Relationships/Marriage Counselling/Family/Finding balance
Let's face it, most of our lives revolve around relationships of some kind. Whether its our family, partner, kids, work - and it's not always rosy, is it? Sometimes these very aspects that are no doubt a joy in many ways, can also become a real challenge. And it can be tough getting support about challenges with our relationships, as often its these groups that are the reason for tension and can be hard to seek support in the extended network as its common to pass judgement or provide 'advice' that is far from helpful. And at times, we may feel really stuck in what is actually the issue and then how to fix it. Talking to a trained counsellor can help 'get underneath' and really have a look at the big picture so we can work together to help you move forward.
I offer individual sessions, as well as couples counselling, family sessions, and mediation.
"Is that really true?"
One of my favourite spiritual teachers I've discovered is Byron Katie. She asks the fundamental question to help us investigate our thinking patterns - 'is that true'? Sounds so simple, doesn't it? But when you start to really work through it, the answer is often far from simple.
The next time you catch yourself thinking something in particular about the person you're experiencing conflict with, ask yourself some of these questions:
What am I actually feeling right now? Notice your body - what do you feel?
What has been said between you both and does this come up repeatedly?
Was there a time when things were going well between you? I would assume that is a big YES - so, then investigate - what is different? Be specific.
If you notice there is a judgement, feeling, assumption - question it. For example, "s/he should hug me more." Why should they? Have you told them this? What was the response?
How would you like this person to respond?
According to Dr. Russ Harris (founder of ACT), there are four relationship 'myths':
1. THE PERFECT PARTNER
2. IT SHOULD BE 'EASY'
3. EVERLASTING LOVE
4. YOU COMPLETE ME
So what can we do?
L – Letting go (of resentment, blaming, criticising, demanding)
O – Opening up (allowing difficult thoughts and feelings)
V – Valuing (acting in line with your values such as caring, contribution and connection)
E – Engaging (being psychologically present and available)
What causes relationship problems?
There is no one answer to this question, but overall there are usually predominant factors, such as:
Did you know that about 80% of communication is non-verbal? It's not only WHAT we say, it's HOW we say it. Men and women also often have very different ways of communicating, especially about 'problems'. Women, for example, may like to talk about a problem (sometimes the same issue, over and over) and don't necessarily want it 'solved' - they may just want to be heard and have a hug. Men, on the other hand, tend to want to 'problem solve' and may find it frustrating hearing the same issue and not resolving it. Sometimes it can be difficult to express our actual needs. That takes practice. Learning one anothers' "Love Language" can be a helpful tool.
How we are raised, including our attachment patterns with our family of origin, past relationships, abuse, traumas, hurts and life experience all play a role in how we respond to the world around us.
LIFE STAGE / TRANSITIONS / STRESS
The length of time we are in a relationship, as well as where we are in our life stage can also impact our relationships. Bringing a new baby into the family, moving house, starting a new job - lots of factors impact stress and coping, as well as internal barometer of happiness and expectations.
HOW PEOPLE THINK
How we think of ourselves - self-esteem, self-confidence can all play a factor in our relationship. If we don't have a good relationship with ourself, then it can be difficult to be a good partner for someone else. Some people are also largely impacted by what others think about them, expectations and is important to investigate what our own individual core values are in order to see how they can align (or not).
Particular patterns of behaviour can be important signs that a relationship is at risk. Interactions that include disrespect, defensiveness, criticism, or ‘stonewalling’ (putting up a barrier to communication) are signs that a relationship is in crisis. According to psychological research, a ratio of five positive interactions to every one negative interaction has been suggested as a good indicator that a relationship is functioning well.
These are just a few examples of things to be aware of.
Counselling can help explore further. Why not book a session today?