Often, relationship problems occur when the couple's communication has broken down, or, an event (such as an affair, the birth of a child, or when children leave home) has occurred which throws the relationship out of balance. In a marriage, disagreement is inevitable, but conflict is optional — a choice we make. Learning how to live harmoniously with your partner is a skill, which can be taught.
Long-term commitment is hard work and its no surprise that couples often seek professional help when the going gets tough. Some common reasons include:
Communication break down
Lost the 'spark'
Imbalance of power
Lack of trust
Living separate lives
Problems with extended family
Empty nest and adjusting to major change
Adjusting to parenthood
Different ideas on child rearing, lifestyle, friends, finances, etc.
How does it work?
In couples therapy we will examine the negative patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving which can become habitual and lead to unhappiness, this means identifying your negative patterns of interacting with your partner, and learning how to challenge and adjust them back into more helpful ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving.
Many couples realize that their relationship has somehow become 'last priority' in their lives. Together we will explore ways of behaviour change, which will help you to learn how to put the relationship higher up the priority list, for good.
Couples Therapy is not about blaming one partner for all of the problems, or about 'fixing' one partner. In every relationship there are two people who are responsible for how the relationship is or isn't working. Rather than focusing on what your partner can do to change, the focus will be on what YOU can do to change the relationship - and if both of you focus on changing your own patterns, then both partners change, and the relationship is greatly improved.
An essential part of change is acceptance of the current situation and commitment to a new behaviour. Together we will explore each person's thinking habits, using mindfulness techniques to help you disengage from problematic thoughts, which interfere with the moment. We will focus on developing compassion for your self and your partner, and identifying values to help the relationship evolve to a different, more satisfying level.
Finding your own way
It is important to keep in mind that there is no single correct way to be in a marriage, rather there are a nearly infinite variety of paths depending on the two people who are creating the contract. Each couple is unique and has its own journey of love, healing and transformation.
What if we're not sure if we still want to be a couple?
If you are feeling ambivalent about whether or not you want the relationship to continue, or if you are sure that you want the relationship to end, couples counselling can still be of use to you. In this case, Couples Therapy may help you to end the relationship in a respectful and useful manner, avoiding the destructive aggression that many couples go through when a relationship ends. If one or both partners are feeling undecided about whether or not to keep the relationship going, individual sessions may be recommended with the aim of helping the decision making process.