5 Ways to Deal with Rejection

 

WHEN THEY LEAVE – 5 WAYS TO DEAL WITH REJECTION
By Jeremy Lim, B. Psych 

The following is a summary from Dr. Johnben Loy’s talk on BFM Radio on Relationship Rejection. 

As humans, we are wired to connect with each other. However, this longing can be difficult especially when a relationship dissolves. Especially in a committed romantic relationship, a breakup can affect our self-esteem, mood, and even health. This is because coming out of a romantic relationship may make us question ourselves.

Lauren Howe and Carol Dweck (Stanford University) studied how different people deal with rejection in a romantic relationship, looking at how personality is related to the impact of romantic rejection.
The researchers found that:

  • If we view personality as fixed and unchangeable (fixed mindset), romantic rejection will have a greater negative impact on us.
  • If we believe that personality is changeable and can be improved (growth mindset), we have a healthier sense of self and am able to handle relationship rejection better.

Now, if we want to move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset, there are a few things we can begin with. We could..

1. Embrace the fact that change (even of a fundamental personality characteristic) is possible.

2. Try to understand why the other person rejected us.

3. Consider how our attitudes and behaviours contributed to the rejection.

4. Talk to other trusted people for different perspectives on the rejection.

5. Give ourselves the time and space to grieve healthily by having good social support, not self-harming and coming to a place where we are able to acknowledge both the good and bad in the relationship.

Metamorphosis of the European Swallowtail (Papilio machaon), showing 3 instars: caterpillar, chrysalis and adult.

 

 

 

 

 

To listen to the interview, please click here.

If you cannot see the podcast player above, please click here (Link).

 

Dr. Johnben Loy, MBA, MTS, PhD, is a USA-licensed marriage and family therapist and the founder and clinical director of Rekindle Centre for Systemic Therapy. He has traveled to over 30 countries and has two children with his wife, a Canadian expat in Malaysia. Read more about Dr. Johnben Loy here.

 

© Rekindle Sdn. Bhd., 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Rekindle Centre for Systemic Therapy and www.rekindletherapy.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Help! My Partner Cheated on Me. How Can I Heal?

 

HELP! MY PARTNER CHEATED ON ME. HOW CAN I HEAL?
By Dr. Johnben Loy, Ph.D., LMFT

Discovering that your partner has cheated on you can be one of the most excruciating experiences you can face. Many people in the throes of trying to recover from a partner’s affair go through an agonising time. Although every couple’s experience is uniquely challenging, there are some similar patterns to how recovery takes place.

For couples where the affair with the third-party has ended, the relationship or marriage can begin to heal. But it is easier said than done.

In helping couples to heal post-infidelity, I pulled together some metaphors used again and again by my past clients, and started to offer these metaphors to my new clients. I discovered that the metaphors were very helpful — enabling my clients to feel more normal more quickly, and enable them to be more understanding of each other’s experience going through the difficult process of recovery. It is my hope that by sharing these metaphors here, many couples can be helped in trying to salvage their marriage post-infidelity.

Note: In this post, I use the male gender to describe the acted party and the female gender for the injured party. This is by no means to put blame on men but it does reflect the statistics. Men who have suffered infidelity from their wives can have as much difficulty coping and healing. 

The metaphors…

Continue reading

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3 Lessons on Happiness from 75-year-old Harvard Research

 

3 Lessons on Happiness from 75-Year-Old Harvard Research
By Jeremy Lim (B.Psych.) & Dr. Johnben Loy (Ph.D., LMFT)

The word is out! Based on possibly the longest research study on adult development ever conducted, we now know what contributes to human happiness. It is not money. It is not fame. So what is it?

According to Robert Waldinger, the 4th director for the Harvard Study of Adult Development, the biggest message from the 75-year-old study wasn’t about fame or wealth, it was simply this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. He also elaborated on three lessons.

Lesson 1: Social connections are really good for us, and loneliness kills.

People who were better socially connected were happier, physically healthier, and tended to live longer than those who weren’t. By contrast, people who were more isolated than they wanted to be were less happy, had an earlier health and brain functioning decline in midlife, and tend to live shorter.

Lesson 2: Relationship conflict is bad for health.

Living in the midst of conflict is bad for our health and living in the middle of good, warm relationships are protective. The researchers found that the main predictor of health in the participants in their 80s was how satisfied they were with their relationships at 50. The happily partnered men in their 80s reported that on days with most physical pain, their mood stayed happy while their unhappily partnered counterparts experienced emotional pain in addition to the physical pain.

Lesson 3: Good relationships protect both the body and the brain.

The research participants who felt they could really count on their partners in times of need had memories that stayed sharper longer. These protective relationships also didn’t have to be smooth all the time, the couple just had to feel like they could really count on the other person when the going gets tough.

However, cultivating good relationships is hard work and a lifelong process. The participants who were happiest in retirement were those who had made the effort to tend to relationships with friends, families, and community.

This is good news! Why? Because we know that it is possible to learn how to cultivate good relationships — even for those who have incredible difficulty doing so. As clinicians at Rekindle, we specialise in helping people learn how to grow to like themselves and also to love their relationships. If you need help in this area, do not hesitate to contact us today. Invest in your relationship, invest in your health!

© Rekindle Sdn. Bhd., 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Rekindle Centre for Systemic Therapy and www.rekindletherapy.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Journeying: Together and Apart

 

Journeying: Together and Apart
By Dr. Johnben Loy, Ph.D., LMFT

Source: E. Thor Carlson, Fine Art Tapestry

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. But a thousand words is not enough to articulate the richness of a person’s life. A picture is only one snapshot in time; an individual’s life is constantly in motion — flowing, growing, transforming. And when lives come together, the tapestry of interwoven realities becomes so rich, the wonderful complexity of it all cannot be captured in any single snapshot.

This is how I felt at Rekindle’s half-yearly gathering last Saturday when our clinicians, clinical interns, and staff got together. We don’t often gather as an entire group, so I was surprised at how large we have become. I marvelled as I watched our folks talk and laugh freely with one another — so many different relationships that have birthed because of this place called Rekindle.

And then I think of the many other lives that have come our way — 7 former clinical interns, almost 20 undergraduate interns, and many counsellors and therapists who have received training at Rekindle. We are a rich tapestry of lives interwoven at different points in time as we journeyed along, learning to become better helping professionals.

Some of the people who had been with Rekindle have moved on. It is natural. As we gathered at Toast Grilled Cheese Sandwiches last Saturday, we celebrated Alvin Tan’s (clinical psychologist) departure from Rekindle to venture into a different life trajectory. He has transformed his care for client mental well-being into the care of perfecting delicious grilled cheese sandwiches, juices, and coffees. The food is surprisingly good, especially for its affordable price. As Alvin’s life takes its unique turn, we too, could come together and experience his (delicious) new journey, celebrate with him, and support him.

Again, the sandwiches are very good and very affordable! And so is the cappuccino! Be sure to visit Toast Grilled Cheese Sandwiches for a nice weekend breakfast!

There is no need to lament the losing of business partners or associates or staff. Whenever life leads us to grow into different directions, we can celebrate with each other. We can cherish the moments of interweaving that have enriched us, and we can look forward to how the different journeys will create new tapestries. Who knows, some threads may reconnect and interweave again. If we allow it — and put effort into making it happen — we can rejoice in our joinings and our departings. Goodbyes do not have to be bitter, they can be meaningful and enriching!

So I want to dedicate this blogpost to all the people whose lives have enriched the tapestry that is Rekindle — those who had been with us, and especially those who are with us now. It is so meaningful and inspiring to watch and take part in our growth as individuals, groups, and as the greater whole that is Rekindle.

I am also grateful to the many clients who have come through our centre, allowing for the interweaving of professional journeys with personal journeys to create positive and healthier pathways for all.

To all the people and the relationships that have shaped and continue to shape me, I want to say Thank You for the journeying, together and apart.

 

About the author: Dr. Johnben Loy, MBA, MTS, PhD, is a USA-licensed marriage and family therapist and the founder and clinical director of Rekindle Centre for Systemic Therapy. Read more about Dr. Johnben Loy here.

© Rekindle Sdn. Bhd., 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Rekindle Centre for Systemic Therapy and www.rekindletherapy.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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海外で生活していく中で

 

海外で生活していく中で
By 山城 沙千子 Sachiko Yamashiro (Clinical Psychologist)

現在マレーシアにおける日本人居住者は2万人強と言われています(2013年10月)。特に都心においては日本人が住みやすい環境がずいぶん整い、生活に大きな支障をきたすことはないでしょう。それでも慣れ親しんだ日本を離れ、言葉や文化、気候、衛生観念、ビジネス習慣も違う環境で生活していくことは、これまでと違った困難に直面することになります。
予測を裏切られることが多く、日常レベルでやれていたことがやりにくくなる、ということや、人間関係の中で次第に生じてくるもつれは、大きな精神的負担となります。また、気の知れた親しい人に気軽に相談できない環境にあって、それらストレスも蓄積されやすくなります。職場、育児、学業において生じて来る問題は、家族、夫婦関係を悪くすることがありますが、特に家庭内の問題は相談しにくく、複雑化してしまうこともあります。背後にこれまで気が付かなった何かしらの大きな原因が潜んでいることもあります。
そうしたストレスは様々な形となって表れてきます。疲れていても眠れない・食欲がない・便秘がちになる・体のさまざまな痛みといった身体的生理的な面から、集中できない・ミスが増える・忘れっぽい・疲れやすい・感情の起伏が激しい・突然涙が出る・気持ちが沈むといった気分・気力の面など、表れ方も様々です。また、お子さんにおいては、おねしょをする、赤ちゃん返りをする、攻撃的になる、学校でトラブルを起こすようになる、ものを盗むなどといった行動面に表れてきます。
このような中で大切なのは、小さな変化に気付くことです。心理的な問題に関しては「甘え」であったり「怠け」と思いやすい傾向にありますが、環境や状況を鑑みるとそうではないことのほうが多く、こうした考えが落とし穴になることがあります。また、悩みは自分一人で抱え込むほど、解決しにくくなってきます。
困難の原因はなんなのか、今の状態をどう理解すればいいのか、自分は大丈夫なのか、どうすれば改善されるのか、人はこのような問いを誰かに聞いてもらう中で答えを自ら導き出していく力があります。なにより、話すだけでもふわっと気持ちが楽になります。そして変化は急には起こりません。急激な変化は一時的で、最終的な変化の過程にすぎません。雨が降り、時間をかけて山から地下水が染み出てくるように、変化は緩やかに、そして確実に起こってきます。そうした人生の大事な変化において、カウンセリングが役立つことを願っています。

 

About the author: Sachiko Yamashiro, M.A. Clin.Psy., is a Japan-licensed clinical psychologist interning at Rekindle. She is currently visiting Malaysia. Read more about Sachiko Yamashiro here.

© Rekindle Sdn. Bhd., 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Rekindle Centre for Systemic Therapy and www.rekindletherapy.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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How to Handle Awkward “Interrogations” at Family Gatherings

 

HOW TO HANDLE AWKWARD “INTERROGATIONS” AT FAMILY GATHERINGS
By Dr. Johnben Loy, Ph.D., LMFT


Chinese New Year is just around the corner and with it comes relatives with the well-meaning barrage of questions.

“Got boyfriend already, ah?”

“Aiyah, why no children yet?”

“You lost your job?”

For most, this flurry of questions is normal but what about those who have just suffered a relationship break-up, dropped out of school, or lost a job? Or those who are still, despite trying hard, unable to find a life-partner or have children of their own? What might family gatherings be like for them?

Potentially awkward.

This Chinese New Year, the average Malaysian — particularly those of an earlier generation — will likely not hesitate to ask those typical life course status questions especially if they have not seen you in a while.

So, exactly how can we handle these awkward questions?

After discussing experiences with some friends, I took some time to think about it and came up with a list of 5 ways in which Questioners and Responders can handle these potentially sensitive life course status questions… and still have a good time at festive family gatherings!

Questioners Responders
1. Be considerate and sensitive of others. Be aware that what may be a regular non-invasive “life course status” question (e.g. course of study, intimate relationship, having children) for you may be a potentially shameful or difficult-to-answer question for the other person. It would not hurt you to exercise more consideration and sensitivity when asking such questions. 1. Try not to take it personally. Recognize that people ask questions not necessarily to make you feel uncomfortable, but that it is natural for people to ask “life course status” questions. The less you can feel targeted by others, the more comfortably you can be yourself with others.
2. If merely curious, ask someone else. If you do not know about someone’s life course status and are merely curious, then ask someone else who might know, say, the person’s mother or sibling. This helps to avoid potential embarrassment for the other person. 2. Be confident. At the end of the day, we all have to be responsible for our own behaviors and life choices. If we choose to remain in a certain life course status (or if the situation cannot be any different) then it would be best to learn to be confident and comfortable with ourselves in our statuses.
3. Learn to talk safely. Think of safe questions to ask when you meet extended family members you have not seen in a while. For example, “How do you spend your time these days?” “What are your hobbies?” “What do you like to eat?” And then listen attentively, follow the thread of their answers, and appropriately add comments about your own interests. Related topics may then arise and the conversations can flow naturally. 3. Answer politely but give a strong hint. If someone comes across as invasive in their questioning, you can answer politely yet directly to give them the hint that the questioning ought to stop. For example, “I am still single and happily so, thank you for asking.” Or “we are not ready to have children yet, and we are quite happy about it, thank you.” One of the favourites that a cousin of mine uses: “Why get married? I still want to receive angpows from you!”
4. Change the topic and do not pry. When you sense that the other person is not comfortable with your question, change the topic (any one of the questions in #3 above might work). Do not pry. However, if you sense the other person wishes to go into a sensitive issue in more detail but feels constrained in doing so, ask if he or she might like to talk about these matters in a more private environment. 4. Change the topic or move away. Sometimes, you will face those who insist on prying and giving you advice – a hint will not make these people stop. Do not be shy about changing the topic. Ask about their family members or what they are up to these days. If they come back to prying about your life course status again, make an excuse to move away from them politely, and stay confident.
5. Offer a caring and confidential listening ear. If you heard about someone’s life course status (say, a nephew who is struggling in his marriage) and want to help, then pull that person aside and have a private conversation. Show that you truly care and want to know how that person feels about their situation. Only give advice if the other person is open to it. Offering a confidential listening ear is, in and of itself, a loving gesture. Even if they do not take up your offer to listen at that time, they may approach you later because you cared enough to ask privately and with genuine concern. 5. Recognize those who can provide real caring support. People can change over the years. An auntie or a cousin may have matured well through life experiences that they can help you either as a confidante or someone who can give good and helpful advice. If you sense that they truly care and can be trusted, ask to speak with them privately about your situation. You may be pleasantly surprised to find a distant family member turning into a good friend.

 

In the meantime, Happy Chinese New Year (and more angpows, and less awkward questions)!

 

About the author: Dr. Johnben Loy, MBA, MTS, PhD, is a USA-licensed marriage and family therapist and the founder and clinical director of Rekindle Centre for Systemic Therapy. He has traveled to over 30 countries and has two children with his wife, a Canadian expat in Malaysia. Read more about Dr. Johnben Loy here.

 

© Rekindle Sdn. Bhd., 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Rekindle Centre for Systemic Therapy and www.rekindletherapy.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Your Valentine’s Day Blues? – Our Therapists’ Thoughts for You

 

YOUR VALENTINE’S DAY BLUES? – OUR THERAPISTS’ THOUGHTS FOR YOU

For many, Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love. For others, it may bring back painful memories or raise difficult questions. Gathering some of these questions, we asked our clinicians to provide their perspectives and answers. Here are some of their insights for you:

1. Q: All my friends are already dating and I don’t like being alone on Valentine’s Day. Is there anything I can do?

Our clinical psychologist, Alvin Tan‘s answer, “In my opinion, a meaningful life is about building enduring relationships. I would spend that time being with significant people in my life and enjoying those moments. Future relationships will eventually come, but the ones I have now are what matters more.”

2. Q: Is Valentine’s Day only reserved for lovers? What are your thoughts if I celebrate with my family instead?

Our clinical psychologist, Dr. Charis Geevarughese replies, “As I understand it, Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love. Most people celebrate romantic love on this day but I believe for those who would like to and chose to, celebrating being loved by family and the fact that you love your family is also a great reason to do it.”

3. Q: I have a crush on a guy and I want to ask him out for Valentine’s Day but having a girl ask a guy out is still rather uncommon. What are your thoughts on this?

Cathie Wu, our counselling psychologist, has this to say: Though acting against traditional conventions in dating may bring some discomfort, you are taking initiative to ask him out can also be seen as refreshing, creative, and intriguing. It sounds like you already know what you want but are held back by fear. Be fearless and unexpected, surprise him and see.

4. Q:  My religion discourages me from celebrating Valentine’s Day but I still want to have a good time with my partner. What’s your perspective on this?

Dr. Johnben Loy, founder of Rekindle and marriage and family therapist, says,  “Have you ever tried celebrating something vicariously through a friend? For instance, I don’t celebrate the holidays of all the religions in the world, but if I have a friend of a different religion, I can vicariously take part in the festivities through them. Try taking a photo with a friend who is receiving a rose this Valentine’s Day and delight in her smile and happiness while keeping true to your faith at the same time! As for your partner, can you not celebrate your relationship at any time? Since it’s not yet Valentine’s, let me send you both a virtual rose stem!   @-}—— “

5. Q:  I’m feeling left out when everyone else in school gets bouquets of flowers and chocolates and I haven’t gotten any. Is there something wrong with me?

Our marriage and family therapist, Jean Selvam, replies, “It’s easy to feel left out in school, however it is important to be strong and confident in yourself. Always remember that you are valuable. There are people in your life who love you even more than you realize… I’m sure you know who they are!”

6. Q: What can I do on Valentine’s Day if my partner has passed on?

Rekindle’s registered and licensed counsellor, Dr. Yeo Pei Li, says, “Valentine’s Day may not be easy for a widow or widower as Feb 14 may hold many precious memories. It is important to accept that Valentine’s Day will never be the same for you, despite the length of time you have lost your spouse. Hence, prepare your heart in advance, and if possible, schedule quality time with family and friends.”

7. Q: 情人节又来临了,我为何总是觉得孤单呢?请问我该怎么做以改变此情况?

余慧瑩 Phoebe Yee, our marriage and family therapist, has this to say: 你对这个情人节有所期待,要改变就要调整了!我相信你会过一个不一样的情人节,
因为你愿意选择做出改变。

8. Q: I want my parents to have a great date on Valentine’s Day. What can I do to surprise them?

Sudha Kudva, our registered and licensed counsellor, says, “You can think of something to do or talk about that allows them to enjoy themselves and each other’s company on that day. You know your parents best. I believe that Valentine’s Day should be used to express the softer, deeper feelings to different significant people in your life, be it your parents, your partner, your friends or any other meaningful people.”

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The ‘AEIOU’ To Making Career Decisions With Your Kids

 

THE ‘AEIOU’ TO MAKING CAREER DECISIONS WITH YOUR KIDS
By Dr. Charis Geevarughese, Ph.D.

The question “What career should I pick?” is a daunting question especially for 16-18 year olds as they exit high school and start looking into college or university programs. There is much riding on making the right choice especially with the prices of good education increasing. Many parents and children struggle with making this decision. During this period, there is a high risk of disagreement and conflict as the clash of minds, wills, and personalities take place because of the arduous and often difficult task of choosing a career path. That being said, there is hope! Here are the AEIOU’s to making career decisions with your teens:

A: Ask the Right Question
When tackling this life question of career choice, the first step that may ease this pressure is reframing the question “What do I want to be when I grow up?” to “What do I want to do when I grow up?” This is a shift from having the career choice define the child as a person to having the child define their career choice based on their personal goals and values. This small but critical step of empowering your child to take ownership in the career decision could ultimately lead to good performance in the program and satisfaction with career choice.

E: Explore and Understand Options
With the advancement of time, science, research, and globalization, the number of career options has increased tremendously. With the boom of new careers and sub-specialties, students and parents are increasingly faced with the options of traditional and non-traditional careers. To address this multitude of choices, it is wise for parents and children to explore and understand what is involved in the current traditional and non-traditional career possibilities. Addressing the concern of the stability of the non-traditional careers, primarily expressed by parents, is important. A thorough exploration of the job prospect, job description, job advancement prospects and more is necessary in making informed choices.

I: Individual Personality and Work Environment
The third consideration would be exploring the fit between personality and the work environment. Answering the question “Who am I?” “What are my goals and values in life?” are crucial especially in finding how it fits with a particular career choice. A good fit implies a close link between an individual’s personality and the demands/ nature of the job and job environment. The closer the fit between personality and career choice, the more likely it is that an individual would feel satisfied in their careers. It is important to note that career choices impact our personality and goals over time. It is a reciprocal relationship. However, at the career decision making stage, starting with understanding one’s personality is key. There are many resources available for career and personality testing.

O & U: Other (Child) and You (Parent) Relationship
The final and probably most crucial part of this career decision making stage is the relationship between parent and child. Open communication, non-conflictual communication, support and collaboration are important aspects to helping teens have confidence in their career choices. Hargrove, Creagh, and Burgess (2002) found that “the more students perceived conflict within the family, the less confidence they expressed toward engaging in their own career planning and decision-making tasks.” Teens and parents should collaborate in finding information, talking to professionals, exploring interests and personalities, especially at the early stage of career exploration. Parent’s healthy relationship with their children can provide the environment where their teens can make good informed choices.

Making career choices is a rite of passage for most individuals. Some individuals do not have the luxury of having options and are forced into career paths because of financial constraints and/or familial influences. However, for those who have the options, considering these AEIOU’s can increase the chances of making the best informed decision at this stage. These informed decisions will likely lead to career satisfaction and overall health in the long run.
 
References:
Hargrove, B. K., Creagh, M. G., & Burgess, B. L. (2002). Family interaction patterns as predictors of vocational identity and career decision-making self-efficacy. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 61, 185-201.

 

About the author: Dr Charis Geevarughese, Ph.D, is a clinical psychologist practicing at Rekindle Center for Systemic Therapy. She believes in holistic living and in the importance of genuine relationships. Read more about Dr. Charis Geevarughese here.

 
 
 

© Rekindle Sdn. Bhd., 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Rekindle Centre for Systemic Therapy and www.rekindletherapy.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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9 Creative Tips to Spice Up Family Bonding Over the Holidays

 

9 CREATIVE TIPS TO SPICE UP FAMILY BONDING OVER THE HOLIDAYS
By Faith Foo, B.A.S.S. (Coun), M. Coun. (in pursuit) & Jeremy Lim, B. Psych (Hons)

Families can get into a rut relationally and end up doing the same things over and over again. Children and spouses sometimes need a little creativity to boost up family engagement and fun. Here are 9 creative tips to help you spice up your family relationships over these holidays.

1. Have a meal together. No electronic gadgets allowed.
Creative tip: Each member contributes a dish he or she LIKES.

2. Show affection towards one another.
Creative tip: MAKE breakfast-in-bed for one or more family members.

3. Spend a few days together on a holiday.
Creative tip: Play games TOGETHER. Charades anybody?

4. Family movie night out (or in).
Creative tip: SNUGGLE in, put on a projector and enjoy a movie together in your living room.

5. Write an appreciation card/note to one another.
Creative tip: Write the note on the bathroom mirror, toilet seat cover… be CREATIVE.

6. Give each other gifts.
Creative tip: Something small, inexpensive and thoughtful. Eg. HOMEMADE banana smoothies!

7. Whisper the 3 important long forgotten words, “I Love You”.
Creative tip: Use a FOREIGN language like “Wa Ai Lu”, “Saranghae yo”

8. Have a group hug.
Creative tip: SQUEEZE one another tight!

9. Go for a midnight reflective car ride and talk about how the year has been.
Creative tip: Don’t forget the HOT chocolate and spill-proof cups.

You can also come up with your own special customized ways to celebrate together. Enjoy the holidays and enjoy your family time! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 

About the authors: Faith Foo and Jeremy Lim are administrative support staff in Rekindle Centre for Systemic Therapy. In addition, Faith is currently in pursuit of her Masters in Counselling degree. Both of them are passionate about families and seeing families come together in closeness and harmony. Read more about them here.


© Rekindle Sdn. Bhd., 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Rekindle Centre for Systemic Therapy and www.rekindletherapy.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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How To Protect Your Marriage From Expatriation Stress

 

HOW TO PROTECT YOUR MARRIAGE FROM EXPATRIATION STRESS
By Dr. Johnben Loy, Ph.D., LMFT

Some time back, I met a British expat who had moved from Beijing to Kuala Lumpur with his partner. He learned about my occupation as a marriage and family therapist and asked, “Do you think moving to a different country with your partner can inject a healthy fresh-start to your relationship?” I replied, “It depends.”

It depends on how troubled the relationship was in the first place. If the relationship was already in a vulnerable state, moving to a new country would not mean moving away from the problems—the psychological and relational baggage gets checked-in along with them. When the stresses of adjusting to a new country begin to grow, their relationship is likely to crack under the pressure.

Despite the exciting opportunities of expat-living, moving abroad is not easy for most people. The stresses of finding appropriate housing, children adjusting to new schools, unfamiliar languages and lifestyle, changing work-life balance, changing marital relationship dynamics, and not having much social support, can all put the marriage to the test. If a marriage was already struggling with personal issues, adding in the stress of expatriation can seriously jeopardise the continuity of the marriage.

According to psychologist Guy Bodenmann’s stress-vulnerability model, chronic everyday stressors negatively affect relationship quality by (a) decreasing the frequency of time couples spend together; (b) decreasing the quality of marital communication; (c) increasing the risk of physical or psychological problems such as sexual dysfunctions and moods disorders; (d) increasing the expression of problematic personality traits. These processes result in mutual alienation between the partners, eventually leading to divorce.

After explaining the vulnerability-stress model to the Western expat who asked me if moving to a new country could give a couple a fresh-start, I asked him why he had asked the question. “Because that’s what I did with my girlfriend,” he replied.

“So, what happened?” I asked, to which he answered with a shrug, “We broke up.”

What can couples do to prevent the stresses of living abroad from destroying their marriages? Here are four suggestions:

1) Recognize that healthy relationships do not just happen automatically.

Good relationships need to be cultivated. Couples would do well to hold “weekly couple meetings” where they discuss and work on relationship and family matters with just as much seriousness as they would their professional work. In addition to weekly couple meetings, set aside date nights at least once, if not twice a month. During date nights, do not try to problem-solve, but focus on having fun and romancing each other to upkeep the reservoir of positive memories.

2) Learn to communicate effectively.

Learn to hear what your partner is saying, and help your partner know that he or she has been heard correctly by paraphrasing what was said. Take turns being the speaker and the listener. This is especially important when talking about sensitive issues or hot topics. Learn how to speak and listen sensitively and respectfully.

3) Find healthy support locally.

Many companies have expat services, gatherings, and other resources that can be helpful to family members adjusting to a new place, language, and culture. In some cases, expats find that social networking events do not work well for them because of the superficial nature of such gatherings. It may be necessary for these expats to seek out a good therapist. A therapist with experience working with expats can help clients to work through their adjustment difficulties.

4) Read a good book on marriage.

The expatriate experience can be a very positive and exciting time, providing couples and families with much new learning and financial resources. To take advantage of the experience, put some conscious effort into protecting your marriage relationship by reading some books of marriage. A helpful resource is the book Fighting For Your Marriage by Markman, Stanley, & Blumberg. Based on over 30 years of research, the advice given in this book provides effective and scientifically proven ways to overcome the negatives and enhance the positives in a marriage.

 

About the author: Dr. Johnben Loy, MBA, MTS, PhD, is a USA-licensed marriage and family therapist and the founder and clinical director of Rekindle Centre for Systemic Therapy. He has traveled to over 30 countries and has two children with his wife, a Canadian expat in Malaysia. Read more about Dr. Johnben Loy here.

 

© Rekindle Sdn. Bhd., 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Rekindle Centre for Systemic Therapy and www.rekindletherapy.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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