Salami Slicing and the Art of Relationships
With so many relationships in trouble many are looking for ways to address the problems. Perhaps wanting to get back the partner that they got together with, perhaps wanting to understand what went wrong with the relationship and how to put it right. For many it’s a need to find a solution or to find a way to make the partnership work; for others it’s a checking process before abandoning hope.
Of course, many people decide to try counselling - yet many are scared, fearing that it is a sign that the relationship is over if you can’t sort out the issues between yourselves. The problem with this approach is that many simply leave it too long and the relationship has gone past breaking point. But what are the actual benefits of taking time to talk through your situation with a counsellor, a relative stranger, about your relationship. Part of the benefit is in taking time out of your normal environment to think about your situation and talk things through. The counsellor can offer structure and insight into that process. Indeed, many have found that relationship counselling has not only changed their relationship but has also had a positive impact on many parts of their lives individually. Many people struggle with taking that first step, which is in some respect a leap of faith - yet experience shows that almost everybody who takes the difficult step to go for counselling feels some benefit. Perhaps the biggest stumbling block to repairing relationships is when one partner is not committed to repairing the relationship. This can happen for a number of reasons, but for counselling to succeed in healing the relationship both partners must want it to be repaired.
The reality is that most relationships come to an end over time almost like a series of salami slices, where it is difficult to point to a particular moment in time. There can be years of frustration within a relationship and each pushes you further and further apart. Perhaps you never hear your partner defend you to others. Perhaps you have stopped doing things together unless it is the chores of the house. Perhaps shouting and sulking have replaced heated arguments which in their turn replaced the discussions you used to have. It all builds up. Although there isn’t a precise point where it all started, often there is a trigger point that causes the relationship to fall apart. It might be something as traumatic as an affair; it might be stress; and suddenly you see how broken the relationship really is.
The sooner you recognise the salami-slice process destroying your relationship, the sooner you can do something about reversing the problems. It can be hard to talk to your partner about what is happening, but by being honest and trying to fix issues early you stand a much better chance of repairing the relationship. Counsellors can help if this dialogue is too hard to have on your own; sometimes it is useful just to get started on the process of being honest with your partner.
If it gets to the traumatic event stage then you are coming to counselling with your relationship in intensive care, so it is perhaps not surprising that it is harder and more challenging even with a counsellor to work your way back. As with so many problems in life, acting when you know there is a problem can save a lot of heartache (literally) in the future.
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About Graeme Orr
I am an Accredited Member of BACP offering counselling for both individuals and couples on the Southside of Glasgow.
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