In bed with a stranger
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Graeme Orr MBACP(Accred), UKRCP Reg. Ind. Counsellor
18th February, 20140 Comments
“I don’t know them any more they are not the person I fell in love with!”
For many this dawning reality is at the heart of their relationship problems. A realisation that there partner is acting in a different way to their expectations in the relationship. In reality all relationships change over time but the big relationship problems come when there are jumps or differences that one or both partners don’t understand.
We would expect most relationships to follow a model of a romantic stage of falling in love, a fantasy like time where anything seems possible. This slowly gives way to a more stable stage where there are more established routines and more defined roles, then ultimately we get to a committed stage and here there is a strong bond between the couple and they can accept their partner faults and all. Thus if we have a couple who are committed to each other and one is unfaithful, suddenly that sense of acceptance of the partner is undermined, and is a relationship problem that can be hard to recover from.
In reality though these changes in relationships do not happen overnight, while it is possible for a bombshell like an affair to happen, most relationship problems develop over months or years. Often in articles such as this on relationship problems, much is made of communication. Improving communication, but what does that actually mean?
It means listening to your partner so that you understand them and could almost express their point of view better than they could themselves. Most couples with relationship problems will go at it hammer and tongs trying to get the other to understand their position first. Listening is such a key skill in communicating, probably of more importance than talking, or use of language. In the romantic stage of a relationship we are usually good at listening to and responding to each other’s needs often setting aside our own.
Time spent with your partner builds intimacy and heads off many relationship problems by offering the time to talk and to be affectionate with each other. Physical love has its place but just as important is what we might call emotional love or connection which builds that deep trust that develops through the stable and committed stages. That connection makes it easier to be vulnerable with your partner when relationship problems happen and to be able to discuss them.
If you think you have a relationship problem and you are holding back from telling your partner, it might be interesting to reflect on why you are holding back. Are their needs greater than yours? Perhaps you are afraid of something? So often the demise of starts at the point where you feel you can’t (or won’t) talk about it. Circumstances start to run away with you and the gap widens and suddenly you are with someone you didn’t fall in love with and you are in bed with a stranger.
Take the time to maintain your relationship, perhaps now is the time to get to know each other again have that understanding that leads to good relationships. If you are finding it difficult to reconnect maybe you need the help of a counsellor. Perhaps by better understanding each other you can avoid more serious relationship problems. Perhaps you can reconnect to the person you fell in love with.
Related articles from our experts
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Margery Parsons, d.c.t.p., UKCP reg.20th March, 2017
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