25 Nov Our relationship seems hopeless, is it?
Our relationship seems hopeless, is it?
When can couples/marriage/relationship counselling work?
I have lots of couples say to me when they first reach out, “I think our problems are too big to be fixed” in reality, most of the time (not all but most) they don’t have to be if you don’t want them to be. The real question is this, do you both want things to improve?
The areas that we focus on in therapy (my kind of therapy at least – the Gottman Method) are:
- The friendship system
- Shared meaning
- Life dreams
There can be ruptures or challenges in any of these areas, or even many (sometimes all) but that doesn’t have to mean the end of the relationship…IF, big IF, you don’t want it to be.
When is it NOT going to work?
Now, obviously there are times when relationship or marriage therapy may not be the best course of action. Where abuse or active addition is present for example. But in the majority of cases, if you both have, even a whisper, of commitment to making improvements in the relationship then therapy can be a good option.
So therapy can work if someone has waning commitment to the relationship?
Yes. Even the teeniest amount, because, what can happen is ruptures or injuries occur to the relationship, maybe ongoing arguments (conflict), maybe infidelity or other betrayals (trust), maybe parenting or financial differences (shared meaning), maybe emotional distance or not finding each other fun/interesting/attractive (the friendship system). These issues over time can mean you feel less and less committed to the relationship. You start to doubt why you are even trying anymore.
Now, the case may be that you want to separate and that may be the best course of action for you. If that’s what you want deep down, then that’s what you do. But, if you feel your commitment is waning because you have lost sight of the positive aspects of the relationship, lost your connection to each other and your ability to communicate, then all of that can be worked on in therapy.
It is up to you, you chose the relationship you want to have and if your partner also wants the same, it can be achieved.
Moving from locking horns to empathy and understanding
Gottman has found through their research that 69% of conflict between couples is around perpetual problems. We are all raised differently, we all have our own unique dreams, fears and needs and therefore we are going to think and feel differently to our partner. Compromise isn’t always an option. What we can try to achieve is greater communication skills, more effective listening skills, empathy and compassion for our partner and their perspective. A deeper understanding of the WHY. Why is this so important to them? Why does this frighten them? Why is this a ‘non-negotiable’ for them?
Therefore if we understand that 69% of the time, we are not going to agree, it highlights how important conflict management is, but most of the time we are not taught this. In some cases, we had awesome role models who modelled how to have conflict, how to differ, respectfully and empathetically. Most of the time though, we didn’t, and we need to learn that from somewhere.
(For further information on managing conflict in your relationship – check out Tracy’s previous blog https://nestcounselling.com.au/how-to-work-with-conflict-in-your-relationship/)
It can feel overwhelming and terrifying when we fear we may be losing the relationship we had dreamed of, maybe the one we used to have, or maybe it’s never been how you wished it would be. Maybe you’ve always felt that you struggled to communicate effectively or to manage conflict. Maybe trust issues started early on in the relationship.
Whatever is happening, if both partners (of their own free will) want it to work, and when I say this I am referring to the fact that one partner can’t ‘force’ the other to want something they simply don’t want. But, if both partners agree to exploring options for improving the relationship and both of you are willing to invest emotionally and practically in making changes then there is hope.
If you want to reach out to book an appointment of to find out more about how couples counselling could work for you call Tina on 0484 223 042