Relationships Advent Calendar Day 20 . Switch on your Relationship Radar

You’ve just spent 19 days doing something every day for the benefit of your relationships .. notice a difference yet?

So now you’re a super honed relationship athlete in tip top condition it’s time to start looking for opportunities to flex those muscles ..

Keep your eyes and ears open for the many small opportunities that come up today to make a difference, and see how many you take .. a relationship Christmas star for the winner!

#adventcalendar #adventchallenge #relationships #wellbeing

Relationships Advent Calendar Day 15 . Gratitude Express

Yeah yeah, been there done that .. but gratitude and appreciation are one of the single most important indicators of our relationships’ resilience ..

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

#adventcalendar #adventchallenge #relationships #wellbeing

Relationships Advent Calendar Day 20 . Switch on your Relationship Radar

You’ve just spent 19 days doing something every day for the benefit of your relationship .. notice a difference yet?

So now you’re a super honed relationship athlete in tip top condition it’s time to start looking for opportunities to flex those muscles ..

Keep your eyes and ears open for the many small opportunities that come up today to make a difference, and see how many you take .. send me your scores by commenting on this post, or on Twitter or Facebook if you prefer .. a relationship Christmas star for the winner!

advent

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 ..

christmas-lights

Avoiding talking about Boris Johnson

I taped a radio interview on Love Sport Radio today, talking about sibling rivalries. They’d asked me on to tie in with yesterday’s news about Joe Johnson resigning from government.

I never comment in the media about specific people as I don’t know enough about their lives and it wouldn’t be respectful.

But I took the opportunity to talk about how we all find ways of managing in relation to our brothers and sisters as we grow.

There’s lots of research on this, and it makes perfect sense .. if you’ve ever watched those Springwatch programmes where chicks push each other out of the nest you’ll know what I mean. Resources are scarce, and children find any way they can to get as much power, love and attention they can.

Home is where most of us start learning about how to relate to others, and as we move out into the world we take these unconscious beliefs and tactics and test them out on others.

Are you the clever one, the sporty one, the cheeky one? Maybe you see yourself as the deputy for your parents in relation to your siblings?

Relating to sibling can become really challenging when we get older and we need to come together to decide on care for an elderly parent, or when a parent passes away. Often repeating sibling roles without thinking can really mess things up.

But we can all take the opportunity to have a look at how we’re currently relating to our siblings, and what we’d like to do differently.

A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if you’d be behaving like this if the people involved were colleagues rather than siblings.

Notice any strong emotions and get curious about where they’re coming from. What old stories are you telling yourself? Are they still relevant?

https://www.lovesportradio.com/

Mental Health Awareness Week 2018

We’re coming to the end of mental health awareness week and it’s been a great chance to raise awareness of mental wellbeing as well as ill-health, which is what people often think of.

I wrote a short piece for the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy on how not being able to talk about feelings adversely affects men and boys.

Https://www.bacp.co.uk/news/2018/may-2018-mental-health-awareness-week/may-2018-men-and-stress/

Many men have expressed their surprise at how easy it is to talk in the counselling room, given a skilled listener. All too often we take on board cultural messages about men not needing to be listened to, that they should be able to work things out on their own.

Let’s not give our sons these damaging and isolating messages, listen to them, encourage them to open up, to share with trusted friends and family.

5 Principles to a Stronger Relationship

Thanks to David at Select Psychology in Tynemouth who asked me to write a short piece for their website for Valentine’s Day. I thought it was the least I could do in recognition of all the fresly brewed coffee and teapigs green tea he lets me drink there!

I’ve seen many couples for relationship therapy over the years: some have managed to part with a better understanding of why they found it so difficult to sustain a loving relationship, while many leave grateful for the opportunity to deepen their relationship and move to the next level of togetherness as a result of facing difficulties.

I’m a Relate trained therapist, and also a big fan of the Gottman Institute’s work in researching thousands of real couples since the 1970s (https://www.gottman.com/about/research/) as I believe it’s important to base therapy on a sound evidence base. I’m a bit of a relationship geek and actually enjoy reading research papers!

Four of the principles from the Gottmans’ work that I find myself using all the time are included in their book ‘The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work’ and their ‘Sound Relationship House’, both of which can be easily found online.

69% of conflicts go unresolved: not every disagreement has to be worked through and many successful couples never address 69% of these. Make it a rule to consciously choose which conflicts are worth working on together and which are not important.

5:1 ratio: often when couples come to see me they’ve become frustrated because in trying to improve the relationship they’ve got to a point where every interaction is negative. This is an easy trap to fall into because humans naturally focus on problem solving, but research shos that every negative or problem solving statement needs to be balanced by at least five positive ones. I think of it like vaccinating your relationship in advance of the bugs of life!

Love Maps: often when we date we stay up all night talking and finding out about our partner, but when things become more familiar we forget our partner is changing all the time. Making time to find out how their day went, whether their favourite colour has changed, where they would love to go on holiday helps to build a shared foundation for togetherness.

Turning Towards, not against or away: when conflict calls there are two really unhelpful ways to manage things, you can fight, or you can run away. The only successful way of managing differences of perspective in a relationship is to turn towards each other in calm moments and find ways to speak and hear each other respectfully and with empathy.

In addition to these, in ‘Romancing the Shadow: A Guide to Soul Work for a Vital, Authentic Life’ Connie Zweig and Steve Wolf write about the relationship as being the ‘third body’ that needs to be nourished. I prefer to think of a relationship as a garden that grows between two people. If one (or both) parties neglects the garden then weeds and pests will quickly invade the space and take over, but if both people make space and time to cultivate their shared garden it will flourish and grow as they would wish.

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Armele Philpotts is a relationship and family therapist working at Relate and privately in the North East of England. She is a member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and the Association for Family Therapy

If You Want Great Sex with a Woman Read This!

zoey-kneesAs a relationship coach and counsellor I think about sex A LOT. I talk about sex all the time with my clients, my colleagues and also (excruciatingly for some) with random people in my life.

Research shows that couples who are constantly exploring ways to make sex more pleasurable are five times more likely to be happier in their relationship and 12 times
more likely to be sexually satisfied.

I can’t speak for my generation but my sex education in the 1980s was poor: what little information there was came with a large side of shame, and (no wonder) by Year 11 I heard reports of girls being sexually assaulted and girls disappearing from class due to teen pregnancies.

So my sexual education came from family, my sexual partners, peers, books and magazines, as well as A LOT of studying academic research papers since I became a relationship therapist. BTW if you fancy a bit of light relief or a cheeky gift for a loved one I’d recommend Bonk, by Mary Roach, a hilarious look at how awful a lot of sex research has been.

And I read about and saw the ‘pornification’ of culture and I worried about how our kids, with no coherent national sex education strategy, are learning about sex from porn. Girls and boys are being told sex isn’t about mutual communication and trust, but about male pleasure, thrusting and violence. And both sexes are suffering. In my practice I speak with couples where ‘normal’ sex means 5 minutes with the lights off, and with young couples where use of porn from an early age has caused premature ejaculation or porn addiction.

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And then along came OMGYES, a sexual pleasure research website. After hearing about the site I was dying to have a good look and I was lucky enough to be offered a preview.

The team behind the site carried out research with more than 2,000 women, aged 18-95, and created a website where real-life women – not actors – share their stories and demonstrate their techniques. Then, users get the chance to practice through touchable simulations.

Because .. different strokes suit different folks ..

The topic has been so taboo that even scientists hadn’t studied the specific, various ways of touching that feel good for different women. I can actually vouch for how taboo because none of the four people I asked to anonymously comment on the website for this article felt comfortable doing so .. just wow!

SeasonOne

OMGYES is for women and the people who love them (approximately 50% of users are female/male). Women can use the site to explore more ways to touch themselves and guide their partners, while partners are adding new, research-based tools to their toolbox.

Fifty videos are organised in 12 sections (pictured above) and for a one off payment you can access the site as often as you like, watching videos in any order and at your own pace. The site also uses tech to the max, with touchable demos where users can practise what they’ve learned (useful if you don’t have a vulva guys!). I found the site ran a bit slow on my (very old) tablet, but on the laptop it was fine.

I was expection the site to be purely about technique, and it was a pleasant surprise to find sections on ‘Framing‘ and ‘Signalling‘ .. those hugely important bits of sex that happen in our brains and come out of our mouths.

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I’ve been recommending this site to clients and colleagues, in fact I might have become a bit of an OMGYes bore, but beauties like this don’t come along every day. I’d recommend it for single women as well as women in a relationship, and when the time comes I’ll be recommending it to my daughter as part of an ongoing conversation about what she should expect from sexual maturity.

To learn more, visit the website at omgyes or follow them on Facebook and Twitter. And tell me what you thought of OMGYes .. email me or contact me through the website.

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.”

zodiak

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, ross.mcculloch@relationships-scotland.org.uk 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

WEBSITES

Relate . http://relate.org.uk . The Relationship People, UK

Project Happily Ever After blog . http://www.projecthappilyeverafter.com/my-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 . www.oneplusone.org.uk .

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

Resolution . http://resolution.org.uk .

“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.”

Mike Gray Couple Counselling . https://www.mikegraycounselling.co.uk .

If you’re in the Kingston upon Thames and Surbiton area my wonderful colleague Mike offers individual and couple counselling.

BOOKS

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: