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Over the last couple of months I’ve been very lucky to hear some amazing people speak on topics dear to their hearts.

The thing about speakers who are passionate about their topic, you tend to be moved by what they are saying and remember more of what they say.

Challenge Community Services where kind enough to organise to bring Simon Santosha to my town recently. Simon, was brought in to speak about the challenges we face in times of drought but in actual fact, I found that what he was saying applied to anyone who wants a healthy and fulfilling relationship.

He touched on common relationship issues such as:

  • Financial stress
  • Work stress
  • Kids & family issues
  • Communication problems
  • Work/life balance
  • Gender differences
  • And if you were on a farm – Battling the elements (droughts and bad seasons)

These issues are faced by all of us at different times and as he spoke I thought also of military families, FIFO families in the resource industries and shift workers.

Common stresses on relationships can be:

  • Arguing, lack of communication, high conflict, isolation and relationship breakdowns
  • Pressure of overworking – long hours, two jobs
  • Depression, anxiety and sadly sometimes suicide
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Grief and loss – particularly if the main money earner loses their job or in the case of farmers have to sale the farm

Simon went on to say how men and women are different. They think differently, are triggered by different things and communicate differently.

Men use conversation to inform, solve problems and show expertise. They are direct communicators and tend to use less words and express fewer feelings.

Women on the other hand use conversation to build connection and intimacy. They communicate in a non-direct way and use more words and express more feelings.

Does that ring any bells in your current or past relationships!!

He was kind enough to hand out some tips on why we need healthy relationships and what we can do to maintain them, so I think it’s important to share some these with you as well.


Connection and Relationships: Why we need them to thrive

  • Healthy relationships/connections are crucial to our health and wellbeing
  • Our brains are designed to connect with others. We need it to survive and thrive
  • Connection and healthy relationships make you feel happier, less stressed, less angry, calmer and less likely to turn to unhealthy behaviours such as drugs, alcohol, gambling and overeating
  • We get dopamine (the feel good effect from our brains) and
  • Research shows that the biggest risk to our mental health is disconnection

Tips for building connection and healthy relationships

  • Make time to connect with each other even when life gets busy. Try to make it a priority e.g. sit and talk, go for a walk together
  • Be aware of relationship destroying behaviours e.g. criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling (check out gottman.com)
  • Try to adopt positive relationship behaviours e.g. praise, acceptance, taking responsibility for your own feelings and communicate respect when disagreeing.
  • Connect with your kids through an activity e.g. something that needs doing around the home or a social activity. Use it as a time to talk to them about things and see how they are going

Importantly recognise when you or your family need help. If you see some of the following signs, perhaps it’s time to look outside for assistance:

  • Increased conflict, arguments and relationship breakdowns within the family
  • Physical systems such as loss of appetite, headaches, difficulty sleeping etc
  • Feeling tired, lacking energy or motivation
  • Feeling angry or irritable, anxious or down all the time. Perhaps someone feels shame and a sense of hopelessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Resentment of your situation
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Increase alcohol and/or drug use
  • No enjoyment for life
  • Thoughts of suicide or harming yourself

Awareness is a powerful thing, however sometimes the person going through these issues doesn’t see it. Make sure you speak up and have a chat to them or if you feel this way yourself, seek help.

That was just a small snapshot of what Simon had to say and I am so glad I had the opportunity to hear him speak.

If you would like to know more about Simon or what he does – check out his website www.menandfamilycounselling.com.au


Glenise Anderson is a Speaker, Trainer and Coach.  Her company Self Confident Women focuses on Soft Skills training around Confidence and Communication.  Her membership site offers an abundance of e-learning modules for the busy woman.  Glenise’s company SR Group works with businesses wanting to develop their staff.

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