Marital and Family
“Where there is love there is life.”
Loving relationships are one of the greatest sources of happiness and meaning for human beings, yet also the cause of lasting sadness and regret. When love relationships enter a state of decline, feelings of anger, hurt, and resentment move in. Wounds fester. Couples turn away from each other, and a sense of “we” begins to turn into “me”. As a result, our desire for healthy relationships often goes unmet today.
Is there a big issue - such as money, sex, infidelity, in-laws or children—that just won’t go away or that you cannot find a way to get your partner to respect or understand your viewpoint. Are the two of you busy leading separate lives? Is your relationship feeling stale and it feels like two ships passing in the night? People often ask how a couple can tell if they would benefit from relationship therapy, where a therapist can guide you through talking through issues and return to warm relating.
Signs that it is a favorable time to attend relationship counselling today include:
You’re feeling stuck, and what you have been trying on your own is not working.
You (or your spouse) feels emotionally/physically/sexually disconnected and can’t seem to find a way to regain the connection on your own.
It’s a frequent conflict scene or cold war zone in your home.
The same issues keep coming up over and over again without any sign of a resolution.
It is a recurring thought that someone else could make you feel happier or more cherished.
You are feeling drained by the relationship, and it seems like years since you were appreciated.
You fall into bed angry every might and wake up frustrated.
It puzzles you how other couples seem so happy and topped up when your cup feels empty.
You’re ready to learn new skills and tools to have an even stronger, richer relationship.
You have fallen into the trap that makes you think your partner is what is wrong with the relationship.
The effectiveness of marriage counseling is directly related to the motivation level of both partners and timing. Unfortunately, most couples wait much too long to reach out for help repairing their marriage. Sadly, many couples are conflict avoidant instead of seeing conflict as growth trying to happen.
The main purpose of couple’s therapy is to put you and your significant other in a room with a neutral mediator to help you sort things out so you can make sense of what is going on. It is the counsellor's responsibility to focus on the relationship, ensuring that both of you will get equal time, attention, and understanding. On a deeper level, couple work will not enable a victim or blaming attitude. It strives to honour both persons and to make space for each person’s world view.
“To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow–this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
"The family is one of nature's masterpieces."
A healthy family is a happy family. Yet, relationships with family members do not always run smoothly.
The impact of our words and actions does not always match our intention. We have habitual responses that need some adjustments. In our rush to cope with all that needs to be done in the run of a day, we do not pay sufficient attention to our personal and work relationships. We react rather than taking the time to process calmly and then respond. We avoid conflict and emotional work. Relationship disconnects occur, leaving us with a sense of loss, hurt, frustration, or hopelessness.
Even when we do try to work things out, our best efforts can fail. We are left wondering why these attempts to resolve and repair are leaving our family floundering.
Modern life brings a high level of challenge to family life, including the turmoil resulting from major life changes such as separation and divorce, step parenting and blended families, multiple career changes and/or lay-offs, significant health changes, arrival of adolescent years, sandwich generation issues, etc. Counselling Connections can help you find a positive and loving way forward.
There is an important step we often overlook in dealing with family issues. The single most important determinant of how well repair of a disconnect goes is the quality of preparation. Just jumping into a repair conversation without personally untangling at least some of the emotions, hurts, values, needs, and requests makes good repair almost impossible. Or it ends up requiring multiple additional conversations to sort things out which puts extra pressure on people’s busy schedules, and results in unsatisfying partial repairs.
Steps for preparing a successful family communication forum:
Clarify what is already known about the issue.
Determine what you believe to be at the core of the issue.
Identify the primary feelings.
Consider possible corrective actions (and resulting feeling reactions/responses).
Name the primary interests and needs.
Determine why this issue matters to your family.
Consider what you want to happen for resolution and repair.
Identify what you sense you would need in yourself and from the other(s) for this to resolve.
Identify what are you afraid will happen.
Acknowledge how you are contributing to the situation.
Explore to see if there is anything connected to your past that is having a compounding effect.
Contemplate a do-over- what would you do differently?
Look at past learnings to determine what might be helpful now to bring a repair/resolution.
Good self-leadership and preparation for ensuring quality family communication forums is powerful. It makes all the difference between satisfaction and frustration in working out a conflict or relationship disconnect. It ensures we have done the necessary inner work and have arrived in a calm, respectful state.
Now it is time to set up the dialogue forum, with a heart set that seeks the best possible outcome and a return to harmony. Here are some constructive and practical next steps:
Tell the person you want to meet to sort something out with them.
Ask when would be a favorable time to meet.
Get calm, clear, and centered.
Find your caring, courage, and curiosity.
Begin the meeting by having each person say what happened and how it impacted them (leaving out any blaming or emotionally charged statements).
Emphasize that the dialogue is happening because you care about the relationship and want to invest in repairing it and/or making it better.
Indicate that it is okay to raise a complaint with a request for change.
Clarify that it is more than acceptable to ask for a do-over.
Practice active listening, look for understandings, and invite respectful responses.
Suggest all parties look for truth, even when they do not agree with all they are hearing.
Unresolved family issues, along with poor listening skills, and a decided absence of stress management skills generates unnecessary havoc and pain for family members. Establishing respectful communication guidelines (as indicated below) and building strong conflict resolution skills are musts for ensuring healthy families.
Respectful Communication Rules
Begin each day with a promise to respect others
Sit down and talk quietly
Listen to what others say
Look for things to appreciate in others
Give verbal praise for the good you see in others
Tell others they are good, good enough, and lovable
Tell people they are worthwhile and important
Speak in a quiet voice even when you disagree
Pass up on chances to insult, attack, or criticize
Let others have responsibility for their lives while you have responsibility for yours
Adapted from Angry All The Time (Potter-Effron, R.T.)
Look for things to criticize
Make fun of or laugh at others
Make faces or roll your eyes
Tell people how to run their lives
Put people down in front of others
Talk shout or talk loudly at people
Tell people they’re weird or crazy
Say others are bad, not good enough, or unlovable
Call people names like fat, ugly, stupid, slow, or worthless