Whether we’ve been married for many years or dating someone we hope to share the rest of our lives with, problems in our relationships can be challenging on many levels.
One thing to remember if you are facing relationship issues is that no two relationships are the same. Often, we compare our situation with others’, which can lead to a sense of shame about our perceived shortcomings.
However, it is important to recognise that even when a relationship looks perfect from the outside, this is very rarely the case. Everybody has their own quirks, histories, emotional baggage and value systems, so whenever two people come together, these things are bound to present conflict in at least one area.
For many of us, confronting this conflict is the last thing we want to do. We may worry about opening ourselves up to criticism from our partner, worsening existing problems, being misunderstood, creating a hostile atmosphere, or even inadvertently causing a break up.
This is why it can be so helpful to know how relationship counselling works.
If you value your relationship, no matter what challenges you’re facing, there is no need to give up hope or resign yourself to an unhappy situation.
Although an experienced relationship counsellor will be able to guide you through any issue, some areas that people seek help for in couples counselling include:
Because we all have different communication styles, the majority of relationship issues will boil down to this most fundamental issue.
If you feel like your partner has expectations which confuse you, if they say one thing but you suspect they mean another, or if you find yourselves frequently bickering about the same topics without reaching a compromise, then the root of your problem may be a clash of communication styles.
In one way or another, every healthy relationship involves a level of intimacy. When problems cause this intimacy to become strained or withdrawn, it can not only affect how we feel about our partner, but also how we feel about ourselves.
Although it can be difficult to open up about things like sexual difficulties, self esteem, honesty, and trust, your counsellor can provide a safe and private place to discuss how these matters affect your relationship.
Another triggering factor can be family members. Whether the in-laws are difficult to get along with, or you and your partner have contrasting methods of parenting, family can sometimes do the opposite of holding a relationship together.
Questioning whether or not you should stay together for the sake of your children is also a profound and stressful decision to make without guidance.
Other issues may include controlling or abusive behaviour, infidelity, or simply feeling unappreciated by your partner. But whatever your reason for seeking help, a well-trained couples counsellor will always approach these issues with sensitivity and respect for your personal boundaries.
To get a clearer picture of what outcomes you can expect, it may help to visualise what your counselling sessions will look like.
Before your counsellor can begin to guide you towards a positive outcome, you can expect a sensitive and respectful conversation about the current state of your relationship, including what you’re unhappy with and other contributing factors. This could also cover the history of your relationship, the things that do work well, and aspects of your personal history that may be relevant.
For some of us, opening up like this can be a daunting concept. However, once your counsellor has a good idea of where you’re coming from, the focus will then shift to helping you achieve the happy relationship you desire.
If you’re open to discussion and considering new ways of addressing your issues, you can then work together on the development of strategies to reach your goals.
With this professional guidance, you can expect to see changes such as:
Understanding which parts of your conflicts with a partner are caused by miscommunication or a difficulty with expressing wants and needs can be a revelation.
When this is addressed in a positive way, you may find that you can talk to your partner more meaningfully, negotiate and compromise more effectively, and express yourself in a way that fosters a more loving, supportive relationship.
Although it can be uncomfortable at times, counselling in regards to intimacy will often lead to breakthroughs that help you reconnect with your partner.
The emotional barriers we construct to protect ourselves are often helpful to begin with, but when they result in trust issues, sexual difficulties, or other problems with intimacy, our relationships tend to suffer. Breaking down these barriers through couples therapy will often result in a stronger bond with your partner.
From family grievances causing stress, to a lack of affection causing low self esteem, relationship problems are bound to take a toll on our mental health.
If you find yourself dealing with persistent low moods, anger, depression, feeling smothered or lonely, or using self-destructive behaviour to cope, then relationship counselling can provide the help you need. With a skilled counsellor, you can expect all the mental health benefits that come with a happier, healthier relationship.
Attending sessions as a couple will give your counsellor a clear overview of your relationship. It shows them how you interact with each other, as well as how your perception of the relationship may differ. This allows them to take all things into consideration when they offer their advice and strategies.
Although you may have a good understanding of what you’d like to fix, the most helpful relationship counselling depends on an unbiased and transparent approach, which means that both partners should feel involved. So, ideally, your partner will be open to improve their relationship as well.
However, once your counsellor has gotten to know you both, you may decide to shift to one-on-one sessions over time.
Please note, there are some situations which make it difficult to attend sessions together in the first place. For example, if your issues revolve around an abusive partner, or if you would like to discuss something that you don’t feel comfortable talking about in front of them, then another, more personal form of individual counselling may be appropriate for you.
For relationship therapies that provide you with all the insight and understanding you need to revive your relationship, SHYNE Wellness is here to help.
The life coaches and counsellors at SHYNE Wellness come highly qualified and highly recommended. Certified in areas like anxiety and stress management, healing from trauma, and all forms of relationship counselling including family, parenting, and marriage counselling, the range of specialists at SHYNE Wellness are able to recommend effective counselling services for any couple.
Regaining the spark in your relationship may seem like a lost cause, but with SHYNE Wellness, you’re bound to find an approach that works for you. With services covering many different styles of counselling from spiritual practises to neuroscience, you can transform your relationships in ways that positively impact every sphere of your life.
Located in the Melbourne CBD, SHYNE Wellness is founded by counsellor and life coach Poli Zoungas. A member of the Australian Counselling Association and International Coaching Federation, Poli specialises in the mental health and relationships of adolescents, couples, adults and families. With extensive qualifications across a broad range of counselling techniques, she works with every client to find the most practical and personalised approach for them.
If you’re considering relationship counselling in Melbourne, just phone 0417 616 406 or email [email protected] to book an appointment. Learn how Poli and SHYNE Wellness can help you to rekindle your relationships today!