WHEN you find yourself in a position where your relationship is either stagnant or heading downhill, marriage or couples' counselling can usually get you past the hump. This type of therapy identifies and resolves conflicts and helps to improve your relationship.
It is advisable that couples seek counselling before deciding to call it quits as this could make the difference in the way they view each other. But when else do you need counselling?
Family life educator and counsellor Anthony Gordon said if there are signs that the quality of the relationship has made any definite change, it is time.
He names these key signs as:
1. Inhibitions. "This happens when the relationship is not spontaneous, it is not flowing," Gordon explained. "Deep within his/her mind they are simply going through the motions. That's because there are inhibitions. And inhibitions could manifest in secret fears and in hang-ups."
2. Unresolved issues. "This is characterised by disagreements and conflicts that are not addressed," Gordon explained. "Worst of all you do not feel safe — and that is the worst part of it — to raise issues. If you are to raise an issue you have to do a lot of rehearsing. And so you have to practise how you are going to say it to him/her because you feel if you say it a certain way it will cause problems. And then eventually it goes under the proverbial carpet and therefore becomes unresolved. Unresolved issues are signs that the marriage is in trouble. That's a telltale sign that the relationship is ill."
3. Disillusionment. "Very often marriages that are not entered into properly, where parties never spent enough time in premarital counselling which helps them to plot out their graph of the relationships, and when the relationships are not monitored as they develop, one of them, or both of them could slip into a state of disillusionment," the counsellor explained.
4. Gender issues and roles. "Very often gender concerns, influenced by our family of origin or by social stereotyping, arise," Gordon said. What the woman expects from a man, or what the man expects from a woman, if not addressed early, could lead to problems in the relationship later.
5. Work orientation. When there is not mutual identity with the other person's work or vocation, and when his/her work comes in to question and begins to impact the quality of the relationship, that is another serious sign that the relationship is ill.
Other reason couples may seek counselling include:
* When cheating is involved
* When one or both parties have no interest in the home
* When communication has broken down
* When there is constant abuse — physical/emotional
* When one partner outgrows the marriage.