On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me...

By Jon & Andrea Taylor-Cummings on 06-Jan-2018 14:18:00

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me... twelve Drummers Drumming!

Oh yes, drummers, definitely time for a drum roll please!! For those of you who have been with us for all or part of the twelve days of Christmas, you definitely deserve the drum roll.  Especially if you have been implementing the ideas shared already!

Our final tip in this series for building great relationships in 2018 is to celebrate where you are and what you've improved, changed or grown-in as a couple on a regular basis.

"But I thought we'd already covered regular catchups as part of Date Nights in day 11?" I hear you say. There's more...

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On the Eleventh Day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me...

By Jon & Andrea Taylor-Cummings on 05-Jan-2018 17:19:00

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me... eleven Pipers Piping!

Now there's a gift to bring a smile - enjoying the sound of bagpipes from eleven pipers ... and getting nervous for them (or excited!) everytime the wind blows their kilts :-)

Whether you enjoy the bagpipes of Scotland, the serenade of violins in Italy or the castanets of flamenco from Spain, there is something romantic about live musical entertainment while enjoying a meal out together.  So, "pipers piping" works really well for our relationship advice for day 11 - always take time out for just the two of you on a regular (ideally weekly) basis. 

We are big advocates of date nights, where we

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On the Tenth Day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me...

By Jon & Andrea Taylor-Cummings on 04-Jan-2018 17:13:00

On the tenth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me... ten Lords-A-Leaping!

"Leaping Lords" reminds me of how animated we can sometimes get in our emotions.  When we're really happy and excited we can sometimes leap about with joy and excitement - more of that for us in 2018 please!

But some of us leap about as well when we're frustrated or angry.  A kind of Rumpelstiltskin jumping up and down!  Depending on the personalities of the people nearest and dearest to you, this can either be entertaining... or intimidating.

So, what can we do to manage that in relationships?  How can we exercise better self-control?

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On the Ninth Day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me...

By Jon & Andrea Taylor-Cummings on 03-Jan-2018 17:23:00

 On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... nine Ladies Dancing!

Dancing is such a graceful art.. and full of so many seeming paradoxes!  Strong movements yet light-footed, co-ordination with precision in timing yet free-flowing, natural and intuitive yet taught.   There is such a gentleness, such an ease, you could almost believe you could join the troupe and instantly perform to the same standard.  If only!

This strength through gentleness has to be learned.. just like our need to be strong in character yet gentle in our approach with each other has to be learned, practised and developed.

But how do we do that in relationships, and how especially in our most intimate relationships?

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On the Eighth Day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me...

By Jon & Andrea Taylor-Cummings on 02-Jan-2018 17:19:00

On the eighth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me... eight Maids-A-Milking!

I have to say this made me think about faithful cows delivering the goods day in and day out despite, being pulled on and hassled all day.  I wonder if they're ever tempted to imagine a different life... running free with no responsibilities, or if they look forward to giving milk with joy, knowing they make a difference to humanity! :o)

Which of course made me think about the times when we may well feel hassled and pulled on in different directions, as partners and / or as parents... and perhaps get tempted to imagine a different life too.

But you know what they say about the grass being greener on the other side...

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On the Seventh Day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me...

By Jon & Andrea Taylor-Cummings on 01-Jan-2018 12:17:00

They weren’t kidding when they said the gifts get more extravagant as the song progresses!  I love Swans.  I can just imagine 7 of them swimming up our local stream now. What a picture of sheer grace and elegance.  Never mind what you and I both know has got to be going on below the surface to keep them moving forward.  On the face of it, the picture is truly lovely.

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On the Sixth Day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me...

By Jon & Andrea Taylor-Cummings on 31-Dec-2017 17:17:00

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... six Geese A-laying!

Seems like, as couples, there's a lot we can learn from geese in terms of working together as a team, being kind and considerate and genuinely caring for each other's well-being!  For example, did you know why geese honk as they fly?  Turns out that as they fly in their famous V-formation, they honk to encourage the leader who takes the brunt of the wind.  They then rotate leadership of the formation flight when the one in front gets tired.  How is that for a model of teamwork?!

Scientists also discovered that when one goose becomes ill, is shot or injured and drops out of formation, two other geese will fall out and stay with the goose, protecting it from predators 'til its ready to fly again ...or dies.  A vivid picture of 'til death us do part, or what!

If geese can do it, so can we... 

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On the Fifth Day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me...

By Jon & Andrea Taylor-Cummings on 30-Dec-2017 18:34:00

If the 12 Days of Christmas is one of your favourites, by this stage you’ll be all ready to bellow out “On the 5th Day of Christmas my True Love gave to me… 5 GO-OLD RINGS!”  It’s a real high point…

I recently learned that the American version goes “5 GOL-DEN rings” and in my quest to tie the song back to great relationship advice to share with you, my mind travelled back to that old phrase “Silence is Golden”.  I found myself thinking “absolutely, silence really can be golden… but in a relationship context, it can also be hugely destructive”. You see, silence is usually what follows a breakdown in communication, which in turn is what most divorce lawyers cite as the #1 reason for relationship breakups.  So, in our quest for great relationships, best we don’t focus on silence being golden!  Thank goodness then for part two of the old phrase… 

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On the Fourth Day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me...

By Jon & Andrea Taylor-Cummings on 29-Dec-2017 21:03:49

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me… four Calling Birds!  But what are calling birds?  Well, one take on the story is that "calling" is a morph over the years from the word "colly" which means black, so colly birds also known as calling birds, were blackbirds. 

And as I think about blackbirds I think about their squawking which reminds me of the potential for us to "squawk" at each other at this time of year.  Apparently this time of year, in the run up to Christmas and New Year's, is when arguments amongst couples happen... a lot... with a peak in the divorce rate in January. :(  

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On the Third Day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me...

By Jon & Andrea Taylor-Cummings on 28-Dec-2017 17:28:00

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me… three French Hens.  Three French Hens?  Why on earth you may well wonder.  Well, so did we! 

Painting by Will Bullas

We knew that the gifts were supposed to be increasingly extravagant over the 12 days, but it was only when we looked into it that we discovered the song’s French origins.  It turns out that French Hens are pretty special egg layers (at least according to Wikipedia).  So, you can now begin to see why “3 French Hens” would have been a pretty special gift, back in the day.

It­­ also turns out that Faverolles (one of the best known breeds of French Hens), because of their gentle nature, were popularly kept as pets, especially for children.  So, it is on the assumption that these French Hens must have brought great Joy to their owners, that we make our connection (albeit an admittedly tenuous one!) to great relationship advice for Day 3.

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On the Second Day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me...

By Jon & Andrea Taylor-Cummings on 27-Dec-2017 15:20:18

As the song goes, on the second day of Christmas my True Love gave to me – two Turtle Doves…

What a great gift to be discussing on Day Two of building great relationships for the New Year!  Okay, we can’t promise that all the gifts for the 12 Days are going to make obvious sense for our relationship advice topic of the day, but this one certainly should!  “Two turtle doves” lends itself very neatly to discussing love, and how we can give and show love to our partner in more meaningful ways in 2018.

For centuries, Turtle Doves have been used as symbols of devoted love, from Biblical references to Shakespeare, from Roman mythology to general folklore – including of course the song itself The 12 days of Christmas!

And no – its not because of the Cockney rhyming slang!  One key reason for the close association between the words “Turtle Dove” and “Love” is the pair-bonding that occurs in the species – the strong affinity between a male and female that becomes a life-long bond.  Plus they make a very distinctive gentle purring sound. 

What if our interactions with our partner would be described as gentle purring sounds with strong affinity for each other and a life long bond?

And, if not already, what can we be doing towards achieving that?

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The 12 Days of Christmas for Great Relationships: On the first day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me...

By Jon & Andrea Taylor-Cummings on 26-Dec-2017 19:52:31

It's here, the first day in a long while that you can actually chill, put your feet up and relax after a mad-busy year and probably an even more manic run up to Christmas day!  Well thank goodness, the Christmas meal is over, gifts are all distributed and hopefully the kids are contentedly playing with them now...  Bliss. 

As the pace slows a bit, this is the best time of the year for reflection and if you're like us, you'll find your thoughts drifting to highlights (and possibly even lowlights) of the year gone by - what went well, what went badly, what you want to do more of, less of, differently.  You'll also naturally start thinking about goals and plans for the new year, things you desire for both yourself and your loved ones.  Somewhere in there you will likely have a desire for the kind of relationship you want to enjoy with your partner.  So we thought, we'd write this blog as our gift to help you clarify your thinking. So, here it is... our gift to you: The 12 Days of Christmas for Great Relationships.  Read on for Day One, and check your inbox daily for the next 11 days to get the rest.  We hope you enjoy and look forward to hearing your stories...

Day One

On the first day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me... a Partridge in a Pear Tree!

Don't worry, if like us, you too were wondering why a Partridge and Why a Pear Tree???, there's a link at the end of this blog that will take you through to a very interesting blog we read recently that explains all the history and significance of the Carol and the tradition.

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