Marriage – What is the best age?

MARRIAGE – WHAT IS THE BEST AGE TO SAY “I DO”?

More and more couples are waiting longer to enter marriage these days rather than opt to walk down the aisle in late adolescence or early twenties as was the norm in earlier generations.

Recent research by Nicholas Wolfinger (University of Utah) indicates that the ideal age range to ensure a successful marriage is between 28 and 32 years.

ringsAccording to Wolfinger “The odds of divorce decline as you age from your teenage years through your late twenties and early thirties.” He also believes that “thereafter, the chances of divorce go up again as you move into your late thirties and early forties.”
Source: Independent.co.uk

To me it makes some sense that an older couple embarking on the journey of marriage are more likely to succeed long term. However, there are always two sides to every story and I’ll give 10 points here for and against. I’d love to hear your comments  at the end of this post!

MARRIAGE: ADVANTAGES OF WAITING UNTIL LATE TWENTIES, EARLY THIRTIES

  1. There has been time to “grow up” and forge a solid identity.
  2. In knowing who you are, it is easier to identify a potential partner who will support and encourage your life goals and vice versa.
  3. There has been time to complete studies or career training without other commitments and responsibilities.
  4. Careers take energy and commitment to establish – easier to do without competition from spouse and/or children.
  5. There has been time to “play the field”, experimenting with different relationships.
  6. Experiencing relationships with a variety of partners makes it less likely to feel trapped or wondering if the right choice has been made.
  7. If travel is important, then marrying later allows time to explore wider horizons, foot loose and fancy free.
  8. Greater financial resources are available.
  9. There is more likelihood of entering marriage with eyes wide open.
  10. After experiencing life living independently, you are more likely to enter marriage with a preference for sharing your life with a loving partner, rather than through fear of being alone.

MARRIAGE – ADVANTAGES OF MARRYING YOUNG

  1.  Less chance of being let down by multiple partners resulting in wounds carried into future relationships.
  2. Less jealousy and insecurities about your partner’s romantic history.
  3. An opportunity to grow up together.
  4. There is a larger market of eligible potential partners around the younger you are.
  5. Time to enjoy traveling together, sharing resources before children arrive.
  6. Having a loving partner to support while study is completed and careers are established.
  7. For a woman falling pregnant becomes more difficult with age. So early marriage provides the opportunity to take advantage of the most fertile years.
  8. There is time to enjoy married life together before feeling the pressure of starting a family.
  9. Young couples are more likely to be more adaptable to each other rather than being set in their ways.
  10. Entering marriage at an earlier age is perfect for enjoying safe and regular sexual intimacy when your libido is at it’s peak.

So, what do you think? Is the research valid? I would love to hear your comments and experience related to this topic. And please share!

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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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How to deal with grief after relationship break-up

When someone we love dies, we have social rituals to help with the pain of loss. What do we have though, when a relationship breaks down? Where are the social rituals such as a funeral followed by a wake?

This may sound a bit morbid when thinking of a love relationship. However, morbid is exactly how a lot of people feel when they lose a lover or partner through relationship break-down.

Often a big dark hole is the feeling in the pit of the stomach where joy once resided. So how to cope?

Following is an article about some ways people deal with relationship break-up, found on the Grief Recovery website by Allison James. John W. James and Russell Friedman are the founders of The Grief Recovery Institute® and authors of The Grief Recovery Handbook. Their book is available for FREE DOWNLOAD on the website.

Common Responses to Break-Ups and How They Hurt you

“With every romantic relationship there are:

  • Hopes
  • Dreams
  • Expectations

– A new couple might hope to become more serious or look forward to waking up each morning to a text message from each other.

– A couple who have been together longer might expect to have children, dream of vacations together, or begin to plan for retirement.

– Many women start to plan their dream wedding no matter how long they’ve been dating –whether or not their boyfriends know about it is inconsequential!

Couples also create habits and rituals.  Habits as simple as doing the dishes together at night, speaking on the phone each night at 5:00 pm or golfing on Sundays.

A common dream for an evolving relationship is that it will last forever.

Then one day, for whatever reason, the relationship changes or ends.

Their hopes, dreams, and expectations are crushed.

No one likes to feel bad so they do what most people are taught… pretend they are okay!  In an attempt to protect themselves from future heartbreak many people say things like,

  • “I’m never dating again.” 
  • “I don’t give a darn.”

The problem is, that saying, “I don’t give a darn,” and actually not giving a darn, are two different things!

Have you said similar things?

Another thing people do after a break-up is anything and everything to avoid feeling heartbreak. Have you tried some of these things?

  • Dating someone else.
  • Drinking.
  • Having a girls or boys night out.
  • Eating, especially ice cream.
  • Not eating at all.
  • Watching sad movies or listening to sad songs.
  • Working long hours.
  • Shopping.
  • Working out, excessively.
  • Having a make-over.
  • Sleeping.

Although these activities might make you feel better short term, they don’t allow you to get complete with the relationship that changed or ended.”

Click here to continue reading….

Relationship counselling by Christine Bennett caring4couples.com.au


 

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Love and the Law of Attraction for Healthy Relationships

Love just like anything else in the Universe is subject to the Law of Attraction.

This law states that like attracts like. It is a simple matter of physics and when it comes to love – our own emotions are what matters.

How we feel about ourselves is vitally important to who we attract into our life as friends, colleagues, and most importantly intimate partners.

So if we feel down on ourselves, we don’t feel good enough, confident enough, attractive enough – the list could go on and on…….then that is who we will attract as a partner. We will attract our mirror image. Whatever emotional wounding we have suffered during our childhood will be mirrored in our partner. Guarranteed!! This is the basis of the work of Harville Hendrix who is the author of “Getting the Love You Want” amongst others.

Harville Hendrix is an American psychologist who founded what he calls Imago Relationship Therapy. The foundation of the therapeutic process involves what is called the Imago Dialogue where the therapist facilitates a dialogue around a particular frustration that is getting in the way of the couple’s connection to one another. It is usually because a wound has been triggered and one or both partners have gone into their defense strategy, shutting each other out.

The concept of attracting a like person is illustrated very nicely by Denise Scarbro (Huffington Post, 27 July 2012) in her article “The Trick to Attracting Healthy Relationships“.

Scarbro says, “Have you ever felt like you always attract a certain type of person? I know I have! The same kinds of people seem to present themselves to me all the time. They may have different faces and different names, but in the end the same themes are always there. Not too long ago, I kept finding myself with an emotionally unavailable boyfriend; misunderstood people gravitated to me; needy people always wanted to be my friend; and if there was ever an underdog, we inevitably somehow teamed up. I found myself thinking, “What am I putting out there to attract these people to me?”

For a while, I arrogantly thought I drew these people to me because I had so much strength. Maybe I was supposed to help fix them? Like a moths to a flame, they were drawn to me because my light was shining for everyone who needed my help. Well, my believed strength did not make the boyfriends emotionally available; I was not able to build the self-esteem of the needy people; the misunderstood never gained any new insights; and the underdogs were still underdogs no matter what wisdom and examples I thought I shared. I was usually left disappointed, hurt, or annoyed. So why was I attracting these people?”

Click here to continue reading “The Trick to Attracting Healthy Relationships“.

Please leave your comments. I’d love to hear from you!

Relationship Counselling by Christine Bennett Caring4Couples
Certified Imago Relationship Therapist

 

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Affairs, Cheating, Infidelity, Unfaithful partner, or Betrayal?

Here is another post on affairs, cheating, infidelity, being unfaithful or whatever other euphemism you may want to call it. All those words amount to the same feeling – usually – betrayal!

Feelings of betrayal are the most likely outcome if there was an agreement – implicit or explicit – of sexual exclusivity. A committed  relationship between two people usually means just that. They agree to be committed to one another and that involves a great deal of trust that a partner will remain faithful and respectful to the relationship and refrain from any activity that may jeopardize this agreement.

The sense of betrayal more often than not leads to a grieving process involving shock, denial, anger, confusion, sadness and a host of other feelings that usually go together with the experience of loss.

Elly Taylor in smh.com.au, July 31 2012, discusses the language that may be used when discussing this topic of cheating in her article “The Language We Use To Discuss Cheating“.

Taylor says, “Some affairs are a ‘cry for help’. They can happen because someone is unhappy with the relationship, but is unable or unwilling to work on the problems or terminate the relationship in a respectful way. Quite often, the cheating party doesn’t necessarily want a relationship with the person they are cheating with. Couples can recover from this type of affair if it becomes apparent where things went wrong and both parties are committed to making things work again.

Other affairs happen because someone wants out of a relationship, and wants to be with the person they are cheating with. In 90% of the cases, it doesn’t work out. At this point the ‘cheater’ may want to reconcile with the original partner but often the original partner has moved on.

Then finally, you have someone who wants to reap all the benefits of being in a committed relationship, but wants to have fun on the side as well.  This type of affair is completely narcissistic and involves premeditated and sustained deception and the straying party is also likely to be psychologically and emotionally abusive to the partner. If someone is a “serial offender” like this and doesn’t really want to change, it would be best for the couple to separate and rebuild their lives separately.”

The full article is well worth a read!

Relationship Counselling by Christine Bennett Caring4Couples


 

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Yet another story of sexual betrayal and public shame

Another story of sexual betrayal and public shame as Andrew Ettingshausen’s marriage misery provides more material for the press.

There is no doubt that sex sells! Stories of sexual betrayal and the intrigue that accompanies the discovery of yet another public figure caught out, sells newspapers and magazines like nothing else! The latest marital mayhem to hit the headlines involves a dude called Andrew Ettingshausen.  Apparently he is a “former Rugby League star” according to The Sydney Morning Herald. I wouldn’t know as I’m an-other-than sports fan and would have no idea who was famous or not. I know, you’re probably thinking I should get a life…..

But!…. I would still like to know, is it that these public figures are delivered and exposed to serve as a reminder to other mere male mortals of the perils of philandering? Or, is it simply that women don’t get caught?

It is interesting that the stories sensationalize mainly men in the public eye who are caught spreading their joy with women other than their wives. Is it because famous women don’t do it or is it that they simply aren’t found out?…..Or aren’t we interested anyway?

I do know that the damage to a relationship is just as great irrespective of who ventures outside the marriage or committed relationship for sex. And there sits a big assumption anyway. Is it REALLY about the sex? I hear often enough from clients that an emotional void in their primary relationship has led them to seek solace elsewhere. Sometimes the criticism and put-downs delivered by a spouse on a regular basis are enough to drive the recipient  out of their bedroom somewhere more accepting and nurturing.

Bettina Arndt in smh.com.au. June 3 2012 has her views on the subject. “With every fresh sex scandal, the experts line up to pontificate on why these successful men, men who have everything, take such risks for the sake of sex. In Ettingshausen’s case, his lapse has been blamed on depression triggered by concern about his financial affairs. It is often suggested well-known men are risk-takers, narcissists who assume they don’t have to play by ordinary rules.

Successful men are used to winning, used to getting away with it. Many of the theories make sense, but the real truth is that many of these are pretty normal men with luscious options jumping into their laps.”

Read full article by Bettina Arndt smh.com.au

Do you have a view on this topic? Please contribute to this post by offering your opinion!

Relationship Counselling by Christine Bennett caring4couples.com.au

 

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When Lifestyle Gets In The Way of Love

Welcome to today’s blog post about lifestyle and love. Lifestyle and love can often be incompatible and lead to a couple separating or conducting a long distance relationship.

There have been enough instances of couples in my counselling room now to talk about how lifestyle preference can get in the way of a couple continuing their relationship together. It is a big enough issue that couples and families have been separated as a result of irreconcilable differences in their way of life.

This is particularly relevant to couples and families moving to Sydney from another country. Often one member of the family is given a promotion or opportunity to work in Australia and they truly believe it, at the time, to be the opportunity of a lifetime.The decision is usually made in consultation with the partner and children and there seems to be agreement that this is will be a fantastic opportunity to live in a different part of the world.

In other cases, individuals who have traveled from other parts of the world to holiday in Australia meet one another and fall in love. They are here on holiday and then decide to make a life here together. This is fine and means permanent residency visas become an issue. Often one party is already sponsored by their employer and it is just a matter of time for residency issues to be sorted. This can take some time with all the formalities involved.

During this long period, if one party finds that living in Australia is not all they had hoped for, things can become tricky. Where is home going to be for the couple? One such couple made the decision to separate when the newly married woman was unable to settle here. She missed her home country, family, friends and lifestyle so much that she decided to return, leaving her new husband behind.

In another situation, an already troubled marriage was under greater pressure with a move to Sydney from the other side of the world. The stress of moving to a completely different climate, lifestyle, hemisphere and so on can be too much. When there is already stress overload on a marriage moving to the other side of the world or deciding to have a baby could be the tipping point of the relationship.

So, is there a way to avoid this happening in your relationship?

Here are ten ideas to consider. Maybe you can think of others to share?

  1. Be really honest with your partner if a situation arises that involves significant change such as moving to the other side of the world. To agree to anything to please your partner while ignoring your own feelings can lead to big trouble later on.
  2. Investigate what the change will involve. Do plenty of research.
  3. What support systems can you imagine putting in place to avoid feelings of isolation, entrapment and overwhelm?
  4. What are the consequences if the change doesn’t work?
  5. What contingency plans can be put in place?
  6. Is there an agreement on a time limit to give the change a real chance to work before bailing out?
  7. Is every family member in agreement? Have you entered into negotiation for a win/win outcome?
  8. How do you manage family relations from the other side of the world with those left behind?
  9. Is the change affordable in terms of time, financial considerations, career advancement and social/family connections?
  10. What sacrifices will you be making and are you making them willingly without resentment?

Do you have any stories to share about lifestyle choices and the impact on relationship? Please share your thoughts and be part of the Caring4Couples community!

By Christine Bennett, Caring4Couples

 

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What is the Secret to a Happy Marriage?

Welcome to today’s Blog. I’m going to be lazy today and refrain from spending too much time at the computer as I have had a tendency in the last month to blow up electrical appliances. To date, I have needed to purchase a new phone, new laptop and figure out why software that once worked on my Windows 7 machine no longer does – necessitating an upgrade that I would have preferred not to make….

Yesterday the circuit breaker tripped that supplies power to all my office equipment including computer, printer, land phone etc….Fortunately that was just the flick of a switch to get things happening again. Then, thinking it was time to get some washing done, I proceeded to laundry to push the appropriate buttons on that machine…….

No….nothing happened. Washing was transported today to be cleansed in my daughter’s machine. Washing machine fix-it man can’t come for another week!! Methinks I could be looking at another new purchase as said machine is now 19 years old. It probably deserves to be retired.

Meanwhile, I was interviewed by Kerrie Davies from Northside Magazine about relationships these days compared to days gone by. The topic of her article is “Did Our Grandparents Know the Secret of a Happy Marriage?”

Please click the link above to access the article. And please! Add your comments below. Do you agree or disagree with the views put forward in the article? Which are the biggest challenges we face these days in intimate relationships?

Author: Christine Bennett Marriage Counselling at caring4couples.com.au

 

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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 caring4couples.com.au

 

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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 andersoncooper.com

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 caring4couples.com.au

 

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