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Marriage Counselling is often the ‘last resort’ for couples. When the relationship is almost stretched beyond its breaking point or when a crisis occurs, people seek marriage counselling. However, marriage counselling is rather similar to getting your car serviced. If you leave it too long, it will break down! Sometimes couples tell me that their last psychologist told them they should separate. I take a deep breath and explain that I do not consider it my role to tell people what they should or shouldn’t do in their lives.
Changes that can occur in marriage and relationship counselling actually can help you fall in love with your partner all over again. A new ‘honeymoon’ can occur rather than being stuck in the ‘kitchen sink’ stage! Alternatively, if you decide to separate, you can move forward in a different direction in the least distressing way and reach agreement on parental and financial issues working together rather than against each other where everyone in the family suffers.
I support people by asking key questions and helping them follow their own process which is meaningful for them. I work on many different levels which includes a solution level which is practical and grounded, a deeper dreaming level that the couple share together and the core essence of their relationship. Marriage Counselling and Relationships Therapy is supporting people to get to the heart of what works well for them and to do it more. Also to understand what doesn’t work well and change those behaviors. It’s learning how to shift the paradigm of ‘who is right and who is wrong, blaming and resentment’ to a learning paradigm. I often say to couples, “Love is not the issue here. Certain behaviors, history, miscommunication and misunderstandings are what is causing difficulties between you both.”
What are common issues and conflicts discussed in
- Unexpressed anger, frustration and resentment that has been caused by the past or present disagreements.
- Breakdown of communication and not listening to each other.
- Lack of appreciation and taking each other for granted.
- Unemployment, financial problems and arguments over money.
- History of hurt and pain in the relationship that is still unresolved and recycles.
- Family of origin history; Parents who were dysfunctional or abusive/No role modelling of a loving relationship.
- Issues with extended family members or children.
- Lack of negotiation and clarity of day to day tasks and roles
- Short and long term goals in the relationship.
- Mental Health issues.
- Addiction to drugs, alcohol, computers, spending money etc.
- Sexual incompatibility, problems and a partner being unfaithful.
- Disagreement on parenting.
“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times with the same person.” M. McLaughlin
Questions asked in Process Oriented Psychology Relationship,
We tend to think that if only our partner would change, everything would work out. However, you can’t really change anyone else, though most us think that if we keep saying the same thing over and over, finally the other person will modify their behavior. Actually, if you change ourself, even a little, it often does then help your relationship. Its natural as human beings to complain somewhat about our partners but it doesn’t actually shift anything! Seeing a qualified and experienced marriage counsellor/relationships therapist helps you address questions such as;
- How are you stuck in repeating the same patterns over and over ?
- Would you rather be right or would you rather be happy?
- Why did you commit to each other originally? Remember why you were attracted to each other.
- What are the habitual patterns that lead to unhappiness and withdrawal?
- Why is it difficult to be kinder and more tender and loving with each other?
- How do you negotiate key issues together?
- How do you make up?
Most of us have up and down times in a long-term marriage or committed relationship. Welcome to the real world of relationships. Wanting yourselve and your partner to be ‘perfect’ never works well. Allowing yourself to take risks and move out of your comfort zone Find a way to stop blaming and being defensive, stonewalling and arguing and you can make a big difference. It allows you both to be a little more open, vulnerable and emotionally intimate and share at a deeper level. Even five to ten percent change in one person can lead to a dramatic improvement in how you relate, talk and dream together.
Growth can be scary and challenging but also exciting and enjoyable. It can lead to the improbable becoming possible.
“Even the most exceptional accomplishments are unimportant if we cannot be happy in the most basic and ordinary ways, if we cannot touch one another and the life we have been given, with our hearts.”
Realationship Skills to Assist You
What we do and say either will escalate or de-escalate (raise or lower the temperature) in relationships.
The following skills may help you process relationship issues.
- Talk for yourself, ‘I am feeling…..’ Use of a third party or an unconscious coalition will always cause problems. Eg. Even your mother agrees with me on this.
- Try to pick up your own mixed messages/double signals and become more congruent. eg, notice you might say, ‘I feel angry with you’ and at the same time, smiling.
- Notice your tone of voice when you communicate. eg. you may have raised your voice or are sarcastic or patronising Observe your own or the other person’s de-escalation signals such as an apology, a change of tone or emotion, looking down etc and cool down too.
- Be open and willing to pick up an accusation made against you, consider even one percent of it, rather than deny it.
- Avoid using stereotypes. eg. Men always…..
- Bring in your own feeling reaction if you feel attacked and hurt rather than ‘biting back.’ Your reaction may change your partner.
- Be flexible in learning how to take your own side and the other’s side. If both sides become entrenched, change is less likely.
- Stay in the now, as much as possible. Bringing up the past is not going to help, unless you can see where the same signal is happening right now.
- Stay with one issue at a time. When you reach resolution, don’t start the argument again. eg. Ok, so we agreed but actually……..
- If you are really stuck, think if this topic is similar to an argument your parents had. eg. money, child raising, work etc. Is this a conflict you have with a lot of people, not just your partner.
- Remember that change comes from changing ourselves and not expecting the other person to change.
- See a good marriage counsellor/relationships therapist where you can both feel supported in a safe space to learn to change your relationship for the better.