You’ve been with your partner for years, you’ve had children together, you’ve always got on pretty well apart from the odd snappy exchange when you’re both tired or too busy, but suddenly you’re arguing all the time, there’s a distance between you, and you’re not feeling much love from your husband or wife and you don’t feel very loving towards them either. You don’t feel like sex with them because you feel cross and not listened to and they become really defensive when you try to talk about what’s wrong.
What’s going on? If you’ve always been pretty happy together, then changes in a relationship are almost always due to things happening outside your control, often several events, one after the other. So many of my clients have lost a parent in the last 18 months, had a child to worry about, and that can be for any reason, from bullying at school, to struggling with exams, to missing them because they’ve gone off to uni. Other changes which trigger stress in the relationship are equally important: a difficult boss at work, too much work and no time to rest, childcare issues, a partner working away, redundancy, illness, missing a friend who has moved away, taking on a house project which gradually becomes overwhelming, a new job, which seems wonderful, but causes the other to feel left behind or less important. I could go on.
The one certainty in life is change, but frequently it puts pressure on our relationship in ways we’re not prepared for. We blame each other, rather than realising that it’s the new situation, not that our partner has turned into an uncaring monster, which is at the root of our problems.
So part of my role as a relationship therapist/couple counsellor, is to help you unpick the threads of the knotty situation you find yourselves in and help you to work out how you can change things to ease the tensions and get you both talking again. We all need to feel able to say how we’re feeling without it being taken the wrong way. We all need physical closeness and to be listened to. I hope I provide a safe place for that to happen.