The relationship between an intimate couple has the potential to enhance happiness and well-being, bringing with it a host of positive emotions and feelings such as love, joy, passion, security and togetherness. Likewise, an unhappy relationship can cause stress, anger, frustration, sadness and disappointment. When left unaddressed, sometimes these negative emotions can become destructive and threaten our well-being, leading to more pervasive conditions such as anxiety and depression.
Naturally, all healthy relationships experience ups and downs. Relationship difficulties challenge both partners in the relationship to grow as individuals, and when navigated successfully through counselling, can lead each person to experience the other in a more connected way.
Couples relationships are by their very nature intimate in communication. In general, all intimate relationships involve some form of communication of one’s personal, social and sexual needs. It’s how these needs are communicated that defines the health of the relationship.
Relationship counselling provides a safe and mediated environment for each partner to openly express their needs and desires and feel heard, respected, and understood by their partner. That’s not to say their partner will like what they hear, or accept it. Conflict is inevitable in any relationship. It is how conflict is handled and resolved that determines whether the relationship can operate at a constructive rather than destructive level.
The 10 most common reasons that couples are said to seek counselling are to:
- improve communication
- resolve conflict
- address financial and economic issues
- increase level of intimacy
- explore work related issues
- resolve parenting issues
- discuss household task division
- improve relationships with extended family members
- address tensions involving friends
- address alcohol and other drug addiction.
The role of the counsellor in working with a couple is to help both partners to become more self-aware of their thoughts, feelings and behaviours and develop their communication skills so they can better express their needs, whatever they be, in a mutually respectful way. During the counselling process, the counsellor acts as the advocate for the relationship, not the individuals, aiming to maintain a non-biased position for the benefit of the relationship.
Children keep parents in each-other’s lives in one way or another, because children need both parents. Whether the parents choose to remain in an intimate relationship, like in a marriage, or whether they choose a ‘business-like’ relationshp like that of couples who choose to separate or divorce, either way, parents who share custody of children need to learn ways of relating to one another and communicating effectively, for the benefit and well-being of their children.