When Relationships Go Wrong
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Jenny Charles MBACP (Accred)
31st January, 2010
We don’t tend to think too much about our relationship until things start going wrong. Often when couples come to therapy it is the last resort, when they have tried everything else and don’t know where to turn.
There can be many reasons why relationships have difficulties, you may be taking each other for granted, expect to have the same views and opinions and have a block on seeing your partner’s view, you may be stuck in a rut and just don’t know how to get out of it. You may have work, family or financial pressures that are impacting on your relationship.
If you are reading this then it may be that you just don’t know what to do now but here are some things you can try:-
1.Each write down what you feel the problem is, exchange letters; then imagine one of your friends had written this letter. What advice would you give to them? Often that’s the advice you need to give to yourself!
2.If you can’t talk without it turning into all out war, go to somewhere public to talk, it is less likely to degenerate into an all out slanging match.
3.Couples often don’t negotiate changes in their relationships, especially when children come along, and tend to put very little effort into their partner, so make time for each other. Go out on dates, just like the old days.
4.As well as focusing on the problem, put at least an equal amount of energy into thinking about the things you like and admire about your partner. It helps you to feel less hostile towards them and more likely to communicate well.
5.Have fun. Remember the early days when you would do silly things and laugh together. Get back in touch with those feelings by recreating some of those events.
6.Probably the most obvious, but the most difficult, try stepping into your partners shoes and imagine what it’s like for them. If you can do that, it will help you to see a different perspective to the problem and help you to find a place where you can compromise.
If you’ve tried the above, or simply can’t, and any of the following apply to you, then now is the time to consider counselling:
• You feel like you are stuck in a rut
• When you talk, one or both of you, feel like you are talking to a brick wall
• You try and talk but you just go round and round in never ending circles.
• After you've talked, you feel frustrated and confused.
• You can't talk for more than a few minutes without it turning into a shouting match.
• You're afraid that if you bring up a certain subject, things will get even worse.
• There's nothing left to say.
Different counsellors have different approaches to counselling, there is no right and wrong, it is often personal taste. I can only say I offer a no nonsense approach, it isn’t my role to point the finger at either one of you but to help you communicate effectively, understand and appreciate each other, and learn to compromise where possible.
I do this by exploring the nature of your problems and the impact they are having; learn the history of your problems and why you are struggling with them; understand what is preventing you from overcoming the problems; discover what changes you would like to see; and finally help you find a way forward to resolve the problems and learn how to deal with relationship conflict in the future.
Ultimately there are 3 possible outcomes:
•Lump It – sometimes change just isn’t possible but you are able to find a way to live with it
•Let Go – if you or your partner can’t or won’t change you may decide to split
•Change It – you decide that you can and will work together to make your relationship better
For many couples, the solution is right under their noses - it just takes someone objective to see what it is. When you are too close to the problem you often can’t see the wood for the trees – fortunately I am a trained wood-spotter!
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