure, and it’s a good idea to prepare for it together as much as you can now, while you have the time and energy to devote to it.

  • Take time out to talk about your expectations and assumptions about how things might change in your lives, you may be surprised!
  • Above all practice listening, listen and listen some more!
  • Some things to think and talk about might be: sex, lifestyle, holidays, time together, wider family contact, time for intimacy, how you manage money, work, finding support outside your couple, childcare, any worries about the birth and becoming a parent you might have.
  • What might you have to give up and what do you hope to gain by becoming parents? What are your individual and couple goals and how will having a child affect them in the coming years? What changes can you manage before the birth and what needs to be put off?

If you find talking about these issues difficult you can seek support from a specialist relationship counsellor who will help you, either as a couple or on your own, to prepare for the changes ahead.

With thanks for much of this material to Elizabeth Martyn, whose book Babyshock, is one of a series of books by Relate on maintaining happy and healthy relationships.


What do you think? Have you been given any really useful advice about becoming a parent? Are you worried about the challenge ahead?

Get in touch using the form below or using my contact details.

Babyproof your Relationship

Becoming parents is a marvellous time for many couples, and for others it can be rough, even leading to relationship breakdown.

birth and baby basics The lovely Janine Rudin over at Birth and Baby Basics asked me to write a couple of articles on preparing your relationship for the birth, as well as ideas on how to manage things afterwards.

Janine is an inspiring antenatal teacher, doula, baby massage instructor and postnatal educator, who’s been providing a unique combination of professional support and services from pregnancy through to life as a young family on Tyneside since 2008.

I’m lucky enough to be a mother, but when my baby arrived it was by no means plain sailing. At times it felt like my husband, new baby and I were in a tiny boat on very stormy seas. We had very little support close by at that time and I suffered from post-natal depression. Eventually my marriage broke down, which at the time was really tough, but gave me the motivation to heal, as well as learn how to help others who might be in a similar position.

Go and take a look at Janine’s fab Birth and Baby Basics website and see what I wrote here .. and here.


I would love to hear what you think about becoming a parent? Did you struggle? Any tips? Any hopes or worries you’d like to share?

Do get in touch by Commenting below or using my Contact details to speak direct.

A Meditation .. Kind Speech

“Do not break the ribbon of love because of a triviality. For once torn it is never again one – a knot always remains.”


Today .. I think before I speak

Words possess a strong power, regardless of whether the effect they create is intentional or not. We can seriously harm others and ourselves through words. Therefore, we should speak fewer rather than too many words, and weigh them up in the heart before we speak. With friends it is easy to find pleasant, beautiful words, but to treat those we do not count as friends with love and friendship is a great virtue and takes self discipline.

I invite you to sit for a moment, read the words above and let them sink in, then go about your day today allowing feelings about others to rise and asking yourself ‘What does this mean, right now, for me?’

We Don’t Talk Anymore

In the first flush of romance, we share all sorts of information together. In fact, on our first few dates we often talk until the wee small hours of the morning.

Then after the ‘honeymoon’ period we often feel like we’ve shared everything we can. And we start to fool ourselves we know all there is to know about the other person.

This usually leads the glue that holds a relationship together to weaken. To find that bond again it’s important to remain interested:

a) in our partner

b) in life and learning

c) in sharing our life and experiences

When I say that going out on a date once a week is important and that you must go as a couple, no other people, that there is to be no discussion about work or your children, couples often gasp in horror!

They ask ‘but what would we talk about?’

One of the best ways to do this is to ask questions that elicit answers which give you better insight into each other. Questions that make you think deeply about your own and each other’s feelings and values.

These questions are compulsory when you are thinking of entering a relationship – you really do need to find out what the person is REALLY like. They’re also a way to find out how this changes over your time together.

And believe me, it will.

It’s OK to be different – that’s what keeps the interest and excitement there.

2014-03-06 14.03.51

Tackle just a few questions at a time. Explore the answers in depth – answer questions that are triggered by the initial one.

If you’re not in a couple, you can modify these questions to use with your children, family or friends.

Remember, this is a game of exploration – have fun!

Some Rules

Rule 1: You need to both be relaxed and comfortable with this ‘game’

Rule 2: Make sure you have enough time to be patient and really hear the answers

Rule 3: When your partner is speaking, be aware of your breathing – keep it deep and even. The second you become aware of holding your breath, you have stopped listening and are falling into the trap of reacting

Rule 4: No judging! Accept that if the other person is talking about their feelings they are ‘right’ whether you agree or not

Rule 5: When your partner is answering a question, give them time to explore their emotions and thoughts – if it’s not your turn, shut up and keep breathing! You may find this harder if your partner is used to thinking out loud

Rule 6: If you know you tend to ramble, show respect for your partner by practising keeping your focus

Rule 7: Do not use this time as an opportunity to ‘get back at’ your partner

Rule 8: Tell the truth. If you don’t want to answer a question let your partner know you need to think more about the question, and promise to answer it at another time

Rule 9: Once you’ve waited for the other person to finish speaking, look down, nod and count to five before you start to speak

Rule 10: To clarify your understanding you may wish to repeat what they have said in your own words and ask them if that is what they meant

Rule 11: There is no competition in this game, and if you play fair you’ll both win!

Select any question randomly:

If you had a million dollars what would you do?

How important are birthdays and anniversaries to you? Why?

What is romance for you?

Tell me about en exciting moment in your childhood.

How do you define intimacy?

What is your idea of a good sexual relationship?

What do you consider sexy?

What is something you really like about your relationship / your personality / your looks / yourself / your partner / your family / your parents / your children / your job / your best friend

How do you like to non verbally tell your partner you love them?

If there was one thing you could do that would change the quality of your home /work / sex life what would it would be?

What is one feature or aspect of your behaviour or personality you would like to change?

What is acceptable behaviour and unacceptable behaviour from your partner?

What is the funniest moment together you can remember?

Is there anything you have been wanting to share with me but don’t know how? Is now a good time?

What motivates you to work?

What is your purpose in life?

2 stones on beach

How do you like to give love?

How do you prefer to be shown love?

Do you have goals in your life? What are they?

How is our relationship different now from your courting days? Or the early days of our relationship? Why do you this this is?

Are you a generous person? Why?

What does being ‘thoughtful’ mean to you?

Who have been your greatest teachers in your life?

Is there anyone you need to forgive or make peace with in your life? Who and why?

What is your concept of foreplay?

Is your style to fight, flow or flee in the face of stress?

Are you true to yourself? What does that mean to you?

Tell me about your day?

Tell me five new things you would like to learn before turning forty / fifty / sixty?

What new food would you like to try? Would that be by going out or staying in?

Finally, don’t forget to tell your partner how much he/she means to you and about all the ways their love and presence has enriched your life.