Blog: Mel's Muse

Showing posts categorised as 'Relationships'

Mental Health Issues: Part 1 - My Story

We hear, repeatedly, about the number of young people suffering from mental health issues, but little about any means of reparation. This, despite being told that 'Your mental health is just as important as your physical health'. One of the causes, however, is listed as being 'childhood abuse, trauma,...

Posted at 17:20pm on 15th October 2023

The Eleventh Hour - It's Never Too Late!

Do you, or your nearest and dearest, know where they're going when end-time sets in? No, I don't mean whether they'll be buried or cremated, though that is a good subject to discuss, so you know their wishes before they die. What I'm thinking of is rather more momentous. Let...

Posted at 15:08pm on 6th September 2023

Misinterpreting The Specification: Two Halves Don't Make A Whole

Most marriages don't add two people together. They subtract one from the other.

From: Diamonds are Forever, by Ian Fleming

This cynical view of marriage, once considered exclusively a male bastion for bachelorhood, is fast gaining credence amongst post-feminist women - if certain American TV chat shows are to...

Posted at 17:53pm on 6th August 2023

The Building Blocks Of A Stable Stepfamily

AS A SCHOOLGIRL, I loved history. Not the dry dates and wars of my school books, but the vital characters that strode out of their pages straight into my imagination. People like Henry VIII of England, for instance. His marriages particularly fascinated me. How, I would ask myself, did he...

Posted at 18:22pm on 31st July 2023

Filling The Void

Have you – or perhaps a loved one – ever had to face the problem of addiction? How on earth, if you're desperate to do so, can you go about giving it up, be it sugar cravings, alcohol, or even drugs? Or, better still, how do you prevent an addiction...

Posted at 14:32pm on 18th June 2023

People Pleasers: Your Choice? Or The Expectation Of Others?

Trying to please everybody frequently results in pleasing nobody - least of all yourself. The old maxim: You can please all of the people some of the time; some of the people all of the time; but you can't please all of the people all of the time is one,...

Posted at 15:50pm on 13th March 2023

Bereavement: Looking After Yourself

Last time we looked at Bereavement: Coping With The Initial Shock, using my own experience following my daughter's death, and quoting from the book I wrote some years later. What I learned was that numbness and denial, disbelief and a wandering mind, are common experiences when we first learn...

Posted at 07:27am on 12th May 2020

Excerpt From My Latest Book, Picked For A Purpose - Showing We All Have A Worthwhile Part To Play

Are you wondering what your life is all about during the lockdown due to Covid 19? Then read on. My latest book, Picked for a Purpose shows that whatever the adversity, we all have value, and a worthwhile part to play. Here is a complete chapter for...
Posted at 03:40am on 6th April 2020

Blossom In Season? A Guest Blog By Helen Elliott

"Why am I getting angry at a tree?"

A question definitely worthy of consideration, I decided, as I stared out of my window for the third or fourth time that week.

It was a huge tree, surrounded by apartments, all in facing and it was Springtime.

The tree was supposed...

Posted at 04:35am on 16th October 2019

Creative Writing Workshop: Characteristic Conflict

In the last Creative Writing Workshop, we looked at the way in which we can go about Creating Credible Characters. Now I'm going to show you how you can bring creativity to the way you construct conflict. This is crucial when it comes to writing fiction and memoir...

Posted at 10:43am on 3rd August 2019

The Making Of Us By Sheridan Voysey - Book Review


I love Sheridan's lyrical style of writing - so inviting, so personal, so picturesque. Right from the first page, I found myself enthralled, as if I were meeting someone whom I knew, instantly, was going to become a friend. Likewise, when grappling with sorrow...

Posted at 07:43am on 23rd March 2019

Inside Out

'Making clean-eating a dirty word gets my vote', so says Bryony Gordon in The Daily Telegraph. Quoting the Duchess of Cornwall, who was speaking at a reception for the Royal Osteoporosis Society, she warned young women against 'fad diets' which have the potential of making them ill. Lack...

Posted at 08:10am on 26th February 2019

Thomas's Story: Overcoming Physical & Mental Struggles

My next book, Picked for a Purpose, with the strapline Bearing fruit through times of hardship, was written at the request of my publisher. Each short chapter contains a story from my life, followed by a page or two of reflections, in which I look back, with the wisdom...

Posted at 08:08am on 20th October 2018

Suicide Prevention Day: The Trauma For Those Left Behind


I spent the morning speaking with a male friend, of longstanding, whose mother took her own life when he was in his mid-teens. Coincidence? I had no idea that today, Monday 10th September, 2018 is World Suicide Prevention Day. Nor that my...

Posted at 08:04am on 10th September 2018

Book Club: Sensible Shoes - Whose Do You Walk In? Who Are You?

Who are you? Whose shoes do you walk in? Is this a question you've ever ask? No. I don't mean do you ask it of other people. That's not British! Downright rude, in fact. So - who are you? Is this something...

Posted at 04:27am on 13th July 2018

Picked For A Purpose 3: Seeds Sown


Sometimes people of faith speak of coincidence as being God-incidents. So while a coincidence might be described as random - an accident, chance, luck, fluke, or twist of fate - a God-incident is thought to be an unexpected occurrence in which God is perceived to have had an...

Posted at 09:34am on 8th September 2016

Picked For A Purpose 2: Seeds & Weeds


Have you ever felt useless? As if nothing you do has any meaning or purpose? Ever thought you didn't fit in? In your family? At school? At work? Or that everyone else was more successful? While you . . .? ...

Posted at 05:49am on 6th September 2016

Picked For A Purpose 1 - Me And Daddy, Daddy And Me


I suppose it was the letters that were the trigger - first for my depression, then for my understanding. Small blue folded airmails that bore my mother's name on them, plus whatever address happened to be relevant at the time. She had kept...

Posted at 04:52am on 6th September 2016

Break Loose (2015) Fly Free (2016)

What are your New Year’s resolutions?  How likely are you to achieve them?

I read an article recently, which said that 95% of diets fail.  Why?  Precisely because they are diets!   Counting calories or eliminating certain categories of food focuses your mind on the very thing you want to...

Posted at 04:34am on 4th January 2016

Time To Shine - A Story Of Gaslighting?

Set in Exeter, and written in the style of Jodi Picoult, this is a gentle mystery drama with a difference, solved not by a Detective but by a Counsellor, and with a psychological twist at the end.

A beautifully written and thoughtful book centred on relationships which will strike a chord...

Posted at 07:47am on 23rd November 2015

Book Club Discussion Summary: Naturally Supernatural By Wendy Mann

A good deal of laughter accompanied our Readers’ Group discussion last week.  The book we had been reading, which I had suggested some two months earlier, was titled Naturally Supernatural, and was written by Wendy Mann.  With a new senior minister joining us, in the meantime, we felt sure -...

Posted at 06:19am on 18th November 2015

A Hint Of An American Romance Blooming In Time To Shine?

And another excerpt from my latest novel, Time to Shine, which has gained more 5* reviews since the last taster on my blog.  Sorry that the photos of the sky don't quite match the description in the book.

Here, Evie Adams, with a broken marriage behind her, takes some time out...

Posted at 12:28pm on 17th July 2015

Time To Shine - A Taster Of My New Book

I thought you might like to read a taster of my new book - a gentle psychological mystery - and see a photograph of the setting in Exeter.  The protagonist, Evie Adams, is the narrator in this passage, taken from Chapter 2

Arriving for work early one morning soon after my...

Posted at 04:20am on 29th June 2015

Does Glamorising Abusive Sexual Relationships Adversely Influence Society?

I came across this old post, Modern Morality: What is its Place in Contemporary Fiction, by chance and wondered if it had any relevance to the recent discussion on BBC Newsnight about the influence that the book, 50 Shades of Grey, might have in 'normalising' abusive sexual relationships.  While Friedman's...

Posted at 04:26am on 11th February 2015

Big Book Sale: Stepfamilies - Practical Help To Build A Stable, Happy Stepfamily

How do you tell your children they are going to have a step-parent? How do you handle disagreements about access and money? How do you deal with past hurts and fears?

All families have their difficulties, but stepfamilies often face special problems. And with nearly a million of them in the...

Posted at 13:22pm on 7th February 2015

Time To Shine - A Mystery. A Marriage Mender. And A Mary Berry Style Bake Off

First in the Evie Adams series: Page one of my new book

Sometimes, when you're counselling a client and she lobs a direct question at you, protocol requires that you bounce it back to her. A case in point is my two-o'clock this Friday afternoon, a mother of three, early-forties, by the...

Posted at 23:25pm on 9th November 2014

My Daughter's Tribute To Her Grandfather

My grandfather, Bill, 97 and ¾ Photograph taken approx. 1941

I started to call him Billy when I was little and he replied with Milly (even though my name was Amanda).  He was the only one that was allowed to call me Milly and Millicent when he was cross with me...

Posted at 21:26pm on 24th January 2012

Dealing With Depression Caused By False Accusations

Photo: Desolation: An Empty Beach

In Dealing With Depression: An Author's Look At Life I stated that, as an author, writing is not what I do but who I am.  I went on to say that while writing and publishing a book is quite beyond me at present because I'm battling...

Posted at 17:30pm on 15th July 2011

The Joy, Or The Sadness, Of Teen Sex?

Photo: Solomon Island, Chesapeake Bay:
Mum, Dad, Boy, Girl

If The Joy of Teen Sex on Channel 4 had been titled The Fun of Teen Sex or simply Teen Sex it would probably have been seen by the TV regulators (if they still exist) as porn.  It was certainly a...

Posted at 15:31pm on 21st January 2011

Children In Divorce And Separation: Conflict At Christmas

It was Christmas Eve, many years ago, when my marriage officially came to an end.A telephone call from a friend in the local pub alerted me to the fact that my husband of fifteen years was announcing, to anyone who would listen, that he was about to divorce me. That...

Posted at 18:09pm on 20th December 2010

Understanding The Drama Triangle In Personal Relationships & Fictional Characters

The theory of transactional analysis is a subject of never-ending fascination - both to those who find themselves participating in the Drama Triangle, and to aspiring authors involved in writing and publishing a book! Last week I met up with the friend of a friend and, during the course of...

Posted at 11:54am on 25th August 2010

Why My Marriage Bucks The One In Four Trend For Divorce

I’m sitting in the lounge after lunch, about to resume writing my new book, when I hear Paul coming down the stairs.

“Could you let me have my bank card back, please,” I call out.

He has borrowed it to take to the Post Office, because the Sub Postmaster forgot to write my number on...

Posted at 20:05pm on 24th July 2010

Transactional Analysis: Getting Off The Drama Triangle Part 2

The Drama Triangle is a model of dysfunctional relationships, in which I might see myself as occupying one of three roles: Victim; Rescuer; or Persecutor. As Victim I require you to become my Rescuer. If you don’t comply, I may become a Persecutor, accusing you of neglecting my needs. If you choose not to...

Posted at 18:33pm on 4th February 2010

The Drama Triangle & The Games People Play

I looked, a couple of days ago, at Transactional Analysis – the Drama Triangle in particular:

First as a means of conflict resolution for those experiencing problems with their personal relationships. And second – for writers and aspiring authors – as an innovative way of creating fictional characters. THE GAMES PEOPLE PLAY

The theory of transactional analysis...

Posted at 14:30pm on 11th January 2010

Conflict Resolution: Relationship Psychology - And Creating Fictional Characters

What I’m about to tell you will revolutionise the way you perceive your personal relationships. It will also give you immense insight when it comes to creative writing and publishing a book and, in particular, when you’re creating fictional characters. So, whether you are attempting to make sense of your own relationships, or looking for...

Posted at 17:28pm on 6th January 2010

Demise Of A Marriage: A True Story - Part 2:2 Lost & Found

Arguing a case against Jesus’ claims about eternal life, Megan is brought face to face with the truth that it is her pride which prevents fulfilment of her inner yearning. A second visit to a Billy Graham rally sees her accepting that even a good friend is no substitute for faith. Only a life...

Posted at 09:15am on 19th November 2009

Family & Parenting: How To Love Yourself - And Difficult Elderly Parents

Dear Mel,

My parents have always had a very explosive relationship. There were always shouting matches when I was a child, and I grew up fearful that they were going to get divorced. My dad had a very fiery temper, whereas my mum would be tearful. Inbetween the rows my dad...

Posted at 14:52pm on 17th November 2009

Demise Of A Marriage: A True Story - Part 1:3 The Inner Yearning

With two babies only a year apart in age, Meg is as lonely as ever. Will moving house be the answer? For a while it seems a possibility. But as James’ career ambitions take him away from home once more, it seems that only a new friendship might fill that inner yearning.

Catch up with...

Posted at 09:48am on 9th November 2009

Demise Of A Marriage: A True Story - Part 1:2 The Inner Yearning

Less than a year into Megan’s marriage to James, with her baby born and motherhood now a reality, the cracks which were apparent from the outset, are beginning to widen. As the swinging sixties begin to make themselves felt, the over-riding question is: can Megan find, in James, the love she craves?

Catch up with...

Posted at 00:00am on 4th November 2009

Demise Of A Marriage: A True Story - Part 1:1 The Inner Yearning

What follows is a true story, the real life story of a woman named Megan, who was raised in an era when to be married, to be a wife, was the pinnacle of aspiration for a woman. The expectation that you shopped, cooked, cleaned and raised children whilst your husband worked, played and waited...

Posted at 14:25pm on 2nd November 2009

Successful Step-parenting: If Ozzy Osbourne Can Do It, So Can You!

I was asked by BBC Radio Birmingham to be their 'expert' on this morning's discussion on step-parenting. I’ve forgotten how many times I’ve been interviewed in connection with my book, Stepfamilies, but I suppose, given that something like one in eight British children are now growing up in a blended family, it’s a hot topic.

Posted at 11:57am on 8th October 2009

Successful Step Parenting: Three Potential Pitfalls - No 2 Coping With Step Children

Only a day after doing the BBC Newcastle Breakfast Show, I had a phone call from BBC Birmingham, asking me to kick off the debate on Sunday morning 9.05 a.m. on – guess what – stepfamilies! What’s going on here?

In my blog of a couple of days ago, I identified the three potential pitfalls...

Posted at 18:59pm on 21st August 2009

Successful Step Parenting: Three Potential Pitfalls - No. 1 Financial

BBC Radio Newcastle, which serves an area from the Scottish Borders to Durham, asked me to speak, this morning, on whether stepfamilies could ever be as successful and harmonious as biological families.

As before, on my interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, I answered a resounding Yes. From personal experience, plus observation of the families I...

Posted at 15:22pm on 18th August 2009

Do False Expectations Of Marriage Cause Stepfamily Problems?

What follows is an excerpt from the soon to be published revised and updated edition of Mel's book, Stepfamilies.

It is a false premise to expect that any marriage can ever answer all of our needs. To think otherwise is a totally unrealistic ideal which is doomed to disappointment. And this, perhaps, is one of the...

Posted at 17:51pm on 8th July 2009

Personality And Communication

There’s no doubt that mistakes, misunderstandings and misinterpretation lie at the bottom of many of the problems we all encounter, from time to time. You know the situation? There was a poster some years ago which summed it up admirably. Something along the lines of: I know you think that what you say is...

Posted at 15:47pm on 1st July 2009

Marriage And Remarriage: When Two Halves Don't Make A Whole

Following is an abridged and revised excerpt from Mel’s book Stepfamilies, which the BBC recently asked her to debate on the Richard Bacon show. In previous posts, the inference has been that unless the two people embarking on a second (or subsequent) marriage get it right, there is little chance of tackling other blended family...

Posted at 15:02pm on 22nd May 2009

Love And Commitment: The Basis Of A Stable Marriage

Last week, in my Friday series on Families & Parenting, which is currently focused on stepfamilies, I pointed out that if American author Charles Swindoll equated marriage to a house, then remarriage could be said to be like a conversion. I then went on to show why love, in terms of romance, is not...

Posted at 07:45am on 15th May 2009

Remarriage: Laying Firm Foundations

A marriage is a lot like our house. While new it sparkles. Fresh smells, fun surprises and new discoveries... As time passes, however... the grit of responsibility mixed with the grind of routine starts to take its toll... Weeds sprout. Doors squeak and sag. Windows stick. Paint peels. Roofs leak...
From Strike The Original...

Posted at 18:55pm on 8th May 2009

Stable Stepfamilies: Book Excerpt - Foreword

AS A SCHOOLGIRL, I loved history. Not the dry dates and wars of my school books, but the vital characters that strode right out of their pages straight into my imagination. People like Henry VIII of England, for instance. His marriages particularly fascinated me. How, I would ask myself, did he get away with...

Posted at 20:05pm on 1st May 2009

Fact, Fiction Or Fable: Is This A Sorry Story Of Fault-finding?

I wrote a few weeks ago about Friedman’s Fables, which my daughter gave me for my birthday. The book is a collection of short stories – very short at times – each of which highlights a specific pattern of human behaviour. Because of events in my family, one of the stories particularly caught my...

Posted at 16:21pm on 15th March 2009

The Integrity Partnership Between Author And Reader

I want to consider, today, something which is relevant to human life, in general; to personal development; and to all the relationships which touch on our lives. It’s an issue, however, which is of particular relevance to writers – whether you’re a novelist, an author of self-help books, a journalist, a biographer, or a blogger.


Posted at 16:02pm on 23rd February 2009

Partner-pleasing: Styles Of Communicating

For those who have just joined this series on Partner-Pleasing, let me bring you up to date. The aim is not simply to illuminate ways of improving communication in a relationship, but to enhance the overall experience of couples with each other. The exercises are based on those used by...

Posted at 18:47pm on 11th February 2009

Partner-pleasing: Different Ways Of Communication In A Relationship

Last week I began a series of blogs which are intended to be more than simply a swift read by an individual. So if you are part of a couple, read on. My aim, today, is to show you several ways of improving communication between you. And, in the coming weeks, to see how...

Posted at 14:35pm on 10th February 2009

Partner-pleasing: Do You Have Different Expectations Of One Another?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes, if we go out for a meal, I find myself people watching. It’s fascinating! There’s the middle-aged couple sitting at the table over by the wall who have said nothing to one another since they sat down and who, now that they’re tucking into their first course, make...

Posted at 20:05pm on 4th February 2009

Building Sustainable Relationships For Stepfamilies

I hope you’ll forgive me! I’m afraid I’m going to take the easy way out today and simply upload part of a chapter from my Stepfamilies book, on the topic of building effective relationships with somebody else’s children. It’s been a difficult week; as I tweeted only today: my mother has fallen and broken her pelvis....

Posted at 15:37pm on 24th January 2009

Ten Tips To Help You Avoid The Breakdown Of A Relationship

When you look back on an argument you’ve had recently with someone close to you, do you sometimes feel it was a squabble over nothing? That what seemed like a major misunderstanding at the time was, actually, nothing more than a petty clash of opinion; or a state of affairs where the two of...

Posted at 09:51am on 17th January 2009

Reviewing Techniques When Resolving Conflict

This is the first Post on my shiny new laptop. As I wrote, yesterday on my Twitter wall (I think that’s the correct jargon) setting up a new computer is a nightmare of mistakes, misunderstandings and misapprehension. Hence the lack of time to add anything to my blog for a few days.

So I thought, today,...

Posted at 22:22pm on 15th January 2009

14 Ways To Avoid Stress - And The Breakdown Of A Relationship At Christmas


The effects on children when parents are separating are immense. They are quick to pick up on the cracks and strains that appear between warring parents, and it is the adults’ responsibility to protect them, as...

Posted at 19:55pm on 12th December 2008

How To Recognise The Signs Of Relationship Breakdown

Boy, did my last post on Children In Divorce & Separation provoke a response! Not in comments, because it’s a painful subject; but in more hits on my website than ever before. There's obviously a lot of hurt out there, especially at this time of year.

That article dealt with the effects of family breakdown...

Posted at 00:00am on 11th December 2008

Children In Divorce And Separation: A Christmas Tragedy

Christmas – traditionally the time of good cheer – is also, for many, a time of great sadness. Somehow, the fact that everyone is out to enjoy themselves seems to concentrate the mind when it comes to the tragedies of life. A train derailment or plane crash in the weeks leading up to the...

Posted at 14:01pm on 9th December 2008

Step Parenting Advice: Don't Do It Unless You're Prepared To Work At It!

Can A Step Parent Ever Replace A Real Parent? This was the topic under debate on the Richard Bacon radio show on BBC Radio 5 Live on Tuesday evening. As the author of a book titled Stepfamilies, I had been invited to participate to put the positive side of the case, whilst Philip Parkin, General...

Posted at 12:19pm on 4th December 2008

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Picked for a Purpose

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