My relationship - Should I stay or should I go
When there are major problems in a relationship you may be asking yourself should I stay or should I go. There can be dramatic reasons for the end of a relationship like an affair, meeting someone else, or perhaps the relationship has simply come to an end and you spend more time fighting than sharing. In all cases the relationship has usually reached some breaking point where the status quo is no longer an option and something in the relationship has to change.
In relationship counselling a lot is made of communication. Correctly, authors, counsellors and experts put great store by ensuring that the couple know how to communicate what they need from the relationship and that they are listening to what their partner needs from the relationship. Often when couples arrive at the counsellor’s door this process has reached an en passé. They each can no longer see a way of being themselves in the relationship, and may have reached out to others, or become uncommunicative, or changed their behaviour. Often counselling and the couple can overcome these problems if they want to work at them, if they want to repair the relationship. Yet sometimes repair is impossible, you may find it impossible to trust your partner after an affair and it’s best to be clear going into a counselling process why you are there.
Individual counselling for couples
Understanding what you want in repairing (or not) the relationship might feel overwhelming and getting your priorities, thoughts and feelings straight can be difficult if discussing them directly with your partner. Many couples choose to have individual counselling for this reason. That way they can be clear and communicate what they must have.
Often couples will cite reasons outside of the relationship for staying together, typically staying together for the children - again, think carefully about this. A child of divorce parents once said, “Kids are not dumb. They know when their parents are unhappy. Sometimes is better to have two awesome parents who are not together that have two parents who are sad, miserable, depressed and angry, and only sticking together for the sake of their children.” One use of counselling may be how to split up in as amicable a way as possible so as to limit the effect on your children.
At the point where you and your partner are clearer on what is to happen with the relationship, a good relationship counsellor can help you talk about that without the blame and the accusation. The point of your relationship counselling is to let you hear each other and what you need going forward, a mixture of action and sentiment. When the couple start to engage in the relationship in this way problems disperse and trust and intimacy grow. The degree to which the partners can meet each others needs are directly related to the depth of the relationship going forward.
Should I stay or should I go? Perhaps its best left as a song for The Clash to sing. A better question is perhaps “What do I need for my relationship to work for me, and is it possible to get that through counselling?”
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About Graeme Orr
Graeme is a counsellor and author living and working on the south side of Glasgow.
In his practice he sees a number of clients with emotional, relationship and life issues that have relevance to us all. His articles are based on that experience and are offered as an opportunity to identify with, or to challenge you to make changes in your life.