Relationships Advent Calendar . Day 10 . Treat Yourself

Today’s a reminder that this relationship is not all about your other half, it’s important to take care of ourselves so that we have enough of ourselves left over to meet our partner half way.

So schedule some time out today, buy yourself something lush, just stop for ten minutes and have a cup of tea, or luxuriate in the bath with some bubbles ..

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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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How Grateful Are You?

poppies bannerNovember has been designated a month for Gratitude in both the USA and Britain for different reasons. In Europe we have a Day of Remembrance on the 11th and as we see the Remembrance poppies gradually appear on our streets we are reminded of ordinary people just like us who gave their lives so that we can live in peace.

Gratitude and giving thanks are incredibly powerful mindfulness practices that we can use in our lives to increase our wellbeing and nourish relationships. It’s easy to be grateful when things are going well, and equally as easy to let this slip when life takes over or gets challenging. This of course is when we need to flex our gratitude muscle the most.

Sharing our gratitude with others is so important and research in the field of Positive Psychology shows that we are more likely to feel and express gratitude when shown kindness by a stranger than towards those whose lives we share:

When was the last time you thanked your partner for being there for you?!

How do you think they might feel if you took that one step towards them?

For the past twenty years I’ve been marking each November by re-focussing on my daily gratitude practice, and more recently I’ve been using the power of social media to keep myself on track. Making a pledge to post something different that I’m grateful for every single day of November on Twitter or Facebook really helps get me back on track!

This year I’m using Instagram to give myself the extra little challenge of finding a nice image to go with each reflection. If you fancy following me you can check if I manage it, and I’d love you to join in! Or if you prefer to receive prompts there’s an online 30 Day Gratitude Challenge (not run by me) that you could sign up for .

And of course gratitude goes hand in hand with Kindness. There are lots of groups and projects springing up around kindness and compassion, with an excellent Facebook group in my area of Tyne and Wear that encourages members to both carry out and notice acts of kindness in their everyday lives.

So go ahead and try it, ask yourself once a day every day of November .. what am I grateful for right now?

 

Gratitude-Month

References
Gratitude and Positive Psychology: What is Gratitude and What are the Benefits of Gratitude? Meade, Claire. http://positivepsychology.org.uk/gratitude/ accessed 8 November 2017.

So .. When Should I Have Sex?

“Making love” is based on the feminine principle of a relationship; the relationship is built on friendship and expressed through sex. “Getting laid” is based on the masculine principle of sharing sexual gratification with a friendly partner.”

– Dr. Patricia Allen

How to have the BEST SEX of your life

Sex. A topic that humans have been interested in since  the beginning of time. Something that happens each and every day.

And yet there is so much confusion about sex. Who to have sex with, when to have sex, am I getting enough sex? And if you get this right the answers will lead to the best sex of your life.

You deserve to have a soulmate whom you love and who loves you. A relationship with passion, and where there’s a real connection.

Oxytocin addict

Oxytocin is a hormone that is released by the pituitary gland when women make love which encourages you to bond to your partner. Oxytocin also helps you relax, reduce blood pressure and lower cortisol levels.

So far so good .. but if you’re tempted to take this shortcut before you’re sure that your partner is worthy of your trust, beware the consequences of feeling bonded to the wrong person, it can literally feel like being addicted! And the pain of splitting up after bonding with the wrong person is horrendous.

Protect yourself from unnecessary pain

Don’t forget, you don’t need sex to stimulate oxytocin. Actions that convey emotional messages of kindness, caring and love also help to release the oxytocin hormone and make you feel good. John Gray writes at length about how women can take responsibility for their own oxytocin levels and avoid feeling the temptation to sleep with someone just to get a quick ‘fix’

How to tell it’s time for the best sex of your life

Great sex is about connection at a deep level with someone who shares your values and cherishes you as a human being. In order to find out if this is the right person to take this step with you can ask yourself the following questions:

What are my fundamental values – what qualities am I looking for in a relationship and a potential life partner? What 5 qualities are absolutely non-negotiable and what am I willing to overlook if these are present?

How long have I known this person? Do I really know and accept them – their good and not so good qualities, their values and foibles?

Can we have honest conversations about making love – past experiences, what we know we like, what we know we don’t like, our sexual aspirations in this relationship, our sexual health?

Do I trust them – have I experienced them being truthful, willing to be vulnerable and taking responsibility in this relationship?

Will making love with this person nourish and sustain me over time, not just for tonight?

Am I truly ready to take this step?

Here is the key to your happiness

We all have different values and opinions when it comes to when is the right time to make love – some people feel this is only after marriage, some feel otherwise. The danger of waiting until after marriage is that people sometimes make the mistake of getting married so they can have sex and become ‘grown up’, when actually this behaviour betrays their immaturity.

The only guide I can give to save you heartache is to take as much time as you need to look within yourself and ask the questions above. To be honest with your partner about what you are doing and to hear their response with acceptance and understanding.

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I love to get your feedback and would be delighted to hear your views on sex and when the right time is for you .. get in touch using the Comments box below or have a look at my Contact details.

 

Does Your Life Have a Soundtrack?

Whenever I used to break up with a guy it always seemed like every song on the radio was about US! I’d drive in my car listening to tune after tune about heartbreak, and when I got home I was so miserable it seemed like everyone was splitting up and that it was the most terrible thing that could happen to a person EVER!

But one day I got sick of being manipulated like this and decided to take back control. I started playing music that was about good times, that made me feel good, that strengthened me instead of diminishing me.

After a couple of years I was ready for the next step .. I sat down with my music collection (I used to DJ and had been buying music since I was 12 so there was a LOT to go through) and sifted out all the ‘misery music’ as I like to call it.

Not only did I make a friend very happy when he found himself the new owner of 6 boxes of prime vinyl but I could actually see what music I did have on my cluttered shelves, and I’ve never regretted it. When I choose to buy music now I do a quick mental scan about whether it will bring me up, calm me or bum me out.

We can’t change a lot of things in our environment but we do have a choice about the music we listen to, the television programmes we watch and the people we spend time with. What would you like to choose?

Fighting for your relationship ..

“If peace cannot be maintained with honour, it is no longer peace”

Lord John Russell (1792-1878)

The most common problem that couples report when coming to me for relationship counselling is arguments that they find difficult to successfully resolve. In other words they’re stuck in a pattern and they need some help to  find alternative ways to deal with it. This might seem daunting, but is usually straightforward enough, with both partners’ effort, to quickly resolve.

The second most common problem, and one which has usually been going on longer than the ‘conflict style’ above, is when a couple come to me and say “We never fight; I just don’t love him / her any more”.

The second style can often be more damaging because it becomes invisible .. couples pride themselves on keeping the peace when in actual fact levels of resentment are rising and both partners are compromising their personal integrity in the interests of “the relationship”. The partner who has an affair because ‘my husband / wife doesn’t understand me’ is often guilty of not opening up enough to allow their partner to understand them because of a fear of conflict.

Contrary to what people with both these conflict styles believe, conflict is actually necessary and healthy for two people in a relationship (and of course within families) in order that individuals be able to express their true selves and to be understood, to maintain clear personal boundaries and to enable growth.

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Something to keep in mind is that both of these conflict styles have an effect on children living around these patterns of behaviour. Research by the Gottman Institute suggests that

” .. parents whose conflicts are characterized by mutual hostility often produce children who are unable to wait their turn, tend to disobey or break rules, or expect others to conform to their wishes.”

While couples whose conflict style involve withdrawal can produce children who are shy, depressed, or anxious.

And of course your children will learn and repeat your conflict style in their own relationships.

To put this learning into practice in your relationship ask yourself which conflict style tends to dominate between you?

If it’s the first practise spotting when you feel the temperature rising in your exchanges (faster breathing, tension, heightened temperature) and taking time out, at least 20 minutes, to let your breathing slow to normal and resume the conversation using only “I” statements, eg I believe / think / feel that ..

If you tend to withdraw from conflict practise spotting when this happens. Again take at least 20 minutes time out to work out what your position is on the issue at hand and return to your partner. Find a good time for both of you to discuss it, explain your position briefly, and calmly, thank them for listening, tell them you would love to hear their side and give your partner some time to process before they get back to you. This will avoid their tendency to ‘cave in’ to avoid the anxiety of conflict.

Both these strategies will feel unnatural at first, but with time and practise will become second nature as you experience the benefits of being understood.

Sometimes getting your relationships moving forward needs an outside perspective. If that’s what you need get in touch with a well qualified and experienced relationship coach who should be able to work together with you to achieve your relationship goals.