Relationship / Marriage Counselling

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Marriage Problems

     "Love is easy, relationships are hard work". I haven't met a couple with a perfect relationship, however I have met many individuals with respect and love for their spouse. At some point in a marriage, individuals and couples experience marriage problems. Shared views like culture, religion, sexual desires, and morals assist marriages with shared valuable ties. However these similarities do not prevent external influences and other factors impacting on marriages. How couples approach their differences and stressors, determine how successfully they deal with their marriage problems.

     Marriage problems may stem from different beliefs, changes in sexual needs, infidelity, or communication difficulties. Problems can range from little communication to one person dominating the conversations. Personal space, intellectual stimulation, friendship, use of alcohol, and financial difficulties, are further examples of difficulties experienced by many couples in every day lives. These marriage problems need to be addressed from a team perspective, rather than against each other. Fears, control, intimidation, and guilt are some feelings that prevent sharing and being honest in relationships. No two relationships are the same, and each individual has different needs. Communicating the needs and finding a way to meet those needs encourage happier individuals and more content couples.

Some marriage problems can be resolved by changing communication patterns, an awareness of habits then changing behaviours, putting effort in to the relationship, and not taking things for granted. However, often marriage problems have been repetitive over the years of the relationship and resentment may have built up. Marriage problems do not necessarily mean you have grown apart or should not remain together. There are no 'shoulds', however constant work on a relationship is vital.

     Marriage involves two individuals that make their marriage a priority. For example, couples may start their day at home together, work separately, or be involved with schools or home life, then return to their home base and spouse at the end of the day to share their experiences. These experiences could be; happy, sad, healthy, illness, exciting or scary. Change occurs when one or both people go their separate ways, and do not return to their base as a couple, here there is an absence of sharing thoughts and emotions, this is the time marriage problems begin to be exposed.

     Before marriage problems turn into a marriage separation, and finally a marriage breakdown, please seek professional marriage counselling. At worst, this will cost a little time and money... at best, it will save your marriage, and your family.
 


Separation

     Whilst I do not underestimate the trauma and loss of a relationship separation, some relief in the future may be experienced. Ending a relationship involves sadness and grief and significant changes, however sometimes it is the best decision for individuals to live with.

• Legally in Australia one needs to be officially separated for a period of twelve months (one year) before you can apply for a divorce. • Many people believe a trial marriage separation will assist them make the right decision for them as an individual and couple. • Often people take this path to work things out individually with out the pressure of living in the relationship.

Whatever the reason, marriage separation is only helpful if this time is used productively. Some suggestions for using this time effectively would be: • This time can be used to improve communication • Start creating romance again • Not take each other for granted • Take a step back and evaluate what is liked and not liked in the relationship

     There are many ways to have a marriage separation. Some examples might be to move out of the family home, sleep separately, or divide finances to achieve financial independence. There is no correct or proper way, and certainly no predetermined answers. Marriage separation is not considered a success if a couple decides to get back together or pursue a life apart.

Marriage separation is only helpful if goals are clear and set out to achieve. Unfortunately, in many relationships, one member wants the separations whilst the other may not. Couples need to acknowledge the different individual needs.

     Many couples attend marriage counselling at this stage of their relationship to work on issues with out interruptions of bills, children, home environment and falling back in to their habitual way of communicating. Marriage counselling can assist in facilitating changes so old unhelpful behaviours are not repeated. Marriage counselling can also assist in facilitating amicable separations attempting to consider both needs of the individual. If children are involved, marriage counselling can assist in evaluating how to make the marriage separation less volatile and in the best interest of the children.


     Breakdown is often described as the stage where efforts to communicate have failed, disagreements and arguments are more common than harmony and productive enjoyable conversations. When there is no evidence of a successful marriage, it is in the best interest of your children to try and resolve settlement as amicably as possible. This process can take between 2 months to many years. Financially, the legal process can be very expensive.

     If the relationship involves any level of abuse, that includes, emotional, financial, verbal, sexual and / or physical abuse, legal advice should be sought. However if two adults can communicate amicably without abuse, blackmail, or harmful communication it might be worth considering a mediator to assisting in discussing the following issues and coming to a workable solution. Keeping in mind, decisions by the court reflect 'the best interest of the children if applicable. Decisions include:

  • Where your children live and who will take care of them
  • How you and your former partner will support yourselves and your children
  • What, how and when you will tell the children, other family members and friends
  • Who will pay outstanding bills or debts
  • Who will stay in the house
  • How will the rent or mortgage be paid
  • What will happen to any joint bank, building society or credit union accounts
  • What will happen to the house, car, furniture and other property?


      When a marriage breakdown occurs, it usually follows a turbulent time or traumatic event. Many people are exhausted, drained and want to be rid of emotional pain. Unfortunately there are some affairs that need to be sorted, and this will take time. If children are involved, your former partner will be in your lives to some degree, even by association. It is important to consider the current and future lives of the children when making decisions.

Relationship counselling can assist in discussing decisions that will affect you and your family in the short and long term. This may include custody, financial arrangements, living situations, amongst others.



Affairs

     Affairs can involve an emotional or sexual connection. It can be face to face or over the internet. It is not illegal, rather considered ones own private business. However we live in a society with different religions, ethical and moral beliefs. By most people's standards, adultery is unacceptable signifying cheating, lack of respect, worthy of loss of trust, as well as other serious ramifications.

     Affairs are often justified by the myth that "he was driven to it" or "her emotional needs were not met in the marriage". Regardless of the justification, adultery by definition involves lying to one's spouse, sneaking intimate relationships with another. Whilst this is occurring, the marriage is not being nurtured, worked on or made a priority.

     Members of society are quick to provide moral judgement on marriages and adultery. If a couple intend to work on their relationship and reunite as a couple, marriage counselling would be valuable. Some issues addressed in counselling are listed below:

  • Discussion and acknowledgment that trust was violated
  • How to rebuild trust over a period of time
  • What contributing factors led to an affair
  • What needs to change in the individual so this behaviour is not repeated
  • What needs to change in the relationship so this behaviour is not repeated
  • Discussions in a safe confidential place with a facilitator
  • Decision that this relationship is what is wanted and can be salvageable or the decision to end the relationship in a non threatening helpful way.


     It is rare that an affair is the only issue in a relationship. An affair is often the catalyst for marriage breakdowns, however often this behaviour is relied on to escape other intolerable aspects of a relationship. Counselling addresses the adultery as well as the issues hidden under the daily grind of the relationship.
 


Divorce in Australia

     An individual or couple can apply for a divorce after 12 months of continuous separation. The act of divorce has been simplified over the years, and can take as little as 4 months. Divorce forms can be lodged by post or electronically at www.comcourts.gov.au. These forms can only be submitted 12 months after separation. Couples in defacto relationships have the same rights and responsibilities as married couples. If decisions regarding property and children can not be decided amicably there may be needs to go through the Family Law Court to settle property and matters pertaining to children.
The Family Court of Australia website provides the necessary forms, details of necessary affidavits and proof of identity and marriage, as well as details of costs.

     The court process recognises only one reason for seeking a divorce, "Irreconcilable Differences". In the past, adultery and other reasons impacted on settlement, this is no longer the situation. Whilst this means less blame legally, emotionally many feel this process is unjust. Counselling can assist with articulating your emotions and strategies to help you move forward in a healthy manner. Divorce can be very difficult and emotionally taxing. It is helpful to consider new strategies to successfully live as a single person, move forward without bitterness and resentment, and to limit the impact it has on your future. 

     Whilst divorce in Australia seems common, we can not mitigate the effect divorce has on individuals, future relationships, children, friends and extended family members. Divorce is the recognised legal ending of a contract of commitment, trust, honesty, devotion, family unity, relationship and love. Whilst Divorce can actually provide relief for many turbulent relationships and relief for children living amongst volatile relationships, it still contributes to significant issues and stress experienced by many.

     The experience of loss and change, moving homes, changing the family unit, anger and denial, are some feelings adults experience as well as children of divorce. One might still love the former partner, however living with them and being in a relationship may not be healthy. These conflicting emotions can create confusion. Marriage counselling can help adults cope with these changes and emotions experienced. Counselling can also work with children of divorced parents, address unexplained issues, thoughts and feelings.

     Marriage counselling is a wonderful resource for support. The counsellor is objective, does not have a personal relationship with any of the involved parties and has no agenda apart from helping you through out the process. The court system is very involved and many adults do not understand the complex system, let alone children. When one feels out of control and have no power to change such difficulties, it can be a very anxious time for all involved. Marriage counselling can assist in explaining the Family Law and system. Counsellors can support the individual as well as the family.

Relationship Counselling

      Relationship counselling addresses problems as well as other issues experienced by couples. Often couples feel that marriage separation is the only option when dealing with issues of affairs or major communication difficulties. Divorce in Australia is at an all time high causing grief amongst many families. It is important to know however that there are options apart from divorce.

     Before a marriage breakdown becomes inevitable, a private appointment with Antonia can be of invaluable assistance in dealing with individual issues, couple and relationship difficulties, as well as family dynamics that have influenced your relationship. If ultimately no solution can be found, Antonia can assist in discussing issues of mediation, impact of family law, and the impact on children.

Marriage Counselling

A message from Antonia:


"I am available for private consultations Monday to Friday. I work from a Commitment Based Theory, meaning, if couples commit to working on their relationship, I commit to making myself available for appointments. This may involve before work or after business hours if required.

Initially time will be spent clarifying both individual's reasons and goals for seeking relationship counselling as well as the goals of the couple. The first session will concentrate on ensuring each individual feels heard and understood, and provide an opportunity to ask relevant questions. Depending on the complexities of your issues and relationship, we may find quick strategies and solutions to adopt immediately or work together over time.

Following the initial meeting, marriage counselling will predominately involve both individuals, however at times it may be beneficial for individual sessions to make further progress. Progress will be made at your pace, with respect to the different emotional stages each individual is at.

A good marriage counsellor is one who does not take sides, does not encourage blame or justifications. However I will aim for clarity, respect for oneself and your spouse, as well as taking responsibility for change.

I hope you find this information helpful, please do not hesitate to contact me for further details or to make an appointment."