Along with bereavement, moving home, losing your job and being affected by a major illness, divorce and separation are regularly cited as top causes of stress, depression and anxiety (for some people it may be the most stressful event they will ever experience). And no wonder. The end of a long-term relationship can make you doubt your own identity and your ability to cope alone. It can also bring up feelings from past relationship break-ups, which may put a serious dent in your self-esteem. Most experts agree that people going through a break-up typically experience feelings of overwhelming sadness or grief, not just when their relationship ends but for some time to come too. Many also experience waves of other strong emotions such as anger, guilt, fear, worry and blame, plus – depending on the situation – feelings of relief or even exhilaration. And if you have children, their emotions are usually challenged too. Relationship resilience Working on your resilience can help if you're considering or going through a divorce or separation. That's because being resilient helps you to turn negative life events into positive ones. While nobody would ever suggest that going through a break-up could ever be easy, here are some things you could do that may help you while you're dealing with divorce or separation: Seek divorce advice and information Going through a separation or divorce can be particularly daunting if you're in the dark about what's going to happen. Get as much information about the process as you can, as it will help you to feel more in control of the situation. A good place to start is Citizens Information. Reconnect with family and friends We all have people we tend to rely on when life gets tough. These are the people who, no matter what, are always there for us when we need support. If the trauma of recent events has made you feel isolated, try to reconnect with the individuals who make you feel better about yourself – especially friends and family members who have been through a break-up themselves and know what you're going through. Read more in How to keep in touch with friends. And when you feel the time is right, try getting out and about more and connecting with new people (if you're getting older, we have lots of tips in the article Making friends in later life). Talking about your feelings can help you to cope with what you're going through. But if you prefer to confide in people you don't know, try those who are trained to listen, such as Samaritans. Be kind to yourself Take some time to do something that's purely for you, advise Relate experts. Think about what you enjoy such as a long walk, a soak in the bath, spending time on a hobby or other interest, reading a good book or watching your favourite film. Also try to devote some time to thinking positively about yourself. Relate recommends writing down something nice about yourself before going to bed each night for a week. Then during the following week, write down 1 thing you did well that day. Also remember to eat as healthily as possible and get plenty of rest and sleep whenever you can. Seek out the positives The saying 'every cloud has a silver lining' may not seem appropriate when you're going through a divorce or separation – indeed, it may even sound offensive. But it really can help to try and find the positives among what may seem like an utterly negative situation. These positives may not be obvious at first – or perhaps all the positives look like they apply to your ex-partner rather than yourself. But keep trying. Remember: if you choose to respond to your situation positively rather than negatively, it may help you to move on with your life sooner rather than later. Manage your fears In her book 'How to have a Healthy Divorce', Relate counsellor Paula Hall describes an activity to help people manage their fears and worries. Here's how the activity goes: Draw 4 columns – the headings for these columns should be 'Fears', 'Probability of it happening', 'My power to avoid' and 'Impact on my life'. Rate your fears from 1 - 10 in each column (1 being the least you worry about and 10 being the most). Step back and take a look at your chart. Then compare each fear and rate how likely each is to happen and the real impact each may have on you. Completing these steps may help you to rationalise your fears and to priorities, which will affect you most and which you can most easily control. Get help for depression Going through a divorce or separation is a grieving process. But sometimes this can lead to divorce depression. It's perfectly normal to feel depressed in such situations – at least for a while. But if you feel constantly low for more than 6 months and you experience other symptoms such as lack of energy, appetite changing, sleeping difficulties, lack of concentration or physical restlessness, it's a good idea to speak to your GP. Article reproduced with the kind permission of CABA, the organisation providing lifelong support to ICAEW members, ACA students and their close family around the world.

Jul 09, 2019

These days most people are juggling their job and their family life. Indeed, as you get older, it’s likely you’ll have more commitments compared with your younger days. And that could mean you don’t have a lot of time left for your friends. So even if you have every intention of staying in touch, it’s easy to neglect your friends and even lose contact with them altogether when life gets hectic. But having good friends is important say experts, who believe strong social ties can keep you happy. Some studies even suggest having the support of friends, family and neighbours could boost your chances of living a long and healthy life by up to 50 per cent. Thankfully, there are ways of maintaining your friendships, no matter how busy you are: Connect via social media  Social networks such as Facebook may not be a substitute for real friendships, but they can help you keep in touch with people you don’t see very often and even reconnect you with friends you haven’t seen in years. But try to avoid posting mass status updates all the time – leaving personal messages for individual friends is much more meaningful. Make a regular commitment  When you were younger, seeing friends was something that came naturally. Now, finding time to get together seems so much more difficult. But just because you can’t see your friends as often as you used to, it doesn’t mean you have to give up on your friendships altogether. Try to figure out how often you and your friends can meet realistically – once a month, once every six weeks or once every eight weeks, for instance – and make a firm commitment (even if you decide to meet up once a year, it can help to keep your friendship alive, especially in the case of long-standing relationships). If you have sets of friends who know each other, making plans to meet up as a group instead of trying to see each individual friend on their own can be helpful too. On the other hand, if you can’t get together in person, try organising regular Skype dates with friends who live far away. Make it a regular commitment and it will soon become a worthwhile habit. Do the little things Few people with busy lives have the time for leisurely chats with friends on the phone. But it takes seconds to send a note by text or email; and most importantly, it lets your friends know you’re thinking of them. So whenever you come across something you find interesting on the internet, forward it to a friend who shares your views or your sense of humour. And remember, your friends may well appreciate a few words sent on a frequent basis than longer updates just once in a blue moon. Be good at remembering  If you don’t check in with your friends that often, it’s easy to forget things like their birthdays and other anniversaries. You may think having a busy life is a good excuse, but others may view forgetting big dates as thoughtlessness. So aim to remember the important moments in your friends’ lives, including their birthdays, anniversaries, children’s birthdays and so on, and send them a card or a message on each occasion. To make remembering easier, keep an up-to-date list of dates in your diary or use a anniversary/birthday reminder app on your smartphone, computer or digital device (try Digital Anniversaries, a free app available for Android and Apple devices). Apologise for losing touch  We all know life can get in the way of our plans from time to time. So if you’ve been neglecting one or more of your friends, instead of letting the friendship fizzle out, call or write to them and tell them you’re sorry. It’s better to admit you’ve let things slip than to lose your friendship altogether. Similarly, if you feel a friend is neglecting you, try to understand how easy it can be to lose track. Instead of waiting for them to get in touch with you, make an effort to contact them yourself. You could end up healthier and happier as a result. Article reproduced with the kind permission of CABA, the organisation providing lifelong support to ICAEW members, ACA students and their close family around the world.

Jul 09, 2019

If your family relationships are causing stress and frustration rather than providing love, support and other positive benefits, you’re probably experiencing some level of conflict at home. It’s natural and normal for families to fall out and argue every now and then. But learning how to deal with and resolve family clashes can lead to a more harmonious household and a happier life – for the youngest members of your family right up to the oldest. In the first article in our family relationships series, What causes conflict in your home? we focused on the issues that can often lead to family conflict. In this article we’re going to look at the steps you can take to help foster better relationships with your nearest and dearest – including a few you can practice right now: Pick your battles Whenever a problem arises at home, ask yourself if it’s really worth having an argument about. Try to decide which issues are worth fighting for, and which you should let go of. Sometimes it’s worth letting others have their way, especially where minor matters are concerned, as it means you can concentrate on more important concerns. Listen carefully Misunderstandings often happen when people don’t listen to each other properly, and usually make arguments worse. If the source of a family conflict makes you angry, you may be so eager to put your point across and win the argument without considering exactly what the other person’s saying. And when both parties in an argument fail to listen to each other, it’s unlikely they’ll find a peaceful resolution. Instead of refusing to budge from your point of view, try to stay calm and not let your emotions get the better of you. Allow the other person to speak without distractions and without interrupting them, and try to listen carefully to what they’re saying. If you’re not sure what they mean, ask questions before putting your point across. If you take the trouble to really listen and understand what the other person is saying, there’s a good chance they’ll do the same for you. Work on your communication Good family communication is essential if you want to survive everything that life throws at you. Becoming good listeners is the first step. Here’s what else you can do: Think before you speak Think before you speak when a problem arises and try to avoid language that blames the other person. Instead of saying ‘You’re never at home’, try putting yourself into the statement by saying ‘I feel lonely when you’re not at home’. Make time to talk Make more time to talk together. Even the busiest families need to engage in meaningful conversation as not talking can lead to misunderstandings. Try to have a regular weekly get-together with each member of the family present, where each person can voice their concerns in a calm and supportive environment. Show an interest Be genuinely interested in what other family members are doing and saying. Try to give your loved ones your undivided attention whenever they need it, and your family relationships may be healthier as a result. Avoid arguments before they start Evidence suggests couples who argue more than 20% of the time end up separating or divorcing. Some family arguments may be inevitable. But talking about issues long before they get out of hand can help you resolve things more peacefully. If everyone concerned understands how the others feel, you may not even get to the point of having an argument in the first place. Also resist being goaded into an argument – if a member of your family is trying to get you worked up, stay calm and try to avoid getting sucked in. Get money matters out into the open Since finances are among the leading causes of family discord, it’s worth getting into the habit of talking about issues surrounding money sooner rather than later. This means you can nip any potential problems in the bud before things get out of control. Try not to bottle up worries about money – the sooner you air your concerns, the better your chances of avoiding a heated argument later on. It’s also a good idea to work out a family budget and agree spending limits, especially if you’re a family where one parent is a spender and the other a saver. Respect family personalities Understanding what makes each member of your family tick may help encourage better relationships too. Clashing personalities are often a factor in family conflict – just as they are elsewhere. So improving your awareness of the different personality types in your family may help you become more accepting of each other. Arguably the best-known guide to personality types is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). This uses the theory of psychological types described by psychotherapist Carl Jung and author/researcher Isabel Briggs Meyers. According to the MBTI, personalities are characterised as extroverted or introverted, sensing or intuitive, thinking or feeling and judging or perceiving. So, for instance, one member of your family may be type ESFJ (extroverted, sensing, feeling, judging), while another may be type INTP (introverted, intuitive, thinking, perceiving). Try the test yourself, then have each family member discover their personality type too. Speak to an expert Alternatively, if you feel that none of these steps will work for you and your family, have you considered family counselling? Family counselling has helped countless people deal with conflict at home and can provide support for many families going through a difficult time, such as during a divorce or separation. Family counselling can help you to build stronger relationships between every member of the family and help you to work together as a team. Article reproduced with the kind permission of CABA, the organisation providing lifelong support to ICAEW members, ACA students and their close family around the world.

Jun 25, 2019

Anyone who’s lived as part of a family knows it’s normal to have rows and disagreements every now and then. Conflict is, after all, a normal part of life. Thankfully, most of the time family quarrels are resolved quickly. But when conflict becomes an ongoing problem at home it can damage relationships, cause stress, depression, anxiety and resentment. Families may experience relationship difficulties at different stages. For instance, the birth of a baby or sending children to start school can cause stress for young families. Dealing with adolescence can also cause difficulties, not just for teenagers but also parents and siblings. Indeed, each stage of a family’s life can have a seemingly inexhaustible supply of conflict possibilities. Meanwhile, changes that affect a family’s situation can create tension too, such as: moving house redundancy changing jobs marriage separation divorce Here are some other issues often involved in family conflict – do they ever affect you? Communication skills If you can’t remember the last time your family had a proper meaningful conversation, chances are you’re suffering from a lack of communication. Not talking about the issues that affect your lives can cause a lack of understanding between family members, the result of which can be tension and arguments. Families that don’t communicate effectively may also find that disputes erupt quickly, easily and often. Research suggests people from families with poor communication skills are less likely to say they’re close to one another. There’s also evidence that young people from families that communicate negatively are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. Ask yourself if any of the following happen frequently in your family life: Shouting Silence (refusing to talk) Swearing Name calling Keeping secrets Issuing threats or using ultimatums If so, your communication skills may need improvement. Work-family balance If one parent has a job that keeps them away from home for long periods of time on a regular basis, their partner and children may believe they’re putting work before family. The partner left at home can feel neglected and – if they have very young children – overwhelmed. This is a typical work-family conflict, and in today’s hectic world, achieving a good work-family balance can be difficult for those in nearly all socio-economic groups. Work-family conflict is a very common problem. In the USA for instance, experts have reported around 90% of working mothers and 95% of working fathers experience work/family conflict to some extent or another. And according to a European Quality of Life Survey, Europeans are more dissatisfied with how much time they spend with their family compared with how much time they spend at work. Family arguments There are numerous issues that cause arguments in families, including everything from quarrels over whose turn it is to do the dishes to children failing to live up to their parents’ expectations. Arguments are however an inevitable part of family life. Some experts even believe arguments are essential, since children should learn to voice their opinions – however unpalatable it may be to their parents – to develop into well-rounded adults. Whose responsibility it is to do the housework can be a particular cause of tension and resentment in couples as well as families. One survey even suggests the sharing of household chores is one of the highest-ranking issues linked with a successful marriage.  Parenting styles Families where couples have very different views on how to bring up children can have a particularly turbulent time. These parents may disagree over many issues, though one of the most common is family discipline and how to set rules for children. Parenting styles can largely depend on how people are raised themselves and what they experienced in their own family. And when one partner’s parenting style differs wildly from the other’s, it can cause frustration and may even drive parents apart, not to mention create a confusing environment for children to grow up in. Money matters Financial difficulty is understandably a major source of family conflict, especially when parents or couples develop money worries and find themselves unable to pay household bills or go into debt. Even where there isn’t a lack of money, couples may not agree on how, when or where their money is spent, which can cause endless disputes (some estimates claim discussing family finances causes around 3 arguments a month on average). Indeed, having financial problems or disagreements is often cited as one of the main causes of divorce. This is the first of a series of 2 articles on family relationships. The second will look at ways to encourage better relationships at home. Article reproduced with the kind permission of CABA, the organisation providing lifelong support to ICAEW members, ACA students and their close family around the world.

Jun 25, 2019