Positive and Negative cycles in Relationships: Linking assertiveness and self-confidence and avoidance and partner dominance (Part 4 – Partner Dominance)

Partner dominance is problematic when a person does not want their partner to be in such a controlling position. A high score on Partner Dominance should trigger a discussion with the person scoring high.

Based on the research, PREPARE/ENRICH has discovered that there is a positive cycle linking assertiveness and self-confidence and a negative cycle linking avoidance and perceived dominance.

In the positive cycle, as a person uses more assertiveness, their level of self confidence tends to increase. As a person’s self confidence increases, their willingness and ability to be more assertive increases.

In the negative cycle, when one person perceives their partner as dominating, a common reaction is for that person to avoid dealing with issues. As a person uses more avoidance, they will often perceive more dominance in their partner.

Often a goal of marriage and relationship education is to increase the assertiveness and active listening skills of one or both partners. This series of posts discusses assertiveness and self-confidence, and avoidance and perceived partner dominance.

4. Partner Dominance:

Partner dominance assesses how much a person feels his/her partner tries to control them and dominate his/her life.

There is considerable evidence in U.S. samples demonstrating couples who have an equalitarian relationship tend to have a more successful marriage (Olson and DeFrain, 1997). There are, however, exceptions. These include couples in which both partners genuinely want more traditional relationship roles, often based on their religious beliefs or their cultural heritage. The traditional relationship is one in which the male is the leader of the family.

Engaged couples who want and expect to have a more equalitarian relationship in terms of Relationship Roles will struggle if one partner is overly dominant. Married couples may also struggle with their Roles and Responsibilities when one partner is dominant and the other feels the imbalance.

As partners in a relationship improve their assertiveness and active listening skills, their self-confidence will increase. This is the positive cycle of more assertiveness increasing self confidence. Increasing assertiveness also tends to decrease avoidance and partner dominance, which is a common negative cycle in couples.

For more details on this exercise, refer to the Couple’s Workbook.

#PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

For more information on PREPARE/ENRICH or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049

#prepareenrich

Positive and Negative cycles in Relationships: Linking assertiveness and self-confidence and avoidance and partner dominance (Part 3 –  Avoidance)

Based on the research, we have discovered there is a positive cycle linking assertiveness and self-confidence and a negative cycle linking avoidance and perceived dominance.

In the positive cycle, as a person uses more assertiveness, their level of self confidence tends to increase. As a person’s self confidence increases, their willingness and ability to be more assertive increases.In the negative cycle, when one person perceives their partner as dominating, a common reaction is for that person to avoid dealing with issues. As a person uses more avoidance, they will often perceive more dominance in their partner.

Often a goal of marriage and relationship education is to increase the assertiveness and active listening skills of one or both partners. This series of posts discusses assertiveness and self-confidence and avoidance and perceived partner dominance.

3. Avoidance: Avoidance is a person’s tendency to minimise issues and his/her reluctance to deal with issues directly.

Avoidance tends to be highest in people who are passive or non-assertive. Conversely, people who are very assertive tend to be low on avoidance. There is increasing evidence that an avoidant style creates problems in close relationships.

People who score high in avoidance tend to report they feel dominated by their partner, dislike the personalities of their partner, and dislike the way they communicate and resolve conflicts with their partner.

John Gottman (1994), a prominent researcher on marriage and relationships, described three common styles of relating in couples. One of his three types of couples was the avoidant couple.

Avoidant couples tend to minimise conflict and often don’t resolve their differences, agreeing to disagree. Gottman has found an avoidant marriage is one style that can endure, but states, ‘…there is a low level of companionship and sharing in the marriage.” He goes on to report, “Another hazard of this type of marriage is that it can become lonely” (Gottman, 1994, p. 46). Individuals in such marriages may often feel disconnected, misunderstood, and ill-equipped to deal with conflict should it arise.

As partners in a relationship improve their assertiveness and active listening skills, their self-confidence will increase. This is the positive cycle of more assertiveness increasing self-confidence. Increasing assertiveness also tends to decrease avoidance and partner dominance, which is a common negative cycle in couples.

For more details on this exercise, refer to the Couple’s Workbook.

#PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

For more information on PREPARE/ENRICH or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich.

Positive and Negative cycles in Relationships: Linking assertiveness and self-confidence and avoidance and partner dominance (Part 2 – Self-Confidence)

Based on the research, we have discovered there is a positive cycle linking assertiveness and self-confidence and a negative cycle linking avoidance and perceived dominance.

In the positive cycle, as a person uses more assertiveness, their level of self-confidence tends to increase. As a person’s self-confidence increases, their willingness and ability to be more assertive increases.

In the negative cycle, when one person perceives their partner as dominating, a common reaction is for that person to avoid dealing with issues. As a person uses more avoidance, they will often perceive more dominance in their partner.

Often a goal of marriage and relationship education is to increase the assertiveness and active listening skills of one or both partners. This series of posts discusses assertiveness and self-confidence and avoidance and perceived partner dominance.

Self-confidence:

Self-confidence focuses on how good a person feels about himself/herself and his/her ability to control things in their life.

Self-confidence was developed by combining aspects of “Self Esteem” and “Mastery”. Self-esteem is defined as how positive people feel about themselves. Mastery is the belief people have about how much control they have over what happens in their life. Self-confidence is seen as a valuable integrative concept because it is easier to change than self-esteem and focuses heavily on the positive attitude of being able to control your own life.

When two people have higher levels of self-confidence, the couple has a higher probability of having a successful marriage. It is, therefore one of the goals of marriage and relationship education programs – to increase self-confidence. This can be achieved by helping both people become more aware individually and assertive with each other.

As partners in a relationship improve their assertiveness and active listening skills, their self-confidence will increase. This is the positive cycle of more assertiveness increasing self confidence. Increasing assertiveness also tends to decrease avoidance and partner dominance, which is a common negative cycle in couples.

For more details on this exercise, refer to the Couple’s Workbook.

#PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

For more information on PREPARE/ENRICH or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich

Positive and Negative cycles in Relationships: Linking assertiveness and self-confidence and avoidance and partner dominance (Part 1 – Increasing Assertiveness)

Based on the research, we have discovered there is a positive cycle linking assertiveness and self-confidence and a negative cycle linking avoidance and perceived dominance.

In the positive cycle, as a person uses more assertiveness, their level of self confidence tends to increase. As a person’s self confidence increases, their willingness and ability to be more assertive increases.In the negative cycle, when one person perceives their partner as dominating, a common reaction is for that person to avoid dealing with issues. As a person uses more avoidance, they will often perceive more dominance in their partner.

Often a goal of marriage and relationship education is to increase the assertiveness and active listening skills of one or both partners. This series of posts discusses assertiveness and self-confidence and avoidance and perceived partner dominance.

As partners in a relationship improve their assertiveness and active listening skills, their self-confidence will increase. This is the positive cycle of more assertiveness increasing self confidence. Increasing assertiveness also tends to decrease avoidance and partner dominance, which is a common negative cycle in couples.

Assertiveness: Assertiveness is the ability to express one’s feelings to their partner and the ability to ask for what they would like.

Assertive communication involves the honest expression of one’s thoughts, feelings, and desires. Assertiveness is self focused and, therefore, is marked by use of “I” and “me” statements rather than “you” statements.

Assertive people are able to ask for what they want without demanding it or infringing on the rights of others. Assertive people tend to feel better about themselves because they are able to express themselves.

One important goal in working with a couple is to try to help both people become more assertive with each other. Increasing assertiveness will positively affect the other three relationship dynamics assessed in this section of the inventory. If each person becomes more assertive, this will increase a person’s self confidence, reduce the partner’s dominance and reduce the tendency to use avoidance.

When both partners are assertive with each other, this tends to increase the level of intimacy because they are able to share their honest feelings and ask for what they want and, thereby, increase the probability they will connect and understand one another’s needs.

As a person’s self confidence increases, their willingness and ability to be more assertive increases.

For more details on this exercise, refer to the Couple’s Workbook.

#PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

For more information on PREPARE/ENRICH or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich

How are you assessing and discussing relationship dynamics with couples?

If you are utilising the Relationship Dynamics section of the PREPARE/ENRICH Facilitator’s Report, you know about the additional insights into the couple’s relationship it provides. The Relationship Dynamics section allows you as a facilitator to identify tendencies each partner displays within their relationship across the four interrelated areas of Assertiveness, Self-Confidence, Avoidance and Partner Dominance.The following series of blog posts will discuss each area and the techniques used to explore these concepts with couples, in order to use the Relationship Dynamics section to its full potential. First, let’s define the four interrelated areas that make up Relationship Dynamics:

  1. Assertiveness – the ability to express one’s feelings and ask for what one wants in the relationship
  2. Self-Confidence – how good one feels about oneself and their ability to accomplish what they want in life
  3. Avoidance – the tendency to minimise issues and reluctance to deal with issues directly
  4. Partner Dominance – how much one feels controlled or dominated by their partner.

Understanding the positive and negative cycles… Assertiveness and self-confidence relate to each other in a positive cycle. The idea is the more assertive a person is, the more self-confident they are, which allows them to be more assertive, and so on. The positive cycle strengthens both dynamics by the nature of how they are interrelated.

Cycles are not always positive though… Avoidance and partner dominance relate to each other in a negative cycle. The more avoidance a person introduces into the relationship, the more they allow space for their partner to dominate, which perpetuates the avoidance, and so on. Thus a negative cycle is occurring.

For more details on this, tune in next week or refer to the Couple’s Workbook.

#PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

For more information on PREPARE/ENRICH or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich.

Always consider your limitations in terms of time, experience, and professional expertise when working with abusive couples

Based on PREPARE/ENRICH data of over 20,000 married couples, the results found Conflicted and Devitalised couples displayed characteristics of abusive and the highest levels reported ranging above 50%. They also demonstrated lower levels of communication, conflict resolution, couple closeness and flexibility compared to non-abusing couples, and higher levels of alcohol and/or drug abuse.

Using the PREPARE/ENRICH Program:

  • Abusive couples often have poor patterns of communication. Help the couple see the value of developing good communications skills and teach them assertiveness and active listening skills.
  • Conflict resolution is typically another weakness for couples that end up emotionally or physically abusing each other. Spend time on Resolving Couple Conflict and techniques.
  • Help abusive couples see how attributes from the Relationship Dynamics scales can contribute to their relationship difficulties. For example, explain how avoidance can lead to increased feelings of partner dominance and perpetuate the “negative cycle”.

Additional Resources for Abusive Couples:

  • Suggest that the couple purchase and use the Empowering Couples book or the Couple Checkup book as a self-paced, relationship improvement tool that they can work on together at home.
  • Do not recommend that the couple join a couple’s enrichment group until they have resolved some of their relationship issues.

For Marriage Mentors and Clergy—Referral of Distressed Couples to Specialist in Abuse:

  • Always consider your limitations in terms of time, experience, and professional expertise when working with abusive couples.
  • Consult or refer to other mental health professionals including marriage and family therapists and psychologists trained to work with couples.
  • Because of the links between chemical abuse and relationship violence, consider having abusive couples evaluated for chemical abuse or addiction.
  • Work with local domestic violence counsellors and agencies utilising their expertise in programming (e.g., anger management) and support groups.

For more help, referrals, and information on abuse, please visit or refer the following:

1800RESPECT: 1800 737 732

24 hour national sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault. Call toll-free 1800 737 732.

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Lifeline has a national number who can help put you in contact with a crisis service in your State. Anyone across Australia experiencing a personal crisis or thinking about suicide can call 13 11 14.

Police and Ambulance: 000

Dial 000 in an emergency and in cases of immediate danger.

Stay tuned for more information on this topic next week.

#PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

For more information on PREPARE/ENRICH or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich #strongerrelationships

Identifying Abusive Couples: as the reported level of chemical abuse increases, so too does the risk and incidence of interpersonal violence

Based on PREPARE/ENRICH data of over 20,000 married couples, the results found Conflicted and Devitalised couples displayed characteristics of abusive and the highest levels reported ranging above 50%. They also demonstrated lower levels of communication, conflict resolution, couple closeness and flexibility compared to non-abusing couples, and higher levels of alcohol and/or drug abuse.

Identifying Abusive Couples:

  • Review the Background items on abuse to see if one or both partners are reporting abuse from their partner. Also, review abuse from parents and/or others.
  • Based on the Facilitators Report, determine if only one person is abusive or if both are abusive.

Key factors in working with abusive couples:

  • Determine the risk level to both partners. Is either person in “imminent” danger of violence or emotional abuse? If so, enlist the help of professionals who are skilled in working with domestic violence.
  • As these couples are at greater risk of couple abuse and divorce, share your concerns with them. This may help them be more committed to working on their relationship.
  • Research indicates that as the reported level of chemical abuse increases, so too does the risk and incidence of interpersonal violence. Be aware of this potential and explore these issues with couples.

For more help, referrals, and information on abuse, please visit or refer the following:

1800RESPECT: 1800 737 732

24 hour national sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault. Call toll-free 1800 737 732.

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Lifeline has a national number who can help put you in contact with a crisis service in your State. Anyone across Australia experiencing a personal crisis or thinking about suicide can call 13 11 14.

Police and Ambulance: 000

Dial 000 in an emergency and in cases of immediate danger.

Stay tuned for more information on this topic next week.

#PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

For more information on PREPARE/ENRICH or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich #strongerrelationships

Research suggests that perpetrators of abuse can become more violent when they suspect their abusiveness has been reported

Based on PREPARE/ENRICH data of over 20,000 married couples, the results found Conflicted and Devitalized couples displayed characteristics of abusive and the highest levels reported ranging above 50%. They also demonstrated lower levels of communication, conflict resolution, couple closeness and flexibility compared to non-abusing couples, and higher levels of alcohol and/or drug abuse.

On the Relationship Dynamics scale, abusing couples were more often HIGH on Avoidance and Partner Dominance and LOW on Assertiveness and Self Confidence.

If you know or suspect a couple is in a physically abusive relationship, consider the following:

  • Research suggests that perpetrators of abuse can become more violent when they suspect their abusiveness has been reported.
  • We recommend these couples not take the assessment at home. Instead, administer the assessment in the controlled environment of your office.

Goals in Working with Abusive Couples:

  • Once you learn of abuse, you should do an individual session which includes a more in-depth assessment of abuse issues from each person’s perspective.
  • Discuss and show the couple the connection between abuse and the lack of relationship skills like communication and conflict resolution.
  • Help the couple to build a stronger relationship.
  • If it is not possible for the couple to maintain a safe and healthy relationship, help them make decisions about how to stay safe in the future.
  • If you are not trained or experienced in working with abusive couples, make a referral to persons that specialise in dealing with abuse issues.

Relevant questions to raise with abusive couples:

  • What triggers violence in your relationship?
  • Have you ever felt the need to seek shelter away from your household or to get away from your partner?
  • If and when things turn abusive or violent in your relationship, who can you turn to for help?

For more help, referrals, and information on abuse, please visit or refer the following:

1800RESPECT: 1800 737 732

24 hour national sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault. Call toll-free 1800 737 732.

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Lifeline has a national number who can help put you in contact with a crisis service in your State. Anyone across Australia experiencing a personal crisis or thinking about suicide can call 13 11 14.

Police and Ambulance: 000

Dial 000 in an emergency and in cases of immediate danger.

Stay tuned for more information on this topic next week.

#PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

For more information on PREPARE/ENRICH or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich #strongerrelationships

Intentional Parenting: 8 ways to be intentional with the time you have to spend with your family – prepare a meal and eat together.

Here are a few ideas which may get you thinking of how you can do “small things often” and turn towards your partner to show them you are loving them intentionally. In turn these small things will add to your emotional bank account, deposits that create a stronger bond in your partnership.

A goal for you might be about enjoying each others company, connecting and most importantly having fun!

We have come up with 8 ways to be intentional with the time you have to spend with your family. Try using these motivations in your own house.

8. Eat healthy

Providing healthy meals is very important to me. This can often seem overwhelming and unattainable with our busy schedules, but when we take the time to sit down and prep for a meal, we are able to enjoy each other and enjoy more varied meals. Meal planning may also reduce stress and even save money, which is a bonus!

Remember that these motivations aren’t all or nothing. Some days you will succeed in some areas and lack in others, and that’s okay. The purpose of setting intentions is to make your goals obtainable for you and your family.

References

  1. Hengchen Dai, Katherine L. Milkman, Jason Riis (2014): The Fresh Start Effect: Temporal Landmarks Motivate Aspirational Behavior. Management Science

#PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

For more information on PREPARE/ENRICH or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich #strongerrelationships

Intentional Parenting: 8 ways to be intentional with the time you have to spend with your family – Create rituals and traditions

Here are a few ideas which may get you thinking of how you can do “small things often” and turn towards your partner to show them you are loving them intentionally. In turn these small things will add to your emotional bank account, deposits that create a stronger bond in your partnership.

A goal for you might be about enjoying each others company, connecting and most importantly having fun!

We have come up with 8 ways to be intentional with the time you have to spend with your family. Try using these motivations in your own house.

7. Create rituals and traditions

Family rituals are things that you do together regularly to look forward to, and we all expect them to happen. Our family has adapted to Friday Pizza Night, then we do our own thing – free night. During the warmer months you might decide to go on a walk together after dinner. These activities don’t have to be set in stone if something else comes up.

Remember that these motivations aren’t all or nothing. Some days you will succeed in some areas and lack in others, and that’s okay. The purpose of setting intentions is to make your goals obtainable for you and your family.

References

  1. Hengchen Dai, Katherine L. Milkman, Jason Riis (2014): The Fresh Start Effect: Temporal Landmarks Motivate Aspirational Behavior. Management Science

#PREPARE/ENRICH is a customised online assessment tool that identifies each couples unique strength and growth areas. Based on their assessment results, a facilitator provides feedback sessions, helping couples to discuss and understand their results while teaching them proven relationship skills.

For more information on PREPARE/ENRICH or to simply set up a couple on the tool, please contact: www.prepare-enrich.com.au or call today (02) 9520 4049 #prepareenrich #strongerrelationships