Relationship counselling - "John and Kate's story"
Kate and John have been married for 15 years and never thought they would be sitting across from a relationship therapist. What had started as a beautiful day outside a Norman church, taken in the happiness of two children had come to angry screaming matches every night followed by sour sulks.
Kate had immersed herself in the role of wife and mother and felt she had rather put her career on hold. John saw his role as provider, getting the money to give his family a good life. Mum took the lead with the house and the children, but dad was there too but not to the same extent. Kate always felt guilty if she took time for herself; ‘a good mum is there all the time ‘. In reality she resented that John would never notice she was struggling and offer help. She began to feel he did not love her anymore.
John felt guilty that he could not provide all the best things for his family. Kate did not work now so there was only one wage coming in. Money was tight and luxuries few. His dad had always been able to treat the family, he felt ashamed that he did not do the same for his wife and children so he worked long hours and was silent at home. He began to feel that he wasn’t worthy of Kate’s love.
They stopped doing things as a couple many years back and as time went on they talked less and less and argued more and more. Kate snapped about help round the house and John complained that she was always looking for more from him. Finally Kate had contacted a counsellor to see if their relationship could be salvaged.
In that first evening they felt that they really heard each other. They, with the counsellor’s help, listened and spoke about their feelings. It was hard at first. It seemed like criticism, yet as they reconnected with each other and empathised, they began to dig a little deeper into their problems.
John noticed that for the first time, he was able to stop blaming Kate for her ‘nagging’ and notice how he was around the house, how his mood made it difficult for him to listen. Kate too saw that she was blaming John for her feelings of guilt at not being a ‘perfect’ mother.
With the counsellor’s help they began to communicate more honestly with each other. Taking small steps at first, the counsellor suggested that each of them do one thing to help the other feel less isolated in their relationship. From this basic start they began to reconnect which they had not felt since the early days of their marriage, learning to communicate effectively with each other. Over time they learned not only to express their needs honestly, but to be responsive to each other and strengthen their relationship.
John and Kate’s story could be any couple entering counselling. They used the skills of the counsellor to help them to understand what was going on and to choose a route from the destructive path that they were on. Perhaps your story is the same, perhaps it is different, but perhaps counselling can help you.
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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, anxiety and self-esteem 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.