Thursday, 27 March 2014

Couple or 'uncouple' - your relationship is key

In the press yesterday was news that Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband Chris Martin are to 'consciously uncouple'. By this they mean they will continue to remain friends and co-parent but hope to reduce all the emotions that commonly come with a separation – anger, sadness, and bitterness.

Relationship difficulties and separations can be an extremely stressful and upsetting time for couples and families.

Relationships are often complex things, particularly when there are children involved. Both partners have a shared love of the children and want to make things as pleasant as possible for them. Despite this, anger and bitterness can often lead to significant conflict during relationship difficulties and the children can get caught in the middle.

But whether you have children or not, there are some common relationship issues that may lead you to feel unhappy in your relationship.

Common relationship issues
Arguing - couples can get 'trapped' in a cycle of arguing which is more about who wins and less about who empties the dishwasher. This can be very destructive and can lead you to feel that your partner dislikes you.

Intimacy - couples often describe feeling as if they are living together as flatmates rather than partners. Professor Leslie Greenberg, a Canadian psychologist has identified a cycle in which one partner pursues the other for intimacy and the other partner becomes more distant to escape the situation.

Relationship beliefs - we all grow up with certain beliefs which often stem from our families. These may relate to how we want to bring up our children or even how we deal with conflict. When you are your partner do not share similar beliefs about the things that are important to you both, things can get tricky.

Mental health problems - common mental health difficulties such as depression and anxiety can impact significantly on the health of a relationship.

Is there a way back for my relationship?
If you and your partner are committed to making your relationship work, it is worth seeking the help of a relationship counsellor who will work with you, listen to what you both have to say and remain neutral during the process. You do not need to come to relationship counselling with your partner – and indeed it is common for individuals to seek help alone – but it is usually more beneficial if you can both attend at least some of the sessions.

What if it's over?
You may be surprised to hear that a relationship counsellor can provide the support you need to work through the issues that arise at the end of a relationship. Whether you view this process as a 'conscious uncoupling' or a 'big split', it can be a devastating time for both partners. There is often a grieving process involved, but a relationship counsellor can help you work through any issues that arise and help you move on to greater happiness.

Further information about relationship problems 
To read our information sheet about relationship problems see

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