The following is a list of Helpful Hints that you may find helpful. The tasks are challenging but will work with time, patience and effort.

Goal posts have shifted

There are times in our lives when we have different goals/ideas from where we began. This can lead to conflict and misunderstanding when one person has not seen they have shifted, children and careers are example of this. The team is not functioning as well because one or both have made changes the other has not picked up on.

The Task is: to re-establish common goals and dreams to reconnect again.

Assumptions v Expectations

Couples as well as individuals fall into the trap of, "mind reading" ie guessing what the other wants without communicating and then expects a certain action will follow. This will often lead to conflict, poor communication and understanding of each other.

The Task is:to be open and explicit in communication to avoid mistakes occurring.

"What about me?"

A phrase often used and felt by either partner when they feel left out or not considered, minimised or dismissed. This has usually occurred over a long period of time to cause conflict.

The Task is: to recognise (listen to) each person’s position equally so everyone feels valued and appreciated.

Should’s and Shoudn’ts

Words based in our values that trap us in our thoughts and expectations of each other that are most often not helpful..

The Task is: to monitor our personal expectations so they are more considerate of others. This will reduce anger and conflict.

"I don’t know!"

Words based in our values that trap us in our thoughts and expectations of each other that are most often not helpful.

A phrase often used by adolescents and also others when:

  • We may not know the answer.
  • We don't want to have further conflict.
  • We don't want to engage in discussion.

The Task is: to change approach, use a less challenging tone of voice, if possible leave it for a while and come back to issue later.

Burden of Responsibility

A term that I have used as I notice that individuals can feel burdened with the responsibility of the relationship, finance or significant issue that is causing concern and that person has had enough. If not addressed can lead to distress and possible separation if that person feel the relationship is out of balance and cannot be corrected.

The Task is: to renegotiate the relationship so it returns to a better balance (team) and the burden is reduced or removed.

Fear v Trust

Fear and anxiety increase when we face the unknown, “what ifs, what could be” and see the challenges ahead when things don’t work out for us in life. It is hard to have faith and trust in the unknown, ourselves and deal with what comes.

The Task is: stay in the present, focus on the now, what can I do today to manage.

Faith – Courage – Resilience

These three elements are important to develop. ie believing in ourselves, develop the skills to have a go in spite of our pressures, depression or situation and develop the ability to keep on doing it against the odds.

The Task is: Believe and Trust in yourself it will work.

Serenity Prayer - Serenity, Peace, Courage, Acceptance, Wisdom

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference"

Mostly recognised from its use in AA. However, regardless of personal beliefs, it is a powerful sentence with four main elements that challenge to accept, find peace, courage to deal with issues and then find wisdom in whatever issue that is challenging us.

The Task is: to implement these four elements with the issues in our life, they work.

Destiny – Being True to yourself your soul (inner you)

Whatever it is we do in life has to fit with our values and beliefs when it doesn’t we have inner conflict.

The Task is: Always find what is absolutely true for you in your heart and follow that path. You will be happier for it.

False Hope

There will often be situations that we are hopeful all will work out. Sometimes we need to recognise whether that hope is not true.

The Task is: To continually review the signals and look for signs that develop Hope or demonstrate it is not there.

Intimacy – Emotional/Physical

I assess intimacy is not only physical, sexual but also emotional. Talking, sharing, listening, spending time and having fun together as a couple or family are all intimate moments. We need to have all of these elements in a successful relationship.

The Task is: Maintain all of these in your relationship, especially fun.

Knowing v Not Knowing

As individuals we will feel lost and confused, uncertain about what to do and which way to go, needing answers to guide and lead us in our direction. What we can do is recognise what we already know, don’t like and start from how those signals are guiding us. Depression is a signal that my life is not where I want it to be, I am not coping, and to feel better I will have to make changes that might be hard to do.

The Task is: to recognise what we know/don’t know now and begin from there, it will guide us out of uncertainty.

Gratitude List

At times we will forget to appreciate what is around us and what is being done for us by our partners, friends and family. It is good to remember and appreciate the small daily tasks that we do for each other. It can help ease our anger and frustration when we may expect more from them.

The Task is: Notice what is being done for us, make a list, monitor our own expectation and appreciate what is being done.

Try v Do - I don't want to hear "try" Qu. What are you going to "do"?

As individuals we can get into a negative cycle of “trying” to do things and not achieve anything. It is something we will get to later and not put much effort in. We need to leave the trying and move to an action phase of “doing”.

The Task is: Make a decision on the activity and then do it.

Fair Fighting Rules – Dealing with Conflict

Conflict is normal in any couple relationship; there will always be differences as we are simply different people with different ideas how to do things that can lead to disagreement and conflict. To resolve it, it needs special attention and “rules” that can help work it out.

The Task is: Put love 1st, give time for both to share their concern, listen to each other, show care and respect you would any friend. Separate it from the children, ie talk in a place and time that will have less impact on them. Try to avoid blame, shouting, interrupting, and being physical.

What’s behind the hurt/Anger?

It is always important to know what is behind the hurt/anger; it will help you understand what is happening for that person. This does not mean accepting inappropriate behaviour is ok.

The Task is: To explore behind the emotions/behaviour you are seeing.

Marriages are like Children – they have to be attended to each day

Like children who require lots of attention and looking after for them to thrive and develop, so does our relationship/marriage.

The Task is: Work on our relationship every day the same as we would care for our children.

Stress Management

There are many times in our life that we will be stressed with work, family, life pressures. It is important to recognise these stressors and develop tools that can help us manage.

The Task is: Develop a list of tools that you can draw on to help you. Eg, resting, walking, gardening, reading, general exercise, aromatherapy, meditation, having fun, do something nice for yourself, have a long soaking bath, have a massage, talk to friends family or a counsellor, see a doctor if it gets too hard to manage.

Motivation/Relapse Prevention

When we are depressed and not coping it is hard to maintain our motivation to do good things for ourselves, stay well and focus on the positives in our lives. We will often relapse into old negative habits that are not helpful. What we need to do is develop betting coping skills and management strategies that give us the tools to deal with setbacks.

The Task is: Develop a list of strategies that help us manage our stressors and disappointments. We need to maintain a positive attitude and if it does not work, start again tomorrow with your strategies. Recognise it’s ok to have a bad day, it happens, it’s normal. If it keeps happening and you cannot manage consider getting assistance.