We all know that communication - for example listening and explaining clearly how we feel - is very important.
We know too that there will be times when we feel and think strongly differently from our partner.
But it can be very tricky to hold onto this information and apply it when hurt angry scared or upset.
Often we feel strongest when we think we "should" or "must". Should and must ideas usually come from some learning in the past and often from an authority figure e.g. parents, school, community groups, religious groups, culture etc.
Sometimes the most difficult communication is over the things we feel most strongly about. A partner may hold a very different or even opposing position.
Only 35 % of our messages are verbal: i.e. the words we use and how they are used.
65% of our messages are non-verbal i.e. tone of voice, volume body language and gestures and facial expression.
In couple relationships our communication will be coloured by our past experience, our mood, confidence, hope and expectations. It will also be affected by the other person's hearing and listening, their past experiences and expectations.
Couple counselling can help clarify meanings and help understanding.
It can help unpack why each partner feels strongly or differently to the other.
A couple counsellor will not take sides but will work to facilitate good communication.
Self Esteem Counselling
Self-esteem is the relationship you have with yourself. It can be nurtured or starved through the "self-talk" or stream of thoughts we experience.
Your sense of self-worth can become much damaged, for example when a relationship ends, particularly if you are the one who has been "dumped".
Counselling can help you uncover what you want, begin to help you take care of yourself, learn to relax more and take time for yourself.
Some clients find it tricky at first to think about themselves, that they matter, but this forms first steps in improving self-confidence.
This can be most difficult for people who have become very used to putting others first.
Just like learning a new language, finding your voice takes practice and experimentation to become fluent.
Like any change you will be invited to monitor, reflect on and experiment with the new ideas and self-awareness you develop in counselling.
Low self-esteem is often learned earlier in life and you may find that you will learn new things about yourself by challenging these old self concepts.
In counselling you may experiment with these new ideas and begin to change old outdated patterns and "scripts". Sometimes this means beginning to think in terms of "I want" rather than "I should".
You will be invited to get to know yourself more through counselling and begin to value yourself more.
Sometimes people see "self-care" as selfish, but self-caring is self-valuing, whereas selfishness puts a higher value on self than others and selflessness put a lower value on you than others.
Counselling can help you develop assertiveness skills, helping you identify your feelings and thoughts and expressing these, for example learning to say "no".
Work often involves practicing not only what to say, but how to say it.
Working between sessions, for example journalling, can help you monitor your progress. Client and counsellor work in a collaborative way and the therapeutic relationship can be a dynamic space in which to explore, understand and change self-esteem.
Source: Litvinoff Starting Again
Source: Waines The Self Esteem Journal
Jealousy and anger are tricky and often overwhelming emotions which can cause a lot of damage in relationships.
Jealousy might arise with the discovery of an affair or might be transient feelings which can be discussed.
Love songs and poems recount falling in love with intense feelings which may involve jealousy, often when love is new and you feel a little insecure at the start about your partner’s feelings for you.
As the "in love" phase settles down these feelings normally subside and each can give the other partner some space without feeling anxious about it.
If jealousy persists it can be very damaging. It can be irrational and unfounded.
This can stem from:
- Low confidence - and anxiety you don't believe you're lovable/feel inferior
- Fear of change - fear your partner may leave you
- Fear of being alone
Jealousy can make behaviour controlling, suspicious and punishing.
Jealousy is fed by imagination and often not facts.
Fears and feelings can be so strong they can sabotage or end a relationship, or create a self-fulfilling prophecy.
It’s not easy being in a relationship with a partner behaving jealously and it can feel very controlling.
Counselling can help by helping you:
- Work to feel happier in yourself and less entwined with your partner.
- Take time out to think through rather than accuse.
- Reduce jealous feelings by working on trust .
- Take responsibility for your behaviour, whether that is jealous or angry - this is part of being adult in your relationship.
Source: Litvinoff, The Relate Guide to Better Relationships
It is normal for both partners in a relationship not to agree at times. No one can possibly agree on everything, all of the time.
Anger is often an umbrella term which can cover a variety of emotions; sadness, anxiety, depression, jealousy, shame, fear, insecurity, grief, sadness, rejection, injustice or guilt.
Anger gets a bad reputation because of the harm it can cause others. The feeling is just a feeling. It's what we do with it can cause problems. When you row you can assume positions of opponents. It can become a win or lose situation and you can say things you don't really mean and later regret. These words and this behaviour can destroy relationships.
Different families have different ways of dealing with anger or having a row.
Children may learn these behaviours from their parents.
It can be useful to explore our own anger... triggers, signs, influences, and actions.
People cope with anger in different ways. Some people will avoid it by not acknowledging they feel it. Others will withdraw or run away from it. Anger can be stored away over time inside you. This may seem like a pressure cooker. Anger can eventually explode.
Counselling can help you explore your relationship with anger and change it. Counselling will encourage people to take responsibility for their anger and learn the differences between anger and aggression. It can help identify triggers and develop coping strategies and action, change.
Work on assertiveness may help communication as it does not involve either becoming confrontational (fight) or running away (flight), but means having respectful attitude toward yourself and your partner.
My Client safety - physical and emotional - is of the upmost concern and a counsellor may refer clients to individual support as appropriate.