how we help
Couples & families
We humans are hard wired to be social and do not do well if we are left alone for long periods or disconnect from our 'tribe'. We need relationships to survive. A relationship involves two or more people and may be strong, deep, or close, or by association or acquaintance. It can be brief or lasting. From birth, relationships become the foundations that make us feel safe in the world and happy, along with food, water and shelter. However, not all of us are lucky to have strong, stable foundations from birth and as adults that often means we have trouble making and/or maintaining healthy relationships. Your psychologist can help you to understand what your relationship needs are and how to get these needs met as well as teach you how to manage conflict successfully.
What causes relationship problems
Experiencing relationship problems?
Research shows that love and friendship is the foundation of a strong, healthy relationships. This means you enjoy each other's company, have shared values, interests, friends and extended family, and know that you care about each other, and support, and understand each other. You are confident that you are able to be each other's 'rock' when things are bad and can be a strong team together. Unfortunately, life all too often gets in the way and prevents us from being fully present in our relationships in the ways that we would like. When this happens, our relationships may become neglected, and you may feel disconnected from each other.
It is hard to be warm and friendly when there is a conflict in your relationship that leaves you feeling angry, frustrated, hurt or disappointed. It is really important that when there is a conflict, that you find effective ways to manage the issues causing the conflict before you get too worked up so that it does not leave one of you feeling resentful or guilty that things were said because you couldn't think straight. All too often, when we want change, we are not calm inside and fall into blaming and criticising. Research has identified that when one partner feels criticised they are likely to become defensive and if the conflict remains unresolved and the criticism becomes contempt, then the defensiveness can turn into the other partner blocking it out or ‘stonewalling', which can be fatal behaviours for future of the relationship.
Poor management of differences
Without wanting to sound cliche, we are all individuals. We have different values, priorities and ways of dealing with issues. Some of the more common differences in relationships include money management, where to spend holidays, communicating feelings, tidiness, how we drive, how thoughtful we are, buying presents, keeping promises. Wanting things our own way all of the time is unreasonable and unfair but finding ways to compromise can be challenging.
When we don't get our own way, we can express our annoyance in damaging ways that can harm our relationship. We often let our partner know just how bad or wrong they are by 'punishing' them to get out point across. Punisiments usually involve removing things of value to your parent like sex or talking. Being punitive has been shown to damage relationships far more than help, as it reinforces disconnection and distancing and often leaves both partners feeling lonely, misunderstood and sad.
Absence of empathy and compassion
Showing your partner that you understand through their eyes, does not mean that you agree with them. It just means that you 'get' their perspective and this willingness to feel empathy can lead to a feeling of compassion for your partner, which is important for growing connection and closeness. When there is no understanding or empathy and compassion is withdrawn, then the other partner can feel devalued and lost and if it continues, they even seek to be understood outside of your relationship.
Times of crisis
Typical crises include losing a job, death of a parent or loved one, infertility, miscarriage, a child's disability, natural disaster like a fire or drought, suffering injuries from a car or work accident, developing a serious medical illness, developing psychological issues like PTSD or depression, cheating, gambling, alcohol or drug addiction. We all react differently in crisis situations, depending on our past learning, temperament and resilience. If you can support and care for each other, and stand together as a team, then working through the difficulties can actually strengthen a relationship. If not, relationships can be torn apart as if it is death from a thousand cuts.