It’s always fascinated me how so many people have relationship issues but don’t seek the advice of a professional. In my world it’s like having an oil leak in the car and not taking it to a mechanic, we can put up with the leak but eventually the car will continue to have issues until one day it will probably stop working altogether. Relationships are a lot like this, issues can worsen or create other issues or ongoing resentment and eventually can lead one party to the point of no return. For me relationship therapy is essential and having a good therapist has been essential for learning, and growing, understanding one another and overcoming issues, and deepening the relationship. Essential for maintaining a really healthy and vibrant relationship.
There can be so many different pressures in relationships, children are a big one, finances, friends, family members, lifestyle, work life balance, old baggage, mother-in-laws (the old classic), interference from external ‘helpers’, addictions, sexual problems, anxiety issues, build up of resentment, disconnection etc. etc. etc.
But in my experience with relationship therapy any issue can be worked through in a timely and professional manner with the help of a good relationship therapist. So that the deeper love can prevail rather than issues ending that potential.
How do relationships deteriorate ?
Relationships usually start off wonderfully well. We meet someone new, we are attracted to them, and they seem attracted to us. This feels like heaven, this new person in my life has given me new life. I feel a deep excited feeling in my stomach, and life suddenly feels full of potential. It’s new love, it’s amazing. Life is complete, there’s a flow, everything becomes easy, that annoying guy at work even seems likeable, you don’t have a problem in the world, because you are in Love.
Then, usually after around 3 month mark, things begin to change. We go from overlooking the little issues to something different. Suddenly it gets annoying that he doesn’t change the toilet roll, we might start to feel a type of irritation, annoyance, we start to trigger one another’s issues.
Where before he could do no wrong we start to see fault and it starts to agitate us. We start to take one another for granted, he stops commenting on how great you look, the dinners he was cooking stop happening. Appreciation gives way to expectation. And, as time rolls on resentment builds. Love is giving way to something else, at times we can even feel something like hatred toward this person I used to have on a pedestal. Suddenly they aren’t being who I want or giving me what I want.
They used to be understanding and see my point of view but now they get agitated when I bring something up. Where did that patient loving supportive person go ?
The relationship is now deep enough to trigger the unfinished business, or baggage, all the issues from as far back as childhood, including past relationships. For example if I had a father who was controlling I may develop a part of me that once I leave home “I will never be controlled again”, this could become an issue in relationship, lets say the other person wants to share bank accounts or expect you home by a certain time on a night out with friends, we can start to quickly feel controlled and resentful.
Expectation can be a problem also. So at the beginning she might have the energy to cook him dinner and energy for sex a few times a week, and he loves that and gets attached to that, and expects that. Then as life goes on and children arrive she doesn’t have the energy for sex (she needs all the energy she has to go toward the children). He may get resentful because he doesn’t understand the energy it takes, because he still has the energy for it, so doesn’t understand why she hasn’t either, and he can start taking it personaly. He’s not able to get into her world, he’s stuck in his world where all he sees is he’s not getting his needs met, and its her fault.!
Understanding the opposite sex
The biggest problems in relationships is not understanding the other person. Communication is the most important thing in any relationship. If we can’t communicate clearly there are sure to be issues will build up, and misunderstandings, and assumptions, and projecting (thinking we know what the other is thinking/feeling). If things are left undealt with an explosion often occurs (sometimes after alcohol).
The most healthy relationships are those who can connect in a kind of neutral space as they discuss whatever issue has occurred. This is a real skill, because it depends on how we bring the issue up (confrontational, blaming, victim will probably not go down too well). Relationship therapy can help you develop this skill as a couple. We need to be very neutral, and not take anything too personally. In this way we can work through issues, understand one another and grow closer because of it. The relationship deepens.
How does relationship therapy work ?
When you first arrive in the room you’ll be greeted with a warm friendly smile. A good relationship therapist will help both couples feel calm and relaxed and not threatened.
The therapist begins by creating a positive, growth inspired space, letting both parties know that the therapy room is a safe space. Open and honest communication is encouraged. Both parties will learn to quietly listen, while the other person is speaking and not interrupt until it is their turn. Personally I like to help each client be very aware of internal triggers as we go through the process so that these triggers can be bought up and discussed as we go through the process.
The relationship therapist will usually then ask about the issues, the reason for entering into relationship therapy. Once one person has given their version of what the problems are the therapist can turn to the other and ask ‘that sound about right to you? Would you change or add anything to that ? Usually there are some distortions of truth (Eg. She Never appreciates anything I do (when the truth is she does at times but its just not seen/noticed).
The Therapist then becomes an interpreter of sorts, helps both parties understand the other. Bringing understanding is incredibly healing. The sessions can also involve a degree of ‘purging’ where the therapist might ask the person who has an issue or some resentment to really dig deep and go into that and let it out, speak that out of you, scream that out of you if needed (it is extremely healthy to let go of some of these pent up emotions, and extremely powerful when the other person hears that raw emotion coming out).
The rest of the session(s) are usually around looking more closely at any ongoing dysfunctional patterns and issues that have been causing problems.
Generally during relationship therapy the therapist will ask for compromise. Eg. If John spends Saturday and Sunday with the family perhaps Sunday night could be his time to work on his car ? We set up some boundaries to guide the relationship moving forward, we compromise and, we take responsibility for our issues. For example if she gets home late from work sometimes, it doesn’t mean she is having an affair (he may have been cheated on before and this is flushing deep memories and fears about it happening again).
Relationship therapy is such a positive and healthy undertaking. I’d recommend anyone who is having any issues at all to seek out a great relationship therapist and begin investing in your relationship.
What prevents you from booking ?
For a lot of men there is a pridefulness and a stigma around seeking help. Men are bought up to believe they should be able to fix problems, fix whatever’s broke, they want to be the ones who know the answer and often feel a sense of weakness if they don’t have the answer. And to go to another man, or woman because they can’t fix it is difficult. (I’ve seen some men choose the ending of the relationship rather than hand over power or overcome this inner pridefulness). The truth is that it isn’t weak to seek help, it is wise. Most females are open to seeking help with a flailing relationship because they haven’t got the pridefulness that many males have.
Not wanting to upset or trigger the other person is another reason. Some females come to therapy and desperately want their partners to attend but are too afraid because they know it will just trigger anger and start an argument. So they don’t rock the boat, even though the boat is sinking.
Sometimes when exploring relationship therapy options finding the right therapist is difficult, there are so many choices out there and it’s a major decision, we don’t want to choose the wrong one.
Finances are another concern for a lot of couples who don’t have any spare money. (This is why I offer payment plans or a price that couples can afford- I’d rather see a couple get help than miss out because of finances).
If you’d like help with any relationship issue I work from an office in Geelong, I also offer Skype sessions if you can’t make it in or live far from Geelong.
Give me a call or text or check out the website if interested. Warm Regards, Steve Tibbits