A Couple Case study: “From terminal to serenity”

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Couples will enter the counselling room at all stages of their relationship. Recently, Colleen sat down with a couple that have been married for 29 years. After journeying with Mark and Kate for some time, this was their twelfth and final session. They took the opportunity to reflect on their relationship, and how therapy has helped them.

“Our son pushed us to be here,” shares Mark, about why they began couples counselling, “I was ready to say that our relationship was done, but he insisted we try therapy.” Talking about what sanctioned change for them, Kate opens up, “Having someone [like Colleen] who had no idea of who we were or what we were about. Someone who just listened neutrally.”

Mark also mentions what they brought to the therapist-client relationship that allowed them to grow. “The strength of the will, determination to make it work, and the love that did exist in the relationship to want it to work.”

Bringing these two elements together allowed them to find Colleen, and ultimately begin the journey to growth and healing in their marriage relationship. “[Colleen was] the right therapist to steer us in the right direction,” shares Kate.

Early on, Kate and Mark found their old techniques of dealing with conflict only added to their troubles. “I talked to family members, however they were too emotionally involved so I stopped,” explains Kate. “It wasn’t helpful.”

“We were both very arrogant and stubborn about the situation,” says Mark. “Colleen helped us find the tools to reach a good point in understanding and communicating with each other.”

Holding regular sessions where the couple could openly talk about their feelings, as well as the exploration of their genograms (family history) and personality traits, enabled them to find the skills they needed to build a healthy and happy relationship. “[Colleen used] the tools of listening, respect and communicating,” says Mark. “Our defensiveness was like walls of guilt and competition. Colleen helped us see that we were creators of our own walls.”

“The emphasis of the sessions was ‘how do we move forward?’ Colleen didn’t allow us to brood, so we talked about the issues in terms of the process,” explains Kate.  “We both really wanted our relationship to work.”

Finding a couples’ counsellor who both parties trust and respect is invaluable, and this was the case as Mark and Kate met with Colleen. “Colleen was fair,” shares Kate. “She contained our negative emotions and ticked us off in a nice, calm way. It got through and made a difference to our listening. After each session, we would go into our own space to process information.”

Learning how to maintain their privacy and work out conflict with each other was also imperative in their success. “We kept it between ourselves. It is our journey, a private journey. Rather than talking to others outside the session, we were respectful of each other,” says Kate. “If we left feeling heightened emotions like anger, we didn’t take it out of the room together, we went separate ways to process alone. We knew that the negative emotions had to come out, that it was part of the process.”

“Our history of past hurts, misunderstandings and disappointments were still defining our relationship in a negative way. By visiting it briefly, we were able to acknowledge it and let go of it. It no longer had to have power over us.”

Knowing that Colleen was available to affirm and validate how she was feeling also settled Kate. “Early in the process, when I felt like I had lost control, I was able to ring Colleen, who validated how I felt and that it was okay.”

Having another person to safely share your couple journey with enables you to move from a state of survival to a relationship that thrives, and this is what made all the difference for the couple. “I am more understanding and accepting of my faults. I give the good energy and a good vibe now,” shares Mark. For Kate, the fact she is more energised changes everything, “I am not exhausted anymore.”

After finishing their twelfth session with Colleen, Mark and Kate are in a position to more effectively communicate, listen to and understand each other. “We got lost, but we found ourselves,” says Mark. “When you are listening with respect and understanding, everything just flows…we went from terminal to serenity.”

Used with permission of interviewees. Names changes to protect privacy.

Do you want your relationship to thrive? Would you like to discuss how therapy could help your couple relationship?  Here’s what you need to do: contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

5 Traits of a Healthy Relationship

We are all familiar with the strain we feel when we have a friend, family member or a spouse who is particularly demanding. When relationships are not cultivated in a healthy manner, they can leave us feeling physically drained and stressed. Emotionally, an unhealthy relationship can also lead to feelings of bitterness, anger and unforgiveness. It is common to assume that we must always be agreeable and generous in our relationships, but what happens when we are giving too much of these qualities and are receiving none of them back? A quality relationship must be worked at by both parties involved. Here are 5 traits marking a healthy relationship that is both life-giving and fulfilling to everyone involved.

1. Understanding

A healthy relationship will have both people feeling actively empathetic to each other. They will understand the stressors and scenarios that arise in each other’s lives and will cater to this. Therefore, if one person in unable to fulfil an obligation due to arising circumstances, the other will understand and can act as a support network during this period.

2. Forgiveness

Mistakes are made in every relationship and it is inevitable that people will hurt one another, even when they have the best intentions. When conflict comes up, both people actively forgive each other because they acknowledge that their friend has their best interests at heart. There will not be a condoning of the circumstances, but the opportunity to start afresh.

3. Boundaries

Even the closest relationships need down time and it is unhealthy to live in each other’s pockets 24/7. A good relationship is characterised by the ability of both parties to not only ask for help, but to say “no” when they are unable to give it. This may occur if a person needs their own quiet time, must invest in other important relationships, or if they find that the demands of the relationship are impacting their quality of life.

4. Community focused

While a healthy relationship will nurture and grow the bond between two people, it can become clique and fuelled by jealousy if both people limit their quality time to a singular person. A healthy relationship will accept the numerous people in each person’s life and will be understanding and inclusive of these relationships.

5. Honesty

Whether it is little annoyances or life changing scenarios, a healthy relationship is marked by the willingness of both people to talk about the situation and how it can be resolved. In this, both people will speak and listen with a loving intent, respecting the words of the other and discussing openly how this impacts each other’s lives.

Do you struggle to retain healthy boundaries in your relationships? Do you need the support of a professional to assist you in creating a healthy relationship with a significant other, relative or friend? Contact Colleen 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute consultation. If you are ready to book an appointment with Colleen, click the icon BOOK ONLINE NOW and you will be taken to her online appointment calendar by following the prompts.

An Extroverts Guide on How to Live with an Introverted Partner

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Image courtesy of photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If the old saying, “opposites attract” is true, then there is every likelihood that your partner is the complete opposite of you. Initially this may not seem like a huge factor in your relationship; you enjoy each other’s company and genuine appreciation means you are able to overlook your differences. But what happens when you are living together and your partner displays some characteristics that are just plain strange to you? How do you cope when you want to go out and all they want to do is lock themselves up in a quiet room for an hour, alone? How do you respond when your partner develops that distant expression two thirds of a way through a social outing and is unable to communicate effectively with your friends, let alone you, for the rest of the evening? If these circumstances ring true to you, chances are you are an extrovert and your partner is an introvert.

It goes without saying that every human being is unique, yet we find that there are two common personality traits people fall in to. The extrovert garners their energy from social situations. They thrive around people and often find they would rather be engaged with another person, even if it’s a stranger, than sit in the silence of their own thoughts. Alternatively, the introvert needs to spend time alone in order to function. Much like a battery, their energy is depleted when spending time with people. They recuperate and are able to function by spending time by themselves and will often prefer the company of a few close friends or even just you, compared to a large social situation.

While it can seem difficult to accommodate for each other’s differing personality traits – especially when you don’t understand them – there is hope. Having a partner with a different personality type means you are able to balance each other out, that you are able to encourage one another to grow in ways that were once foreign to you. But how do you come to a point where you are comfortable with these differences? For the many extroverts out there who desire to support their partner yet are unable to fathom their need for complete and utter alone time, here are 3 tips that will help you appreciate and live with your introverted partner.

1. Give them their space

While you may want to sit and talk about your day, the weather and the current status of Brangelina, your partner will struggle to cope with this at a moment’s notice. Allow your introverted partner to have their ‘alone time’ in order to recuperate from their long work day or a social situation before you vent to them. A great way to assess their current capacity to actively listen to you is to observe whether they are responding in full sentences and are retaining eye contact. If they’re not, hold back and wait until they are re energised so they can give you the attention you deserve.

2. Don’t expect your partner to be high energy

 Just because your partner is an introvert doesn’t mean they won’t like doing things. They need to spend quality time with people – especially you; and a healthy introvert will desire this. In saying this, be aware of your partner’s capacity to retain energy and concentration at social gatherings. Do they feel comfortable going to that work party? If so, how long can they spend there before they ‘switch off’? Are they able to have people over for dinner? How often? Just because your partner is less inclined to spend prolonged amounts of times in social situations doesn’t mean you should be. As an extrovert, you NEED to spend time with other people. Talk to your partner about this and figure out a compromise. Perhaps it is best to agree on a ‘curfew’ before attending a party; or maybe your partner just needs to know a few weeks ahead of time in order to mentally prepare for an event. You may even select a night every few weeks where you go out for a ‘girl’s night’ or ‘guys night’, giving you your social fix while they spend time at home alone.

3. Don’t expect them to have an answer immediately

Are you facing a difficult financial decision together? Perhaps you are trying to decide whose parents’ house you should go to for the holidays? It is important to discuss these things with your partner, but don’t always expect them to have a definitive answer or view point on the situation immediately. Chances are they will be able to voice the pros and cons to the varying options and will need some time to process what they feel the best response should be. Give your partner this time – a few hours, a day or a week, before you bring the topic up again.

If you are experiencing difficulties in your couple relationship and need direction and support to repair this and have a strong, happy and enduring couple relationship then here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you or press book now to book on my online diary.