We Can Help With… Relationship Problems
Positive relationships are a key ingredient to a happy life. Our relationships provide us with love, support, comfort and friendship. However, every couple will experience relationship difficulties, and while couples will undoubtedly feel confronted and sometimes overwhelmed by the challenges and difficulties they face, most of the time they are able to deal with them and move on. However, sometimes these challenges result in one or both partners feeling unheard, misunderstood, disrespected, or alienated and alone, and unable to sort out the issues no matter how hard they try. Left unresolved, these issues can cause significant psychological, physical and emotional stress.
Main Causes of Relationship Problems
There are a number of patterns and situations that can develop within a relationship which will contribute to problems arising. These include:
- Neglect of the relationship: Couples need to regularly spend time together doing things, talking about things that matter to each partner, and make plans for the future. Sometimes work pressures and personal issues, the demands of parenting, and the general busyness of life mean that we too easily put off spending time together to stay connected.
- Conflict: Conflict can leave one or both partners feeling angry, disappointed, frustrated or hurt, and when it is ongoing it can lead to feeling misunderstood, judged or attacked. It is really important that conflict is dealt with in a way that doesn’t drive your partner away or leave a build-up of resentment.
- Poor management of differences between partners: Differences between partners will always be there as we are all individuals with different values, priorities and ways of dealing with issues. Examples include attitudes to money, how and where we like to spend holidays, how much time we spend with extended families and friends, how much time we spend together or alone, how we show our love, how to raise or discipline children, where we send our children to school, how we drive the car, how tidy to keep the house, etc. Often, we tend to see that our way is the right way, and that means that our partner is wrong and should change. However, we need to find a way to manage these differences rather than try to wipe them out.
- Withdrawing care: We often try to let our partner know when we think they are wrong by telling them, and when that does not work, we then often punish them by removing things from the relationship that we know our partner values (e.g. talking, affection, or sex). This withdrawal of care inevitably leaves both parties feeling isolated, lonely, and misunderstood.
- Loss of compassion: We all like to feel that our thinking, feeling and behaviour is understood by our partner, and not judged as being wrong. Understanding does not mean agreeing – but if partners don’t seek to understand each other, good will and compassion, and acts of care and love can disappear from the relationship. This results in disconnection in relationships and partners may seek to find connection and value elsewhere – such as spending more time at work, on committees, with the children, on the internet, or with someone else. Other behaviours that can result from a relationship under this type of stress – including anxiety, depression, alcohol and drug use, eating disorders and gambling – which only add to the difficulties.
- Times of crisis: Understanding, compassion, love, and support are particularly important when life sends along a crisis. Individuals act differently to issues such as a loss of a job, death of a parent, infertility, miscarriage, a child’s disability, fire or drought, and these differences need to be understood. If couples provide support and care for each other, and stand together as a team, working through and recovering from life problems and crises can strengthen a relationship. If not, couples can be torn apart.
Counselling for Relationship Problems
All relationships face difficulties, and most are resolved over time. However when the problems become entrenched and seem unable to be solved, it is important to seek professional help. It is far better to resolve the problems than to dissolve the relationship. Relationship counselling provides you with the tools you need to assist in increasing communication and understanding, raising and resolving differences, strengthening the relationship and building resilience.
At Vitalise Psychology, our psychologists can work with you and help you with your relationship problems. Contact us today to make an appointment with one of our registered psychologists.
Psychologists at Vitalise will undertake relationship counselling with couples or individuals with relationship problems. Some people find a benefit in discussing their relationship needs or problems individually, without their partner present. For other people, it may be important that they attend counselling as a couple in order to work through their relationship problems. This decision may be made by the individual or the couple based on the nature of the problems, and may also be discussed with the psychologist.