In an ideal world, relationships would follow the formula of much-loved Hollywood films; we would meet the love of our life at a trendy bar, go on a few romantic dates, get married and live happily ever after. Of course, for the majority of us - this isn't quite the case.
Relationships are complicated and often rely on communication and a great deal of compromise between two individuals. While there are plenty of ups and downs in every relationship, if you aren't happy it is important to know when to address the issues you're facing. No two relationships are ever the same and thus the approach to dealing with issues will differ from case to case. You may choose to discuss your problems together in private, or you may find you benefit from an outside perspective.
If you believe your relationship is worth fighting for, but you have reached a roadblock with your significant other, considering relationship counselling could be the best step for you.
On this page
Is my relationship in trouble?
It is only natural for relationships to hit rough patches from time to time; however, if conflict is becoming an increasingly prevalent aspect of your relationship, or you feel it is affecting your mental well-being - it could be time to seek help.
Recognising that your relationship is in trouble can be harder than it sounds. If you have been with your partner for a long time, you may have resigned yourself to the fact that 'nothing will ever change'. Alternatively, one of you may see problems where the other does not. Whatever the case, acknowledging that there is a problem is an important first step to resolving it.
If you are questioning your relationship, the following warning signs may reveal a need to address issues:
Abuse can take many forms, and any occurrences of physical or sexual abuse should be immediately acted upon. Emotional abuse however can be subtle and can lead you to feel impoverished by the other person. If spending time with your partner makes you feel unattractive or incapable, it may well be worth seeking help.
If you find yourself or your partner avoiding issues within your relationship rather than discussing them, it could be a sign of larger problems. Many people think it is only couples who argue constantly that need help, but a degree of conflict is necessary in any relationship as it is a chance to discuss and resolve such issues. By avoiding the issues for a 'quiet life' you could be setting yourself up for future complications.
If you or your partner relies on the other for too much, a codependent relationship could form. This means that one person bases their confidence, self-esteem and happiness on the other, relying on them to feel good about themselves. Being too dependent on another person can cause resentment from the other, causing arguments and conflict down the road.
Deceit can cause a multitude of problems within a relationship. Whether it is yourself hiding things from your partner, or your partner hiding things from you, it is important to recoginse this as a problem and to establish why this is happening in order to move forward.
Sometimes events from the past can have an effect on your present. If previous experiences have led you to struggle when it comes to trusting others, this could be impacting on your relationship. Alternatively if you are constantly being questioned by your partner due to their inability to trust, you could become frustrated and hurt, potentially leading to further complications in the future.
Common relationship problems
While every relationship is unique, there is a common set of problems that are often addressed within relationship therapy. The following areas will give you a greater understanding of the topics that can be discussed and worked through with the help of a relationship counsellor.
While addiction requires it's own approach to overcome, it is important to note how issues like these affect relationships - for both the person suffering from the addiction and their partner. Whether it is a substance abuse, Internet addiction or even a shopping addiction, the resulting financial and emotional issues can be devastating for relationships.
An affair is perhaps one of the biggest problems any couple will have to face, whether it be physical or emotional; for some it signals the end of a relationship. In other cases however, understanding the motivations and underlying issues that lead to the betrayal and rebuilding a sense of trust can help the couple overcome it.
Communication is at the heart of all relationships, and when it falters, it can lead to problems. It may be that you feel you have drifted apart over the years, or perhaps you find yourselves arguing over the same issues again and again. Whatever the concern, establishing a good line of communication is important - and this is something that can be worked on in relationship counselling.
Cross cultural relationships can bring with them a unique set of difficulties, ranging from a difference in religion to language barriers. Coming together to discuss this openly, without judgement or bias can be a useful exercise.
Whether you are having pre-nuptial concerns, or are considering separation or divorce, these life-changing events can affect you both emotionally. Sometimes talking your worries through can help you when making such big decisions.
This covers all things to do with family - whether you and your partner differ in parenting styles, or there is conflict between yourself and another family member. The way we relate to our family can also be influential in the way we relate within relationships. These patterns can be explored further in therapy.
Sometimes the stresses and strains of everyday life can take their toll on relationships. Failing to maintain a healthy work-life balance can be a source of contention within relationships, especially when children are involved. While it can be difficult to keep everyone happy, discussing your concerns with each other is a great start to resolving such issues.
How can relationship counselling help?
Relationship counselling (or couples counselling) offers a safe and supportive space where you and your partner can work through problems. Many couples find it useful to work through problems with the guidance of a couple's counsellor, an unbiased party.
To find out more about this type of therapy, please visit our couples counselling fact-sheet.
What should I be looking for in a counsellor or psychotherapist?
Whilst there are no official rules and regulations in position that stipulate what level of training and experience a counsellor dealing with relationship issues needs, we do recommend that you check your therapist is experienced in the area for which you are seeking help.
A Diploma level qualification (or equivalent) in relationship counselling or a related topic will provide assurance and peace of mind that your counsellor has developed the necessary skills.
Another way to assure they have undergone specialist training is to check if they belong to a relevant professional organisation that represents couples counsellors.
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Content written/edited by Denise Pickup BACP (Accred) in 2008. All content displayed on Counselling Directory is provided for general information purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for advice given by your GP or any other healthcare professional.
Whilst we endeavor to ensure all information is accurate, Counselling Directory make no representations or warranties of any kind, whether express or implied, as to the accuracy of the information included within the website. Any dependence you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.
- Understanding relationships: the drama triangle
- Depression: Its impact upon the couple relationship
- Relationship issues
- Confronting problems in your relationship
- Relationships - making a difference
- Developing a healthy balance between separateness and togetherness in relationships
- Fear, love and relationships
- Debs in search of self (Pt 1)
- Being at the other end of the jealousy spectrum
- Is your relationship in crisis? Coping with a potential break up
- Relationships - dealing with conflict
- Top tips for keeping your relationship fresh
- I resent my partner what should I do?
- Stress in relationships
- When your heart is broken
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