Marriage and Couple Counselling / Therapy

Couple counselling quizFailure to develop a satisfying intimate relationship has been reported to be the single most frequently presented problem in therapy. And that shouldn't be any big surprise. Intimate relationships with ourselves and our partners take time and effort to sustain. Once the initial romantic phase is over, difficulties can emerge, and before long, couples can experience a sense of disconnection from one another.

And, no matter how sophisticated we may be in other ways, most of us have not been well educated when it comes to intimate relating. We were not taught that both partners hold responsibility and need to be willing to develop new skills in order for the relationship to shift in any significant way. Over time, this emotional alienation can lead couples to live together more like room-mates or lead to separation or divorce.

When individuals and couples want to have more juice and passion in their lives, they have to learn more about their feelings. Learning to locate, express and receive feelings is the foundation of our work and it's a very challenging skill to learn. This learning requires a determined effort at self-discovery, a willingness to learn a language of feeling, a readiness to risk personal vulnerability and a desire to experience a more whole and balanced existence. For those who persevere, the rewards in relationship and family life are beyond measurement.

In our culture we cherish the capacity to define what we desire and then just go for it. Knowing what we want in our relationships and nailing it down to an exact number of steps, not exceeding 10, promises us entrance into the garden of earthly delights with hardly a minute wasted. Problem is that these chosen steps need to include our partner and take into account the concept of ‘multiple realities

Couple therapy, although unique to each individual, is a process that generally addresses three important stages:

1. Identifying current unproductive patterns:

Manner of arguing, triggers of disputes and shut down of communication, real issue involved in disturbed reactions, importance of real issue and why, feelings evoked in the course of the dispute.

2. Identifying how current unproductive patterns are related to the past:

Ways in which current difficulties in the relationship are similar to your experience of what happened in your family of origin. How the roles, rules, secrets, and alliances that you experienced in your family of origin impact on your current relationship.

3. Shifting hurtful patterns

This process involves steps such as:   

  • Creating greater empathy for each partner's deepest self needs, fears and reactions.
  • Helping each partner to find new and more productive ways of responding to their partner, especially when confronted by "negative" patterns that often cause difficulty.
  • Learning to express needs and fears more directly.
  • Learning to cope with difficulties such as depression, anxiety, addictions, illness, anger, and sexualizing that can undermine a relationship.

Common issues that often underlie couple difficulties are:

  • Issues of equity and fairness; equal sharing responsibility.
  • Issues related to closeness and distance; pursuing and distancing patterns
  • Issues of power, control; one-up and one-down vs. vulnerability and equality.
  • Issues of flexibility, negotiation, compromise and creativity vs. rigidity, conflict and feeling stuck.

Couples therapy can compliment Individual Counselling and Therapy as both can lead to greater freedom to be ourselves, to be more fulfilled, and to love ourselves which in turn allows us to love our partner.


Helpful Questions

Questions to ask each other before marriage