Couples Counselling

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When people first meet each other and before they enter into a full relationship they generally go through three levels of communications:

Firstly people start by talking generally about the weather, the news, etc.

Secondly they start sharing factual information about themselves such as their jobs, their friends, their past relationships, their families etc. etc.

Thirdly they talk about the relationship developing between them – they share feeling – their wants and desires – on an emotional level.

If you consider that men are from Mars and women are from Venus this last stage is important. By this I mean that men and women are wired very differently. Men are by nature problem solvers and often go into their “cave” to think about things. Women want to be take care of people, be listened to and talk about “feelings”.   However when couples negotiate this third part they have emotional intimacy and they have “direct communication” with both partners knowing they are different but appreciating and accepting these differences.

However sometimes couples can’t get past this last stage. They cannot communicate on this level as old unresolved personal issues keep popping up causing insecurities and difficulties in the relationship. Sometimes the relationship ends here but sometimes people think that by living together or starting a family these issues will evaporate. However they rarely do causing additional issues within the relationship.

Conversely sometimes couples negotiate the third stage well and have a happy relationship for a long time but then things may change. They might start a family or start a new career, or they just simply get too comfortable and take things for granted. These issues and many more can causes stresses and because time and energy might be in short supply they can begin to neglect the relationship the more they get involved in the changed situation.

Couples counselling is about tackling issues of mutual concern which is usually linked to miscommunication. It is taking the “He said; She said” into what actually did he/she mean and what did she/he hear. Most of us have done the sort of internal “self-downing” exercise when someone tells us that the dress/shirt we are wearing fits us well. If we have a little bit of a “thing” about our appearance most of us will automatically search inside ourselves for our own insecurities and transform a good thing about ourselves into a bad thing We therefore interpret it as that they mean we have put on weight when actually their intention was that dress/shirt “suited” us well..

Counselling with couples is to sort out such issues and for them to learn to communicate better (or directly) again.   Therefore it is important in couple counselling to give each party equal space and consideration to explain how they are really feeling and why. This honesty in a “safe” environment where both parties learn to really listen to each other allows couples to begin to re-establish (or establish for the first time) a better level of communication which will see them tackle the ups and downs of life together.

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