Being in a committed relationship can be one of life’s greatest joys. A spiritual experience, that can make one feel fully alive, peaceful, fulfilled, and bring out the best in each member. It can also become an experience of frustration, insecurity, anger and disappointment, leaving one feeling more alone than ever before. At times a couple may experience both of these highs and lows in their relationship, which may lead to them wondering if their marriage or relationship can go the distance. Couples may seek help with these difficult aspects of their relationship by attending couples counselling with a trained therapist.
All couples will experience conflict, at some point in their relationship. This is unavoidable as two individuals come together and negotiate their lives together. If a couple attempts to avoid conflict altogether, this in itself may cause problems. However, excessive and on-going conflict that is not resolved to the satisfaction of both members, can lead to emotional or mental distress and to couples feeling sad, angry, alone, and alienated from each other.
In other relationships, instead of on-going conflict, some couples experience the feeling that they are no longer as connected as they previously were, or as close and intimate as they would like to be. They may find that this gradual disconnection takes the form of them not enjoying spending time together, or a feeling of distance between them. It could also manifest itself in a lack of interest in lovemaking/sex. This may be accompanied by a gradual and painful drifting apart. The relationship may now feel that it gives little satisfaction and the feeling that “the thrill is gone”.
Couples counselling can help couples rediscover the precious connection between them
and re-invigorate their relationship on many levels.
What are common problems couples bring to couples counselling?
- Blended family issues
- Affairs and infidelity
- Individual expectations of the relationship
- Sexual difficulties or disagreements
- Disagreement around life goals in the relationship and meeting personal needs and goals
- Negotiating parenting styles
- Money-contributions and equality
- Negotiating chores and housework duties
Sometimes couples may come to counselling to resolve their joint issues and discover that a part of the difficulties they are experiencing within the relationship, is due to their childhood experiences with parents and caregivers.
If either or both partners had traumatic or troubled relationships as children with significant others,
they may find that they are unconsciously acting out or re-experiencing these traumas
in their current intimate relationships.
It is also not unusual for couples to find that it is more the strategies that they are using to resolve their issues and conflicts
that is causing the most difficulties, rather than the issues themselves. Some of these strategies may be:
- Avoidance of difficult but very necessary discussions
- Becoming distant or cold to the other partner
- Personalising or blaming
- Generalising, assuming that because there are difficulties in some areas, that the whole relationship has failed
When couples find that the level of conflict between them has escalated and is unresolved, or distance in the relationship is increasing, the assistance of a trained couples counsellor can help in untangling the hurt, confusion, and distress that is working against harmony in the relationship.
By the couples counsellor assisting them to find more effective methods of communication to resolve issues, many couples find that find new intimacy and connection in their relationship.
Taking these new tools away with them, it sets the foundation to resolve past problems, to develop greater intimacy, safety, trust and a greater understanding of themselves and their partner to strengthen their relationship now and into the future.