Intimate relationships are one of life’s most challenging journeys; but can also be one of life’s richest. When we choose to share our lives with another person, we bring our personal worlds together in a union. We are called to bridge differences, share our thoughts and feelings, maintain a level of intimacy that both are comfortable with and simultaneously preserve our individuality. Quite a task! Especially if we are bringing up children, living in a foreign country or experiencing external stresses.
Couples are Unique
Every couple undergoes a unique journey of discovering each other and creating a shared world. Hopes, expectations and desires co-mingle, and as love brings the unforeseen and unexpected, we learn how to face the inevitable stresses and disappointments of life together. There is a range of skills that support healthy relationship and each couple uses those skills differently, according to their unique dynamics.
Relationship and Shared Problem Solving
Maintaining a healthy relationship requires us to deal with the inevitable disruptions that arise. These can be emotional, financial, health-related or about differences in how to parent children. Love can feel threatened by a lack of trust, feelings of betrayal, abusive behaviour, unresolved conflicts, differences of values, work and career stresses or the couple finds themselves stuck in negative feelings.
In these cases couple counselling provides a safe and supportive space for couples to examine their difficulties and dissatisfactions. Learning how to identify and share our thoughts, feelings and emotions with our partner requires us to learn fundamental skills that support growth and understanding. New and healthy perspectives of relationship emerge from our willingness to be vulnerable and open with our partner.
Relationship is Built From Learned Skills
There are a number of skills that help healthy intimacy thrive. These begin in good communications and involve the following:
- Learn to negotiate. This requires us to listen and talk clearly to each other. Your partner cannot read your mind, no matter how much they love you. Learning to be clear about what you want to say and listen carefully to your partner are the basic needs of communication.
- Make room in your relationship for differences and value these differences.
- Try not to judge, criticise, or blame each other.
- No one is perfect; arguments happen; resolve them with respect.
- Set goals for your relationship and plan for your future life together.
- To feel good about your relationship you need to feel good about yourself. If you are experiencing personal problems that are affecting your relationship negatively, then it is wise to identify and seek resolutions to those problems.
- Spending time together. Love requires time, the time you invest in each other. Make your relationship a priority.
- Balancing the time you spend at work with the time you spend working on your relationship.
- Relationships are flexible. Let yours grow and adapt with you.
- Be sexually considerate of each other. Be affectionate and remember your sex drives may be different.
- Be attentive and romantic. Don’t forget how it was when you first met.
- Express and demonstrate your commitment to the relationship. Regularly celebrate the things you enjoy in your life together.
We are primarily social animals. Our world of interpersonal relationships is the medium into which we are born, live, and learn to be members of our family and the wider culture. Copying and imitating are the most central and important ways we learn. Group therapy provides a setting in which we can explore our lives together, gather support and learn about others and ourselves.
A group is a supportive network that helps us reflect upon our lives and receive feedback. Other members of the group often help with specific ideas for improving a difficult situation or life challenge. It sometimes seems like we are the only ones struggling with an issue, but we’re not. Regularly talking and listening to others helps put our own issues in perspective.
When we are struggling with challenging issues we can feel very alone. It comes as a huge relief to hear others discuss what they're going through, and realize we’re not alone. Observing helps make positive changes as we learn from the way others tackle their issues. We may discover a whole range of strategies for facing our own concerns more positively.
Meditation and Awareness
It is now proven that meditation is very beneficial to our mental and emotional health. Learning to find tranquility and a place of inner peace is a deeply desired goal, especially when life is challenging. Learning to meditate in a group led by an experienced practitioner is essential. Learning to meditate alone is impossible.
Meditation evolved within spiritual traditions, over five thousand years ago. In recent times psychology has sought to separate the practice from its spiritual context, but has lost many of its benefits on the way. The context in which Mindfulness meditation is practiced provides the experience from which its benefits arise. Learning to meditate in a therapy group designed to help us learn about and address personal issues is a unique opportunity for healing and growth.
Single and multiple day workshops focused on a specific theme provide the opportunity for dedicated personal development. The themes of the workshops I offer include:
- Anger Management
- Addiction and Compulsion
- Loss and Grief
- Family of Origin
- Relationship Problems
- Buddhism and Spiritual Development