by Annie Gurton, Couples Counsellor
AFTER THE HONEYMOON
Many couples tend to wait until their problems are severe before seeking counselling.
In 2017, 25% of my clients reported that they were coming in for counselling for a problem they had for up to six months, while 30% of clients reported they had the problem for five years or longer. 5% had had a problem for more than 10 years! Don’t wait until your problems are severe, the sooner you get support for your relationship, the better.
There may be no such thing as a perfect relationship, but a healthy relationship should be one that includes safety (physical and emotional), respect, compromise, friendship, and intimacy. Couples with these characteristics are more likely to have a healthy relationship and know how to communicate effectively with each other.
Couple’s counselling, particularly the Imago approach, teaches couples how to interact in and understand their relationship. It helps couples to identify areas for improvement in their relationship and emphasises that each partner is responsible for their own actions. The goal is to help couples understand their behaviours and determine what they need to do to create a healthy relationship.
Couple’s counselling is available to anyone regardless of the stage of their relationship, whether they have been together for four months or 40 years. I work with all couples who are dating, married, common law, in same-sex relationships, or polyamorous relationships.
When couples first start counselling they are often uncertain about what to expect and may have preconceived ideas about what couple’s counselling is like. They may expect that their counsellor will listen to each person and come up with suggestions on how to resolve problems. In reality, I help couples learn new ways of dealing with challenges in a more productive way. I have many tools that can help partners understand and change their own patterns of interaction that may contribute to relationship challenges, while allowing each partner to remain true to their own personal values.
Most couples experience periods of conflict in their relationship but don’t seek help because they perceive that there is a stigma surrounding counselling. Many people believe that couples who seek help for their relationship are unstable, volatile and unhappy, which is not always true.
There are a number of reasons couples seek counselling, One of the key things couples come in for is help in communication. Most problems come from struggling to understand each other and Imago counselling can help couples listen better so the other can talk, and to talk better so the other can listen.