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When You Should Seek Couples Counselling

When You Should Seek Couples Counselling

When we fall in love the last thing on our minds is future pain. The beginning of love is nothing but joy and, quite thick, rose tinted glasses. Everything about our partner is wonderful, nothing seems annoying, it is all just “practically perfect, in every way”, as Mary Poppins would say.

But, unfortunately, everything changes with time, including the way we view people. The one we love is not immune to this, sadly. Those tiny habits you liked about your partner as their “cute quirk” in the past might begin to grate on you in the present. Things you used to agree on can now lead to arguments, as you, or your partner, might have changed views on the subject. You may feel you have grown while your partner has stayed the same and is becoming boring. Or the reverse; your partner has changed so much you barely recognise him or her. Maybe you feel as if you’ve grown apart. All this could lead to not feeling happy or satisfied in your relationship anymore.

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Obviously this could be resolved simply by talking to one another, but often this is where the problem begins: you or your partner may be scared of admitting to problems. Or you just don’t know how to start the conversation. You might have tried to bring up the problem, but things came out wrong or were misunderstood, leading to an argument and continuous strain in the relationship. Then there are people who are just letting problems and stress build between one another, until inevitably they grow apart to such a degree that separation seems to be the only option. Or maybe you are arguing about hundreds of little things instead of discussing the one thing that matters, this too often leads to the mutual decision of ending the relationship.

Separation might seem like a convenient option when troubles have been building for a long time. But what if, deep down inside, you still love your partner and you want to make it work but just don’t know how? There must be some way to avoid losing your love, right? Yes indeed; there are things that can be done, but you will need to be open to accepting outside help from a stranger. Not just any stranger, obviously, but someone, trained in dealing with problems like yours. This person, a counsellor, could help you talk about your problems in a new and fresh environment.

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Relationship Counselling, also known as Couples Counselling or Marriage Guidance, is one of the more well known forms of counselling. This mainly because TV shows often use it as some sort of jokey plot devise. Using couples counselling like this has sadly led to many people being wary of taking this step, as they fear it will be how they saw it portrayed on their favourite funny TV show. This is a shame, as these couples are missing out on valuable help.

Contrary to the TV shows: you will NOT be told what to do, or receive some hippy-dippy therapy. Instead you will finally sit down with your partner and reflect on the past and present, while looking towards the future. Couples Counselling it the best way of getting couples to open up to each other, listen and to help them understand where the true problems lay. The counsellor is there to guide, to raise awareness to issues that get ignored in the heat of the moment and to keep the conversation going. Counsellors do not take decisions for you, they do not take sides, they are there for the both of you as it is the relationship that is the priority, not the individual.

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The biggest fear of talking to a partner can be that of opening up about your deepest thoughts and feelings.
Understandable: you live with a person every day and they already know so much, what more do you want or need to share? Often your loved one doesn’t know as much as you think, and things simply hover in the air unsaid, causing friction and unnecessary misunderstandings. Gentle guidance from a trained counsellor can help you to speak words you have been afraid to say. Letting go of so much anxiety and fear in front of a partner can give quite the boost to a relationship, so a deeper understanding is build.

So let’s return to our question: When should you seek Couples Counselling?

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Is there a right time to seek help? You might wonder. The right time to seek help is when it feels right to you. If you feel you need help, then you need help. Don’t worry if a problem may be “too little”. A small problem is never small if it stands in the way of your happiness.. You might also worry whether or not a problem is not really a “couples problem”. But in fact: anything that stands between two partners IS a couples problem.

Of course taking Couples Counselling does not guarantee that the two of you will actually stay together. But even if you don’t it will always be beneficial: The conversations will help the both of you realise where you went wrong and help make the break up easier. You will end your relationship with everything out in the open: no questions, no lingering “what ifs” or loose ends. You will find it easier to separate on good terms and stay friendly. This will also benefit children, if they are in the picture.

So, no matter how you look at it: there is always a benefit to taking Couples Counselling. You will end up feeling stronger as a couple, as a person or both. Don’t wait until a “small” problem becomes a big one. You are in this relationship right now and deserve to spend time together in love, not sadness.

Featured photo credit: uiowa.edu via counseling.studentlife.uiowa.edu

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Dannii Cohen

PsyD in Psychology, professional counsellor, life coach and self-help expert

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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