Working with family business can be tricky

It’s commonplace for SMEs and businesses to be family-owned and run, but there are several mistakes many people make when it comes to working with family.

Many people do not realise the dangers of not setting out clear strategies, principles and agreements when starting a business with family or involving family members in the business. Working with people you know and trust is an advantage, especially in a family-owned business, however, people can fall into the trap of getting comfortable and forgetting the importance of contracts to fall back on. They then find themselves in a difficult position down the track when tensions and problems arise.

Many business owners I work with to address and resolve family based disputes and issues find themselves facing stressful situations due to a lack of clear boundaries between personal and business relationships with their business partners or employees who are also family.

It is a real skill mastering how to separate your personal and work life, especially with such familiar people around you, but it has to be done and this is what I encourage clients to take on and incorporate into their businesses.

It can be a difficult choice to take a step towards resolution and mediation for conflict, whether between spouses, family members or in an intense workplace situation. When it comes to family business situations, and any business situation for that matter, what I stress the most is ensuring there are processes in place for open and fair communication to allow you to effectively solve tensions that may arise.

In the situation where issues have already arisen, it is important that sustainable methods are used to strengthen long-term family relationships.  This will bring real change for those involved to avoid the courtroom environment and the failure of a business.

There are some key issues which arise often in family owned businesses and these include:

  • Disputes between family members who set up the business together but disagree with the direction of the business
  • Disputes between family members over spending, allocation of profit, etc
  • Tension and problems associated with the involvement of family member partners, girlfriends, adult children – and their partners
  • Divorce, separation and claims over all or part of the business and its assets
  • Dealing with the long-term illness of a partner.

While I help many businesses to address and resolve family issues, I always recommend that a constitution be put in place which outlines parameters and guidelines around the involvement of family members. I also look at whether the business is structured in a way that reduces the risk of claims against the business. Collaboration with good legal and financial counsel is key at this stage of the game.

I recently worked with a business where the owner’s son involved his wife in the long-standing family business and when the son separated from his wife, the wife sought to include half of the business in the settlement.

Unless businesses are structured well, things can end very badly for business owners. Whilst it may take a little financial investment in the beginning to get the foundation right, it will pay off if something goes wrong up the track. Wisdom is doing today what you will be proud of tomorrow.

What many people don’t understand is that mediation is one of the most important aspects of business when issues arise. My advice to everyone is mediate early “conflict delayed is conflict amplified” Try and work with the other party to achieve a solution through mediation. Lawyers will then simply be able to assist you to seek ratification of the resolution and if necessary, ratification through the courts.

This will save a lot of heart ache and a lot of money.

But, of course, the best advice I can give is to ensure you are well prepared before any issues occur.

The Impact of Narcissistic Traits on Children: Navigating the Effects of Narcissistic traits in a woman and attachments

The Impact of Narcissistic Traits on Children: Navigating the Effects of Narcissistic traits in a women. Attachment styles how they help shape us into who we are now and how we behave under pressure. We often use the word Narcissism when talking about men’s behaviours but narcissism traits can show up in any persons behaviour.

NB: Before drawing conclusions, it’s important to clarify that I am not addressing women or men who are safeguarding their children from a partner with self-management issues leading to domestic violence. Additionally, I am not discussing the mental health diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder detailed in the DSM5.

In this article I would like to bring to your attention.

How your attachment style may be contributing to your view on relationships and parenting. Particularly if you are finding yourself on your 2nd or 3rd marriage, rolling through one relationship after another or over protecting your children by pushing away a parent maybe based on your own bias of your experiences as a child. Narcissistic traits can show up without awareness and when brought to your attention you may choose to fight or flight instead of learning more about your own personal development to help you, your children and your family dynamic.

Understanding one’s attachment style can provide valuable insight into relationship patterns and behaviours, offering opportunities for personal growth and development.

We often talk about men and narcissism however in this article I would like to look at women and how narcissistic traits from women show up in a relationship, reasons why they show up and how those narcissistic traits effect their children. Living with a partner who exhibits narcissistic traits can have far-reaching consequences, not only for the adults involved but also for the children within the family dynamic. It is not uncommon for these trait to be amplified after separation when there is bitterness toward the ex-partner. When a mother displays narcissistic tendencies, and the father is subjected to mistreatment while being alienated from his children “you are a terrible father” the effects on the family unit can be particularly distressing and detrimental to the children’s well-being.

Narcissistic traits in a mother can manifest in various ways, including a constant need for admiration, a lack of empathy, and manipulative behaviours aimed at maintaining control within the family dynamic and the need to be right at any cost even to her children. When directed towards the father, these traits can result in emotional abuse, belittlement, and invalidation, leaving him feeling marginalised and powerless within the relationship.

(More examples listed below)

Furthermore, when a narcissistic mother engages in parental alienation—actively undermining the father’s relationship with their children—it can have profound and lasting effects on the children’s emotional and psychological development. Children who are subjected to parental alienation may experience confusion, guilt, and loyalty conflicts as they are manipulated into taking sides and viewing the targeted parent in a negative light.

You may be stuck in anger?

Moreover, the absence of a healthy and nurturing relationship with their father can deprive children of essential emotional support, guidance, and role modelling, impacting their self-esteem and interpersonal relationships. Research has shown that children who experience parental alienation are at greater risk of developing psychological issues such as anxiety, depression, and attachment disorders, which can persist into adulthood if left unaddressed. (More about attachment styles at the end of this article)

In addition to the emotional toll, parental alienation can also have practical implications for children, including disruptions to visitation schedules, strained family dynamics, and legal battles that further exacerbate their distress and confusion. These challenges can impede the children’s ability to form secure attachments, trust others, and navigate healthy relationships in the future.

Recognising the harmful effects of narcissistic traits and parental alienation on children is crucial for mitigating their impact and promoting the children’s well-being. It is essential for both parents, as well as professionals involved in the family’s life, to prioritise the children’s best interests and work towards fostering healthy and supportive relationships with both parents.

Communication, collaboration, and mediation can play vital roles in addressing conflicts and facilitating co-parenting arrangements that prioritise the children’s emotional and psychological needs. Additionally, seeking support from therapists, counsellors, or support groups specialised in dealing with narcissistic abuse and parental alienation can provide invaluable guidance and resources for navigating these complex and challenging situations.

The impact of narcissistic traits and parental alienation on children within the family dynamic can be profound and enduring. By recognising the signs and effects of narcissistic behaviour, prioritising the children’s well-being, and seeking support from professionals and support networks, parents can work towards mitigating the harmful effects and fostering healthy and nurturing relationships within the family unit.

If you are finding it tough to navigate the challenges of separation, from handling your emotions, self-managing and anger to adjusting your behaviour in this unfamiliar territory, seeking support is essential. Going through such a trying time can feel overwhelming, with obstacles that test your inner strength. Fear and anxiety may understandably cloud your ability to be your best self, particularly when it comes to caring for your children. Remember, it’s perfectly okay to ask for help during moments of uncertainty and distress.

If you find yourself giving up on Family counselling after one or two sessions, you maybe letting your fears, anxiety or even ego get in the way of your children best interests. Separation/divorce is not easy, family counselling is challenging for all, your view will be challenged but dragging a family through the court process can have long term irretrievable consequences on a family dynamic that need to co-exist in this big world.

Separation or divorce isn’t an easy journey, and family counselling can be demanding as differing perspectives are brought to light. However, resorting to lengthy court battles can have lasting and irreparable consequences on the family dynamic, which still needs to coexist in this vast world.

  5 narcissistic traits that women may display during a separation/divorce:

1.    Lack of Empathy: Narcissistic traits in women; they may show a lack of empathy towards their partner’s feelings and needs during the divorce process. They may prioritise their own desires and agenda without considering the emotional impact on their spouse.

2.    Manipulative Behaviour: Narcissistic traits in women may use manipulation tactics to gain advantage in divorce negotiations or to undermine their partner’s position. This could include gas lighting, playing the victim, over sharing adult conversation with children putting down the other parent or using guilt-tripping techniques to get their way.

3.    Sense of Entitlement: Narcissistic traits in women may exhibit a strong sense of entitlement, believing that they deserve special treatment or privileges in the divorce proceedings. They may demand more than what is fair or reasonable, showing little regard for their partner’s rights or needs.

4.    Lack of Accountability: Narcissistic traits in women they may refuse to take responsibility for their actions or mistakes during the marriage, shifting blame onto their partner or external factors. They may deny any wrongdoing and portray themselves as faultless victims in the divorce process.

5.    Control and Power Struggles: Narcissistic traits in women they may engage in power struggles and attempts to control the divorce proceedings, seeking to maintain dominance and superiority over their partner. They may use legal manoeuvres or leverage financial assets to gain control and exert influence over the outcome of the divorce.

Attachment Styles:

What is your attachment style and how were you parented; it just may leave some clues!

Dr. Bowlby’s attachment styles your attachment style is shaped by various factors including early childhood experiences, relationships with primary caregivers, and later life experiences. Attachment theory, developed by psychologist John Bowlby, suggests that our early interactions with caregivers shape our internal working models of relationships and influence how we relate to others throughout our lives. There are typically four main attachment styles: secure, anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant, and fearful-avoidant.

1.    Secure Attachment: Individuals with a secure attachment style tend to feel comfortable with intimacy and are able to trust others easily. They have positive views of themselves and their partners, and they are generally able to communicate their needs effectively. Secure attachment often develops in childhood when caregivers are consistently responsive to a child’s needs, providing comfort and security.

2.    Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment: People with an anxious-preoccupied attachment style often crave closeness and fear abandonment. They may be overly dependent on their partners for validation and reassurance, and they may exhibit clingy or needy behaviours in relationships. This attachment style can develop when caregivers are inconsistently responsive, leading the child to feel anxious about the availability of love and support.

3.    Dismissive-Avoidant Attachment: Individuals with a dismissive-avoidant attachment style tend to value independence and self-sufficiency. They may have difficulty trusting others and may avoid emotional intimacy in relationships. This attachment style can develop when caregivers are emotionally unavailable or dismissive of the child’s needs, leading the child to learn to suppress their emotions and rely on themselves for comfort.

4.    Fearful-Avoidant Attachment: Also known as disorganised attachment, this style combines elements of both anxious-preoccupied and dismissive-avoidant attachment. People with a fearful-avoidant attachment style may desire close relationships but also fear rejection and may struggle with trust issues. This attachment style often develops in response to inconsistent or abusive caregiving, leaving the child unsure of how to approach relationships.

Your specific attachment style would depend on your early experiences and how you have learned to cope with relationships throughout your life. For example, if you had a nurturing and supportive upbringing, you might exhibit a secure attachment style, feeling comfortable with intimacy and trusting in your relationships. Conversely, if you experienced neglect or inconsistent caregiving, you might develop an anxious-preoccupied or dismissive-avoidant attachment style, impacting how you approach relationships in adulthood.

The Crucial Role of Mediation in Resolving Family Disputes

Safeguarding Children from Court Battles

Family disputes often unleash a whirlwind of emotions and turmoil, leaving a profound impact on everyone involved, particularly children. In these challenging times, the significance of mediation and conflict resolution cannot be overstated. Mediation not only offers a less adversarial approach to resolving conflicts but also shields the well-being of children who frequently find themselves caught in the midst of parental disagreements.

Impact on Children

When families opt for litigation to settle disputes, children inevitably become entangled in the legal fray, whether directly or indirectly. Courtrooms morph into battlegrounds where parental grievances are aired, and decisions regarding custody, visitation, and support are handed down by judges who may not fully grasp the intricacies of family dynamics. However, Judges endeavour to be fair and reasonable with the limited information at their disposal within the allocated time on the day. Some individuals mistakenly believe that judges are provided with the entire family history during a court case. However, this is untrue. Judges are presented with a snapshot of vital information on which to base their decisions. Given the waiting list and overflow of cases, your family matter is just one among thousands. The emotional toll on children embroiled in legal proceedings can be staggering. They often find themselves torn between their parents, grappling with feelings of anxiety, confusion, and even trauma from witnessing conflict between the individuals they love most. Court battles only serve to intensify these emotions, prolonging the uncertainty and instability in children’s lives.

Moreover, the adversarial nature of litigation frequently exacerbates tensions between parents, hindering their ability to co-parent effectively once legal proceedings conclude. Lingering resentment, animosity, and distrust can cast a long shadow over familial relationships, further compromising children’s well-being and sense of security.

The Role of Mediation “Dial things back”

In stark contrast, mediation offers a collaborative and child-centered approach to resolving family disputes. A skilled mediator fosters constructive communication between parents, guiding them toward identifying common ground, exploring solutions, and reaching agreements that prioritise the best interests of their children.

Mediation empowers parents to retain control over the decision-making process, enabling them to craft solutions tailored to their unique family circumstances. By nurturing open dialogue and fostering mutual respect, mediation can mend fractured relationships and establish a foundation for effective co-parenting in the future.

As a mediator, I find the most challenging aspect of mediation is when parents fail to advocate for their children during the process. These parents often remain entrenched in their own narrative, grappling with their pain or guilt. Successful mediation occurs when parents can transcend their personal emotions and prioritise the well-being of their children in all discussions and decisions. Mediation is not a fault find expedition, it does however require accountability and responsibility. There are two people in the relationship, and it will take two people to reach agreement.

Protecting Children through Mediation

One of mediation’s most significant benefits in family disputes lies in its ability to shield children from the adversarial nature of litigation. Instead of being thrust into the heart of a legal battle, children are spared the trauma of courtroom drama, ICL’s independent children lawyers, and the process of family reporting. Mediation helps shield children from the acrimony between their parents.

Mediation empowers parents to prioritise creating a safe and supportive environment for their children, free from the stress and uncertainty of protracted litigation. By resolving disputes amicably and preserving parental relationships, mediation promotes stability and emotional well-being for children, allowing them to flourish despite the challenges they may encounter.


In the tumult of family disputes, prioritising children’s needs is paramount. Mediation offers a compassionate and child-focused approach to conflict resolution, empowering parents to collaborate in the best interests of their children. By embracing mediation over litigation, families can mitigate the adverse effects of disputes on children and pave the way for a brighter and more harmonious future.

Mediation does depend on the ability of each adult to self-manage, the mediator is there to help you and your family. You will be asked questions some more difficult than others.

The Family Unit is Under Threat in Australia

There is a Direct Correlation Between Domestic Abuse and Your Childs Psychology “Mental Health”

Men and Women- If you are struggling to “Self-Manage” reach out, help is available.

As of today, 32 women have been murdered in domestic violence incidents in Australia. 28/04/2024

Why start a conversation? Despite adverse mental health consequences associated with domestic violence, a variety of factors may prevent survivors from talking about their situation with their health professional or reaching out for mental health care. Barriers to talking with a health professional or getting care may include fear of retaliation; distrust in the authorities and the legal system; stigma and discrimination; and feeling guilt, shame, or embarrassment. Healthcare professionals may not ask about or look for signs of potential abuse. However, if you are concerned about yourself or see signs of an abusive relationship in a friend, neighbour, or co-worker, start the conversation. Even if you or they are not ready to talk, there are resources available, and they will know that you are there for them and will be supportive if they do need help.

Both men, women, and children can suffer at the hands of others. Most men do not know they are being abused because they are “a man”; however, the title of being a man does not protect you from being abused. Speaking up does not make you weak; it is a sign of great courage. You are managing a situation that may be harming your children and yourself.

It is estimated that of all Australian adults: 11.3% (2.2 million) had experienced violence from a partner (current or previous cohabiting), and 5.9% (1.1 million) had experienced violence from a boyfriend, girlfriend, or a date.

Violence, emotional abuse, and economic abuse remain prevalent in Australia. The Australian Bureau of Statistics found that one in six women, since the age of 15, had experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or previous cohabiting partner. One in four had experienced emotional abuse, while one in six had experienced economic abuse.

First Nations women, as well as women from migrant and refugee communities, experience higher levels of domestic violence.

Being a victim of domestic violence is linked to an increased risk of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and suicide. Exposure to traumatic events can lead to stress, fear, and isolation, which may result in depression and suicidal thoughts or behavior. Survivors of domestic violence may internalise verbal abuse from their partner, blame themselves for their situation, or feel anger and resentment toward themselves. After enduring abuse, survivors may experience difficulties in new relationships.

Domestic violence survivors are more likely to experience health problems and perceive their overall health as poor compared to those who have not experienced domestic violence. About 75% of female survivors experience some form of injury related to domestic violence. In addition to injuries, common physical symptoms include headaches, insomnia, chronic pain, gastrointestinal symptoms, chest, back, and pelvic pain.

Traumatic brain injury and nonfatal strangulation (i.e., choking) are forms of intimate partner violence that often go unrecognised. Intimate partner violence can also result in unplanned pregnancies and pregnancy complications for the mother and child.

Let’s take some time to understand some of the behaviours that contribute to Domestic Abuse, Violence and Murder.

Examples of physical abuse include:

  • Being kicked, punched, pinched, slapped, dragged, scratched, choked, bitten, pushed, stabbed
  • Use or threats of use of ‘weapons’ including knives and irons
  • Being scalded, burned, or poisoned
  • Objects being thrown including food, drinks, cutlery
  • Violence against family members or pets
  • Causing you physical harm by denying access to medical aids or equipment
  • Harming you whilst performing ‘care’ duties (especially relevant for disabled victims) including force-feeding, withdrawal of medicine, or over-medication

Examples of isolation:

  • Limiting outside involvement such as family, friends, and work colleagues
  • Not allowing any activity outside the home that does not include her or him
  • Constantly checking up on your whereabouts

Examples of verbal abuse:

  • Constant yelling and shouting
  • Verbal humiliation either in private or in company
  • Constantly being laughed at and being made fun of
  • Blaming you for their own failures
  • Insults and threats
  • Mocking someone about their disability, gender, sexual orientation, physical appearance, etc.
  • Mocking your “sexual performance” including in front of friends, work colleagues, and on social media

Examples of threatening behaviour:

  • The threat of violence
  • The threat of use of ‘weapons’ including knives and irons
  • The threat of use of violence against family members or pets
  • Threatening to use extended family members to attack you
  • Destroying your personal and treasured items
  • Threatening to tell the police that you are the person committing the domestic abuse, committing sexual abuse including against your children
  • Threatening to remove your children, that you will never see them again or that they will take them abroad without your permission

Examples of emotional and psychological abuse:

  • Intimidation
  • Withholding affection and giving you the silent treatment
  • Turning your children and friends against you
  • Being stopped from seeing friends or relatives
  • Constantly being insulted, including in front of others
  • Repeatedly being belittled
  • Keeping you awake/stopping you sleeping – sleep deprivation
  • Excessive contact, for example, stalking
  • Using social media sites to intimidate you (such as Facebook and Twitter)
  • Wilfully stopping a parent from seeing their children by breaching court orders (Child Arrangement Orders)
  • Manipulating your anxieties or beliefs
  • Telling you that you are to blame for the abuse and injuries
  • Persuading you to doubt your sanity or mind (including “Gaslighting”)
  • Telling you, you are not the father of your children
  • Telling you, you are not a “real” father
  • Denying the abuse committed against you ever happened or trying to minimise it
  • Telling you, your bruises, cuts, and injuries are not serious
  • Accusing you falsely of having affairs and/or constantly looking at other women
  • Mocking your “sexual performance” including in front of friends, work colleagues, and on social media

Examples of power and control:

Abusers believe they have a right to control their partners by:

  • Telling you what to do and expecting obedience
  • Telling you, you will never see your children again if you leave
  • Using force to maintain power and control
  • Not accepting responsibility for the abuse – not their fault
  • Continual and purposeful breach of family court orders
  • Forced marriage

Examples of economic abuse and financial abuse:

  • Totally controlling the family income
  • Not allowing you to spend any money unless ‘permitted’
  • Making you account for every cent you spend
  • Running up huge bills such as credit/store cards in your name – including without you knowing
  • Purposely defaulting on payments
  • Setting up false companies, accounts, or credit cards
  • Deliberately forcing you to go back to the family courts as a means of costing you additional legal fees
  • Refusing to contribute to household income
  • Interfering with or preventing you from regularising your immigration status so you are economically dependent on the perpetrator
  • Preventing you from claiming welfare benefits, force someone to commit benefit fraud or misappropriating such benefits
  • Interfering with your education, training, or employment
  • Not allowing you access to a mobile phone/car/utilities
  • Damaging your property.
  • Denying you food or only allowing you to eat a particular type of food

Examples of sexual abuse:

  • Sexual harassment/pressure, or sexual acts, including with other people eg: opening up your marriage “or” our marriage is over. Your marriage is no longer good enough and neither are you.
  • Forcing sex after physical assaults
  • Sexually degrading language
  • Rape “rape is any form of sex without consent”
  • Forcing you to have sex (or commit a sexual act) against your will
  • Unwanted sexual contact and demands
  • Forced involvement into making or watching pornography
  • Deliberately being hurt during sex
  • Being pressurised or being tricked into having unsafe sex
  • Your partner telling you they are taking contraception (The Pill) when they are deliberately not

Examples of false allegations:

  • Telling the police (or threatening to) that you are the one committing the domestic abuse when it is the other way around
  • Telling friends, families, your employer, and others (or threatening to) such as sports clubs that you are the one committing the domestic abuse
  • False allegations of another ‘crime’ such as abusing children

Examples of being stalked:

Stalkers will often use multiple and differing methods to harass their victims. Stalking can consist of any type of behaviour such as:

  • Following you to and from work
  • Checking your email and phone calls
  • Regularly sending gifts
  • Making unwanted or malicious communication
  • Damaging property or clothes
  • Physical or sexual assault

Examples of digital and social media abuse (often this can be with former partners):

  • Stalking you
  • Placing false and malicious information about you on your or others’ social media
  • Being trolled
  • Having no control over your content or not allowed to have access
  • Revenge porn
  • Monitoring or controlling your email and phone calls (including work email and calls)
  • Image-based abuse – for example, the non-consensual distribution of private sexual photographs and films with the intent to cause you distress
  • Hacking into, monitoring, or controlling email accounts, social media profiles, and phone calls
  • Blocking you from using online accounts, responding in the victim’s place, or creating false online accounts;
  • Use of spyware or GPS locators on items such as phones, computers, wearable technology, cars, motorbikes, and pets
  • Hacking internet-enabled devices such as PlayStations or iPads to gain access to accounts or trace information such as your location
  • Using personal devices such as smartwatches or smart home devices (such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home Hubs, etc.) to monitor, control, or frighten you
  • Use of hidden cameras.

Types of Coercive and Controlling Behaviour:

Such behaviours might include:

  • Isolating you from friends and family
  • Depriving you of basic needs, such as food
  • Monitoring your time
  • Monitoring you via online communication tools or spyware
  • Taking control over aspects of your everyday life, such as where you can go, who you can see, what you can wear and when you can sleep
  • Depriving you access to support services, such as medical services
  • Repeatedly putting you down, such as saying you’re worthless
  • Humiliating, degrading or dehumanising you
  • Controlling your finances
  • Making threats or intimidating you

Lies and Deceit in Relationships: Navigating the Complex Terrain

Is it possible for someone to truly love you and hurt you over and over with lies and deceit?

The short answer is this:  NO! Someone cannot truly love you and hurt you over and over with lies and deceit. But it may be a little more complicated than that.

Trust is the springboard of any healthy relationship, but when deceit and lies enter the picture, they can erode the very foundation upon which our connections are built. In intimate partnerships, emotional honesty is not just about refraining from telling outright falsehoods; it’s about allowing our partners to truly know us – the good, the bad, and the vulnerable.

Do you feel emotionally safe in your relationship? Does your partner do what they say they are going to do? Is sneaky behaviour from your partner a constant concern?

Are you in a personal values based “deadlock ?”

The consequences of deceit in relationships are far-reaching:

Obstruction of Intimacy: Genuine intimacy thrives on trust and authenticity. When deception enters the equation, it creates barriers to the deep connection that is essential for a vulnerable fulfilling relationship.

Escalation of Lies: One lie often begets another, leading to a web of cover-up lies and omissions. When the truth eventually comes to light, the fallout can be even more devastating than the original deception. Note: If at first, we try to deceive oh what a wicked web we weave!

Guilt and Discomfort: The burden of carrying a secret can weigh heavily on the deceiver, leading to feelings of guilt and discomfort, especially during moments of intimacy with their partner.

Violation of Norms: Deception often involves crossing moral and cultural boundaries, leading to heightened anxiety and guilt as individuals grapple with the repercussions of their actions.

Erosion of Self-Esteem: Over time, habitual lying can chip away at one’s self-esteem and self-concept, leading to a diminished sense of self-worth and dignity.

Coping mechanisms such as rationalisation and compartmentalisation may provide temporary relief, but they only serve to perpetuate the cycle of dishonesty and psychological distress. Moreover, the toll of deception extends beyond mental anguish, often manifesting in physical health complaints.

Note: Have you every walked away from a conversation with a liar thinking “I’m confused, how is it I feel I’m wrong?” Liars need to be right! Or they will feel the discomfort of shame and possible loss.

For victims of deceit; the fallout can be equally devastating. Feelings of confusion, anxiety, and self-doubt may arise, necessitating professional counselling to navigate the complex emotions and rebuild trust.

As we confront the complexities of truth and privacy in our relationships, fostering open communication, practicing empathy, and committing to transparency are essential. By creating a safe space for honest dialogue and setting clear boundaries, couples can begin the journey of rebuilding trust and strengthening their connection.

In the end, it’s the courage to confront our truths – both as individuals and as partners – that paves the way for healing and growth in our relationships.

What has your childhood got to do with who you have become?

Childhood habits often shape the way we navigate the complexities of adulthood. One such habit, telling lies to evade trouble, can have lasting effects on our lives, particularly in our relationships and personal well-being.

Consistent lying can also lead to a lack of accountability and responsibility. Adults who continue this pattern may struggle to take ownership of their actions, perpetuating a cycle of avoidance and denial.

People who were accustomed to being dishonest to evade consequences during their formative years might struggle to uphold honesty in their adult dealings. This tendency can gradually undermine trust and pose obstacles in establishing genuine connections. In certain family environments, the acceptance of “white lies” as routine leads children to believe that lying is commonplace and acceptable. However, this initial acceptance of minor falsehoods can evolve into more pervasive dishonesty, manipulation, and deceit as individuals gain greater autonomy over time. It’s worth noting that in the absence of established guidelines, people tend to create their own standards regarding honesty.

Moreover, dishonesty can hinder effective conflict resolution and communication. Adults accustomed to lying may find it difficult to address conflicts openly, opting instead for blame, denial, manipulation and deceit.

Engaging in dishonest behaviour can also take a toll on one’s self-esteem and self-worth, leading to feelings of guilt and shame. This can further strain relationships and contribute to emotional distress.

In some cases, habitual lying can have legal and professional consequences, damaging one’s reputation and livelihood.

Breaking free from the pattern of dishonesty requires self-awareness and a commitment to honesty and “integrity” Definition: The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. It may also necessitate professional support to address underlying issues and develop healthier coping mechanisms.

As a community, it is important to recognise the impact of childhood habits on adult behaviour and to support each other in fostering honesty, trust, and healthy communication in our relationships.

“The dead Bedroom” Lacking Intimacy Sex and Connection – A Guide for Women

Navigating Changes in Sexual Intimacy in Marriage: A Guide for Women

Your Instagram profile: It may showcase youth, beauty, and vitality, but when it comes to lasting love, desire, connection, and sex, life’s lessons often diverge from the superficial. As individuals mature, their behaviours and beliefs about sex, connection, desire, and long-term commitment evolve. The misconception that men solely exist for sex is a myth that dissipates with age and experience.

Discussing men’s decision to abstain from sex within marriage might seem uncommon, yet it’s a crucial topic to address. Contrary to popular belief, many men choose to forgo sexual activity within their relationships. While aging may play a role in diminishing the importance of sex for men, it’s not the sole determinant.

Various factors contribute to the ebb and flow of sexual intimacy in relationships. Depression, medication, stress, health issues, long term addiction/alcohol use, extramarital affairs, waning desire for a partner, past guilt, feelings of failure in life, past sexual trauma, pornography consumption, pain during intercourse, and relationship dissatisfaction, both emotionally and physically, can all influence libido.

Many studies conducted by universities shed light on the prevalence of sexual inactivity among married couples, with significant percentages reporting periods of abstinence. As men age and relationships mature, pressures such as work stress, childcare responsibilities, and financial worries can affect their sexual desire. Prolonged sexual absence in older men may even lead to increased risks of erectile dysfunction and testicular atrophy.

Despite societal expectations, there isn’t a prescribed frequency for sexual activity in relationships. While studies suggest a correlation between once-a-week sex and greater relationship satisfaction, frequency alone doesn’t guarantee fulfillment.

An intriguing aspect of men’s sexual desire is its emotional underpinning. Men often express the need for emotional closeness with their partners before engaging in sexual intimacy. Feeling emotionally connected is paramount for them, serving as a gateway to vulnerability and genuine closeness. Therefore, consistent criticism may foster a lack of closeness and connection.

Recognising that men derive emotional connection and affirmation through sexual activity can provide insight into nurturing intimacy within the relationship. Initiating sex can be a powerful gesture of desire and affirmation for men. However, when advances are rebuffed, men can feel vulnerable and emotionally exposed, interpreting rejection as a rejection of their entire being.

When a man decides sex is no longer a priority, his partner may also feel exposed, rejected, and undesired. As women age and after having children, they may feel less desirable. Their partner’s disinterest in sex may solidify their belief that they are no longer desirable or desired, leading to emotional disconnection and potentially divorce.

Recent data reveals a rise in “grey divorce” among individuals over 50, with factors such as poor communication, lack of emotional support, lack of sexual connection, complacency, addiction/alcohol, excessive focus on career or material possessions, unresolved conflicts, infidelity, and the desire to explore contributing to marital breakdowns.

So, what can women do to navigate these shifts in sexual intimacy?

  1. Foster Open Communication: Initiate candid conversations about sexual needs and desires, allowing both partners to express feelings without judgment.
  2. Acknowledge External Factors: Recognise the influence of stress, mental/physical health issues, or medication on sexual desire. Support partners through challenges.
  3. Respect Boundaries: Understand and respect each other’s boundaries regarding sexual intimacy, prioritising consent and mutual understanding.
  4. Explore Alternatives: Embrace diverse forms of intimacy beyond sexual acts, strengthening emotional bonds through activities like cuddling or shared interests.
  5. Seek Professional Support: Consider seeking guidance from a relationship counsellor if challenges persist, obtaining insights and strategies to navigate intimacy issues effectively. BEFORE you become resentful

Self-care remains essential: Prioritise emotional well-being, validate feelings, and engage in self-care activities nurturing mental and emotional health.

The wrap up: navigating changes in sexual intimacy requires patience, empathy, and open communication. By understanding each other’s needs and actively working towards mutual satisfaction, couples can strengthen their bond beyond physical intimacy. Remember, worth and value extend beyond sexual intimacy; prioritising emotional connection and mutual respect is key to a lifelong fulfilling relationship.

Couple often wait until their relationship is in the “Accident Emergency” zone before they seek help. I strongly advocate for couples to be proactive and reach out to a Relationship specialist before their relationship gets hit by the bus!

Men: Sometimes you get focused on your performance in the bedroom, a word from the wise, most women are not watching your performance. They are feeling the person they love bond with them. Women want sex, but they want to feel a connection, it’s not all about the hot and heavy. The sex you see in porn is not the sex that will win over a heart and secure a relationship long term.

Resist competing with other men, if you feel like you have lost your mojo or edge in the bedroom, it may just be all in your head. Let’s talk about that…

Conversation openers-

  1. Can we have a conversation about the changes in our intimacy? I miss the closeness we shared when we were more sexually active.
  2. I’ve noticed a lack of sexual connection in our marriage, and it’s making me unhappy. Would you be open to attending therapy together so we can address this?
  3. I want to understand your perspective on our lack of sexual intimacy. Are there reasons behind it that I’m unaware of? Let’s talk about how we both feel without judgment.

Couples Therapy Essentials: An open and receptive mindset is key to unlocking growth and healing

In the journey of couples therapy, having an open and receptive mindset is key to unlocking growth and healing. Here’s what you need to know to embark on this transformative experience:

  • Rediscovering Each Other: There’s profound fulfilment in witnessing couples transition from criticism to praise. Progress is evident when emotions flow, and tears are shed, signifying a breakthrough in understanding and empathy. This is evident in our bonding sessions.
  • A Holistic Approach: As therapists, we are not just working with couples; we are mindful of the ripple effects on their children. Imagine a home where parental arguments don’t prompt door-slamming but rather moments of shared affection and cooperation. Every child deserves this nurturing environment.

Crucial aspects for couples aiming to strengthen their relationship and enhance their parenting journey:

  1. Modelling Healthy Relationships: Children learn by example. Maintaining a loving relationship sets a positive model for their future relationships.
  2. Prioritise Your Marriage: Amidst parenting demands, carve out time for each other. Regular date nights, open communication, hobbies, shared interests and intimacy keep the marital bond resilient. Tip: living in a marriage is very different to living a single life
  3. Emotional Connection: Nurture emotional intimacy by showing interest, responsiveness, and expressing affection and appreciation.
  4. Conflict Resolution Skills: Conflict is inevitable, but constructive communication is key. Practice active listening and use “I” statements to navigate disagreements.
  5. Support Each Other as Parents: Share responsibilities, make decisions together, and offer emotional support during tough times. Unity in parenting strengthens the marital bond.

A strong and healthy marital relationship isn’t just about the couple; it’s the cornerstone of effective parenting. Prioritising your marriage and maintaining emotional connection and effective communication create a nurturing environment for both your relationship and your children. Remember, love and self-management all start at home.

5 Tips to Help You Manage Yourself in Conflict:

In many relationships, I hear statements like “when he yells, I shut down” or “when she criticises me, I leave.” There are many reasons why couples disagree on a subjects they are discussing; we are human, we will have differences of opinion.

  1. Recognise the Rub for You: Identify the situations, behaviours, or topics that tend to make your body twitch. Understanding your triggers can help you anticipate and better manage your responses when they arise.
  2. Communicate Effectively: Practice open and honest communication with your partner. Instead of lashing out in anger, express your feelings calmly and assertively. Use “I” statements to express how you feel without blaming or accusing your partner. Tone is very important; keep your voice soft and low.
    Tip: Inside every grown-up man and woman is a happy or sad little boy or girl with a story. Most of the time, people will fight from a place within them that was hurt at some point, and maybe they don’t know why they get so angry so quickly?
  3. Take a Time-Out: When you feel yourself getting angry, take a break from the situation. Step away, take a few deep breaths, or engage in a calming activity to help you regain your composure. This allows you to approach the issue with a clearer mind and avoid saying or doing something you might regret later. If you need to take some time out, let the other person know that you are taking some time, but you will be back.
  4. Use Problem-Solving Skills: Instead of focusing on placing blame, work together with your partner to find solutions to the underlying issues. Practice problem-solving skills such as brainstorming ideas, compromising, and finding common ground. Focus on the problem, not the person.
  5. Seek Professional Help: If anger issues persist and negatively impact your relationship, consider seeking help from a Counselling Therapist. They can provide you with additional coping strategies and support to better manage your emotions and improve your relationship.

Understanding Coercive Control in Relationships

What is Coercive Control? Many have lived in a relationship for years and thought it was normal.

Under the newly approved reforms, coercive control is now classified as a criminal offence, carrying a maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment. This decision follows in the footsteps of New South Wales, making Queensland the second state in Australia to recognise coercive control as a stand-alone criminal offence.

  • Coercive control, a term prevalent in discussions on domestic abuse, denotes a subtle yet grave form of manipulation and abuse within relationships.
  • It encompasses various tactics, manipulation, and psychological abuse aimed at dominating the victim’s thoughts, emotions, and actions.

Recognising Signs of Coercive Control:

  • Isolation: Victims are often cut off from their support networks, rendering them reliant solely on their partner.
  • Threats: Abusers employ intimidation tactics, instilling fear to maintain control over the victim.
  • Gaslighting: Manipulating reality to make the victim doubt their perception and judgment.
  • Economic Control: Taking charge of finances to foster dependency and hinder escape.

Impacts on Victims:

  • Emotional trauma, health consequences, disempowerment, and difficulties in future relationships are common outcomes of coercive control. Some victims eventually turn to alcohol and substance abuse as a way of self soothing.

Available Support Services:

  • Victims can seek assistance from professionals via the Hotline for guidance and emotional support 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or talk to a Counsellor they can help direct the path forward with you.
  • Seeking aid from loved ones can also provide crucial assistance and emotional solace during such challenging times.

Legal Implications and Prevention Strategies:

  • Legal frameworks vary across states regarding the categorisation and treatment of coercive control.
  • It is crucial to educate oneself on the dynamics of healthy relationships and be vigilant about early warning signs of abuse.
  • Setting and respecting boundaries, taking time to understand potential partners, and avoiding rushing into relationships are pivotal preventive measures.

Additional Information sourced from-

Coercive control or controlling behaviour…

Coercive control is not a separate form of family violence. Each perpetrator’s patterns of behaviour towards victim-survivors is controlling behaviour or ‘coercive control’.

The controlling behaviours can:

  • become more intense over time
  • be used to limit a person’s ability to seek help.

Perpetrators who feel entitled to get their way are more likely to use multiple forms of violence, including sexual violence.

Examples include:

  • isolating someone from their family, friends and community
  • supervising or controlling actions or decisions, for example insisting on knowing the victim-survivor’s location and who they are with
  • limiting access to things like transport and money
  • controlling the victim-survivor’s body and appearance by monitoring things like food, sleep and exercise, or telling them what they can or can’t wear
  • extreme jealousy, criticism and sometimes punishment for alleged ‘failures’.
  • manipulating a person so they feel confused and start to doubt themselves; this is sometimes called ‘gaslighting’
  • denying or minimising a person’s claims of abuse and acts of violence
  • blaming the person for what has happened, claiming they brought it on themselves
  • expressing ownership over family members as a form of control
  • threatening to harm the person, their loved ones, their pets or their belongings if they talk to anyone about their experiences, or seek help
  • threatening self-harm if the person talks about their experiences, or seeks help
  • threatening to take legal action against the person.

Conclusion: Coercive control may manifest subtly, but its detrimental effects on victims are profound. Recognising the signs, seeking support, and implementing preventive strategies are essential steps towards combating this form of abuse in relationships.

Embracing the Adventure: Navigating the Journey of Growing Families

As a seasoned couple’s /family counsellor and a mother of three grown daughters, as well as a grandmother of eight wonderful grandchildren, I’ve been blessed with the privilege of witnessing the beautiful yet challenging journey of parenthood. From sleepless nights to joyous milestones, each step along the way has its own set of triumphs and tribulations. Today, I wish to share some insights gleaned from my experiences as a Counselling therapist, a daughter, wife, mother and grandmother with the hope of providing support and guidance to fellow mums and dads on this incredible adventure.

One aspect that often stands out in the journey of parenthood, particularly with the arrival of a second child, is the profound impact it can have on a couple’s relationship. The responsibilities multiply, and the stressors abound, leading to heightened tension and strain. From the exhaustion of caring for both a newborn and a toddler to the dwindling of one’s sex drive, the challenges can feel overwhelming at times.

I vividly recall the days when medical professionals would address me, as the mother, during appointments for our children, seemingly overlooking the presence of my husband in the room. It was a reflection of the societal norms of the time, where mothers were expected to bear the full responsibility of their child’s care, while fathers took on the role of provider. I am very happy to say, “my husband never missed a beat when we were having our babies” he come from a family of eleven children, he knew exactly who he needed to “be” and what he needed to “do” to be a team member of our family. Thank goodness because in the beginning I was anxious and afraid, I needed his emotional and physical support. Sadly, many of my friends back in the 80’s and 90’s did not have progressive husbands and they really struggled.

However, times have changed, and I’m heartened to see more dads actively involved in parenting duties, from attending medical appointments to taking on household tasks.

In today’s fast-paced world, where both parents often juggle careers and childcare responsibilities, the concept of family as a team effort has never been more relevant. Each member plays a vital role in the upbringing of children, and it’s essential to recognise and appreciate the contributions of both parents.

However, amidst the joys of parenthood, there are also numerous stressors that couples may encounter along the way. From shifts in identity to time constraints and financial worries, the journey of growing families can test even the strongest of bonds. Yet, with patience, communication, and mutual support, couples can navigate these challenges and emerge stronger together.

Here are ten common stressors that couples may face on their journey of growing families:

  1. Increased Responsibilities: Balancing the demands of caring for multiple children can lead to conflicts over parenting styles and division of responsibilities.
  2. Shift in Identity: The transition from a couple to a family of four can alter the dynamics of the relationship, requiring adjustments and compromises.
  3. Toddler Dynamics: The arrival of a new sibling can trigger jealousy and disruptions in routines, adding strain to the relationship.
  4. Diminished Sex Drive: The physical and emotional exhaustion of parenting can impact one’s libido, leading to intimacy issues within the relationship.
  5. Limited Time for Couple Activities: Finding time for quality time together becomes challenging amidst the demands of childcare and household chores.
  6. Waning Novelty: The novelty of parenthood may fade with the arrival of a second child, leading to feelings of fatigue and resentment.
  7. Time Constraints: Juggling childcare and work responsibilities leaves little time for personal pursuits or relaxation.
  8. Shifting Priorities: Balancing parental duties, work commitments, and personal interests can strain the relationship.
  9. Increased Organisational Burden: Managing schedules, appointments, and household tasks can lead to feelings of overwhelm and resentment.
  10. Financial Strain: The costs associated with raising children, from childcare expenses to education costs, can add stress to the relationship.

Despite these challenges, there are steps couples can take to strengthen their relationship and navigate this journey together:

  • Communication: Make time for open and honest conversations about your feelings and needs.
  • Prioritise Intimacy & Romance: Reconnect with your partner through small gestures of affection and kindness.
  • Support Each Other: Show appreciation for your partner’s contributions and offer assistance whenever possible. Note to dad… your partner’s body has gone through a war to give birth. You may need you to be more understanding, tender and nurturing toward her. There are a lot of chemical forces at play in a women’s body she may need your help- How to support your wife or partner after birth – Today’s Parent (
  • Seek Outside Help: Consider couples counselling or therapy to address underlying issues and develop coping strategies.
  • Adjust Expectations: Accept that parenthood is inherently chaotic and be flexible in your approach.
  • Learn about Yourself: Take time to reflect on your own habits and behaviours, and be willing to adapt and grow as needed. Learning the skill of Self-management is so important.

While the path of growing families may be challenging, it’s also incredibly rewarding. By facing these challenges together with patience, empathy, and mutual support, couples can emerge from this journey stronger and more connected than ever before. Remember, you are not alone in this adventure, and with love and dedication, you can weather any storm that comes your way.

Tip: If you have a kind and supportive extended family, ask for their help from time to time.

Self-Management and Navigating Anger in Relationships

Navigating Anger in Relationships:

Anger is a potent emotion that resonates deeply within many of us, characterised by a spectrum of feelings ranging from frustration to outright aggression. It operates on a spectrum from mild frustration to absolute fury, and the intensity with which we feel anger and how we act on it is very personal. Science is beginning to provide new explanations about the ways that personality, age, gender, culture and life experiences shape the way we feel this emotions.  These emotional responses often surface in reaction to perceived injustices, threats, or wrongdoing by others, presenting itself in various intensities, from mild annoyance to overwhelming rage. Physiologically, anger triggers noticeable changes such as increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure.

Recognising anger as a fundamental human emotion is crucial, acknowledging that feeling angry is a natural response. While anger can serve as a means to express negative feelings or motivate problem-solving, the key lies in how individuals respond to and express their anger. Mishandling anger can lead to detrimental consequences, affecting both the individual experiencing it and those around them. As we have seen in the latest numbers 2024 in Australia 20 women 2 Children and 2 Men have been murdered by someone who is very close to them. This is tracking to be a 30% increase on 2023. The numbers recorded are for people who have been murdered due to mismanaged emotions, however there are many women and children who are hospitalised with terrible physical injuries and emotional scares that will impact them for life. Whilst most victims are women and children men are also victims of Domestic Abuse.

Remember: There is one letter that separates Anger from Danger…

Assessing Anger Issues in Relationships: A Personal Reflection

In relationships, chronic or intense anger can result in negative outcomes for both partners and their children. To assess whether anger management is an area of concern, individuals can reflect on the following questions:

  • Do I struggle to control my temper, especially in challenging situations?
  • Is staying calm difficult when faced with frustration or stress?
  • Do I find myself prone to anger outbursts, even over minor issues?
  • Am I frequently engaged in arguments with my partner?
  • Have instances of anger caused disruptions in my relationship or work?
  • Have I ever resorted to violence or threats in moments of anger?
  • Do others comment on my anger, expressing concern?
  • Do I find it challenging to calm down after becoming angry?

Affirmative responses may indicate the need for working on anger control with a therapist to ensure physical and emotional safety for all within the relationship and the family.

Recognising Warning Signs of Anger in Relationships

Identifying warning signs of escalating anger is crucial for managing it effectively within relationships. These signs can manifest physically and emotionally, providing cues that anger is intensifying. Physical signs may include shallow rapid breathing, muscle tension, common areas are tightness in the jaw, tightness across the shoulders, pressing your feet firmly into the floor and fist clenching. You may experience an increased heart rate, and sensations of heat.

Strategies and Techniques for Anger Management in Relationships

Learning SELF MANAGEMENT techniques is crucial

Once warning signs are recognised, employing effective anger management techniques becomes essential. Some strategies couples can explore include:

  • Set boundaries, taking time-out to gain clarity and prevent heated confrontations.
  • Practicing controlled breathing to diffuse anger and promote relaxation.
  • Encouraging positive self-talk to influence emotional outcomes.
  • Reframing situations to view them from a more positive perspective.
  • Engaging in distracting activities to redirect focus and reduce anger.

Preventing Excessive Anger in Relationships: Long-Term Strategies

Beyond managing anger in the moment, couples can adopt long-term strategies to address underlying causes of excessive anger, including:

  • Learning relaxation exercises to release physical tension and stress.
  • Incorporating regular physical exercise to regulate stress levels.
  • Taking breaks throughout the day to alleviate stress and promote relaxation.
  • Identifying triggers and developing healthy coping mechanisms.
  • Enhancing communication skills to prevent heated exchanges.
  • Exploring creative outlets as constructive emotional outlets.
  • Seek help for any childhood trauma that may be affecting you in your adulthood
  • While the effectiveness of these techniques and strategies varies, finding the most suitable method is crucial for maintaining healthy relationships. Seeking professional help, such as counselling, is recommended if anger significantly impacts daily life.