Couples Counselling

Couples Counselling, previously known as marriage guidance, addresses the problems arising from adult sexual or intimate relationships. The relationship, rather than the two individuals, is the ‘client’.

Our very closest relationship: a marriage; co-habitation or civil partnership, is based on intimacy and trust. When it stops working we are affected deeply and our health and happiness suffer. Our sense of identity and self-worth often rests on the strength of our relationships and we can despair when our prime relationship fails.

Pressures of work, family, money and health all take their toll. Suddenly the relationship that once recharged us leaves us drained and disappointed.

Patterns of behaving that we learned as children often re-emerge in our adult relationship. A childhood ‘scapegoat’ may start to feel blamed for everything by the partner who once adored them.

Possible signs you have relationship problems

  • Communication  breaks down
  • Sex has ended or causes problems
  • Arguments continue without resolution
  • Violence erupts, or emotional abuse is apparent
  • Depression or other health problems recur
  • The bond of trust is eroded or broken.

It is normal for relationships to suffer as the pressure and strains of everyday life mount. Love may disappear, and be replaced by resentment and anger. Each partner can view this differently depending on their own experience of family life. One may despair, while the other may view it as a temporary blip.

Where a couple has attached hastily – in response to a passion, pregnancy or other need, disappointments can surface and fester when the excitement subsides. Re-negotiating, with a skilled couple counsellor, can help build a more realistic and deeper relationship.

When is the right time for couple counselling?

  • There has been a betrayal of trust; an affair, debt or secret.
  • Talking causes confusion or  unbearable anger.
  • Separation or Divorce seem like the only option.
  • Desire has gone or sex is no fun.
  • Arguments and bickering go on and on.

If possible, attend together unless there is domestic violence or fear. Counselling can be undertaken with one partner if that feels more comfortable.

Being able to manage conflict, arguments and rows is the foundation stone to a good relationship. It is unrealistic to hope that arguments can be avoided.

Two people come with their own values and beliefs and both must feel heard in order to thrive. This may mean developing new skills. Differences need to be acknowledged; otherwise we merge or one partner is unheard. Then one partner may dominate and the other ‘disappears’. Arguments are a healthy and essential part of any relationship and can energise it if carried out skilfully. Indirect anger and domestic violence are destructive.

Counselling can help with understanding the messages about conflict that we may have inherited from our family and offer new skills.

Causes of relationship problems

  • Lack of  communication or poor communication
  • Illness or ongoing health problems
  • Birth of a child
  • External pressures like finances, work, family or friends
  • Life changes
  • Children leaving home

Relationships need solid foundations; two unhappy people with unresolved issues rarely make a long-term happy relationship. It may be tempting to feel that our partner can compensate for earlier pain and loss, but this hope often leads to further disappointment.

Enter a relationship as healthily as possible for the best chance of long-term happiness. The pleasure is in wanting to be with someone rather than the tension of feeling needy and dependent.

Self-respect and liking oneself are the important ingredients for a good relationship. If they are in short supply you may consider counselling to address them.

How can couple counselling help?

  • Destructive patterns of relating can be recognised and addressed.
  • Conflict and communication can be improved.
  • New relationship skills can be learned.
  • The impact of change and loss can be examined.
  • Relationships can be more successful.
  • Abusive relationships and domestic violence can be acknowledged.

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