Relationships Marital Problems
Most adults seek or are engaged in romantic intimate relationships and, for many people, such relationships are publicly recognised through marriage or other forms of deep commitment. Whilst such relationships can be a source of joy, companionship and satisfaction, people can experience marital and relationship problems that lead to distress, conflict and disconnection.
All long-term relationships are impacted by problems or difficulties. Money worries, concerns about raising children, time apart, differing attitudes to commitment, intimacy and sex, household responsibilities and family expectations are just some of the many factors that can place stress upon a relationship. It’s normal and healthy to disagree with your partner(s) in ways which allow for your ideas, needs and wants to be shared. However, when conflict and arguments become a regular feature of your relationship, or when there is seldom any resolution then it can be helpful to take stock of what it is you want from the relationship. For some people, a period of self-reflection can be helpful in considering what you want from a relationship. Others find it beneficial to chat through with a trusted friend what it is bothering you. Speaking to a caring, supportive and non-judgmental therapist can also be a way to explore what it is you want from your relationship. This could be in 1:1 therapy: you and a psychotherapist working together. It could also be through couples’ therapy, with yourself and your partner working with the therapist. Of course, relationships come in all shapes and sizes, and many therapists will be experienced in working with same-sex couples, polygamous and open relationships.
For example, a common reason for someone or a couple to seek relationship therapy is as a response to unfaithfulness. Perhaps one partner has sought intimacy with someone outside of the relationship. This could lead to feelings of guilt, failure, disappointment, distrust, shame and anger, among others in one or both partners. One approach would be to ignore these feelings, to defend against them in the hope they will go away. Another approach could be to address the issue and look and the causes of the infidelity, how that has impacted those affected and how people feel about the relationship. Whilst this second approach could be challenging, it also opens up the possibility of improved communication and awareness. Such an approach could be an opportunity for growth, learning, and maturation of the individuals and, potentially, their relationship. It may be that one (or both) partner(s) realises they no longer want to remain in the relationship. Ignoring any relationship issue or problem is unlikely to result in either person feeling satisfied with the relationship.
When working on relationship difficulties with a therapist, you may wish to explore how you feel about the difficulties and problems and how you respond to conflict. This may include developing communication and conflict resolution skills. This work may also include looking at your past experiences of connection and conflict and how those experiences might be impacting you in the present. Again, whilst this may be challenging to discuss, a supportive therapist will work to create an environment of safety and stability to help you in this process.