Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Couples Counselling: What You Want From Each Other

Have you ever wanted to ask your partner:

Do I matter to you?
Can I count on you?
Are you there for me?
This is what most couples deep down inside want to ask. When you feel your needs are not being met or communication is breaking down then it may be time to seek counselling together.

It’s not really about issues surrounding finances, the kids or sex (although these issues are important). What you really want from each other is a deep emotional attachment. You can fight, but how you re-connect after that is what makes a relationship last. Staying emotionally connected even when you don’t agree with each other is paramount. The core issues behind every major disagreement will always come back to your own emotional needs, and everyone needs a safe place to work out those issues. Couples often bring their own troubled past into relationships. People who are drawn to each other seem to have ability to push each other's buttons. While this can lead to emotional turmoil, it can also be the place to heal your emotional wounds.

According to John Bowlby, “When we have a deep connection with a group of people, it changes how we feel in life". Isolation can be very traumatizing; we don’t do well alone, we aren't wired for it. The quality of relationships has a huge impact on the immune system. Oxytocin (a bonding hormone) is released when two people are emotionally close to each other. A lack of deep emotional bonding can in fact lead to some serious health issues.

When you feel you're growing apart from each other, like you have lost understanding and empathy with your partner, it's time to seek counselling. The role of the therapist is to lead couples into a deeper emotional bond, by creating a safe place in the therapy session for couples to work out their issues. With both of your participation, within a few sessions, you can work towards being heard, understood, and turning each other's company into a refuge rather than a war zone.

Next week, I will look closer at the cycles that couples go through and the role of the therapist in helping them move forward.

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