The bond between two individuals is highly valued and desired. As crucial as this bond is, it does not come without difficulties. Due to the nature of relationships, it requires both parties to be invested and involved for the relationship to thrive. Effort is required. But it’s easier said than done.
Not every couple can properly cater to each other’s physical, mental, psychological, and emotional needs. The inability to meet a partner’s needs is often why couples separate. This separation can come with great pain, regret, and remorse that lingers over the years.
The key to maintaining a healthy relationship goes beyond commitment. It’s more than understanding and warrants maintenance of the tender psychological, physical, and emotional intimacy of the relationship. We often fool ourselves into thinking we’re happy in a relationship by pretending that it’s always that way or that things will get better soon. Time passes, and we still don’t feel closer.
Couples counselling plays a vital role in helping couples maintain a healthy relationship.
Will Counselling Work for Your Relationship?
Couples counselling is effective when two individuals desire to work together to grow individually and as a partnership. Relationship counselling can offer a neutral party to support understanding of one another, address barriers in communication, or guide tense issues that arise in the relationships.
However, there is often a misconception that a therapist can change your partner’s behavior. Blaming each other in a relationship never works. You cannot change your partner, especially when your partner does not desire to work on their issues. This requires looking inward to what you want and what that looks like in a partnership with an unwilling other.
That approach rarely goes over well or as hoped for. An effective approach involves looking at each individual’s characteristics and how that all comes together in your particular partnership. No two partnerships are alike. There are similarities, while many intricate differences specific to your particular union. Couples counselling works when each partner can look within and learn how their individualities contribute to the issues in the union.
Important Note Before Visiting a Couple’s Counsellor
Before considering going to a couple’s counsellor or couples therapist, you must be in agreement with your partner. A counselling session can only be beneficial when both partners desire to grow and are willing to work together to achieve their goals.
Therefore, it’s better to first communicate with your partner so that both of you agree that couples counselling is needed and desired. If your partner is reluctant or hesitant to attend couples counselling, consider attending a complimentary consultation with various therapists to identify a counsellor that is a comfortable fit for each of you. Sometimes, listening to the clinician and clarifying the process can help a partner reevaluate their thoughts around couples counselling.
Alternatively, you can consider individual counselling to explore your concerns and gather a game plan to meet your goals and enhance communications with your partner.
What Roles Does Counselling Play in Saving a Relationship?
Your relationship cannot be irreparably damaged just because it has problems. You can often fix your relationship by attending couples counselling where you learn to communicate more effectively and break old patterns. Communication can be challenging in relationships because there is a different part of us that is present in intimate spaces compared to everyday life (Geiger, n.d.).
Counselling can be a valuable tool for supporting your relationship. In conflict resolution, your therapist can act as an impartial mediator and assist both partners in communicating effectively, understanding one another’s needs, and resolving disputes.
Couples can benefit from counselor assistance in managing stress, improving communication, and resolving disputes constructively. Also, they can guide people on how to modify unhelpful tendencies that can exacerbate relationship problems by helping them understand their own behavior patterns. The counselor’s ultimate goal is to assist couples in developing a stronger, more resilient connection to increase closeness through meeting life’s obstacles.
How Does Boomerang Counselling Center Help Couples in Saving a Relationship?
Boomerang Counselling Centre specializes in helping couples identify their relationship problems and work together towards common goals. According to world-renowned couples experts, The Gottman Institute, several factors contribute to the failure of a relationship.
The Gottman Institute calls this the four horsemen, which are indicators that things are things are not going well in a relationship. By identifying these indicators, couples can explore how their relationship is affected. These four behaviors have been identified as predictors of failures in relationships. These are:
These qualities stem from immaturity in development, which we all face at some time, and identify areas of growth and development required for a relationship to feel supportive where each partner can thrive. Let’s look at these four fundamentals that signal a strain in a relationship.
According to The Gottman Institute research, criticism is the starting point for couples to identify that their relationship is becoming problematic. Criticism comes when someone feels bad about themself on a deep level. Since they cannot deal with this through self-reflection, growth, and ownership, they blame others instead. This can be direct put-downs or subtle comments that imply weakness in the partner.
Again, this is a projection of the speaker. Instead of coping with their own insecurities, they put down their partner instead. It is problematic because it takes down both individuals instead of providing a space where both can grow together with supportive words and attentiveness.
The same goes for the other three behaviours. Usually, we behave this way when we don’t feel good about ourselves or understand ourselves well. People behave in ways to protect themselves from feeling insecure or inadequate when they feel threatened by others’ feedback, jealousy, presence, etc.
You will find yourself stuck in relationship cycles if you are someone who struggles or a partner who struggles to self-reflect, own mistakes, and work towards personal growth. Relationship cycles include feeling good about the relationship, then the above-mentioned behaviours start to wear down your sense of self; this leads to tension and eventual blowup or meltdown, which leads to apologies and promises to change, which leads to hope and belief that things are better, which results in a slow development of feeling negative about yourself.
The cycle then continues, over and over, for days, months, and years, until your system becomes tired, and often leads to mental health issues, substance misuse, or other external behaviours developed to cope with what is happening internally from your time spent in such relationships.
It is important to note that we have all engaged in the above behaviours at some time in a relationship. They are natural experiences of growing in relation to another person. The key word is growth. Are you in an environment where you want to grow? Is your partner someone that wants to grow? Is your partner someone you can grow with? These are important questions when deciding to do couples counselling. It is an opportunity to grow together.
How Counseling Can Save a Relationship
Counselling aims to identify the abovementioned cycles, help you understand each other better, and improve communication, personal insight, and partnership insight. Resolving conflict relies on the individuals involved, including the desire to face the challenge together and the ability to do the work. Self-reflection and consideration of others are two invaluable components of a healthy, growth-oriented union in support of one another and individual growth.
In contrast, the inability to self-reflect, take ownership, and consider other’s needs are signs that individual growth is required to enhance these developmental qualities.
It is possible to repair a strained or broken relationship if the above factors are met. Counsellors help couples understand themselves and their partners and the intricate dynamics of their relationships while attending relationship counselling. Knowing your relationship’s challenges can help you overcome those obstacles and bring you and your partner back together. The right couples counsellor can help couples repair their bonds and strengthen their relationship.
A couples counselling session can help you and your partner resolve disagreements, communicate effectively, cooperate, and solve everyday challenges to make your relationship more fulfilling.
How To Maintain A Healthy Relationship
Many factors contribute to a strained relationship. You can start now to improve things by doing the following:
1. Handle conflicts better
When upset with your partner, take a moment, an adult time-out, to sit down with your emotions before confronting them. In a moment of tension, our body readies for a battle. This is when we say and do things we regret. Your body is trying to protect you and ensure your survival and doesn’t care what casualties result from your behaviour.
The problem is picking up the pieces afterwards. So take a moment to let the defensive/attack chemistry settle in your body (2-20 minutes). Once that has passed, you can then begin to explain yourself and share the issue at hand. In this way, your partner will be able to understand how their actions affected you without feeling compelled to defend themselves.
It will reduce the likelihood of disagreements or disappointments escalating into that nasty argument or, worse, all-out battle.
2. Embrace the fact that conflicts are inevitable.
How you and your partner handle disagreements is different from disagreements in other relationships. There will always be differences between you and your partner, regardless of your compatibility. Depending on your relationship agreement, the intimate partnership requires an unmatched openness of self in other areas. That means there is a greater risk of pain when exposed or vulnerable. There is a powerful risk of increased levels of pain, which can lead to intense levels of desire and protection.
Learning to accept each other’s limits is important to have a good relationship. Conflict doesn’t imply a lack of compatibility. The foundation for stronger and longer-lasting relationships is working through conflicts effectively.
And if need be, a skilled therapist acts as a neutral party to guide discussions so each partner can be heard, seen, and understood
3. Self-care is essential
If you’re having problems with your partner, it’s natural to obsess over it. The bond is important to your well-being, and your system does not want to lose that. In these moments, it is important to remember to take care of yourself first. You must put time, effort, and care into cultivating a healthy relationship with yourself. Understanding you will contribute to understanding valuable components of your relationship.
Putting attention on yourself and how you can grow as an individual is helpful in contributing to a thriving relationship or attending to your needs if you can’t address your relationship problems because you are distant from each other.
If you want to learn something new, take a class or devote time to your hobbies. Learn about what you like and enjoy, what makes you happy, what makes you sad, and how you make choices and decisions in life. Taking time to get to know you is an essential key to making a relationship work.
4. Spend valuable time together.
The quality of your time is evidence of the quality of your relationship. Try something new together to strengthen your relationship. Novelty releases chemistry that aids in bonding with a partner, so a new activity will provide an extra boost of the same chemistry that brought you together in the first place. Listen to this 42-second clip from Esther Perel about why novelty is necessary in a relationship. Find something you both like to do together. Do something your partner enjoys and vice versa. Investing in time together will pay off over time by strengthening your connection with your partner.
5. It is important not to undervalue acts of kindness
A relationship will always have ups and downs, but even the worst argument won’t take away your love for them. We all want to be acknowledged for our efforts instead of being shot down for trying our best. We all want to be understood for our intentions, even when they don’t go so well. And none of us want our shortcomings continually pointed out when we are doing our best to grow up into all that the adult world requires of us.
Maybe we need to extend a bit more kindness to the person we decided to partner with or to ourselves. Don’t let a bad relationship get in the way of being kind to yourself or your partner. Whether things do or do not work out, the growth you gain from a relationship is greater than any other option out there.
A bad relationship can hurt your mental health and make you feel lonely and resentful, depending on how things are going between you and your partner. As destructive as it seems, there is always a way to establish or re-establish your sense of self and self-worth and work towards your relationship goals. We can replace aggression or withdrawal with understanding and consideration of yourself and your partner.
Click here for a free consultation with a therapist at Boomerang Counselling Centre to help with your relationship needs
Mariam Geiger (n.d.). Communication in relationships: Why it’s so hard. Retrieved from https://miriamgeiger.com/communication-in-relationships/#:~:text=Many%20couples%20don’t%20always,each%20other%20and%20communicate%20effectively.
MBG: MindBodyGreen. (2017, May 26). Why novelty is necessary with Esther Perel [Youtube]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzndWckqq6U
TGI: The Gottman Institute. (2014, December 15). Four horseman of the apocalypse | The Gottman Institute: Relationship behaviour that lead to failure [YouTube]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1o30Ps-_8is