Couples Counselling

Marriage & Relationship Counselling

Are you looking for a relationship counsellor? Couples counselling is variously called, marriage counselling or relationship counselling.  We see couples, whether married or de facto, in straight or same-sex relationships as well a pre-marital counselling. Every couple is different and there is no rulebook but here are some common patterns.

Everyday Relationship Issues

All couples, even in strong, healthy relationships, face everyday issues around such things as money, in-laws, boredom, kids, housework, time management, work/life balance etc. Counselling provides a safe place to address such everyday issues. The therapist provides a neutral non-judgmental third party to help kept discussions on-track, civilised and calm. The couple can then talk without getting emotionally overloaded.

The therapist can help identify deadlocks (where talking just goes around and around without getting anywhere), or impasse (where the couple has come to a standstill and neither partner feels that they can move), or misunderstanding (where the couple are talking past each other). Slowing and deepening communication allows each partner gets the other's point of view. With communication freed up, the couple can then negotiate constructively.

Counselling will help you remember the strengths that each of you bring to the relationship as well as remind you of all the good things about the relationship that tend to get lost in times of distress.

Life Challenges

Life challenges can strain relationships as the couple struggle to adapt to changed circumstances. Therapy can provide time and space for a couple to come to terms with major life changes and transitions. Examples include:

  • Complexities of merged families
  • Financial or employment upheavals
  • Cross-cultural relationships
  • Migration stresses
  • Infertility, miscarriage, IVF, impotence, etc.
  • Loss of close family member
  • Changes with having children
  • Complexities of disability or mental health conditions
  • Other life transitions such as redundancy, retirement, empty nest, moving cities etc.

When you are breaking point

Complex Relationship Issues

Things are trickier if the relationship itself is in trouble - where there is a loss of trust, a buildup of negative feelings or increasingly hurtful behaviours. Typical issues include:

  • Cheating, emotional affairs, or jealousy
  • Violence, power, control, emotional, physical or sexual abuse
  • Off-again, on-again relationships
  • Addictions
  • Communication breakdown, loss of intimacy, emotional or sexual shutdown

In complex situations one or both of the partners are bringing baggage from their past into the relationship. The result can be lots of pain and confusion where both feel misunderstand and unappreciated. Baggage may include attachment patterns, that is the patterns of closeness and distance. For instance, one partner may be feeling suffocated so is pulling away while the other feels neglected so is anxiously trying to get closer. Obviously, this will never work.

A therapist may recommend a combination of individual and couples therapy in complex situations. Healing a damaged relationship requires finding mutual understanding and forgiveness then rebuilding hope and trust. Therapy can help identify negative patterns of relating and help you find new possibilities.