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Avoiding alcohol during pregnancy
You may have heard mixed messages about whether it’s OK to drink some alcohol while pregnant. We know that alcohol can harm an unborn baby, and we know that heavy drinking or binge drinking can be especially risky [1]. But we don’t know a safe level of alcohol consumption [2]. So if you’re pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding, the safest approach is to not drink at all.  Whatever stage you’re at, your baby will benefit from you starting to avoid alcohol now.  What’s the harm?  When a pregnant woman drinks, the alcohol ends up in the unborn baby’s blood. The developing liver can’t filter out toxins that can harm brain cells and damage the nervous system [3], and can cause Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). This is true throughout the pregnancy, so there is no safe time to drink alcohol during that nine months. On the other hand, quitting at any point can be helpful.  Some people may need to reduce their alcohol intake gradually to avoid withdrawal symptoms. A good first step is to talk to your doctor or midwife who can direct you to further support after learning about your specific needs. You can also search for local services through the NHS. Managing stress without alcohol Having a baby is one of the biggest changes you and your partner can go through, so you might find yourself feeling more stressed and arguing more. Avoiding alcohol can be difficult if you’re used to using it as a way of coping with stress. But the negative effects on your mood and general health, and the worry about how it might affect your baby, could end up causing even more stress.  We can’t make stress go away entirely, but we can learn to cope in healthier ways. You could try: Exercise, like going for a walk, yoga, or another favourite activity. Cooking a nutritious meal. Chatting with a friend or family member. Having a supportive partner can be a big help too. It will likely be easier for you to avoid alcohol if your partner chooses to stop drinking as well [4] [5]. You could share the goal of avoiding alcohol together during your pregnancy, and encourage each other along the way.  If you’re worried that you or your partner might be using alcohol to deal with stress, you can find a free short course on Click’s Coping with stress and alcohol section.   Three simple steps  Practicing communication skills can strengthen your relationship and get you through times of stress, from everyday issues to bringing a new baby into the family. Our Me, You and Baby Too resource can help you and your partner manage this period of change together. You will learn how to argue better, which is better for you, better for your partner, and better for your baby. There are three simple steps to arguing better: STOP. This means staying calm and listening. You can’t always control the way you feel, especially when an argument starts. But you can have some control over how you respond. When you feel a conversation heating up, you can try some of these tips to help yourself say calm: Take some deep breaths. Relax your shoulders. Count to 10. Go for a walk with your partner. TALK IT OUT. To talk through what’s going on, we can: See it differently. Try to see things from your partner’s point of view. Speak for myself. Use ‘I’ statements to talk about how you are feeling. WORK IT OUT. Once you are able to stay calm and talk about your issues, you will be able to look for solutions you can both agree on. For more information  If you would like support to quit alcohol, your doctor or midwife can help and you can search for local services through the NHS. If you’d like to know more the effects of alcohol on unborn babies, see the National Organisation for FASD.   References [1] Jones, Theodore B.; Bailey, Beth A.; Sokol, Robert J. Alcohol Use in Pregnancy: Insights in Screening and Intervention for the Clinician. Clinical Obstetrics and Gyneconolgy, 2013.  [2] May, Philip A.; Gossage, J. Phillip. Maternal Risk Factors for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. Alcohol Research and Health, 2011.  [3] National Organisation for FASD. Information for parents, carers and professionals, 2012. [4] Montag, Annika C. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: identifying at-risk mothers.International Journal of Women’s Health, 2016. [5] Chang, Grace; Mcnamara, Tay K.; Orav, E. John; Wilkins-Haug, Louise. Alcohol Use by Pregnant Women: Partners, Knowledge, and Other Predictors. Journal Of Studies On Alcohol, 2006.
Article | pregnancy, alcohol
Lockdown: coping with grief
When someone dies, our usual ways of coping and moving on are built around getting together with loved ones. During social distancing, we may have to adjust to new ways of dealing with grief. Funeral attendance is being limited to small numbers of close family. For many people, this means not getting a chance to say goodbye. For those who can attend, it might be upsetting to see a small turnout, knowing their loved one isn’t getting the send-off they deserved. Grieving from a distance Even when you’re not able to get together physically, you can still mark the loss. If possible, attend a live stream of the funeral. Many funerals are being filmed and streamed so that mourners can watch them safely from home. Plan a memorial service. We don’t know when or how things will change but, at some point, we’ll be able to meet up again. Planning a service or celebration in the future can help you move forward in the present. Write down some memories of the person who has died. This can help you acknowledge the loss and reflect on what the person meant to you. Pick up the phone or arrange a video chat. You and your loved ones can share memories and offer each other support. Look for the positives. After some time has passed, you may find it easier to step back and see if anything positive has come out of the situation. Perhaps you’re connecting with friends and family in a different way or seeing how people can come together under difficult circumstances [1]. How am I supposed to feel? Right now, it can be hard to know what’s normal. There’s no set path that you’re supposed to follow after a death, but it can be comforting to know the types of things people often go through. Rather than being sad all the time, people often go back and forth between grieving and getting on with things. You might find yourself switching between moments when you feel very sad, and moments when you feel relatively normal [2]. Often, we push away difficult thoughts and feelings. We might try to convince ourselves everything is OK, even when it’s not. Sometimes, we use drugs or alcohol to try and change the way we feel. Whatever we do to push our feelings away, they will always find a way back in. It won’t always be easy, but it’s best just to let your feelings come and go – that’s how you process them and move forward [1]. Supporting each other as a couple If you’re in a relationship, you and your partner can support each other by sharing the grieving process. At the very least, talking to each other about how you’re feeling can make it easier for both of you to cope [3]. Under normal circumstances, this might mean going to the funeral together or visiting a memorial site, but you can still find rituals to share from home – like lighting a candle or listening to a special piece of music. These shared experiences can help you both adjust to the loss [4]. Even if you don’t live together, you could still meet up online and do something together. One thing to bear in mind, if you’re in a mixed sex couple, is that men and women often have different ways of coping. Women tend to want to surround themselves with other people and talk through memories with friends and family. Men tend to find this type of social support less useful, and may prefer to work through things alone, at least at first [4]. Of course, this won’t be true for everyone. However you and your partner deal with loss, try to be patient with each other and understand that we all have our own ways of dealing with things. Supporting someone else through grief If someone you know is dealing with grief, give them a call. You could text them to arrange a convenient time, or you could just pick up the phone and see if they answer. If it’s not a convenient time, they will let you know. If you want to do something practical, you could arrange to have something sent over. Lots of places are still delivering food, drink, flowers, books, and other things. Think about what might help cheer the person up and send them a pleasant surprise. This will let them know you are thinking about them. References [1] Mikulincer & Florian, 1996[2] Stroebe & Schut, 1999[3] Albuquerque, Narciso, & Pereira, 2018[4] Bergstraesser, Inglin, Hornung, & Landolt, 2014
Article | lockdown, grief
Parenting in lockdown
During a global event, we’re all making adjustments and looking for ways to cope. As a parent, you know that your children are still relying on you for support. You want to give them everything they need, but it isn’t always easy – especially when you’re dealing with your own worries. Coping together as parents Parents who focus on supporting each other as a couple, are more likely to be able to deal with the stresses of parenting [1]. If you can listen to each other, share the burden, and present a united front, you’ll find it gets easier to come to agreements about parenting [2]. Your children will cope better too – they’ll be less likely to feel sad or anxious, or to act out through stress [3]. Talking to children about the situation It can be hard to know how much to tell your children about everything that’s going on. They will already know a lot because of the changes they’ve had to make in their lives and, depending on their age, they may have picked up information from the news or from their friends. But, with lots of uncertainty and new information coming out every day, you might want to protect them from knowing too much. It’s natural to want to protect your children but shielding them from difficult news can actually be worse for them than just answering their questions. It’s usually best just to tell the truth. How to answer children’s questions Generally, if your child is ready to ask a question, they are ready to hear the answer. You don’t have to tell them everything – keep their age in mind, and only tell them as much as is necessary to answer their question. They can always ask a follow-up question if they want to know more. If you don’t know something, say so. There’s lots we’re not sure about at the moment and it’s better to be honest. If there’s something you’re not comfortable answering, you could try asking your child why they’ve asked that particular question. You could also ask them what they already know, as this can help you understand where they’re coming from. Children are reassured by the information they get from their parents, and it’s helpful for them to know they can rely on you [4] [5]. When they feel informed about what’s going on, they can get on with being kids again. Get them drawing Some younger children might find it hard to talk about their worries. Very young children often don’t have the words to describe what they’re feeling. One thing you can do to help them express themselves is to get them drawing. Grab some pens or pencils and invite them to draw something that shows how they’re feeling. Children can often find it easier to express themselves in this way [6]. A bit of fun It can be hard to find time to relax, especially if you’re trying to fit home schooling around working from home. But, if you can, try to build in some time for fun activities with the children – even it’s just playing or reading together. When you look back on all this, you might find that your role has just been to help your children stay calm and healthy. Don’t put too much pressure on yourselves to do anything more than that. Take it a day at a time and keep looking after each other – that’s all anyone can really ask of you. References [1] Brown, 2012[2] Zemp, Milek, Cummings, & Bodenmann, 2017[3] Zemp, Bodenmann, Backes, Sutter-Stickel, & Revenson, 2016.[4] Kennedy, V. L., & Lloyd‐Williams, M., 2009[5] Osborn, T., 2007[6] Eiser & Twamley, 1999
Article | parenting together, social distancing
Lockdown: how couples can cope together
Over the course of your lives as a couple, you’ll probably go through lots of stressful situations together. Many of these will be things that only happen to one of you, like getting ill or having a tough time at work. In those times, the other partner might step up and offer support. But, as we all adjust to living through a global event, we find ourselves facing something that affects everyone – that alone can be a lot to deal with, and it may kick off lots of difficult thoughts and feelings. As a couple, it can be hard to know how to cope. What does this mean to each of you as individuals? How will you support each other? What if you both need support at the same time? We’re all going to deal with this in our own ways. You and your partner may have different ways of coping, and you may need different types of support at different times. Coping with stress together Stress happens when we feel unable to cope with the things we need to do. It’s like a balancing act – when you’re feeling strong and energised, you can cope with all that life throws at you. But, if you’re feeling worried and tired, then even an average day can be overwhelming [1]. Having a supportive partner can help you feel more in control of things. When you and your partner support each other well, you might find you’re both better at coping with – and moving on from – stressful situations [2] [3]. Many couples and families have found themselves in lockdown or self-isolation together. This is a new and strange situation and is likely to require new ways of coping together. But here’s something interesting – even in a ‘normal’ situation, with just one of you under stress, we would still recommend finding a way of coping together. So, from that point of view, the way you’ll get through this situation shouldn’t be entirely different from the way you’d get through any other. Shared coping is easier when you’ve got shared goals. These might be long term jobs like keeping the house clean or helping the children with their schoolwork, or they could be fun things like working through a box set or doing a jigsaw puzzle together. Think about what you both want to get out of this time. Perhaps you could draw up a list of goals to work on together – even easy ones will help you feel connected. You can use the goal-setting feature on Click. Getting through a crisis can be good for your relationship, as long as you find ways of coping together. Mutual support can reduce stress for both of you – when one of you feels better, the other will too, and this can make you feel more supported as a unit [4]. This is great news because, when we’re happy with our relationships, we tend to feel better in general [5]. How to be supportive for your partner Support can be offered in different ways: Emotional support.This is when you show your partner that you have understood. Practical support. This is when you offer ways of solving a problem. Delegating. This is when you take on tasks to give your partner a break [6]. Emotional support helps your partner feel listened to and shows them that you are making the effort understand what they are going through. It’s usually best to offer emotional support first, rather than jumping in with practical support. This video shows the difference between emotional and practical support. The video was made at a time when going out and doing the shopping was a little easier than it is now, but the ideas are still relevant. Notice Naomi’s reaction to the different types of support from Liam: When you offer support, do it willingly, and take your partner’s concerns seriously. They will be able to tell when you’re being sincere. How to talk to each other about stress When you talk to your partner about a stressful situation, try to describe your feelings as well as the situation. Start sentences with “I feel…” and explain what the situation means to you. Tell your partner why you are upset, and what you hope will change. When your partner tells you about a stressful situation, show your support by listening properly. Put down whatever you are doing and give your full attention. Ask questions to learn more. Try summarising the problem to make sure you’ve properly understood. You could use the following guide to help with talking about problems: Explain what the problem is. Discuss it together and look for solutions. Talk about what you will each do next. Alcohol In stressful situations, we might be tempted to turn to harmful ways of managing things, like drinking too much. While alcohol can feel like an effective way to cope with stress in the moment, it’s usually more harmful in the long run – the negative effects on your mood and general health can end up causing more stress than they solve. Try to stick to other, healthier ways of improving your mood, like exercise or phoning a friend for a chat. If you’re worried that you or your partner might be using alcohol to deal with stress, have a look at our alcohol site, where you can find our free short course, ‘Coping with stress’. References [1] Lazarus & Folkman, 1984[2] Bodenmann, Meuwly, & Kayser, 2011[3] Meuwly, Bodenmann, Germann, Bradbury, Ditzen, & Heinrichs, 2012[4] Regan et al., 2014[5] Traa, De Vries, Bodenmann, & Den Oudsten, 2014[6] Falconier, Jackson, Hilpert, & Bodenmann, 2015
Article | stress, isolation
Loneliness at university
Going to university can be the start of a whole new social life, but it can also be a lonely time. Loneliness comes from the gap between the social life you want and the social life you have. Any unplanned or unwanted alone time can leave you feeling lonely [1], particularly when you’re in a new place, away from all your familiar people. When you’re young and already going through a lot of upheaval, loneliness can be a powerful sensation. You’re trying to map out your future and your social world is rapidly changing. Your friends – even if they’re not be the same ones you had a few years ago – are becoming more important than ever before [1]. How does loneliness happen? The changes you are going through are often linked to some of the significant factors that can cause loneliness in young people: Changes in your social network. Becoming more independent from your parents and family. Exploring your identity [1]. As we grow up and start to figure out who we are, our social circles tend to shift from away from family, towards friends, perhaps because it’s easier to discuss the big issues with people in similar situations. When you leave home and go to university, you’ll be figuring out more about who you want to be. You may make new friends and start to let go of old ones, choosing to spend time with people who reflect your new interests and ambitions, people who can help you feel like you’re working towards the future you’ve just had your first glimpse of. This doesn’t mean that your family stops being important or that they leave your social circle entirely, but you might notice that the centre of your circle drifts closer to your friends. Transitional periods Feelings of loneliness can be exacerbated by any big life transition, including moving out of your family home and going away to study. A strong support network of close friends and family can help ease this pressure [2] but you may not always have access to this. If you’re going to university and you don’t know anyone, take advantage of the social activities on offer. Make plans to spend more time with the people you meet and seek out others who share your interests. And don’t go thinking you’ve got to rush to find a romantic partner to stop you from feeling lonely! Friendships can be just as good for you, boosting your self-esteem and mental wellbeing, and giving you all the benefits of intimacy and companionship that you’d get from a romantic partner [2]. The power of sharing One interesting way that you can deepen your sense of feeling socially connected is to share your possessions [3], which can be easily done in shared accommodation. As well as simple loans of things like books and clothes (if that’s your thing), there are a few other ways to think about sharing possessions. Setting up a TV or games console in a shared area means you and your housemates can enjoy it together. If one of you has a car, giving lifts is a good way to be helpful (in exchange for a contribution towards fuel, of course). Laptops and printers can be a handy loan for last-minute assignments. You can all save money by clubbing together for kitchen staples like salt, oil, teabags and washing up liquid. You can also save space by sharing kitchen equipment. If, say, one of you has a big frying pan and one of you has a colander, sharing these items can help you feel more connected – but do make sure you wash up afterwards! If you do lend and borrow possessions, be clear about what the boundaries are around when things are expected to be returned and in what condition. If you’re worried, a good rule is to avoid lending or borrowing anything that you can’t afford to replace.   References [1] Laursen, & Hartl. (2013). Understanding loneliness during adolescence: Developmental changes that increase the risk of perceived social isolation. Journal of Adolescence, 36(6), 1261-1268. [2] Lee, C., & Goldstein, S. (2016). Loneliness, Stress, and Social Support in Young Adulthood: Does the Source of Support Matter? Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 45(3), 568-580. [3] Gentina, E., Shrum, L., & Lowrey, J. (2018). Coping with Loneliness Through Materialism: Strategies Matter for Adolescent Development of Unethical Behaviors. Journal of Business Ethics, 152(1), 103-122.
Article | university, loneliness
Letting go of sibling rivalry
As children, some of our biggest arguments are with our brothers and sisters. But, when you grow up and leave home, the old wounds of sibling rivalry have a chance to heal as the relationship develops into something new and supportive. Growing up with brothers or sisters can be a mixed bag. On one hand, you’ve got someone alongside you who understands your background and situation. On the other hand, it’s easy to fall into competition and rivalry, challenging for your parents’ attention and trying to prove yourselves worthy in the big wide world.  The good news is that things often improve when you become adults and start spending less time under the same roof. As you get older, the competitiveness can ease off and you may find you become more of a support to each other. Moving apart can improve your relationship, and the distance may help you to see each other in a more positive light [1].  Go your own way  Given how much we have in common with our siblings, it’s hard not to compete with them. They have grown up in the same place as us with the same advantages – if we don’t live up to their successes, it’s easy to feel like we’re failing. But, while it might be tempting to keep your eyes on the path your sibling is treading, it’s much healthier just to do your own thing [1].  This mind sound overly simplistic, but it’s an important lesson to keep in mind – aside from the obvious benefits of looking after yourself, focusing on your own interests and ambitions has been shown to minimise conflict with your siblings [1]. Let go of the temptation to follow in the footsteps of a brother or sister, and carve out your own path instead. Of course, this is easier when you’re no longer living under the same roof! How siblings can support you One of the best advantages of having siblings is that they can offer a safe place to open up about issues that you might not be able to discuss with anyone else. As you strike out on your own, issues like dating, sex, and friendships become more important and it can be hard to know where to turn when you have questions or when things get tough.  Here’s where you may seek the wisdom of those who have walked these paths before you. It can be uncomfortable talking to parents about personal stuff like this, and siblings can represent the perfect sounding board. Older siblings in particular have made similar journeys into adulthood and may have advice or emotional tips to offer on these tricky topics [2].  Opening up and having these close chats can help you find solutions to the issue at hand, but it can also have the added benefits of improving your relationship with your sibling, developing your emotional maturity [2], and helping you feel better about your life in general [3]. Even if you don’t get to meet up face to face as often as you used to, these kinds of conversations can have the same benefits through text or social media [4]. So, if you have siblings and you’ve left home, drop them a line to check in – they might just be able to give you the emotional boost you need.   References [1] Lindell, A., Campione-Barr, N., & Greer, K. (2014). Associations Between Adolescent Sibling Conflict and Relationship Quality During the Transition to College. Emerging Adulthood, 2(2), 79-91.  [2] Campione-Barr, Nicole, Lindell, Anna K., Giron, Sonia E., Killoren, Sarah E., & Greer, Kelly Bassett. (2015). Domain Differentiated Disclosure to Mothers and Siblings and Associations with Sibling Relationship Quality and Youth Emotional Adjustment. Developmental Psychology, 51(9), 1278-1291. [3] Hollifield, C., & Conger, K. (2015). The Role of Siblings and Psychological Needs in Predicting Life Satisfaction During Emerging Adulthood. Emerging Adulthood, 3(3), 143-15.  [4] Killoren, S. E., Campione-Barr, N. C., Giron, S. M., Kline, G., Streit, C., & Youngblade, L. (2018). Content and correlates of sisters’ messages about dating and sexuality. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 1-22.
Article | siblings, leaving home
Helping your partner find their dream job
Being in an unsatisfying job can have a negative effect on your overall happiness, and your personal relationships. Your feelings about your working life are closely linked to your relationship quality. If your partner is in a job they don’t enjoy, you will probably hear about it a lot. Your partner may find that your partner is more irritable, and complains a lot about their job and their colleagues. Your partner may also be too tired from long, stressful shifts to spend quality time with you. So how can you support them and help them get the job they’ve always dreamed of? Set aside time to help your partner apply for jobs. If your partner is still working, it might be tricky to find time for jobhunting. Set aside some time in the evenings or at weekends where you can help your partner apply for jobs. Plan in some time to search for jobs online, through newspapers, or at your local Jobcentre Plus. Encourage networking. If your partner doesn’t know anyone in the industry they want to get in, encourage them to join sites like LinkedIn where they can join groups for industry professionals and meet people in the field. If there are relevant events happening nearby, you could offer to go along with them for moral support. Make financial compromises. To get their dream job, your partner may have to take time out to study or go on a training course, which can affect your household income. Sit down together and work out where you might be able to afford to cut down on spending. You might find it helpful to read our article on talking to your partner about money. Be supportive. One of the worst parts of applying for jobs is the rejections. When you’ve spent ages preparing your CV and writing a killer cover letter, it can feel pretty disheartening to receive an impersonal email from the recruiter saying that your application was unsuccessful. If this happens to your partner, you’ll need to be there for them. What if the dream job is in another city or country? Some jobs may require your partner to relocate. If this is the case with your partner’s dream job, you will both need to discuss how this will affect your relationship and if you both want to move. If you have children together, you will need to discuss how it will affect them too. Think about whether you would both move, or just one of you, and have this discussion as a couple. These questions might help you get the conversation started: Where would you live? What is the cost of living? What opportunities are there for you in the new location? What are the pros and cons of relocating? What else is in the new location? If you have children where will they go to school? What is your shared vision for the future?
Article | work, finance
Choosing to be childfree
Many couples are choosing not to have children, opting to focus on the couple relationship instead. But, according to a new study, it’s not a decision they’re making lightly. The study [1] looked at how couples arrive at the decision not to become parents. The term ‘childfree’, as opposed to ‘childless’, refers to people who have chosen not to have children. The study showed that the decision not to have children is usually a conscious one, rather than something that ‘just happens’. It’s usually something that’s arrived at over a length of time and it’s an ongoing choice. This is particularly true for heterosexual couples, who often have to choose to continue using contraception, and avoid unplanned pregnancy. How is the decision made? By the time couples are having their first conversations about children, they have often already given years of thought to the matter. If both know that they don’t want children, it may only take a single conversation to form an agreement. Reasons for opting out of parenthood could include wider factors such as: Increased reproductive choices. Since the feminist movement of the 1970s, more of us are free to make this choice in the first place [2]. More career options for women. Childfree women are more likely to be employed in professional and managerial positions [3]. Worry about jobs. In one study conducted during the recession of the ‘90s [4], many men said they had opted out of parenthood due to uncertainty in the labour market. Wider society. Women in particular referred to concerns about overpopulation when discussing their decisions [5]. But many also cite more individual reasons such as: Personal freedom. More opportunity for self-fulfilment. Keeping spontaneity, such as the opportunity to travel. Making the most of adult relationships. Experiences of other people’s parenting [6]. Focusing on the couple relationship. Many couples cited their own relationship quality as a major factor in choosing to remain childfree [7]. We know from other studies that the transition to parenthood is one of the biggest hurdles for couples. If you’re still undecided about whether you’re ready for children, or just want to know more, you might find it useful to read our article on managing this transition. Whatever your choice, take the time to discuss it with your partner, so you both know what each other wants and why. Talking about big decisions like this allows you, as a couple, to work together and pursue a life path that suits both of you. One of the childfree people in the study said: ‘‘I wish it were normal to decide whether or not you were going to have children’’.
Article | children, childfree
Marriage preparation
Religious weddings have often included a tradition of premarital counselling for couples, ranging from a day of personal exploration, to months of in-depth marriage preparation. As civil ceremonies overtake religious ceremonies in popularity, we offer a few examples of marriage preparation available in the UK.Click is not responsible for the content of external links and sites. While every effort is made to ensure the quality and content of external sites, no responsibility or liability is taken for external content. Bristol Community Family Trust http://www.2-in-2-1.co.uk/services/bcft/ Bristol Community Family Trust (BCFT) is a non-profit charity focused on the prevention of family breakdown. BCFT have been running marriage, relationship and mentoring courses since 1996. Insight is for couples who are engaged, recently married, or just thinking about it. Courses run every month, for couples getting married or newlyweds, and include a day of PREP skills training in the classroom followed by three to six private evenings going through the FOCCUS questionnaire with a mentor couple. BCFT also runs courses every month to train mentors. Mentors are ordinary non-expert married couples who want to make a difference. Couples getting married can suggest their own friends as mentors or accept mentors provided by BCFT. Care for the Family http://www.careforthefamily.org.uk/ Care for the Family is a national charity which aims to promote strong family life. The charity runs three different marriage preparation courses: 21st Century Marriage – an eight-session, DVD-based course which couples may find particularly relevant if they have already been living together for some time. Marriage by Design – a one-day course led by a licensed facilitator, presented in an informal and relaxed manner. From this step forward – this unique marriage preparation course will help you to build a strong relationship on which to build your stepfamily. Couples can use this course at home with or without the help of a facilitator. Marriage Care http://www.marriagecare.org.uk/how-we-help/marriage-preparation/ Marriage Care is a charity operating across England and Wales. Volunteers are mainly, though not exclusively, drawn from within the Catholic community. Couples can attend a group course or choose to complete the FOCCUS Inventory which is designed for use with individual couples. The Marriage Preparation Course http://themarriagecourses.org/try/the-marriage-preparation-course/ The Marriage Preparation Course is part of Alpha and, whilst the course is based on Christian principles, it is designed for all couples with or without a church background. You do not need to be getting married in a church to attend the course. The course takes place over five evenings and covers communication, commitment, resolving conflict, keeping love alive and shared goals and values.All participants are required to complete the FOCCUS questionnaire, which is a self-diagnostic inventory designed to help you learn more about yourselves and your relationship. Prepare-Enrich Programme http://www.prepare-enrich.co.uk/ The Prepare-Enrich programme helps couples prepare for marriage, enrich their relationship, or review and improve their co-parenting by taking stock of their strengths and growth areas. Facilitators help couples develop key relationship skills and communicate better on important topics. The Church of England http://www.yourchurchwedding.org/youre-welcome/preparing-for-marriage.aspx Tips from the Church of England on how to speak to your Vicar about marriage preparation.
Article | marriage, religion
0 4 min read
Community posts
“Concerned stepmother”
My husband has decided to uproot his two severely autistic teenage boys from their school so that he can attend university in a city nearly 300 miles away only to try and return them to the school they left in a year's time as the research part of his degree will be conducted in the city he currently lives in. He has been also been offered a university place at a Russell Group university on his doorstep to do exactly the same degree but has chosen the one 300 miles away because it’s more prestigious. My concern is I feel that it is unfair on the children to uproot them especially as they have severe autism and familiarity and routine is important for them. To move a child without Autism from what they know and is familiar to them is bad enough yet alone children with Autism. One of the children in particular does not manage change well and he becomes violent if distressed. I want to support my husband in his studies but feel that he should choose the option that causes the least disruption especially for the children. He thinks that I’m being unsupportive if I don’t agree with his decision and makes reference to his female friends as being supportive almost as if you have a dig. I feel that he is being selfish in his decision but then I question whether I’m being selfish for not supporting him in his decision. We are in a long distance marriage of 100 miles between us which means that I will be left to do all the travelling if he moves city as the support network which was around the children at home, freeing my husband to occasionally visit me, will no longer be there. Tbh, my concern around his decision centres more around the children as I can adjust easier than his children. I am not looking for responses to make me feel better I am looking for objective responses please. How would do approach this situation and what advice if any should I be giving my husband? Thank you for your time,A concerned stepmother
User article | parenting, long distance, disability
“Inconsiderate husband”
This is my first time posting like this. I have been stressing lately. I'm three months' pregnant with my third child. My oldest is 12 and youngest is seven. I have lived most of our family life – 10 years to be exact – with my husband's parents. His family is pretty chaotic. Both his siblings are divorced and have been unstable throughout this whole time. Recently my husband and I bought a house about one hour away from his parents and have been living very comfortable as a family of four for the past year. A week and a half ago my mother-in-law went into hospital after fainting because she was dehydrated. My husband's brother lives as a single dad with his three kids at the in-laws', and my husband wanted to give his mom a chance to feel better without too much commotion with the kids at her house. My husband told me it was temporary for a week while his mom got better. I asked my husband if it's a week for sure about a day ago and he had no answer for me. He said he didn't know. That really upsets me that he doesn't have a clear answer. I use all of my income to support the house and never spend on my wants and don't think it's fair he makes these decisions without taking me in mind. I'm not OK with this because the three nephews are very clingy and are always coming to me when they are thirsty, hungry, or even when in conflicts. I have my own two kids and I'm pregnant. I told my husband that I really planned my kids and family so I didn't need to be overwhelmed by kids. Now I feel like I'm paying for something I didn't cause.
User article | parenting, pregnancy, in-laws
“Recent widow, now involved in an affair”
My husband died eight months ago after a two-year fight with cancer. He was my life, my heart, my love. People at work were and continue to be supportive. My best friend, male, has been there every step of the way. I admire him for his loyalty to his wife and kids, and how he treats his family. One day while he was comforting me, he kissed me. I kissed him back and it was all I could think of for the entire weekend. We did kiss off and on, got handsy with each other, and had oral sex... all at work. We did send some racy pictures of ourselves to each other on Snapchat, and flirted via text. He would tell me that his family will always come first and I would not hear from him on nights and weekends (other than the snaps.). He thanked me once for not making his life complicated. He mentioned his guilt several times, worried that I would resent him one day. I told him that I was aware what we were doing. He is very busy with his family, yet would say he would come by to help with equipment, mowing, pool care, etc, but would never show up. I trust this man with all my heart that he doesn't want to hurt me. He would come in on Monday mornings and whisper in my ear that he missed me. He would pull me in for kisses and hugs. Oral sex, but not to completion, was an almost daily event. He finally orgasmed, and the next day the entire mood changed. He blamed his upset stomach for not being romantic... this lasted days. When I finally asked him about it, he said that he felt guilty, that I needed to have patience. I admit that I did pull out of the tricks I have for making him want me more. I want him to want me more, knowing that he will never leave his wife. He is truly one of my best friends who has helped me (even before we were romantically involved) with the grief of my husband's death. I see him every day at work, his office faces mine. I can't imagine working without him by my side. I am trying to act like everything is OK when at work, but it isn't. How could I have two totally different yet totally painful heart breaks in such a short time?
Ask the community | breakups, rejection, cheating
“Long distance relationship tips”
Don’t sweat it. Most people think their long distance relationship will fail because they fear their partner will replace them with someone else. In an attempt to protect themselves from this fear, their brain highlights their partner’s most negative traits. This is a common defense mechanism which prepares for the emotional pain of a breakup. However, couples who establish that they have a trusting, committed relationship, and work on their own individual mental health report greater intimacy in their long distance relationships. Lower levels of psychological distress in each individual also has positive effects on commitment, communication, and satisfaction in the long distance relationship. Healthy daily activities such as running, yoga and meditation can all contribute to a greater relationship with one’s self, which in turn results in more positivity and optimism in the relationship. Distance makes the heart grow fonder. The scarcity effect is a technique successful marketers use to increase the value perception of their products. If a product is less available, people view it as more desirable as a certain status applies to the exclusive few who have it. The latest iPhone must be amazing if there is a long queue of people waiting at the store opening to acquire one of the scarce few, right? In long distance relationships, the demand almost always exceeds the supply. You love each other deeply but cannot see each other as much as you would like. Due to this, couples see each other – and their time together – as more valuable. Planning frequent visits ahead of schedule give you anticipation and excitement. It also shows a willingness to invest in the relationship, which can make you feel more secure. Those who continue to arrange special and thoughtful dates once committed to each other have reported much more relationship satisfaction than those who see each other when it’s convenient. Communication is crucial. Although physically seeing each other may be rare, speaking with each other should not be. Communication really is essential as it results in less loneliness, greater feelings of intimacy, and lower levels of jealousy. Try to make it a mixture of planned and spontaneous communication to keep the relationship both comforting and filled with excitement.
User article | long distance, communication
“Is this just a crush?”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   Hey guys. SO. I have never asked a community like this about stuff, but I feel like I'm at the end of my rope or road or whatever. Before I met my current partner I had never been in a "real bf/gf relationship". In fact, I was still hurting badly from a guy I fell for 3 yrs ago who told me if I moved states we could date...Then I moved states and surprise, he ignored me to my breaking point. I have finally just within the past month gotten completely over him. Anyway, my first ever bf moved in with me a month after dating me bc my female roommate told me she wanted him and if I dated him she would abandon the lease. So she abandoned the lease dramatically and he moved in with me. He is 3 yrs younger than me and we used to fight a lot over things that have never been an issue to the other guys I have known--and several times he and I got physical and left bruises on each other. But, we always made up for it and always told each other we only fought bc we care so much not like the other guys who would have just ignored the "issues". Most of it was my stress to keep the apartment bc I was working more than him and he had a very part time job.... Fast forward and we are both making a much better wage and are living in a different apartment. We don't fight as much BUT this is where I need advice!! (Finally!) To give you a picture of my life, I used to be really dark and sad and then I got involved with light workers and spent a lotta time outside and meditating and since I am a singer and writer I sort of bloomed past all the darkness...I love seeing people living their dream and I love health, which you can often see in someone's eyes. Well my bf is very dark. He makes me watch horror movies (which i really don't like but i am trying to get past it) and he is a funeral directing intern, plus he hates sunlight. So he will never be out there sunning with me or swimming, which makes my lil heart sad. He is not a bad guy tho, he has a huge heart for his family and for me and is constantly spending money on me, so don't assume he's mean or something. The point is, we actually went to a farmers market and my lower wisdom tooth was hurting like hell bc it's erupting so he noticed a CBD booth that was selling capsules. He asked the guy selling if they would help tooth pain while I was smelling all the CBD soaps--they were amazing and I was so fascinated by them I didn't even look up and see the guy who was at the booth till my bf mentioned me and I was in so much pain I could hardly even smile. But what struck me right away was when I did look up, all I saw was a hazel ocean of light and depth and so many good auras that even tho I am typically a shy person I maintained eye contact. My eyes are heterochromic, one blue one hazel, so I may have been striking him the same way. But anyway, is this just a crush? I do love hazel eyes, and my bf has brown eyes so is it just stupid. Oh and then he mentioned his male roommate had tooth pain which didn't get helped by cannabis and then my bf and I walked away and I mentioned to him I would pay for cbd salve for his back bc he has scoliosis. He insisted he would pay for it himself so he did and I wandered around the market half in a daze and half in incredible tooth pain. It was a small market and as I walked down the center with my dog the CBD guy was looking at us. I purposefully didn't look back, because i am crushed inside....My bf knew from the start I didn't want a relationship but honestly he was so kind and sweet to me that I felt it would be unfair to live and share life with someone in such close quarters without letting them claim me. But the week leading up to this event has been filled with me wanting to tell him I feel like something is missing. He wants to buy a camper in 9months and live out of it with me and just travel and work odd jobs, I wonder if even if I never see the hazel eyed CBD guy again, maybe it is all connected and I should just keep my job as a dental assistant and not live out of a trailer with my bf in 9 months?? I really don't want to quit my job but trailer life seems cool and we would travel a ton and have lots of adventures. I just am divided and also like I alluded to I am not in love with my bf, never have been just he has been so kind and he knows how to treat me during bdsm which no one else even had the creative capacity to try. But ok I will admit I wish we weren't in a relationship:( i will take any and all advice! --
Ask the community | sex, intimacy
“Travelling vs settling down”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   My boyfriend and I have been together for five years now. I have had my own house for two years, which he lives in and contributes a more than a fair share towards bills and food. We are both in our early 30’s. He wants to travel and I want to settle down. We have talked about selling my house and buying one together in 2019, as well as potentially starting a family. For years he has loosely talked about travel, but never seems to make any solid plans to achieve this goal. At one point (due to redundancy), I had said that I would consider travelling 1 month with him and then fly home, leaving him to complete his travels on his own or with whoever he pleases. This would be between being made redundant and starting a new job. I soon got cold feet and worried about paying my mortgage when he started changing his mind about which month to go. I thought this could turn into me being on hold waiting through his long decision making process and then the travel not actually happening. I also started to feel like travelling wasn’t for me and I was planning the month purely for him, and it was a big risk not lining up a job when there were no solid plans in place. A few months ago, he told me he was depressed and really unhappy in his job, so I encouraged him to do his travel alone and take a career break. He has considered taking his career in a different direction, so my opinion was that this would be the perfect time. He has spent the past three month researching travelling alone and put the feelers out to other companies he may wish to work for in future. He is now starting to get cold feet about going travelling in July and is considering holding off until January 19 as the weather is better in Vietnam. For me, I feel like this is another case of him being unable to commit to plans and actually make decisions. I feel as if my asks of him in a relationship are not important as moving out his travels overlaps with us buying a home together. My life feels like it is on hold for him, while he slowly ponders on how to go about his travels.
Ask the community | communication, trust