Have the recent bizarre years extinguished your energy for passion and romance? You wouldn’t be the only one to have found yourself suffering from a bad case of “flat-mate syndrome”. Maybe you’re even struggling to make conversation with the person you fell head-over-heels with many moons ago or getting down and flirty together is a distant memory.
Valentine’s Day is the perfect cue to invigorate your relationship with these strategies for the whole year to get that head-over-heels feeling back in your relationship. Don't just leave it at one day.
1. Complete yourself first
Check that you are head-over-heels in love with yourself first. Are you relying on your partner to “complete you” with fancy displays of adoration? Whilst many of us can be a total sucker for flowers and any form of romance any day of the week, a healthy contribution to the relationship is founded on a healthy sense of self first.
Both partners need to be resilient and open to constructive “feedback” from each other in a non-blaming way to learn and grow together. Only then can you enjoy a flourishing and dynamic relationship featuring someone wonderfully matched to the best version of you!
2. A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles
Seeking a divine miracle to transform your relationship? It is so easy to fall prey to a mindset that focuses on criticism and even contempt. Experiment with the gift of gratitude either together or for your partner by writing a list of your 20 favourite things you have loved about the other, then read them out loud. Your praise can be about anything from their appearance and achievements to their personality, hobbies or quirks. Including "intrinsic" words of affirmation benefits couples far more than just "extrinsic" praise (appearance). Be honest and glow with admiration for each other.
3. Go soul-gazing
Forget the cheesy stargazing and go “soul-gazing”. Face each other in a seated position. Keep your knees close to touching and hold eye contact for 5 minutes. Avoid talking, burping, gas emissions and welcome the awkwardness. Background music is optional. Once you've perfected this, experiment with other seated positions or lying down. Extended eye contact (with someone that you have positive feelings toward) is scientifically proven to increase feelings of connection and intimacy.
4. Get out of the comfort of your discomfort
Neuroscience reveals that we stay captive to unhelpful routine behaviours purely because it is easier to keep doing them versus risk something new. Now is the time to throw comfort zones out the window! Plan something completely novel to reinvigorate your routine, not just this week but at least once every month. Here are some examples: acting classes, soap carving, interpretive dancing, geocaching, square-dancing, basket weaving, noodling (either the musical or fishing type), nude model painting or pottery to the Ghost movie soundtrack? Life is too short to stay in the comfort of the lacklustre discomfort.
5. Love Coupons
This is where you commit to performing self-sacrificing acts for your beloved you might not necessarily enjoy. You write, “This coupon entitles the holder to ……(your partner’s choice), or one-foot rub, one evening in with….., a meal cooked for you, a night out with the lads/gals, King/Queen of the remote control, breakfast in bed, vacuum your car. These little things mean so much. They’re redeemable for any time until next Valentine’s Day, or you can add fine print with a shorter expiry date for those you’re hoping to get out of.
6. Be selfless to allow a selfish session
Take turns granting each other an intimate selfish session! When it is your turn, dictate to your partner your desires. It is your time, moment to moment chosen by you to be pleasured by your partner. Respect each other's boundaries but make it your mission to relish in and please each other.
7. Pump someone else’s heart
It is a sobering thought to imagine how many cannot celebrate Valentine’s Day as they’re fighting for their lives. No one has been untouched by a sudden accident or cancer in some shape or form. Why not donate some of your healthy platelets to those fighting the battle or a patient who may need it for surgery. Importantly, your brain will light up with happiness by spreading the love beyond your relationship, creating a ripple effect from the gift of your health and well-being!
Joanne Wilson is the facilitator of the Relationship Rejuvenator online mini-courses and author of Renovate Your Relationship – All The DIY Tools For Your Most Important Project ($29.99). Find out more at www.relationshiprejuvenator.com
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It saddens me every time when uniquely fabulous individuals arrive in the counselling room with their partner, describing their pain, isolation and loneliness as a result of being ill-equipped to approach their differences in a respectful, kind and healthy manner. They present zapped of energy, depressed, anxious, even traumatized. After years of this as their “norm”, they arrive at the end of their tether.
In the last decade, I’m fairly sure I’ve seen every type of conflict dance on the circuit. From where I sit, I recognise kind-hearted, gifted and beautiful people using their very best attempts to cope with differences with their partner. They try all different manoeuvres to make it better and feel safe again but they fall flat.
If you’re finding yourself in a similar situation, here’s what you need to know:
Conflict is normal. You haven’t partnered with your clone so you’re allowed to have varied preferences! It is concerning when couples don’t ever disagree as they are possibly “glossing over” the important issues. Even worse, “shoving them under the carpet” results in a very large mound that will result in a catastrophic trip down the track.
When you live with someone, you’ll usually need to provide each other feedback about the dishcloth, shower screen or lawns at some time. You will be unintentionally hurt by your spouse and need to let them know.
With this in mind, when a high conflict couple like Sam* and Max* arrived at my Counselling room, I discussed their family history and who taught them how to do conflict? We noted that Sam* was repeating the legacy of her past in drinking too heavily to cope with stress at work, resulting in a quick temper and aggression when conflict arose. Max* would immediately shut down and avoid Sam* making her even madder. Max* became fearful, had trouble putting his thoughts into words and *Sam relentlessly tried to get her point across in all the wrong ways. The cycle continued from there.
My role is to make it extremely obvious what “conflict dance” the couple is using so they can step out of it into a new style with time, persistence and coaching!
Amongst many things, Sam* and Max* were required to:
We discussed hurts from the past including before their relationship and afterwards. Together they journeyed toward a respectful and kind approach to conflict with confidence!
You can too!
Join me in my next 7-day Challenge to commence re-engineering your approach to communication and conflict. It doesn’t require two people - so watch this space!
In the meantime, you can jump onto my “Communicate For Love” mini-course NOW that teaches this process indepth from the comfort of your own home. No trips to the Counselling room, no parking – just you at your own pace, navigating a new healthy approach to conflict!
Don’t forget to diarise my Facebook Lives each Therapeutic Thursday morning for Thriving Relationships to inject some relational inspirations into your weekend!
Joanne Wilson is the Relationship Rejuvenator and author of Renovate Your Relationship – All The DIY Tools For Your Most Important Project ($29.99). She is a neuropsychotherapist inspiring the community for thriving and dynamic relationships that impact generations for mental well-being. Find out more at www.relationshiprejuvenator.com
I love the meaning of a leap year day on the weekend which perfectly blends with my current relationship series, “Intimacy Inhibitors”. Head to my blog for this series where so far I’ve covered:
A Leap Year Day, gives the earth additional time to complete the full circle around the sun. If we didn’t add leap days, each calendar year would be increasingly out of alignment and begin about six hours before the earth does its entire journey. Our time would slowly drift apart from the tropical year and we would get out of sync with the seasons. Americans would be eating Thanksgiving turkey in summer!
What does that have to do with intimacy?
When we’re not regularly checking in with our partner, aligning with your each other’s needs, challenges, hectic schedules, children’s discipline and forward planning – we’re increasingly out of sync.
Examples of when this intimacy inhibitor features in my counselling room is when:
I realise you can’t anticipate every step of life together, however it is worth having a decent crack to avoid constantly falling into the potholes of misalignment.
Why does your mechanic check the wheel alignment? It avoids unnecessary wear on your tyres, steering, suspension and brakes. The key word here is “unnecessary” - why would we drift apart unnecessarily without harmonizing each other’s sexual flavours, spirituality, personal development, goals and dreams?
A great reminder today is to leap on in and arrange that alignment catch-up with your partner for a forecast of sunny days ahead!
Joanne Wilson is a neuropsychotherapist, relationship specialist, workshop facilitator and guest speaker. Tune into radio Salt106.5 each Friday morning for her co-host of the Morning Wakeup. Don’t miss more on these articles in her “Is This Love” Podcast and download your FREE relationship resources at www.relationshiprejuvenator.com
Depending on when you read this you’ve got approximately three days to get your act together for Valentine’s Day.
If you were born without a romantic bone in your body, you’re usually in strife. If you’re single, it could all be, well be rather sucky. If you’re a florist, chocolatier, restaurateur or in retail, you’re likely looking forward to that well earnt boost!
As for me, meh! I could take it or leave this commercialised day of forced displays of love. I’d rather like to think it’s more of a spontaneous and consistent effort throughout the year.
Valentine’s Day intertwines beautifully with my current “Intimacy Inhibitors” series for those in a relationship. Before I drop the one main cause that inhibits intimacy and being ‘naked to the soul’ next week, today I’m addressing apathy.
Apathy is what allows your bike to get rusty, your gutters to overflow and your waistline to spill over your jeans. Apathy can also happen to your relationship if you’re not consistently attending to it. Life challenges will understandably get in the way sometimes, however you’re one true love should be at the forefront of your maintenance list on top of your car service, fuel refill, eyebrow waxing and lawns.
I mentioned last week, the importance of feeling safe and secure when we can count on turning to our loved ones for support, love and connection. It’s so easy however to snag that good-looking, hot hunk or babe you want to spend the rest of your life with, then allow work, your own interests, friends, family and habits to take precedence.
Apathy isn’t just a feeling, it’s an attitude that could be described as detachment, dispassion and indifference. If you’re stuck in this zone in life, seek an outside professional perspective for living life to the fullest. If your apathy is only toward your relationship, also time to get some strategies from the experts!
If you’re like me and prefer not to profess your undying love on just this one day, why not make this week a new chapter in your life to commit for on-going repair and maintenance. You can head to my website for free resources if you’re stuck for date ideas, ways to communicate and what to say. There’s even a list of romantic ideas for each day of the month and be gone with apathy!
Joanne Wilson is a neuropsychotherapist, relationship specialist, workshop facilitator and guest speaker. Don’t miss more on the Morning Wakeup on radio Salt 106.5 in every Friday from 6am and in her “Is This Love” Podcast, download your FREE relationship resources at www.relationshiprejuvenator.com
Congratulations on surviving the first week of December! Hold on tight as it’s usually a jam-packed month of frivolity, well-meaning friends and family keen to catch up all at once. You might be experiencing the accompanying stressful work pressures like no other time of the year?
Enjoy my second couple in this current series of admirable trail blazing couples on the Sunshine Coast featured to inspire us with how they manage to stay cohesive and most importantly, sane during the festive season.
This week features, the high-profile radio announcer, Caroline Hutchinson and her husband, John. Whilst she’s been rocking our air waves, John also worked in the industry and in his own business whilst raising a family. Read on to find out how they did it.
How did you meet and how long have you been married?
Caroline: We have been married 30 years. We met at radio school (AFTRS) in 1988. It was just after my dad died and I was immediately attracted to John’s gentle nature and kindness. He’s also really smart and did most of my assignments.
Caroline: Describe your journey to success in your current role as an announcer at MixFM?
I started out in TV (reporter), then moved into radio after I had my second child. I did an overnight show called Truck Radio and then got the offer to come to Mix FM!
Caroline: Are you content with where you're at in your career right now? Why or Why not?
I love it. I would sit with Mark and drink tea, talking rubbish and doing stuff for the community for free. I am just really lucky to get paid for it.
John: What are highs and lows of being the partner of a high profile wife in the community?
Caroline has made an art form of letting her listeners into her life every day. For me, and our kids, there are practically no secrets kept from the audience that she loves so much. The upside of that is that I can go to work and not have to explain my weekend DIY disasters; they’re generally well publicised before I get there. On a more serious note, Caroline openly discusses on-air issues that are important to both of us, and that can help start conversations in my circles that otherwise mightn’t be had.
John: Tell us about "Kook" and your role there.
Kook is what’s now known as a digital agency. We manage the various parts of where businesses need to be online, whether that’s your website, your social media, or your entire online marketing strategy. I’m one of three owners of Kook. We all work in the business, as part of a team of 17 people. My role gravitates mainly towards sales and marketing. Because web can be overwhelming, it’s our focus to actually talk to our customers, and I really love that interaction with our customers.
How do you make it work as a team at home and in the business world?
Caroline: We write a lot of emails during the day…John runs our life on Outlook …and we are both pretty keen on each other, so it’s generally drama free.
John: Give and take. When we had a house of young kids, we were actually thankful that I could get the day started, and Caroline could generally be home by the end of the school day. That trained us into juggling home and work pretty well, and as the kids grew up, that balancing act seemed to get easier. I know the radio business well, so understand Caroline’s work demands. The time she puts into work beyond just being on-air is a lot of what everyone, including me, loves her for. So between us we’ve just always made it happen.
Do you follow a more traditional style of partnership or equally share roles and responsibilities at home?
Caroline: We are incredibly traditional. I run the kitchen, the inside organisation and the social calendar. John runs the home maintenance and the money.
John: Caroline jokes about being a “50’s housewife” when it comes to managing money and technology. On the other hand, I don’t expect I’ll ever have to prepare a meal or organise a dinner party in my life. We arrived at a comfortable division of duties sort of organically. We’ve never checked on whether it’s an even split; if we were worried about that, we’d have a different issue.
What ages are your children and what stage has been the most challenging?
Caroline: Our kids are all grown up, 28, 24 and 22. They are really easy now obviously!! I think the toddler years are challenging, simply because they are unrelenting. You have a terrorist in your house who is capable of tearing the joint apart with no idea why they shouldn’t. Thank goodness they’re cute!! As they get older, the challenges are more psychological but I found that stage easier to navigate.
John: Gabe is 28 and just started his own law practice Clutch Legal. Milli is 25 shortly and is a media officer for RACQ LifeFlight, the rescue helicopters. Jemima will be 23 on Boxing Day. She’s working as a paramedic in the UK. The teens were the hardest part for me working out kids, although ours were far from “problem children”. I think it’s about that twilight zone in between childhood and adulthood; they’re not quite either, and there are simply some behaviours that comes with working it out.
Do you think Australian society allows flexibility in the workplace for men as much as women to manage family alongside their working woman?
Caroline: I have been really lucky to work for an extremely family friendly employer. I have always been able to have my kids at work (they were raised in the radio station) and because I work shift work I could be home in the afternoons, which was a blessing. I don’t know how parents who work 9-5 do it, to be honest. Rushing home for homework, cooking, washing, baths and bed without a moment to yourself, sounds a lot harder than my lot.
John: I think tradition has meant that blokes haven’t been afforded the same freedoms that women have when it comes to balancing work with parenting. But like so many “norms” that’s changing rapidly. I’d like to think Kook gives all our team the leeway when needed on these things, but we’re far from being radical in that area. The transition will be different for every business, but change is happening.
Do you find time for self-compassion and if so, what do you do?
Caroline: I wasn’t good at it when the kids were little, simply because I always felt too busy (I know other women do it, I just never managed it very well) But I have a lot more time now and do yoga at least three times a week and walk my dogs on the days I don’t namaste.
John: I’m OK at getting alone time away from the white noise that a hectic life can generate. Working in the yard is a good place to start for me. And while Caroline is better at exercising our dogs than I am, a long walk with the hounds puts me in a good headspace too. I have a theory that we’ve lost the important art of doing nothing.
Who do you rely on as a support network when things get tough?
Caroline: John has always been my go to person, along with my mum, whom I am really close to. But I am incredibly lucky. John and I have a group of friends that is like family and now our kids are adults I would say they are our support network too. Grown up kids are a beautiful thing.
John: Caroline is one of the greatest fans of Christmas. In some circles, she may be described as manic, but I remember to love what she loves about it; family being home, seeing friends, food, and general festivity! It’s a year-long process for her, and our relationship survives the seasonal stress because of her planning.
In the lead up to Christmas, how do you manage the demands of this hectic season whilst maintaining a connected and attentive relationship?
Caroline: John runs Outlook like a boss. We make a rule to go to things together (which is probably tougher on John because he gets dragged to my things when he could be home watching TV!) But we love the silly season. It’s a great reason to get together with people you don’t see often and toast the year.
John: Ultimately, I rely on Caroline. I now have kids who can reason out things as well as any of my adult friends. I also have a couple of very close mates whose ear I can bend.
My takeaways? Traditional family values shine through again, attend more functions together than apart and appreciate each other's passions.
Joanne Wilson is a neuropsychotherapist, relationship specialist, workshop facilitator, guest speaker and weekly columnist for the Sunshine Coast Daily. Don’t miss more on this in her “Is This Love” Podcast and download your FREE Spouse It Up Guide at www.relationshiprejuvenator.com
November and December bring an awfully fun frenzy along with varied stressful pressures like no other time of the year. For this reason, I’ve researched a series of admirable trail blazing couples on the Sunshine Coast to inspire us with how they manage to stay cohesive and most importantly, sane!
I’m particularly interested in revealing if their relationship or marriage help or hinder their success? Our changing times feature more entrepreneurial business-women than ever before. Some are the primary income earner and rely on their partner for caring for the children. Do our current work arrangements cater to this? Despite equally contributing to a business, do these couples integrate the more traditional gender specific roles or stray from the norm?
I know you’ll love their behind the scenes stories, challenges and sage advice. The first features frontierswoman, Rebecca Domorev and husband, Alexei. Enjoy my interesting chat with them:
How did your lives collide?
We met in Saint Petersburg, Russia one fateful afternoon in September 2001 after church amongst mutual friends. I had been studying abroad (singing and Russian language) at the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory of Music for several months and made close friends with Alexei's friends while he was undertaking an internship in London. Three months later we were engaged and then married in May 2003 in a fairytale Russian marriage palace on the river Neva in St Petersburg.
We have been married for 16 years.
Tell us about Tielka Tea and your role in the business?
Rebecca: Tielka is a boutique organic tea company that is passionate about a lifestyle of rest and joy through the beautiful ceremony of tea-time. I am at the forefront of the business, taking responsibility for the day-to-day operations, from sales, customer service, warehouse management, bookkeeping, marketing etc, you name it - I'm doing it!
What are your business connections to the Sunshine Coast?
Rebecca: I sometimes call Tielka the adopted child of the Sunshine Coast Food and Agribusiness Network - we were one of 13 food businesses that was selected to take part in Sunshine Coast's GrowCoastal food accelerator program earlier this year and are building our biggest presence on the Sunshine Coast with the support of FAN.
Rebecca, describe your journey to success in your current role in the business?
I think the journey to success is never a completed process, I still feel like I am on that long road full of ups and downs! There have absolutely been successes along the road, and it has been off the back of raw determination, persistence and grit.
Rebecca, are you content with where the business is at right now? Why or Why not?
Of course not! As a perpetual entrepreneur with forever evolving ideas and goals, I don't think I will ever be content with where the business is at. It's both a curse and a blessing, forever frustrating and driving me on! Naturally I would like to see our turnover and shelf / cafe presence grow in Australia and then beyond Australia into export. I would also love to see the inspiration behind Tielka, a life marked by rest and joy, be imbedded deeper into our identity and communicated more heavily to those we want to reach.
Alexei, what is your role in Tielka?
When we started Tielka, I was in the middle of my MBA at Melbourne Business School. It was a very exciting time, because I was able to apply newly acquired knowledge in business strategy, marketing, consumer behaviour and research straight to our business. One of those lessons that stood out to me was from the Brand Management class taught by a renowned professor of marketing Mark Ritson. The best brand managers build their brands in the background, letting the founder take the spotlight. That is why I am quite ok with being at the Tielka's background, helping Rebecca with strategic direction, marketing and design. I tend to stay away from the operational part of it as I had to learn the delicate balance between being right and being happy.
Alexei, how do you make it work as a team at home and in the business world?
Anyone involved in running a small business would know that it's almost impossible to separate your home life from your business. Our dinner conversations quite often involve topics such as food supply chain, branding, packaging design or global food trends. Our two oldest boys (who are 8 and 13) are quite accustomed to looking at the world around them from a business perspective. Sometimes when it gets too much, we give each other permission to tap out from the conversation and change the topic. We are also used to the idea of tag teaming. For example, I will look after our youngest in the late morning or pick up his brothers from school, allowing Rebecca to focus on the business. In the afternoon we usually swap.
Do you follow a more traditional style of partnership or equally share roles and responsibilities at home?
Rebecca: I would say we have a partnership that leans towards a more traditional style. The domestic duties tend to fall on my shoulders with the support of Alexei and Alexei has typically taken the responsibility of being the primary provider. The current uncertain financial atmosphere in Australia are impacting us and not ideally, we are leaning more heavily on Tielka for provision.
Alexei: I come from a very traditional Eastern European background, where roles and responsibilities at home are pretty much defined by your gender. Both of my parents worked full time, yet my mum managed the household, while my dad had a more demanding physical job, so he would help around the house only on the weekends. That was the model I grew up with. The culture in Australia is a bit more relaxed in that regard. I think what helps us a lot in managing business and household is our parenting style. We have been quite intentional in involving our kids and sharing responsibilities at home with them. For example, we rarely have to do the dishes after dinner as it is our boys' responsibility now. One will clear the table, and the other one will load the dishwasher and handwash whatever is left. They also earn their screen time by doing other chores like hanging the washing, folding the clothes or collecting palm fronds in the backyard. It's not unusual for them to ask if there is anything they can do around the house to earn time. It is a win-win situation for everyone.
Do you think Australian society allows flexibility in the workplace for men as much as women to manage family alongside their working woman?
Joanne will be your Confidante, enabling you to speak freely in complete confidence and serenity. An integrated approach tailored to your specific needs will be utilised.
Joanne will be your Confidante, enabling you to speak freely in complete confidence and serenity. An integrated approach tailored to your specific needs will be utilised. Approaches such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Solution Focussed Therapy and Emotionally Focussed Therapy may be incorporated.
Relationship Specialist for Individuals and Couples online around the world and servicing areas for face to face sessions including Caloundra, Noosa, Noosaville, Buderim, Mountain Creek, Gympie.