The Gap Between Feeling Relationship Pain and Fixing it Widens

New statistics out say that couples wait an average of 6 years after they know that there is a problem in their relationship before seeking counselling.

What is so disturbing about this statistic is that many couples must be experiencing high levels of pain and suffering before they are reaching out for help.

Research into counselling outcomes says that says 80% of people that attend counselling experience positive benefits and change within themselves and their relationships.

So many couples are needlessly struggling within their relationship when they could benefit from attending counselling.

If you are wondering if your relationship might be in trouble, here are some tell-tale signs that you might need help:

  • You feel like you are growing apart and communicating less and less.
  • Your sexual life has diminished or completely evaporated.
  • You frequently feel criticised, blamed or attacked.
  • You look for excuses to avoid your partner or relationship time shared together.
  • You enjoy time with friends and colleagues more than with your partner.
  • You get caught in a cycle of attack and withdrawal and rarely resolve issues.
  • You prefer to lose yourself in sport, the internet or books instead of spending time with your partner.
  • You often feel defensive about the smallest complaints.

If you can relate to some of the statements above, it may be a sign that your relationship needs the assistance of a specifically trained relationship counsellor or therapist.

One of the common myths that stop couples from getting help with their relationship is that to ask for help means that you are weak or inadequate. I often hear the old adage “If you can’t fix it yourself, then it can’t be fixed at all.”  These myths don’t acknowledge that when you are in a relationship or ‘system’, it is very hard at times to have an objective perspective of the relationship dynamics.

A couples counsellor or relationship therapist is trained to specifically identify the blocks that people have to relating. They are also trained in process or systems theory, which helps them see the negative patterns, triggers and cycles that couples get into. Having the third perspective on the patterns in your relationship then helps you step out of these destructive and harmful dynamics.

I think when a couple comes to relationship or marriage counselling, they are saying how much they care about the other and the relationship. They place a priority on their relationship by asking for help or assistance before things get worse.

If you don’t want to be one of the couples that stay in relationship pain, contact one of our counsellors at the Centre for Relationship today.

Do you Turn Towards, Turn Away or Turn Against?

Have you thought much about what makes some relationships work and others fail? I have been interested in this question, through working with individuals and couples with relationship issues over many years. I am always interested in what helps some couples have loving, respectful and successful relationships and others experience constant pain and heartache.

Dr John Gottman, professor of psychology at the University of Washington has researched couples for close to 40 years. Dr. Gottman has developed a methodolgy that predicts with 90% percent accuracy which newlywed couples will remain married and which will divorce four to six years later. This research also applies to same-sex couples.

One of the important aspects of this research has been noting the behaviours of successful couples. Dr Gottman has concluded that individuals in relationships are constantly making emotional bids for connection with one another. He has noticed that couples that ‘turn towards’ one another in everyday interactions report higher relationship satisfaction and are less likely to separate. Couples that ‘turn away’ or ‘turn against’ are much less happy in their relationships and less likely to stay together.

You might be asking, ‘what does turning towards, away and against mean?’ Here is a simple example to help you understand this. Let’s say if your partner shares something about their day with you i.e. they are making a bid for connection, and you respond with interest, then you are ‘turning towards’. Lets take the same scenario at a different time and you don’t respond, ignore or walk away, then you are ‘turning away’. Perhaps another time, you think your partner is interrupting you and you respond angrily, then you are ‘turning against’

I think the really important aspect of this research, is that it shows how the simple everyday experiences, exchanges and interactions with our partners can make a significant difference to the longevity and satisfaction of any relationship.

This theory can also be transferred to relationships in the workplace, with friends and family. You might want to begin to notice how you are interacting with the significant people in your life. How are you responding to others’ bids for emotional connection? How do you interact with the bids for connection that are made towards you by colleagues at work? What bids for connection do you make with the important people in your life? Do you turn towards, turn away or turn against?