Couples and Relationship Counselling
Many celebrity couples are now being more open about what it takes to have and maintain a happy and healthy relationship, and what has been coming to the forefront recently is how couples therapy or marriage therapy has helped them to overcome their challenges. From Kristen Bell & Dax Shephard, Beyonce & Jay-Z, Cameron Diaz & Benji Madden, Will Smith & Jada Pinkett-Smith, they have all openly acknowledged how seeing a therapist has helped their relationships to thrive.
Relationship therapy is no longer a taboo subject, and despite your wealth or success, it just shows that no matter who you are, or where you’re from relationships can be difficult to navigate.
Falling in love and finding the person you want to spend the rest of your life with can be a euphoric feeling. But as there are phases and stages in any relationship, this feeling of euphoria doesn’t last.
Being in a long-term committed relationship doesn’t come without its’ challenges. Particularly when each person comes with their own set of individual needs, values and family attachments, all of which has great relevance within your relationship. This essentially makes you who you are and can define how you relate within your relationship. We are all raised with different family values, cultural differences and opinions, so it’s no wonder that when we try to live out our lives with somebody whose values or opinions doesn’t emulate or own, it can be particularly frustrating.
My experience as a counsellor and psychotherapist suggests that when couples seek the help of a professional it means that either individually or as part of the couple, you have tried everything you can to improve or make changes in the relationship without much change or success. You have tried talking about it, to no avail, it leads to the same argument.
You are now wondering if there is any point in talking about your issues as you only seem to be stuck in the same continual cycle. Not only to feel unheard in your relationship but you’ve also lost hope. Now you are at crisis point.
You might have noticed that engaging in what used to be everyday mundane exchanges now turn into conflict and explosive arguments. Or there’s stony silence, no real connection and just co-existing as you go both about your day to day business.
Being in an unhappy marriage or feeling disconnected from your partner can increase stress levels, lower mood, impact eating, sleep and have a detrimental impact on your overall health and wellbeing. This not only impacts your intimate relationship but can also impact every other relationship, as you constantly feel as though you are in fight or flight mode. This can cause forgetfulness or you might begin to lose your temper more easily, perhaps you are even becoming more drawn to that colleague at work who seems kinder and offers you more of an empathic connection than the person your in a relationship with.
You may have some awareness or idea into why your relationship has begun to break down, perhaps it’s arguing over parenting style, disagreeing on financial issues, stressors at work, or coming to terms with a betrayal in the relationship.
Without clear, respectful and empathic communication everyday exchanges can quickly turn into heated arguments and before you know it you are saying hurtful things to one another that are difficult to retract or forget.
This can be particularly difficult to manage alone when tensions are high and you are both emotionally charged. It can be helpful to seek an impartial trained professional to find a way to listen and be heard in a safe environment.
The idea of couples therapy may feel overwhelming to you, particularly if you have never had therapy before, you might want to read this previous article about if you are hesitant on starting couples therapy to see if this answers some of your questions. What I will say, is that often couples seek therapy and additional support when it is too late, too much damage has been done and there have been some truly hurtful transgressions along the way. I would always recommend seeking help before the point of crisis or the possibility of the relationship breaking down. The sooner you reach out for support, the easier it will be for both of you to reconnect and get back the relationship that you want.
A couples’ therapist can assist in helping you both to rebuild communication, gain awareness and insight into your argumentative patterns and find practical solution focused ways so that you can once again begin working together as a team.
If you put in the time and effort to take your relationship to the next level to grow together, you can find happiness and fulfilment again. Like all good things worth having, this takes time and effort.
The process of relationship therapy is no quick fix, it will take commitment, compromise and honesty from you both if issues are to be understood and resolved. This doesn’t mean you have to always agree, or never have conflict in the future, but it can certainly teach you healthier ways of talking about and resolving your differences. This doesn’t have to feel scary, or like an uphill battle, but it provides the perfect opportunity to get to know each other again and have a clear focus on what you want the future of your relationship to look like.
If during the course of therapy you do decide to end the relationship, a couples’ therapist will be able to help facilitate this process to end the relationship as amicably as possible. Helping you both to find the best way to move forward.
If your relationship is in crisis and you think you might benefit from seeking professional help, you can email me in confidence here to arrange a 60 minute couples’ consultation.
I’m Lizandra Leigertwood and I’m a counsellor and psychotherapist in private practice based in St Albans, Hertfordshire. I help couples to improve their communication and re-establish a loving connection for a healthier and happier relationship.