Couples come to counselling for various reasons, the relationship may have broken down and they need to find a way forward to cope with divorce or separation – how to tell the children, how to manage finances and then how to be a single person in the world again. They may also want to stay together and resolve issues that have emerged due to life changes, stress, emotional baggage or they have just drifted apart and find themselves unhappy.
One of the main reasons couples seek counselling is to find better ways to communicate. Over time, we sometimes lose the ability to express our needs to each other, resentment builds and we find ourselves arguing and feeling irritated with each other. One of the ways counselling can help is to search for the underlying issues and not focus on the ones we argue about. It provides a space to explore the feelings underneath the words and promote deeper understanding of ourselves and our partner.
When we understand ourselves and our feelings we have more space for others. In the counselling room the couple can learn to express themselves and be heard by each other in a safe environment. Our buttons get pushed in our most close and intimate relationships but they don’t always belong there. When conflict arises the couple then has greater insight to the root of the feeling and can feel empathy and provide support.
It might be that one or both partners need individual counselling to work on specific issues from the past that are unresolved and are being expressed in the relationship, causing harm. The couple can continue to work together during this time and learn to own their personal issues, separating them from the other person and reducing blame.
Quite often there will be one person who is less interested in counselling and is persuaded by their partner to attend. We cannot change each other, but by understanding ourselves better and developing greater self-awareness the dynamic of the relationship changes. Showing up and being willing to change and work to find a more harmonious relationship is a positive message and one that takes courage.
So whether you want to stay together or work on reducing the pain of a break-up, counselling may be a good option for you.