Dual Displeased Relationship
It's the rare couple that doesn't, sooner or later, run into a few bumps in the road. If you recognize ahead of time what those relationship problems can be, you'll have a much better chance of weathering the storm, experts say.
Ideally, a couple should discuss certain basic issues - such as money, sex, and kids - before they decide to start their life together. Of course, even when you do discuss these issues beforehand, marriage (or a long-term, live-in relationship) is nothing like you think it's going to be.
In spite of the fact that every marriage experiences relationship issues, successful couples have learned how to manage them and keep their love life going, says marriage and family therapist Mitch Temple, MS, author of The Marriage Turnaround. They gain success in marriage by hanging in there, tackling problems, and learning how to maneuver through the complex issues of everyday married life. Many do this by reading self-help books, attending seminars, browsing articles on the Web, going to counseling, observing other successful couples, or simply by trial and error.
Relationship Problem: Communication
All relationship problems stem from poor communication skills. "You can't communicate while you're checking your BlackBerry, watching TV, or flipping through the sports section," she says.
• Make time ... yes, an actual appointment with each other. If you live together, put the cell phones on vibrate, put the kids to bed, and let voicemail pick up your calls.
• If you can't "communicate" without raising your voices, go to a public spot like the library, park, or restaurant, where you'd be embarrassed if anyone saw you screaming.
• Set up some rules ... like not interrupting until the other is through, banning phrases such as "You always ..." or "You never ..."
• Remember that a large part of communication is listening, so be sure your body language reflects that. That means, don't doodle, look at your watch, pick at your nails, etc. Nod so the other person knows you're getting the message and rephrase if necessary, such as, "What I hear you saying is that you feel as though you have more chores at home, even though we're both working." If you're right, the other can confirm, and if what the other person really meant was, hey, you're a slob and you create more work for me by having to pick up after you, perhaps they'll say so but in a nicer way.
Relationship Problem: Sex
Even partners who love each other can be incompatible sexually. Compounding these problems is the fact that men and women alike are sorely lacking in sex education and sexual self-awareness. Yet, having sex is one of the last things we should be giving up. "Sex brings us closer together, releases hormones that help our bodies both physically and mentally, and keeps the chemistry of a healthy couple healthy".
• Plan, plan, plan. Make an appointment -- not necessarily at night when everyone is tired. Maybe during the baby's Saturday afternoon nap. Or perhaps a "before-work quickie". Or ask Grandma and Grandpa to take the kids every other Friday night for a sleepover. "When sex is on the calendar, it increases your anticipation," Adding that mixing things up a bit can increase your sexual enjoyment as well. Why not sex in the kitchen? Sex by the fire? Sex standing up in the hallway?
• Learning what truly turns your partner on by asking him or her to come up with a personal "Sexy List." And, of course, you do the same. What do each of you truly find sexy? "The answers may surprise you." Swap the lists and use them to create more scenarios that turn you both on.
• If your sexual relationship problems can't be resolved on your own, it is recommended to consult a qualified sex therapist, who can help you both address and resolve your issues.
Relationship Problem: Money
Money problems can start even before the wedding vows are said, from the expenses of courtship to the high cost of weddings. Couples who have money woes take a deep breath and have a serious conversation about .
• Be honest about your current financial situation. If things have gone south, continuing the same lifestyle that was possible before the loss of income is simply unrealistic.
• Don't approach the subject in the heat of battle. Instead, set aside a time that is convenient and non-threatening for both parties.
• Acknowledge that one partner may be a saver and one a spender, understanding that there are benefits to both, and agreeing to learn from each other's tendencies.
• Don't hide income or debt. Bring financial documents, including a recent credit report, pay stubs, bank statements, insurance policies, debts, and to the table.
• Don't blame.
• Construct a joint budget that includes savings.
• Decide which person will be responsible for paying the monthly bills.
• Allow each person to have independence by setting aside money to be spent at his or her discretion.
• Decide upon short-term and long-term goals. It's OK to have individual goals, but you should have family goals, too.
• Talk about caring for your parents as they age, and how to appropriately plan for their financial needs, if necessary.
Relationship Problem: Struggles Over Home Chores
Nowadays, most partners work outside the home -- and in today's economy -- often at more than one job, so it's important to equitably divide the labor at home.
• Be organized and clear about your respective. "Write all the jobs down and agree on who does what." Be fair: Make sure each partner's tasks are equitable so no resentment builds.
• Be open to other solutions: If you both hate housework, maybe you can spring for a cleaning service. If one of you likes housework, the other partner can do the laundry and the yard. As long as it feels fair to both people, you can be creative and take preferences into account.
Relationship Problem: Not Prioritizing Your Relationship
If you want to keep your love life going, making your relationship a focal point does not end when you say "I do." "Relationships lose their luster". "So make yours a priority."
• Do the things you used to do when you were first dating: Make gestures of appreciation, compliment each other, contact each other through the day, and show interest in each other.
• Plan date nights. Schedule time together on the calendar just as you would any other important event in your life.
• Respect one another. Say "thank you," and "I appreciate ... ." It lets your partner know that he/she matters.
Relationship Problem: Conflict
Occasional conflict is an inevitable part of life, but if you and your partner feel like you are starring in your own nightmare version of the movie Groundhog Day, it's time to break free of this toxic routine. Recognizing these simple truths will lessen anger and enable you to take a calm look at the underlying issue.
Conflict resolution skills can help you and your partner learn to argue in a more constructive manner:
• You are not a victim. It is your choice whether to react and how to react.
• Be honest with yourself. When you're in the midst of an argument, are your comments directed toward resolution, or are you looking for payback? If your comments are blaming and hurtful, it's best to take a deep breath and change your strategy.
• Change it up. If you continue to respond in the same way that has brought you pain and unhappiness in the past, you can't expect a different result this time. Just one little shift can make a big difference. If you usually jump right in to defend yourself before your partner is finished speaking, hold off for a few moments. You'll be surprised at how such a small shift in tempo can change the whole tone of an argument.
• Give a little; get a lot. Apologize when you're wrong. Sure it's tough, but just try it and watch something wonderful happen.
"You can't control anyone else's behavior". "The only one in your charge is you."
Relationship Problem: Trust
Trust is an essential part of a relationship. Are there certain behaviors that are causing you to not trust your partner, or do you have unresolved issues that are hindering you from trusting others?
You and your partner can develop trust in each other by following these tips.
• Be consistent.
• Be on time.
• Do what you say you will do.
• Don't lie -- not even little white lies, to your partner or to others.
• Be fair, even in an argument.
• Be sensitive to the other's feelings. You can still disagree but don't discount how your partner is feeling.
• Call when you say you will.
• Call to say you'll be home late.
• Carry your fair share of the workload.
• Don't overreact when things go wrong.
• Never say things you can't take back.
• Don't dig up old wounds.
• Respect your partner's boundaries.
• Don’t be jealous.
• Be a good listener.
Although relationships have their ups and downs, there are things you can both do that may well minimize marriage problems, if not help avoid them altogether. Be realistic. Thinking your mate will meet all your needs -- and will be able to figure them out without your asking -- is a Hollywood fantasy. "Ask for what you need directly".
Use humor -- learn to let things go and enjoy one another more. And be willing to work on your relationship and to truly look at what needs to be done. Don't think that it will be better with someone else; the same problems you have in this relationship because of lack of skills will still exist.
Relationship counseling is the process of counseling the parties of a relationship in an effort to recognize and to better manage or reconcile troublesome differences and repeating patterns of distress. The relationship involved may be between members of a family or a couple (see also family therapy), employees or employers in a workplace, or between a professional and a client.
Couple therapy (or relationship therapy) is a related and different process. It may differ from relationship counseling in duration. Short term counseling may be between 1 to 3 sessions whereas long term couples therapy may be between 12 and 24 sessions. An exception is brief or solution focused couples therapy. In addition, counseling tends to be more 'here and now' and new coping strategies the outcome. Couples therapy is more about seemingly intractable problems with a relationship history, where emotions are the target and the agent of change.
Marriage counseling or marital therapy can refer to either or some combination of the above.
The methods may differ in other ways as well, but the differences may indicate more about the counselor/therapist's way of working than the title given to their process. Both methods also can be acquired for no charge, depending on your needs. For more information about getting the care that may be required, one should make a call to a local hospital or healthcare professional.
Before a relationship between individuals can begin to be understood, it is important to recognize and acknowledge that each person, including the counselor, has a unique personality, perception, set of values and history. Individuals in the relationship may adhere to different and unexamined value systems. Institutional and societal variables (like the social, religious, group and other collective factors) which shape a person's nature, and behavior are considered in the process of counseling and therapy. A tenet of relationship counseling is that it is intrinsically beneficial for all the participants to interact with each other and with society at large with optimal amounts of conflict. A couple's conflict resolution skills seems to predict divorce rates.
Most relationships will get strained at some time, resulting in their not functioning optimally and producing self-reinforcing, maladaptive patterns. These patterns may be called negative interaction cycles. There are many possible reasons for this, including insecure attachment, ego, arrogance, jealousy, anger, greed, poor communication/understanding or problem solving, ill health, third parties and so on.
Changes in situations like financial state, physical health, and the influence of other family members can have a profound influence on the conduct, responses and actions of the individuals in a relationship.
Often it is an interaction between two or more factors, and frequently it is not just one of the people who are involved that exhibit such traits. Relationship influences are reciprocal - it takes each person involved to make and manage problems.
A viable solution to the problem and setting these relationships back on track may be to reorient the individuals' perceptions and emotions - how one looks at or responds to situations and feels about them. Perceptions of and emotional responses to a relationship are contained within an often unexamined mental map of the relationship, also called a love map. These can be explored collaboratively and discussed openly. The core values they comprise can then be understood and respected or changed when no longer appropriate. This implies that each person takes equal responsibility for awareness of the problem as it arises, awareness of their own contribution to the problem and making some fundamental changes in thought and feeling.
The next step is to adopt conscious, structural changes to the inter-personal relationships and evaluate the effectiveness of those changes over time.
Indeed, "typically for those close personal relations there is a certain degree in 'interdependence' - which means that the partners are alternately mutually dependent on each other. As a special aspect of such relations something contradictory is put outside: the need for intimacy and for autonomy."
"The common counterbalancing satisfaction these both needs, intimacy and autonomy, leads to alternately satisfaction in the relationship and stability. But it depends on the specific developing duties of each partner in every life phase and maturity".
Two methods of couples therapy focus primarily on the process of communicating. The most commonly used method is active listening,. More recently, a method called Cinematic Immersion has been developed. Each helps couples learn a method of communicating designed to create a safe environment for each partner to express and hear feelings.
Active listening does a better job creating a safe environment for the criticizer to criticize than for the listener to hear the criticism. The listener, often feeling overwhelmed by the criticism, tended to avoid future encounters. We are biologically programmed to respond defensively to criticism, and therefore the listener needed to be trained in-depth with mental exercises and methods to interpret as love what might otherwise feel abusive. Cinematic Immersion.
Healthy couples almost never listen and echo each other's feelings naturally. Whether miserable or radiantly happy, couples say what they thought about an issue, and "they go angry or sad, but their partner's response is never anything like what people do in the listener/speaker exercise, not even close. "
By contrast emotionally focused therapy for couples (EFT-C) is based on attachment theory and uses emotion as the target and agent of change. Emotions bring the past alive in rigid interaction patterns, which create and reflect absorbing emotional states.
Forget about learning how to argue better, analysing your early childhood, making grand romantic gestures, or experimenting with new sexual positions. Instead, recognize and admit that you are emotionally attached to and dependent on your partner in much the same way that a child is on a parent for nurturing, soothing, and protection.
Research on therapy
The most researched approach to couples therapy is behavioral couples therapy It is a well established treatment for marital discord This form of therapy has evolved to what is now called integrative behavioral couples therapy. Integrative behavioral couples therapy appears to be effective for 69% of couples in treatment, while the traditional model was effective for 50-60% of couples .
Relationship counselor or couple's therapist
The duty and function of a relationship counselor or couple's therapist is to listen, respect, understand and facilitate better functioning between those involved.
The basic principles for a counselor include:
• Provide a confidential dialogue, which normalizes feelings
• To enable each person to be heard and to hear themselves
• Provide a mirror with expertise to reflect the relationship's difficulties and the potential and direction for change
• Empower the relationship to take control of its own destiny and make vital decisions
• Deliver relevant and appropriate information
As well as the above, the basic principles for a couples therapist also include:
• To identify the repetitive, negative interaction cycle as a pattern.
• To understand the source of reactive emotions that drive the pattern.
• To expand and re-organize key emotional responses in the relationship.
• To facilitate a shift in partners' interaction to new patterns of interaction.
• To create new and positively bonding emotional events in the relationship
• To foster a secure attachment between partners.
Common core principles of relationship counseling and couple's therapy are:
Respect - Empathy - Tact - Consent - Confidentiality - Accountability - Expertise -
Evidence based - Certification, ongoing training and supervision.
In both methods, the practitioner evaluates the couple's personal and relationship story as it is narrated, interrupts wisely, facilitates both de-escalation of unhelpful conflict and the development of realistic, practical solutions. The practitioner may meet each person individually at first but only if this is beneficial to both, is consensual and is unlikely to cause harm. Individualistic approaches to couple problems can cause harm.
The counselor or therapist encourages the participants to give their best efforts to reorienting their relationship with each other. One of the challenges here is for each person to change their own responses to their partner's behaviour. Other challenges to the process are disclosing controversial or shameful events and revealing closely guarded secrets. Not all couples put all of their cards on the table at first. This can take time.
A novel development in the field of couples therapy has involved the introduction of insights gained from affective neuroscience and psychopharmacology into clinical practice. There has been interest in use of the so-called love hormone – oxytocin – during therapy sessions, although this is still largely experimental and somewhat controversial.
Although results are almost certainly significantly better when professional guidance is utilized, numerous attempts at making the methodologies available generally via self help books and other media are available. In the last few years it has become increasingly popular for these self help books to become popularized and published as an e-book available on the web, or through content articles on blogs and websites. The challenges for individuals utilizing these methods are most commonly associated with that of other self help therapies or self-diagnosis.
Relationship counseling with homosexual / bisexual clients
"Marital Therapy" is now referred to as "Couples Therapy" in order to include individuals who are not married or those who are engaged in same sex relationships. Most relationship issues are shared equally among couples regardless of sexual orientation, but LGBT clients additionally have to deal with heteronormativity, homophobia and both socio-cultural and legal discrimination. Individuals may experience relational ambiguity from being in different stages of the coming out process or having an HIV serodiscordant relationship. Often, same-sex couples do not have as many role models of successful relationships as opposite-sex couples. In many jurisdictions committed LGBT couples desiring a family are denied access to assisted reproduction, adoption and fostering, leaving them childless, feeling excluded, other and bereaved. There may be issues with gender-role socialization that do not affect opposite-sex couples.
A significant number of men and women experience conflict surrounding homosexual expression within a mixed-orientation marriage. Couple therapy may include helping the clients feel more comfortable and accepting of same-sex feelings and to explore ways of incorporating same-sex and opposite-sex feelings into life patterns. Although a strong homosexual identity was associated with difficulties in marital satisfaction, viewing the same-sex activities as compulsive facilitated commitment to the marriage and to monogamy.