Life & Style Weekend - - WELCOME // INSIDE TODAY - With Joanne Wil­son Joanne Wil­son is a Neu­ropsy­chother­a­pist and Re­la­tion­ship Spe­cial­ist of The Con­fi­dante Coun­selling. Email jo@the­con­fi­dan­te­coun­ or visit: www.sun­shinecoast­coun­

ICOULD be wrong, but if you’re an Aussie bloke, you’re un­likely to ask for di­rec­tions. If you’re in a re­la­tion­ship, think­ing about mar­riage or al­ready mar­ried, you’re both even less likely to ask for guid­ance. That is, un­less things go bad.

De­spite all the trends, me­dia and hype, peo­ple do still care about mar­riage, and spend at least some time wor­ry­ing about how to go about the whole last­ing com­mit­ted re­la­tion­ship thing. As the ‘unmarried’s’ are con­stantly bom­barded with failed mar­riage statis­tics, I’d be wor­ried too. If our par­ents and any neigh­bours or friends didn’t last the dis­tance, it cer­tainly war­rants hes­i­ta­tion.

Un­for­tu­nately, we’re very much in an in­di­vid­u­al­ist so­ci­ety and many have bought into self-suf­fi­ciency. I want to put it out there - there’s no shame in cut­ting your own mis­takes short by not re­peat­ing some­one else’s. Imag­ine if we sought guid­ance in the first place from peo­ple who know what they’re do­ing and do­ing it! I won­der if our around one in three Aus­tralian di­vorce rate would im­prove?

Many of you are prob­a­bly now think­ing mar­riage coun­selling (hi!). It’s def­i­nitely a great way to go. I’d be ly­ing if I said much of Aus­tralian so­ci­ety still seems to be run­ning un­der the im­pres­sion that it’s only your re­spon­si­bil­ity to sort your­self out. Then there’s the stigma that if any­one seeks help, they’re a few cents short of a dol­lar. It’s ab­so­lutely not true. Why isn’t your ther­a­pist in your well-be­ing phone con­tacts along with your den­tist and doc­tor (like many Amer­i­cans)? But such is the en­vi­ron­ment we live in.

Luck­ily there’s more than one way to shear a sheep, and that’s with the help of mar­riage men­tors. In plainer English, peo­ple who are in suc­cess­ful, long-term, com­mit­ted re­la­tion­ships that you can model your own re­la­tion­ship on.

Now, I un­der­stand — there’s a lot of un­so­licited ad­vice from many oldies. I think ev­ery­one knows at least one granny who has a word of wis­dom or a say­ing for each and ev­ery sin­gle thing that hap­pens in your life.

Mar­riage men­tors are more like peo­ple who re­alise that life isn’t al­ways a bed of roses and re­la­tion­ships re­quire a bit of wa­ter­ing and word prun­ing.

Even if you meet the most won­der­ful per­son in the world, your re­la­tion­ship is still go­ing to re­quire emo­tional at­ten­tive­ness for life. Newly loved up cou­ples may think a good re­la­tion­ship in­volves calm seas; an ex­pe­ri­enced cou­ple knows it in­volves good sea­man­ship.

What you want out of a mar­riage men­tor is fairly sim­ple: be around them, bask in their re­la­tion­ship and ask for their “pearls of wis­dom”.

The idea is to seek out and sur­round your­self with cou­ples whose re­la­tion­ships you ad­mire. By sur­round­ing your­selves with and watch­ing how th­ese cou­ples roll, you’ll start to un­der­stand their thoughts and feel­ings and em­u­late their be­hav­iour.

You and your part­ner may well seek their spe­cific ad­vice on cer­tain top­ics for sup­port. Each men­tor­ing re­la­tion­ship takes on its own style and per­son­al­ity. The amount of time cou­ples spend to­gether and the con­tent they dis­cuss can rarely be pre­scribed. Here are the key ben­e­fits:

They help keep you on track. They’ll re­mind you how won­der­ful life can be when you have a lov­ing part­ner by your side along with the life-long con­se­quences of bail­ing out too soon.

They will not al­low you to sweat the small stuff. Th­ese wise el­ders can help put things back into per­spec­tive on what is re­ally im­por­tant.

They will put a mir­ror in your face. Is your spouse al­ways at fault? It takes two.

They pro­vide a pos­i­tive spin on mar­riage. Th­ese win­ners are de­fy­ing the statis­tics and the world is a hap­pier, health­ier place be­cause of them. They’ll help you ward off any neg­a­tive thoughts and en­cour­age you to keep fight­ing for the re­la­tion­ship you most de­sire.

Mar­riage men­tors can help you to de­sign your own ver­sion of hap­pily ever af­ter.


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