I DON'T see couples for relationship counselling, marriage counselling, or civil partnership therapy.
Please note, for relationship counselling, I ONLY see individuals privately (independently of their partner),
who want to work through their OWN, SPECIFIC concerns, issues in their relationship.
Relationship Expectations, Hooks, Triggers, Disappointments, Hurt, Attitudes & Roles - Counselling London
Relationship Expectations, Assumptions & Disappointments
Checking Out Each Other's Relationship Expectations, Assumptions About The Relationship Or Marriage We may be in a different relationship in our mind - different than the reality of the actual relationship. (And when we partner up with someone, we also have relationships with - or expectations, assumptions of their wider family and some of their friends. For their wider family and friends also come with the package of the relationship, because or partner is connected to them.) We or our partner are likely to have different (often unconscious) philosophies, attitudes, assumptions, expectations, needs, elements of fantasy of the relationship or marriage, e.g. bringing up children (and life itself), and unless they are articulated and worked through, the foundations can be built on sand, rather than something more solid. (See also Mind, Thoughts & Beliefs - Counselling London) Assumptions may have been made about our roles or the direction of the relationship, without sharing each other's vision of the future relationship. The weight we give to the relationship or marriage can vary between making it the very meaning of our existence or as a way of being secure with someone we care about and a lot in-between these two polarities (see also Being Autonomous Yet Part Of A Couple). The importance we give to the relationship, civil partnership or marriage and what we value can vary enormously between the couple and we may have different outlooks. How we expected our relationship or marriage to evolve may not be how it has been. Our dreams of what our relationship or marriage should have been like may have become very different to how it is. We may be grieving a stage of our relationship. We can be busy fantasising how the relationship "should be" without considering what we realistically expect. We may have assumed that what we like, or value is what our partner also does, and feel hurt, disappointed that they don't. We may never have imagined our partner spending so much time doing what they do. What they include and exclude may be very different to what we do. We may want to change our partner. What we want to get from others may exceed what we contribute. Discovering and acknowledging our own relationship expectations, assumptions, vision of a relationship, can be a part of the work together in the civil partnership therapy, relationship counselling or marriage counselling.
What May Lay Behind Our Expectations Few of us have exactly the right partner. Things don't always go according to our plans and we can project our expectations onto our partner. Relationship counselling and marriage therapy can look at what expectations belong to us, what might belong to our partner, and explore what might be shared expectations. The relationship or marriage may not have turned out what we have hoped for, expected (we may for example have dreamed of a happy relationship - pursuing external factors rather than building the foundations of our relationship, fostering emotional connection). So the therapy may also take into consideration any assumptions, expectations we are holding, based on how things should be (e.g. the pressure of having to live happily ever after), how we were brought up (e.g. what was normal, what wasn't, what is right and wrong, beliefs, sacred cows, etc.) Some of us may expect too much, others too little. Our healthy expectations - defining our boundaries, ground rules in how we allow others to treat us, are important. Clearly communicating these, adjusting unreasonable expectations, may be challenging. Instead of expecting our partner to change, it can be a challenge to understand them, their situation, and be compassionate (see also Trying To Be Right, Needing To Be Right, Better, Persuade Others, Our Partner). We may believe that our aloneness or loneliness is to do with our relationship or marriage, yet it may be connected to what's happening inside us (as if others should be our source of self-love) or a struggle to create intimacy within the relationship, learn to love.
Expecting, Assuming, Needing Our Partner Or The Relationship To Meet All Our Needs Sometimes we look to our partner to compensate for everything that didn't happen to us or should have happened to us. We may expect too much from our partner, our relationship or marriage to meet all our needs (see also Perfect Love, Idealised Love) without compromise (e.g. we may want our partner to treat us in all the ways we wanted our parents to) and struggle to meet our own needs (see also Codependency (Co-Dependency) - Caretaking). We may have assumptions that our relationship, marriage, should give us something, that we should never feel alone again, feel disconnected, worry about abandonment, never feel unnoticed. We may believe our partner owes us things and they may end up walking on eggshells around us. We may be in a double bind, where on the one hand we have a need for familiarity, security, dependability, predictability, safety, reliability, permanence, yet on the other hand hold a dilemma of also having different needs for adventure, excitement, playfulness, surprise, spontaneity, novelty, the unexpected, mystery, risk, danger, the unknown (see also Sustaining, Channelling, Harnessing, Following, Expressing Our Sexual Energy, Passion, Desire, Spirit, Affection & Creativity). Rather than solving this double bind, we may want to explore how we can communicate and manage this, so we can reconcile our different needs without holding resentment (see also Agreeing To Disagree). Alongside companionship we may want them to be not only our partner, but best friend, a trusted confident, soulmate, an intellectual equal, be domestic, maybe a good parent, romantic, emotionally intimate, to be our passionate lover, to have good sex with them, to be erotic - all from the same person. Yet friendship doesn't operate at the same level as the relationship or the erotic (see also Relationship Style, Attachment Patterns). We are different, and recognising that our partner doesn't have to be our best friend, may help some couples. The relationship counselling can explore our hidden expectations, motivations, agendas and how we can share truth with our partner. Just because there is love between us, it doesn't mean that we understand everything without words. We may want to share (not necessarily agreeing with) each other's vision of the kind of deep & meaningful relationship, marriage we really want.
Bringing Our Own Dissatisfaction Into The Relationship Or Marriage We may have illusions about love and how relationships should be (see also Am I Really In Love? Am I In Love?). These can be discussed in the relationship counselling and marriage therapy. Some of us may use our disappointment, showing we are upset, to get our partner to feel sorry for us, which may not work in the long run. Our patience may be in short supply. And we can compensate for this by rationalising, blaming us or our partner. Our desire to love (or to be loved) may exceed our (or our partner's) capacity to do so. Our disappointment may also be a healthy sign, that we have dropped our early, unrealistic demands of a relationship, and that we can now be more realistic. Our own expectations may be unrealistic, causing frustration or disappointment in a relationship. For example some of us may be seeking a perfect relationship or are seeking a love that can't be met or value the external qualities of our partner, rather than internal. Some may also have expectations, attitudes, assumptions, believes and thoughts around sex, which may fuel our disappointment. We may want to examine what we do with our realistic expectations and how we manage our personal disappointments.
We may need or expect:
- To be able to talk everything through & find resolution
- That we & our partner should never argue, fight or withdraw, always take care of each other & agree on everything
- A wonderful sexual relationship, full of sexual passion
- Each other to take their own responsibility for their own feelings, able to share love, rather than expect our partner to fill us up with their love
- To have a lot of fun & easily laugh together
- To have similar interests
- Our partner to financially contribute
- A certain level of contribution towards the household & childcare
- Respect, admiration & deep trust
- A relationship full of affection, holding, cuddling & kissing
- To find each other infinitely interesting, look forward to being together & sharing ideas
- The same religious beliefs
- Shared, common spiritual values
- Other ...
Anxiety About Our Demands, Partner's Demands Often in a relationship, one of us complains that the other isn't available, and we feel abandoned, rejected. The other person may fear or feel engulfed (see also Relationship Dances - Pushing & Pulling). Both of us may feel anxious, which may affect our ability to love.
Disappointment In Our Partner, Disappointment In The Relationship Or Marriage Sometimes we may feel disappointed with our partner, relationship or marriage, and because we feel disappointed, we may rush to believing that it has to end as if there is no other choice. Most of relationships have disappointments from time to time and our challenge may be to manage and respond differently to our disappointment in the relationship. We may struggle to understand that things won't always be positive, exciting, or romantic, that negative experiences are part of a realistic relationship or marriage, that these can help us grow, prosper. Some of us may have had the experience of falling out of love, because what we hoped, imagined, and thought we saw has changed. Our feelings have changed, even though that the person we are with is still the same person. The person who once lit up our life may appear to us differently, often smaller. We may wonder how we could ever have loved that person. yet it may be the relationship is transforming or moving away from a passionate love towards a more compassionate love. The problem for some might not be with our partner, but with how we manage how we take into consideration the impact of our past affecting our relationships now and our disappointments and expectations, respond to our painbody and how we love or be loving, in spite of suffering setbacks. We may need to take into consideration our own preconceived perceptions that others are the way they are, the world is there, and how we see it is dependent on how we perceive it. Lowering our high expectations, so they are more realistic, may be helpful for some. These important issues can be considered in the marriage counselling and relationship therapy.
Relationship Hurt, Fear Of Getting Hurt
Fear Of Hurt We may be so scared of being hurt, scared to open our heart to love because we fear getting hurt, that we don't open up (see also Hurt Feelings & Emotional Pain In Relationships). Yet we no longer need to be afraid of the pain of loving and it is not possible to fully love without getting hurt because loss of love hurts - when the person we love dies, leaves or rejects us, is preoccupied, becomes distant, disconnected, mean, angry, doesn't give us what we need. We can decide what is more important to us: protecting ourself against the pain of getting hurt or being loving to ourself and others, because doing both at the same time is not possible. And when we are kind and compassionate towards our painful feelings - even tearful this can release our feelings out of our body (some choose to release their feelings to the universe, to spirit asking them to be replaced by acceptance, peace). Being willing to open up, be vulnerable and at the same time take care of ourself, managing our hurt, loneliness, grief, heartbreak and helplessness over others and outcomes, risking and experiencing these painful feelings, so we are not so scared of them and can fully love, may be important. Learning the truth from our feelings and the truth about the situation or person may also inform us of the loving action we need to take for ourself.
What We Do With Our Hurt In The Relationship, Marriage Holding on to our emotional hurt, we may struggle to forgive. We may be hurt in the relationship for understandable reasons and the therapy can be a space for us to be heard, supported and be centred in own ground, in our own personal power. The relationship counselling and marriage psychotherapy can help us look at what we believe and how we react to what our partner says or does, especially if our partner is unloving or if they are coming from a wounded place. We may not have expected them to behave in the way they have or say the things they have, feel hurt, yet we can choose our response. Some of us may keep trying to please our partner, can feel like a victim or martyr, avoid conflict, confrontation, become easily hurt or overly sensitive, which can also be explored in counselling and psychotherapy. We may also struggle with asserting ourself, fearing conflict or confrontation, because we don't want to disappoint, hurt or upset our partner. Others may be competitive with our partner - who can hurt the other the most or with "who is hurting more" attitude. Relating to our partner from our hurt place may compound problems. We may blame them for our feelings of hurt in the relationship, trying to get our partner to take responsibility for our own hurt. Our hurt now may also be connected to past hurts, pain, our painbody, which may be rooted to our childhood experiences or times we felt rejected, abandoned in our previous relationships. Further challenges in our relationship, marriage, may be to initially not project our unwanted feelings onto our partner a willingness to own, experience, our hurt, pain, loneliness and grief, with kindness and compassion, learn what these feelings are teaching us, and take action which is loving. This has the potential to bring us closer together as a couple.
Attitudes In The Relationship Or Marriage
The Attitudes We Choose The attitudes we hold (and defensive ego we unhelpfully hold on to) can be the "making or breaking" of the relationship or marriage, and these can be considered in the marriage counselling or relationship therapy alongside learning the bits of our partner we don't love. We don't have to allow our partner's mood to rub off on us, and although we can't change our partner's attitude (see also Wanting To Change Others, Our Partner), we can choose our own responses and attitude, e.g. whether to be positive or negative. We may prefer our partner not to be the way they are, to be somebody else or hope that they become different over time, yet this may not happen. We may not want to upset our partner, and because of this, hold back. Developing a compassionate, enduring way of loving may be a challenge for some. The relationship counselling and marriage therapy can explore what other attitudes we may want to choose to hold and what we transmit. (See also What We May Need To Learn Through Our Relationship System)
Old Hooks, Buttons, Triggers, Played Out In Our Relationship
Avoiding your triggers isn't healing. Healing happens when you're triggered and you're able to move throughVienna Pharaon
the pain, the pattern, and the story, and walk your way to a different ending.
Old Hooks, Triggers, Buttons Being Pressed Sometimes we can knowingly and unknowingly set each other off in relationship or marriage as if we are in a drama. We all have our own personal hooks, when we can get caught up in things, sometime taking the bait, triggering reactions, e.g. victim, persecutor, rescuer. Hooked, we may want to change the way our partner is and start to have controlling reactions in our relationship. We may want to retaliate, punish. Some of the hooks we get caught up in can be painful and go back a long way (see also Our Painbody). Unhooking ourselves from what hooks us in the first place can be challenging (see also Relationship Style, Attachment Patterns). Our buttons may be easily pressed, as our protective patterns become activated.
Our issues only get triggered within our relationship - not when we're alone. The closer the relationship, the deeper the wounds become activated, providing us with opportunities to heal whet we need to heal, learn, love.
Triggers In Our Relationship, Marriage Relationships can trigger things, which are unhealed in us - giving us the opportunity to heal (see also Forsaking Ourselves In The Relationship, Marriage). Our personal triggers usually emerge in the chemistry of our relationship or marriage more than any other area. We may project onto our partner often unconsciously. And how would we know what is unhealed in us, unless our wounds are triggered? It is usually in relationship with others that we learn about ourselves and if we as a couple are open to learning about each other's triggers, this can transform the relationship, deepen it (see also What We, Others Observe - Giving, Receiving Feedback To & From Others, Our Partner). The counselling and psychotherapy can explore what story does our partner (or someone else) tell us or confirm in ourself - what qualities or lack of qualities do we see in them that trigger and somehow resonate in us that we may find hard to accept. Our unique relationship triggers may include our partner's "annoying" habits, behaviours - their:
- Lack of consideration
- Going away for long periods
- Ways of not seeing us, agreeing with us, validating us
- Anger, blame, criticism, complaining
Relationship Roles, Patterns & Characteristics
Specific Relationship Roles We may have noticed certain patterns in our relationships. Sometimes it can be as if we are there in the relationship or marriage, yet not fully present or engaged, hiding parts of ourself. This may point to being in roles, having certain types of behaviour which no longer serve us or the relationship. The relationship counselling or marriage counselling can consider the roles we personally take in our relationship. Both we and our partner may be stuck in a variety of inflexible roles, which we have settled into and taken on, which may no longer be helpful, as if we are pigeon-holed, half-pretending or as if we are in a drama. These relationship roles may have become quite fixed, territorial (see also Locked Into Positions In Our Relationship). We may assume, expect, that "our roles are these", "their roles should be that". In this set-up in the relationship or marriage, we may have taken on certain characteristics, as if they are our personality traits (e.g. optimist coming up against the pessimist, the complainer vs the rebel, the pursuer vs. pursued, and many other roles). Sometimes we can get caught up in unhelpful relationship cycles - one may be more active, the other passive, where we may energetically push, pull or repel, become needy, emotional/unavailable or fear engulfment (and we may have noticed these patterns in previous relationships - see also Relationship Style, Attachment Patterns). There may be a dance between an emotionally avoidant and emotionally dependent partner.
Disharmony We may continue to believe and act as if the love we have for our partner will change them. Despite our best efforts we seem to be unable to make our partner change. Whatever we try, proves futile. It is known that if we cannot be happy internally, it is unlikely that we will be happy with anyone else. Disharmony with our relationship may indicate that we first need to be in harmony with ourself by developing inner security, resilience, responsibility, confidence and acceptance. Changing our own roles and what we do and say - even doing the opposite, can often have a surprising, positive effect. Some couples have found the courage and humour to consciously reverse roles, characteristics for a while, which can end up breaking old patterns of behaving, so we no longer live parallel lives in a transactional relationship. Clarifying each other's roles, what is expected, can help reduce confusion. We may want to examine the roles we personally play, become more self-assured as a man or woman in the relationship.
Previous Relationship Themes, Patterns, Cycles, Roles We may begin to see familiar patterns emerging from past encounters (we may for example have a pattern of getting into relationships, that deep down we know wouldn't work out, or we may sell us short with the partners we continue to choose - see also Our Painbody). We may have a pattern of sabotaging things in our relationship which may be linked to our self-worth. Others may love someone, but the relationship ends up destroying them. Familiar themes in new relationships may start early. Expectations, relationship roles and patterns may have been formed, which no longer help. (We may become like one of our parents ourself or turn our partner into our longed-for parent.) We may have overlooked thinking about things, discussing our expectations, assumptions, hopes. We may see relationships as a burden. The relationship counselling and marriage therapy can also be a space to think about our motivations for getting into a relationship in the first place and how we are when we are in it. Some of us may often unknowingly avoid love as destructive relationship patterns emerge, and this can be explored in the therapy. We may struggle with a particular phase of the relationship. As if in some sort of repetition compulsion, we may keep doing things (even seeing ourselves doing them) that no longer seem to work (see Early Destructive Relationship Patterns). Unless we sort out our own relationship patterns, we may only fall back into and repeat the same patterns of behaviour (often in order to feel safe, re-establish trust). We may need to remind ourself love is not passive, it is active, so we act in loving, forgiving ways, switch our focus from what is wrong and not working in the relationship to what is right, especially when we practise giving our partner at least 2 / 3 appreciations, complements each day, alongside three loving gestures of behaviour. Practising listening, reminding ourself that we are different and we don't have to agree may help us. (It can also help to only bring up one issue of concern a week, so our partner is not overwhelmed, e.g. "when you do X, I feel Y, what I'd like instead would be Z" and best not to demand an immediate response.) Making "I" statements, rather than "You" statements - without reverting to "you always", "you are", throwing insults blaming to prove our partner is wrong may not be helpful. Also. it is best not to take the moral high ground in competitive ways - who is the better person. (Remember a complaint is about ourself and our feelings, not proving we are right, the other is wrong.) It can be worth reminding ourself that only we can change our own behaviour, we can't change our partner's, yet often they change through our changing. We may have begun to neglect our self, our partner and the relationship. There may be a relationship pattern of blame, criticism, withdrawal. Arguments and conflicts may be frequent. Conflict de-escalation and the ability to step aside and reflect can help alongside considering new ground rules. The model we have for a relationship may need updating. The relationship counselling and marriage therapy can consider our own themes, patterns, cycles, roles, triggers, relationship style.
Changing What We Want To Change We may want to change our partner, yet it may be more helpful to place more energy in owning, accepting what's ours, dropping any of our defensive ego we hold on to. Some of the relationship patterns and roles may also be familiar to us in previous relationships and we may have flashbacks to them. We may have noticed familiar themes in how previous relationships have been or ended. We may get to a certain stage of the relationship, and something familiar happens. Stuck in old, familiar relationship roles or patterns we may want to try new ones (see also Building, Maintaining, Scheduling Supportive Habits, Routines, Rituals, Patterns), re-ignite ourselves and the relationship. Relationship counselling and marriage psychotherapy can help shed light upon any destructive relationship patterns, their sources (including the influence of our past) and offer other perspectives, including how to love the bits of our partner we don't love. Letting go of the need to change our partner and changing what we want to personally change and often as we do, so too may our relationship transform.
The course of true love never did run smooth.William Shakespeare
Balance In The Relationship Or Marriage
Relationship Balance Sometimes there can be an unequal union between us and our partner, maybe in terms of maturity, wealth, etc. This may include the giving, receiving, sharing of love. For some couples this could be problematic and others - irrelevant. Our partner may lack the ability or motivation to offer an equal input into solving problems (see also When Our Partner Isn't Acknowledging A Problem). This may not be ideal, yet that is the way it is, and we may struggle to accept this. Their strengths may lie in other areas, and sometimes our courage and strength may be needed to compensate where necessary. We may be looking to our partner to provide for us our needs, making them responsible. By doing this we may struggle to function in a whole manner, calling upon our partner to be responsible for our unmet needs, overlooking valuing our differences. We may assume or believe that each should give equally to achieve a balance in the relationship. Dropping our fantasies about how our partnership should be and moving from fairness to generosity may help us. We may not have considered balance in terms how much we give to the relationship and how much we give to us, that what we provide for ourself is not negotiable. Taking care of our own needs, asserting ourself in a healthy way, so we don't make our partner responsible for our own needs, may give us a personal sense of balance. The question of balance in the relationship may not necessarily be between us and our partner, but also between balancing our needs against the needs of our relationship or marriage, so the source of our own contentment lies within us from our mental, physical, emotional and spiritual strengths. These qualities within us enable us to be strong, so we are able to attend to any demands of our relationship or marriage. Our personal boundaries can support us alongside being in our own ground, internally balanced, taking our own responsibility. What give and take, compromise in a relationship or relationship balance means for us, can be discussed in the marriage counselling or relationship counselling.
Giving & Receiving To Each Other, Sharing Love To give generously, without expectations, wanting anything back in return, accepting whatever comes back or doesn't can be a challenge for some. Some may find it hard to give, others to receive, or share with generosity and open heart.
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