Relationship Challenges in the 21st Century: How Couple Counselling Can Help

Relationship Challenges in the 21st Century: How Couple Counselling Can Help

 “Most couples don’t get any training in relationships, and often they don’t learn how to communicate with each other until they go to therapy, and that’s often too late.” ~ John M. Gottman.

Before we look at relationship challenges in the 21st century it’s important to recognise how much romantic relationships have changed.

Esther Perel describes it as a shift from the Cornerstone Model of your parents. E.g. marriage in their early 20s, family, children and a home, to one with a paradox of choices and options which create uncertainty and self-doubt.

She explains how “for the first time you don’t just divorce because you are unhappy, but … because you could be happier.”

Whilst today’s relationship challenges share some similarities to the cornerstone model, there are other unique issues couples face today.

Here are some of the key relationship challenges therapists often see:

  • Conflict – Not feeling heard or understood. This generates unhelpful patterns of relating – defensiveness, attacking, and withdrawing.
  • Lack of connection – Feeling alone in the relationship. This is particularly evident after the arrival of a new baby.
  • Betrayal – Today betrayal is not necessarily just an sexual affair, it could be an emotional affair, online flirting, pornography, sexting, dating apps…etc. Essentially what constitutes betrayal to one person will be different for someone else. It is very personal and value laden.
  • Lost sense of individual autonomy for one or both – When couples stop nurturing their individual interests and friendships it puts a lot of strain on the relationship. You can read more about codependent relationships here.
  • Expecting a quick fix – Advances in technology are generating a fast, demanding and often impatient society. This same type of pressure is being applied to relationships. E.g. they either work or they don’t.  Married at First Sight is an extreme example of this, described by Sandowl as “an accelerated relationship cycle.” 

HOW COUPLE COUNSELLING CAN HELP

Develop and maintain a strong friendship – Listening and feeling heard is central to a happy relationship. This includes feeling known by your partner, being able to express your needs, and knowing they have your back in times of stress.

“Great relationships—the masters—are built on respect, empathy, and a profound understanding of each other. Relationships don’t last without talk, even for the strong and silent type.” ~ John M. Gottman

Strengthen intimacy – If conflict has been a big problem then your emotional tanks are probably depleted, and you may find it difficult to see anything they do or say in a positive light. 

The key here is to stop draining each others tanks, start letting go of the negative stories and begin to speak words of fondness and admiration. 

Learn how to manage conflict – Learning how to talk about and listen to your partner. This includes making repairs when needed, and responding to your partners attempts to repair.

 “Relationships are harder now because conversations become texting, arguments become phone calls, and feelings become status updates.” ~ Your Tango

Having a sense of shared purpose and supporting each other’s life goals – In the busyness of life common goals and interests can be forgotten. Happy couples also need to know and support their partners personal goals. This curiosity about each other energizes the relationship.

“Love rests on two pillars: Surrender and Autonomy. Our need for togetherness exists alongside our need for separateness.” ~ Esther Perel

Create trustworthiness – When trust is breached it can undermine the relationship if it isn’t worked through in a healthy way. This is an even bigger issue in our media saturated world, but couples can move on from it. 

Couple counselling may seem a bit daunting and therefore easy to put off. However, 86% of couples who put the work in to their Gottman counselling sessions successfully get their relationship back on track.

Lets Talk

If you are experiencing difficulties in your relationship, then please call me for a Free 15 minute consultation. We can talk about what is going on for you and I can answer any questions you might have. If I am with a client I will get back to you as soon as I can.

or if you are ready to book now

Lets Talk

If you are experiencing difficulties in your relationship, then please call me for a Free 15 minute consultation. We can talk about what is going on for you and I can answer any questions you might have. If I am with a client I will get back to you as soon as I can.

or if you are ready to book now

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