Not all couples who come for relationship counselling are in dire straits. Often there are times where couples just want some education and awareness around the behaviour that’s contributing to their misfortune.
It’s easy enough to date and fall in love. Once you’re in your relationship, a false sense of security sinks in and couples tend to forget how to maintain the love. Once we’re unhappy, we look outside our relationship for the source of our happiness. However, I believe:
“The grass is greener, where you water it.”
I want to show you 5 points of disconnection that lead couples to marriage counselling:
1. A passive participant
It’s so easy to sit on the sidelines of a relationship once we’ve settled into a routine. I think this a very common culprit for why so many couples come to see me for relationship counselling. Whilst I ask questions to find out what is going on in their relationship and how long it’s been happening, couples usually tell me they’ve been experiencing unhappiness in their relationship for a at least 1 year.
That’s 12 months. That’s 365 days. That’s a long time to feel unhappy!
Half the couples who have been feeling unhappy in their relationship for some time admit that they have told their partner. They agree that nothing is done about their unhappiness until it becomes so unbearable that they tell their partner they either want therapy or a lawyer!
On the other hand, their partner usually begins to feel angry as they claim they were unaware how dire the situation was.
Even if one party mentions that they’re unhappy, neither person in the relationship rolls their sleeves up and does something about it.
2. Unwavering blame of their partner
This naturally rolls on from being passive in the relationship and dare I say, life. Couples who are unhappy and have a relationship in distress are very good at focusing on what their partner is doing that’s causing their unhappiness.
There’s a saying “Energy will flow where attention goes” and this is really true for blame. If we spend our energy looking for and pointing out the number of things that our partner is doing “wrong” then we will see more and more flaws opening up.
Blame is also contagious. When someone is blamed they automatically go on the defensive and start blaming their partner right back. Usually in lines like:
“I can’t do anything right”
“Nothing I do is good enough”
3. Blaming behaviour becomes flaws in personality
Once the blame perpetuates, couples no longer focus on the behaviour of their partner that was causing them unhappiness. They now start to see it as a flaw in their partners’ character.
This person that they once felt great love and admiration for now is mean, cold and selfish.
Couples have no shame in describing their partner in such a harsh light. It has after all become their norm.
4. Not recognising the “me” within the “we”
One of the first questions I ask couples is what hobbies they have. The answer to this question is a source of gold. I can find out so much about people when they answer this question.
For couples with young children, the sad reality is that couples don’t have hobbies. Perhaps they rattle off a list of what they used to do. Or one person can tell me all of the sports and interests they have, while their partner sits there racking their brain only to answer
“I go out with my friends, occasionally.”
Having a sense of self that is solid and strong is vital in life and even more so in a long term relationship. It fills our cup, it gives us passion and purpose. It validates us when others can’t and it creates space, mystery and intrigue within the closed loop.
So does going to the toilet with the door closed, except when you have children. You lose that right, so hold on tight to your little pocket of self.
5. Big dreams
Couples rarely give time to creating dreams together. I’m not sure if this is just an Australian thing. I also feel like this closes the loop in these top mistakes. If you don’t plan, you’re not actively participating in your relationship. You’re just letting it coast along.
Planning goals and reaching milestones together gives you a shared sense of achievement and pride. It allows you to feel a sense of admiration for your partner and a feeling of connection. All important aspects on creating relationship happiness.
Now the irony is, when faced with this list of points of disconnection, people feel that it’s too far out of a reach or it’s a utopian view of relationships. Not realising that it isn’t about big grand gestures, or major changes to their personality. It’s about simple little actions and room to review their thinking.
Relationship counselling gives you a safe haven and allows you to expand your awareness of the choices you make and the impact they have on yourself and your partner. A good therapist will foster the two sides of a coin that couples need; the sense of connection and belonging, and having different desires and autonomy. When we can master the balance of these two sides of a coin, it’s really like having your cake and eating it too!
If these points are resonating with you and you’re willing to change the lens of how you see your relationship. I have a quick list of 7 habits of couples in love. You can get your copy here