Relationship Counselling: Counselling can help with relationship problems.
When relationships hit difficulty or face a possible end, people often feel overwhelmed by their emotional reactions – very powerful and destructive emotions can be evoked and it can be a time of extreme stress and in some cases potential harm. Relationship counselling can help you focus on what is causing the difficulty in your relationship and give you the tools to address this.
Counselling offers a safe place to talk through the difficulties in your relationship and work to solve the issues through a deeper understanding of what is causing the problem. Whilst friends and family can be a source of support in many cases, often when it comes to relationship problems they may have a vested interest in what you choose to do, or may disagree with your choices. The benefit of talking through the issues with a counsellor is that the space is entirely focussed on you and your needs, allowing you the space to properly reflect on what you need from a relationship, and whether the one you are in can meet that.
Sometimes, one partner having an affair can be the apparent trigger for the crisis – however, infidelity need not be seen as a reason to end the relationship if it still has potential to meet both of your needs. It's important to recongise that an affair is often the symptom of other underlying issues: either within an individual or in the relationship. In this case it may help to have Couples counselling to help you and your partner discuss the issues in a safer arena. Alternatively, individual counselling can help you investigate if the relationship will meet your needs in the future and can give you strategies to create change.
If ultimately it is necessary to accept the end of a relationship then counselling can be a useful place to make sense of what has happened, mourn the loss and find ways to reclaim your life and start to look to the future.
See also Helena Frith Powell: The French approach to infidelity and Suzi Godson on What to do about lost passion in a relationship.
When 'Happy Ever After' doesn't actually feel like 'happy'
When an intimate relationship does not meet your emotional or physical needs it will invariably create stress and unhappiness: impacting negatively on all of the other aspects of your life, even affecting your job performance and friendships. If you are reading this page it suggests you maybe unhappy about some aspects of your intimate relationship, or perhaps are facing the end of your relationship. Counselling can be a useful place for you to talk about and identify the things that trouble you about your relationship, and identify the things that need to change. Sometimes, counselling will empower you to hear your inner voice when it is saying you need to leave but are frightened to do so. Counselling is about facilitating and enabling you to make the changes that you need to make to improve your life: counselling is about helping you have choice.
Tim Minchin's If I didn't Have You speaks a great deal of honesty about relationships and love.
Is this the right relationship for me?
Adult relationships need to be based on equality and respect. All too often people enter intimate relationships (such as marriage or co-habitation) with unhelpful expectations or beliefs about what their role will be in the relationship or what it is that makes relationships work. These can be old fashioned or outdated models based on a previous generation and are not the skills required for a relationship in the C21st. Often people have overly romanticised or Disneyesque fantasies about finding a 'perfect match'; 'the one'; their ideal 'soul mate' but these are relationship myths that seldom fit reality. True love is about accepting and valuing your partner as they really are, about having a real relationship with a real person. I invite you to consider this thought:
In what ways does my partner add value to, and enrich my life, and in what ways do I theirs; What sacrifices and costs do we each have to make to be in this relationship; Is the deal fair, equitable and overall worth the investment for each of us?
Echoing this theme, is Shane Watson of the Sunday Times whose article Benefits in Kind suggests we should look on marriage as a business venture, not a love story; if we are to understand how to make relationships more rewarding.
You will find the relationship assessment tool will give you an insight into the areas that are strengths between you and your partner and the areas that need to be addressed. The 'Relationship Worksheet' will help you and your partner explore how each of you see and experience the relationship. Reading these articles and the books suggested on the couples counselling page can help you move towards having better and more fulfilling relationships in the future.
For those who are unwilling to change or face the truth about their relationship is the likelihood of chronic unhappiness or worse on occasions, controlling and aggressive behaviours.
But I can’t cope with another ‘failed relationship’
Leaving a relationship that does not meet your needs is not a failure – staying in one is however. The old fashioned more of life long commitment depends on having made an appropriate choice in the first place, or on life long suffering: take your pick.
Another myth which is unhelpful is the notion of "Staying together for the sake of the children" which is also no longer seen as helpful and may actually do more harm particularly when there is aggressive conflict in the relationship as we know this causes psychological trauma and the potential for domestic abuse in the future. The most disastrous and unhealthy relationships occur when people are too frightened of being on their own to tackle points of unhappiness in a relationship or simply leave when it becomes clear that the dynamic between them is unhealthy. This inevitably leads to years of misery before one partner ultimately uses an affair as a way to exit.
Suzy Godson comments on this in her article I’m separating from my husband but can’t tell him I have a lover” If you are can’t cope with the idea of living singly between relationships then you are at risk of repeating past mistakes, falling for someone who is close to hand rather than choosing more carefully, and then staying in a relationship that doesn’t meet your needs. Therapy can help you build the strength to be your own person and work towards having better relationships in the future. Leaving a dysfunctional relationship takes courage but is the route to future happiness in the longer term. This is your life – do you think you might actually deserve happiness?
Domestic Violence – Twelve Warning Signs of Serious Trouble
Sadly, frustration and disillusionment with a partner who does not meet up with our fantasy image can lead some couples into having an abusive relationship. Domestic Violence takes many forms and is sadly all too common. A Platform-51 article Hitting home reveals worrying evidence not only of the size of the problem but that a significant number of young people see violence in relationships as normal. It is important to recognise that Parental conflict causes harm to children and when children are exposed to situations where there is a threat of violence and/or actual aggression in the home between parents (or between parents and other siblings) it quickly becomes a child protection issue.
Partner abuse is symbolised by the use of demeaning behaviours, intimidation and or the use of threats to control your behaviour in ways that leave you feeling disrespected or frightened.
Domestic Violence symptoms are evidenced by the recurrent presence of any of the below:
- Acts of cruelty and disrespect that leave you feeling bad about yourself and injure your self-esteem. – these can include the use of put downs, insults, mocking or ridiculing you, and especially in front of others
- Extreme jealously or insecurity that results in your feeling fearful about leading a normal and healthy social life with friends and family. Can also include repeated and unfounded accusations against you of having an affair.
- Accessing your emails, texts and phone to check up on you.
- Explosive and destructive temper that leaves you feeling threatened, frightened or fearful, and includes especially those times when excess use of alcohol is a factor.
- Blaming you for acts of violence and aggression by telling you repeatedly it was your fault for making your partner angry.
- Threatening you with harm if you end the relationship or threatening suicide if you suggest ending the relationship.
- Financial control and limiting your access to money, controlling your finances and or restricting your ability to have a job or seek education. Learn more about financial abuse
- Isolating you from your friends and family by making you feel guilty for wanting to see them or spend time with them.
- Unpredictable mood swings and living with Jeckyll and Hyde is frightening and leaves you treading on egg-shells. Alcohol intoxication can be a particular issue for many and how often does your partner drink above the recommended number of units per week?
- Physically handling you against your will. Pushing, shoving, hitting, throwing things in your presence, destroying you property or possessions,
- Possessiveness and emotional blackmail to make you feeling guilty about spending time with anyone else, or making it awkward to even go out to work functions and other social events.
- Forcing you to have sex against your will or to engage in sexual acts that you would not consent to.
An adult intimate relationship must be based on mutual respect and without respect there is no right to claim love.
For support in leaving a domestic violent relationship you can also contact: