As therapists, we know first-hand that relationships do not flow like fairy tales, where two people fall in love and live out their lives in eternal bliss. In fact, maintaining relationships after falling in love is where the hard work begins. And this is only straightforward while life remains easy. Many couples discover emotional challenges unravelling after they have been close to each other for a while. This is when life starts throwing curveballs. Periods of strife can leave even the most loving of couples struggling to connect. Marriage counselling can help, but timing is everything. Akin to your car, It makes little sense to take your car into the shop a month after it started making a horrific noise. By that time, too much damage may have been done and your engine may be beyond repair.
A job loss, new baby, terminally ill and elderly parents, for example, can cause individuals to exhibit unhealthy, habitually patterned behaviour that predates the relationship. When communication breaks down and escalates to a loss of respect and trust, the relationship is ripe for rupture. Marriage counselling, also called relationship counselling, can help couples find their way back to the love and connectedness they once enjoyed if both parties genuinely want to put in the work.
Understanding Your Loved One
Life shapes us in different ways. Our unique experiences gathered from infancy through adulthood, mould us and our behaviour patterns. Whether we meet our partners early in adulthood or later in life, it is easy to forget that they are not the only person you see standing before you. Famous couple’s therapist, John Gottman accurately described people as a collection of “former selves” with their own “sets of problems”. As relationships progress and become complex, innate triggers and unresolved needs resurface to drive our emotional habits. Sometimes, they throw a wrench in our harmonious associations.
Virtually every couple requires help in their relationship at one stage or another. We work with couples of all ages and sexual orientations, married or not. During counselling sessions, your therapist will help both of you discover the layers that constitute each of you. The goal is to help you understand your loved one better. This way, you can heal and get out of conflict cycles that continue to plague your partnership.
Marriage Counselling For Communication Problems
Communication breakdown is the most common reason for couples to grow apart. Sometimes this is caused by one partner’s style, which may be combative and aggressive. It causes the other to shut down when tensions arise. At other times, a communication breakdown occurs as a result of a catastrophic incident, like infidelity. The aftermath of an affair injects deep mistrust into a relationship. With the guilt and resentment that ensue, almost all couples find it very difficult to navigate the dynamic of trust, which is earned, and forgiveness, which is given. They require a professional mediator to help them heal and start communicating again.
Having children is a joyous occasion for virtually every couple. However, it can introduce a multitude of disruptions to the family unit. If left unaddressed, they culminate in communication failure. Postpartum depression, burnout from busy careers and demands of family, financial constraints due to elevated household costs, can all lead to relationship damage. Taking care of a special needs child can magnify this further. All of it can leave couples with no time to heal the rifts forming between themselves.
Some might stop bickering and arguing to keep the peace in front of the kids. But the core problems get swept under a rug and never get resolved. It is enough to leave loving partners feeling very resentful towards one another. They will start living parallel lives. As if in autopilot, they will divide and share childcare duties and keep the household functioning. But their lives remain unfulfilled and dysfunctional as a couple.
Over time, this is a recipe for disaster. Such couples can benefit greatly from marriage counselling because we bring perspective and a structure to their relationship which will allow them to heal, reconnect and bond. Our goal is to get them communicating with each other, again. Some couples find family therapy helpful. It brings children into the fold and allows everyone to move forward as a unit.
Marriage Counselling for Sexual Problems
Infertility, sexual dysfunction, a mismatch in libido levels or a history of sexual abuse can introduce an enormous amount of grief to relationships. When your sex life does not spontaneously work, as you see on TV, self-loathing or blame can lead to an inability to connect with the person you love the most. Unfortunately, these relationships fall apart if they do not seek timely professional intervention.
Our therapists are trained to help couples with this most intimate aspect of a couple’s relationship. We help you work through the challenges in a confidential, non-judgmental and supportive way.
Mental and Physical Health Illnesses
Nobody should underestimate the extreme stress individuals experience when their partner suffers a mental or physical illness. Caregiving is but one of the numerous problems that arise for such couples. If both partners were previously responsible for the household finances, this now becomes a burden for one to carry while the other convalesces. It extends to caring for children and attending to household chores. Over time, the blame and resentment on both sides take on a life of its own, beyond the illness.
Marriage counselling can help this couple take pause. Your therapist can break down the problems into smaller manageable pieces. This way, you can work through the stages of managing the illness, finding support and learning to love each other again.
Separation and Divorce
Sometimes, a marriage, union or partnership simply reaches the end of the rope. Couples not yet ready to part ways may opt for a trial separation. They begin living separately to diffuse tensions and gain new perspectives but continue with marriage counselling. If both partners decide to move on in different directions, their therapist can help them navigate separation and divorce. Couples find this helpful for working out custody and childcare arrangements.
Conscious uncoupling is a contemporary method of managing the end of a marital relationship. In low conflict separations, a therapist can help couples part ways amicably, while maintaining mutual respect, for the sake of the children. The end of a relationship is never pleasant but mediation from a therapist can help everyone move on with the minimal drama.
How Marriage Counselling Works
Therapists can deploy many methods to assist couples in distress. Emotion-Focused Couples Therapy, founded by Canadian psychologist, Sue Johnson is the most successful and empirically validated method. It allows partners to deepen their understanding of typical patterns of conflict they get stuck in. A therapist helps them understand the emotional undercurrents that direct much of their behaviour and reactivity with one another.
This form of therapy grew from the study of human bonding, called Attachment theory, which was researched in the late 1960s, initially by psychologist John Bowlby. He established that human beings need an attachment to a significant other across our lifespans. In childhood, this attachment figure is our primary caregiver, often our mother. Children with strong anchored relationships move forward more confidently because they know they have “back up”.
The quality of this initial relationship acts as a prototype for all future social relationships. Our therapists use the science of Attachment theory to understand behaviour during conflict, where a romantic relationship triggers innate and learned attachment behaviour.
In addition, we deploy multiple other approaches, tailored to meet the needs of our clients. They include Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for couples, The Gottman Method, Transformational Systemic Therapy (STST) and others.
Fees for Marriage Counselling
Therapy fees are one reason why many couples avoid seeking help. And we understand this, completely.
First, our blogs, authored by professionally trained therapists, are available for free. We publish them regularly and feature topics that are useful for individuals, couples and families. We encourage you to visit our site often. In many cases, this information will help you understand what you are experiencing. However, our blogs do not constitute professional advice, diagnosis, treatment or therapy. You must always consult with a physician, psychologist or qualified mental health provider to professionally direct your physical, mental and emotional health.
Once we understand the issues, a few targeted sessions with a therapist can arm you with strategies to help you for the rest of your life. Find out more about how we charge for our time. We are happy to have a frank and open discussion with you about this. We never keep you in therapy for longer than you need and our clients attest to this professionalism.
Laura Devlin is an experienced Registered Psychological Associate with over 10 years of experience, and a co-owner at Beaches Therapy Group. We have helped hundreds of couples just like you. Contact us to discover how our therapy sessions are a worthwhile investment towards happy and healthy relationships.