Mental Health Month October

Mental Health Day is officially October 10 and so the focus for this month is on mental wellbeing.

“The theme for Mental Health Month this year is ‘beYOUnique!’ This theme promotes acceptance and an understanding of the impact that being proud of who we are can have on our wellbeing.”
Source and more information is available at Mental Health Association NSW.

SO what makes you unique? What is special about you  that is appreciated by your friends, work colleagues, family or loved ones?

affirmations-downloadsSome people may have a problem answering those questions – particularly if there was little or no healthy development of self worth in the formative years.

Healthy, well functioning parenting usually results in healthy, well functioning children who leave the nest as healthy, well functioning, independent adults, ready to make their way in the wider world.

If you are suffering from anxiety, depression or poor (even mediocre)  self image, chances are your upbringing may have been less than optimal. Statistically this means the majority of humans walking this Earth today have some level of wounding that can be triggered by a look, a word, a deed when least expected.

Negative thought patterns are often initiated in this way. You may have felt criticised or just heard a comment that set off your internal wounding with corresponding negative thoughts and feelings. This can vary from mild discomfort through feelings of shame or humiliation through to a full blown panic attack.

The person most likely to have this impact is your nearest and dearest. They are the one who matters the most. There is usually a significant emotional investment in the relationship with your significant other. That makes it important to keep the boat from rocking too hard – or worse sinking. This is where defence mechanisms come into play and usually only succeed in making matters worse – creating a bigger disconnect.

The Imago Dialogue is great as an alternative to defence games and will usually result in deeper understanding and rapport with your partner. Better than days of the cold shoulder! It is a way of  communication which makes it safe to discuss sensitive, emotionally charged issues with your partner.

Actions you can take right now

  1. Visit the Mental Health Association NSW and download your Mental Health Month NSW Starter Kit.
  2. Light a candle in a quiet place with pen and paper or your smart device and write down at least three qualities you have that are unique to you and express gratitude for having these gifts.
  3. Go a step further! Each night before you go to bed, quietly contemplate and add an additional quality to your list for the whole month of October!!
  4. Paste the list somewhere you will see it every day or make it your home screen on your fave digital whizz bang.
  5. Enjoy!!

About the author:
Christine Bennett is a private practitioner committed to a non-judgmental approach of helping couples, individuals and families enjoy more fulfilling, loving relationships with themselves and others. Christine also helps separated couples reach agreements for parenting plans, financial settlements and bullying disputes.

Websites managed by Christine Bennett:
Caring4Couples | Christine Bennett Consulting | Psyche-Care |
North Shore Family Mediation | Stop the Bullying
© Christine Bennett

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Marriage Counselling – Recover from a Cheating Partner

Finding out that your partner has been cheating on you is something nobody wants to discover.

It leads to heartache and grief that takes a long time, if ever to find relief.  It can take years to recover trust. Doing the work of re-establishing trust can seem onerous for the partner who has done the cheating. However it is absolutely necessary if healing is to occur and the couple is to regain emotional and sexual intimacy.

It takes a strong and ongoing commitment by the primary couple to do the work of reconnection. There needs to be a daily commitment of demonstrating caring behaviours and planning fun, light-hearted activities together.

Basically there needs to be a new relationship established with new ground rules that may never have even been explored in the initial stages of relationship. This is necessary now. If one partner has certain expectations of how things are going to be played out while their partner has no idea, then things can go awry.

Most people aren’t psychic enough to figure out what their partner’s needs and wants are without being told. It is common however to hear, “He/she has known me long enough, he/she should know what I want without me having to say anything! Can’t they see the mess!”

Although it only takes one person to stray, cheating is a choice. It is a choice that is usually made when feeling disconnected from a partner without the knowledge or experience to handle things differently.

Feeling safe to communicate how you are feeling to your partner is important. The longer things are left to fester, the more distance is created and the gap gets wider over time.

There may be a reluctance to hurt a partner’s feelings by revealing the truth about frustrations or there may have been just too much conflict for self revelation to be a safe option.

This is where marriage counselling can help. During the counselling process the counsellor facilitates communication between the couple and coaches them how to stay safe even when feeling vulnerable with raw emotions.

Caring4Couples specializes in teaching the Imago Couples Dialogue which is a very subtle, yet powerful communication process for healing the hurt.
Couples Counselling: Christine Bennett

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Has Your Interest in Sexual Intimacy with Your Partner Declined Over Time?

The days here in Sydney are becoming shorter, nights colder. I look forward to nestling under the doona into a warm bed at night and cuddling up to my partner. He has thoughtfully pre-warmed the bed by turning the electric blanket on low. Cosy :-).

Not all couples have this experience of looking forward to a snuggle in bed. Sexual intimacy has often gone out the window along with their desire to be together.

I hear all sorts of stories of how some of my clients go to bed deliberately at different times to avoid one another. Some people become so emotionally wounded within their relationship that stonewalling or avoidance become the norm in an attempt to stay safe. The carried hurt puts up an impenetrable wall of defense making a cuddle in bed, let alone sex, a distant memory.

The problem with this is the longer it goes on, the harder it becomes to re-connect. It becomes awkward. It becomes habitual. I often see couples, some in their 20s and 30s who have let months and sometimes years go by without engaging in sexual  intimacy. They have become like house mates, room buddies, rather than a loving couple.

There ARE ways to overcome the hurt.There ARE ways to re-connect if the willingness is there to do the work. There needs to be a commitment to recognizing when the relationship is losing energy and actively DO something to remedy the rift.

Following is an article by Amie M. Gordon from Psychology Today, on The Secret to Maintaining Sexual Desire.

I hope you find it interesting reading. And if your relationship has lost its lustre, what are some strategies you might practice to restore it back to health? Are you willing to take on the challenge?

Please leave your comments below. How do you keep the love alive?

Author: Christine Bennett Marriage Counselling at


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Lest We Forget….

Today is ANZAC Day and the TV is tuned to the traditional ANZAC Day march. My partner is watching, I am only hearing. I’m hearing the marching bands play their traditional music, I’m hearing the commentators do what commentators do. And as all this proceeds I remember my father and grandfathers who are no longer here to march.

As children, my sister and I would sit with Mum, glued to the television set, anxiously waiting for a glimpse of Dad as he marched with his mates from  the 5th Australian Survey Battery.

I am reminded again of the passing of time. As the saying goes, the only constant in life is change. This is true of war, family relationships, friendships and intimate relationships. They aren’t supposed to stay the same. However it can take some conscious adjustment to accept that life goes on and people we once loved as an integral part of life, have passed on.

Thank goodness for babies! As much as I miss my Dad, my daughter is busy breeding. So far two delightful boys keep me on my toes and there is a little girl on her way to arrive soon. The flow of life continues as nature intended…..

Intimate relationships also have their natural flow. Starting off at conception with the fire of passion and uncertainty, a healthy relationship will evolve over time into a more stable, mature entity. Like anything worthwhile it needs to be nurtured, given loving attention and above all involve the utmost respect.

“World-renowned researcher on marriage and relationships, Dr. John Gottman, says there are four negative patterns that often sound familiar to fighting couples.”

Gottman refers to the these four negative elements as “the four horsemen of the apocalypse.”

Read full article Four Negative Patterns That Predict Divorce from

In summary Gottman’s Four Horsemen are:

  1. Criticism
  2. Contempt
  3. Defensiveness
  4. Stonewalling or the silent treatment

According to Gottman, there are three things you should never say in a fight with your partner.

  1. Your never…
  2. You always
  3. Anything insulting, or acted superior

Are you guilty? What would you need to do in order to protect your relationship form these negative Four Horsmen? Please leave your comments! They are welcome here 🙂

Author: Christine Bennett Marriage Counselling at


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What is your communication style?

Communication happens whether we think it is or not…..Even in silence you are communicating something!

Men and women are different too, which also complicates the whole communication thing.Women most often would like a sympathetic ear to be able to share their day – with or without frustrations they have encountered. Once a man hears about any frustration or problem his lady has encountered, instead of listening attentively and providing validation and empathy, he most likely wants to jump in and do the manly thing of fixing things!!

This desire to “provide” for his lady is often met with more frustration if she simply wants him to listen.

Here is what you may find to be an interesting article on this topic:

6 Ways that Men and Women Communicate Differently

This guest article from YourTango was written by Richard Drobnick

“Men and women are different in many ways. They see the world through completely different perspectives. The key to understanding their differences is in the way that men and women communicate.

Here are six important communication differences that you should be aware of, to help improve your communications with your partner and make them smoother and more effective.”

Please add your comments – they are always welcome.

Author: Christine Bennett Marriage Counselling at


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