Expert Author Susan Leigh
Relationships go through various transitions, often beginning with mutual attraction, sexual chemistry and the desire to get to know each other better. Over time passions can calm and a comfortable familiarity develops, along with the need to deal with the distractions, everyday responsibilities and the stresses of work, family and friends. Together, these things can contrive to place undue strain on our relationship.
In an ideal world a couple try to manage life's pressures as they come along. It's important to maintain good communications and set aside regular time to be together. Doing this can help support the relationship's growth, as each work together to find viable ways to negotiate their assorted commitments. Sometimes professional assistance can help to provide the couple with time for reflection and analysis, so enabling their relationship to adapt and stay healthy.
Relationship counselling can help your relationship at this time:
No matter how hard we try it's often difficult to fully appreciate another person's perspective of a situation. If we're busy and stressed we may end up misinterpreting someone's actions and perhaps regarding firmness as being stubborn or misguided, seemingly unable or unwilling to listen to or understand our words, or we may accuse them of appearing inflexible and still holding onto past grievances and recriminations.
It may be that one person feels ashamed or embarrassed about something they've said or done. When we're in the midst of a tough situation it can be difficult to appreciate that our partner would prefer to know what's going on and would be practical, for example about a potential financial setback. It's can be impossible to anticipate them responding in an understanding and supportive way.
Relationship counselling can provide a positive environment in which to listen constructively to each other, discuss issues clearly and find effective ways to deal with underlying factors, so finding stepping-stones from which to moving forward.
- Work and its demands can place much pressure on a relationship. Balancing the need to earn money, stay onside and deliver results may mean working long hours which require social obligations that may or may not include one's partner. These commitments may be perceived as unnecessary, excessive and impinging too much on family life. Answering out-of-hours phone calls can be regarded as invasive and putting work before family life. It can be tough to find a balance.
- Family and in-laws may not be to each other's taste and may be viewed as hostile or interfering, resulting in a piggy-in-the-middle situation, with one person continually juggling and trying to keep the peace. Being polite with one's extended family and maybe agreeing to only attend important or more formal events together can take some pressure off whilst allowing one's partner to make shorter social calls in-between.
- Disciplining children can be a minefield, especially if some are step-children. Having very different ideas on good parenting can require ongoing discussion and compromise. It's important to present a united front when co-parenting and agree to discuss contentious issues in private, out of earshot.
- Within a relationship it's often the case that one person becomes the main breadwinner whilst the other provides more domestic support and housekeeping, sometimes regarded as a lesser role. Respecting each other's input and valuing how these combined efforts enable the household to function well is important. Each role is crucial to the family's success.
- Running a business, providing money, having a meal ready each evening, caring for the children are all important contributions which may gradually fail to provide one or both of you with sufficient satisfaction and fulfillment. It may be that time, attention, shared activities, thoughtful gestures are what's really needed, rather than expensive holidays, cars and schools.
When we're able to actively listen and respect our partner's needs the quality of our relationship often improves. But it's equally important to ask for what we want too and share our thoughts and feelings. Relationship counselling can help us redefine our priorities, manage time and stress more effectively and achieve a better understanding of what's really important for our and our partner's happiness.
Committing time to therapy can help clarify our needs and become clearer about what makes us happy and content. It's then important to find positive ways to support those needs whilst actively listening to each other. Relationship counselling can enable us to appreciate each other's point of view and open up how we feel about the relationship.
We then find a framework in which to identify what's wrong, what needs to happen to resolve or come to terms with problem areas and how then to move forward. Establishing a place for sensitive communication is a major factor in helping a troubled relationship, especially at times when something difficult or unpleasant needs to be said.
There can be value too in a couple seeking therapy when they're looking to end their relationship. It supports moving on in a dignified, respectful way, especially when children are involved. Counselling can provide insights and healing, a coming to terms with what's happened, as the next stage of their life begins.