Welcome to the Counsellor's Room...
A safe, confidential, respectful & caring space for discussing sensitive issues & exploring challenges.
Understanding Relationship Problems
Relationships are about the way two people interact and relate to each other. Intimacy, communication, sharing the good, bad and difficult aspects in life are characteristics of a working relationship. Two people choose each other based on attraction, shared interests and other commonalities. However relationships require effort and awareness to continually mature and grow with the time spent in that relationship.
The majority of couples start in a state of lust and excitement. Time together involves dates, movies, meals, and discussions leaving one wanting more. Relationships involve these feelings plus work, washing, children, finances, menstrual cycles, ageing, body changes and more contributing factors that guarantees romantic love wanes. Love is something wonderful that happens to couples, relationships are wonderful when they are made a priority in two peoples lives.
Living with Relationship Problems
Relationships do not come with certainty, however the ups feel fantastic and the down times are awful. If relationships were not such a valuable investment we wouldn't experience such strong reactions. Relationships affects confidence and can interfere with your daily activities. Balance is important as going to work following an argument leads to preoccupation whilst experiencing the initial stages in a relationship does not always guarantee objectivity and well thought through decisions.
Partnerships need to encourage you to be the best person you can be and encourage the other person to be there best. Therefore when both individuals put effort in to the relationship, it becomes a priority. View yourselves as a team, which means you are two unique individuals bringing different perspectives and strengths. What you both bring to the relationship becomes bonus attributes to your individuality.
Relationships can be bogged down with issues and burdens, and unfortunately no relationship is free of conflict. . Remembering what we fell in love with at the beginning is a good foundation. Relationships are worth the effort, they can be rewarding and having your own unique partner to share our life with is invaluable. Couples can be made up of different people with different beliefs, cultures, religions or work ethics, as long as the similarities are shared and the differences respected. It is how we learn to live with the differences and troubles that impact positively or negatively on a relationship.
Relationships can trigger past emotional issues like self esteem, parent / child relationship, issues of control, expectations and an individuals role in a relationship. Be each other's support person, friend and confidante. Be aware and insightful in to the impact you have on the other person. Awareness is the first step in assessing what might need to change or stay the same.
Resolving Relationship Problems
Name-calling, sarcasm and competing, are not helpful strategies for resolving conflict. Assessing what you hope to achieve in this argument is instrumental in resolving arguments so they don't get repeated over time. If your goal is to change someones mind, or convince them you are right, this may be detrimental. However, if you plan to achieve understanding, decisions and compromise, you are on a constructive path to dealing with conflict in the immediate and long term.
Communication needs to be an expression of needs and wants from both individuals. Closeness cannot occur without honesty. Finishing each other's sentences, assuming and guessing are some characteristics that are not helpful. Effective communication also involves active listening and empathy. Most people
avoid difficult conversations because they fear having an uncomfortable moment. However a few difficult minutes is better than an uncomfortable life. Couples who embrace the desire to work things out have the best relationships.
Difficult conversations deserve privacy. The presence of children need to be considered as well as others witnessing and being influenced by the relationship. Edward Hall (1990) spoke of 4 distinct zones people use to interact with each other; Intimate, Personal, Social and Public. Becoming aware of how we talk to each other, manners and tones used, as well as intimacy shared are all indicators of successful relationships.
Some added Practical suggestions could be beneficial in improving enjoyment of relationships:
Mutual respect is a great starting point in a good relationship. Privately and in public, act in ways so that your partner always maintains respect for you.
Assess compatibilities & Differences, and which schemas you and your partner have in common and which ones need greater understanding. The following are some basic themes that are important to consider; Intellectual compatibility, emotional compatibility, social compatibility spiritual / moral / values compatibility and sexual compatibility.
Self-care is essential. This can include band-aid solutions like massages or ongoing strategies like exercise and date nights. Couples as well as the individuals need a balanced life; work, hobby, individual time and couple time.
Reviewing individual and couple's goals is beneficial. Assess what behaviours are productive and which ones are more destructive. Check out your dreams with each other regularly to make sure you're both on the same path and update your dreams regularly.
Working with inevitable changes in relationships is important to not ignore. Everyone ages, changes and mature and these factors need to be incorporated.
Recognise your partner's mood or type of day they are having. Instead of competing or comparing, offer what you can do to help, it may be a foot rub, cup of tea or ear to listen. Identify your own needs and wants, communicate them to your partner, you may have similarities. If not work out how yours and your partners can be met.
Sex is important, however is not the only form of intimacy. Holding hands, a nice look and effort like cooking their favourite meal are all forms of intimacy. When we give unconditionally we tend to receive.
Jobs, extended families, and finances are some external factors that can impact on your relationships. Working together will reinforce respect, and address impacting factors.
When children are involved, whether biologically or blended families, parenting styles need to agree upon. The most helpful is what is in the best interest of the child. This needs to be constantly reviewed due to disabilities, individual characteristics, and chronological and emotional age of the child. What works for one child may be different for another child.
Discussing each other's contributions & efforts ensure communication is transparent and both would be prepared to make this relationship work.
Relationships often have habitual ways of communicating. Counselling highlights the destructive communicating patterns, the helpful ones and suggestions to improve communicating so individuals feel heard, listened to and respected. Changes are identified as well as triggers to past experiences, and other external influence likes work stress, affairs, financial difficulties, children and other demands in life are addressed.