A recent study confirms that counselling saves marriages
A research study by family and divorce law specialists, Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, has found that from their sample of 2000 respondents, 37% of couples experiencing difficulties in their relationship thought that counselling could help; however, only 23% were actively seeking help.
Interestingly there is a gender divide in opinion on the helpfulness of counselling; 45% of females believed that counselling could save their relationship, whereas only 28% of men confirmed this belief.
The findings of the research concluded couples who attended counselling for an average of four months helped save 12% of marriages.
The research also indicates that a lack of communication was the biggest factor in the breakdown of marriages (40%) - this is the first task a couple counsellor will address.
Lack of communication does not mean you need to communicate more, it points to a problem in the quality of the communication between you.
Here are some very simple ideas that can help the communication in your relationship and, perhaps more importantly, to assist you in reconnecting as a couple. This may seem very prescriptive but my experience has shown that it works; so it’s worth the investment.
- Spend 30 minutes a day talking to each other. Turn off your mobile phones, put all distractions aside, sit opposite each other with direct eye contact and talk. (If you can touch, this process is enhanced, holding hands is a great place to start.)
- Take 15 minutes of talk time each.
- The talking partner – begin by sharing how your day has been; go into as much detail as you can. (Talk about what you had for lunch, how did your sandwich taste?)
- The listening partner – listen, don’t interrupt, don’t make comparisons ‘my day was worse than yours’, simply try to understand what it was like for your partner to have experienced the day he/she just had.
- Tip – This will sound strange but try it out, don’t listen with your ears, listen with your heart. Take the focus away from what you are hearing and focus on what you are feeling. For example, if your partner is telling you they feel overwhelmed by their workload, imagine how it might feel for them to be experiencing this. Listening to the words takes us into a ‘thinking’ place; it can easily slip into ‘I need to make this better for my partner’ type thoughts. This means you’ve lost them, it’s now become about you making it all better. Listening with our hearts encourages empathy, when your partner feels deeply understood, they will feel supported without you having to rush in and save them (which usually ends in disaster! – especially as that may not be what they need from you). This activity will transform your ability to be receptive to your partner and increase their feelings of being supported.
- Practice this for at least 30 days; this begins to create a new habit of relating. The consistency will begin to convey the non-verbal messages of ‘you matter to me’; ‘I want to hear from you’; ‘you are important to me’. What you talk about is unimportant, the feeling of being deserving of your time, attention and focus promotes a sense of being valued.
- To progress, now begin to introduce feeling words – this is a good place to start; http://marriage.about.com/cs/dialogue/a/feelingwords.htm
The above will enhance the quality of your communication, will generate feelings of being supported and valued. This can strengthen your relationship and is the first step to building a more secure and honest relationship.
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