Relationship problems are among the most stressful, painful, and upsetting things that a person can experience. Our relationships with others form the foundations of our lives, so fractures within those relationships can have a very distressing impact.
If you’re struggling with any kind of relationship, it can be difficult to tease out the underlying problems. With the aid of a counsellor who helps with relationship issues, you could gain a greater understanding of why these issues have arisen, and how you can regain happiness.
All relationships have problems
Relationships are an integral part of human life. Good relationships provide us with support, with love, with guidance, and much more. They fulfil our deepest emotional needs, and they give us that vital human connection which is so essential to both our health and our happiness. Strong relationships – whether between romantic partners, friends, family members, or even colleagues – bring out the best in everyone involved.
But there has never, ever been a relationship of equals which ran completely smoothly. Human relationships involve the interplay of very complicated emotions, which inevitably causes some friction. Even the most peaceable and amicable relationship will hit choppy waters from time to time.
So, a good relationship isn’t just about the luck of finding someone with whom you can get along well. Maintaining a good relationship requires a tremendous amount of social skill, emotional awareness, and sheer hard work. Nobody manages it perfectly.
Some relationships are harder work than others, and there is no shame at all in getting a bit of help with that work. If you’re involved in a relationship which is sometimes a bit of a struggle, finding a counsellor to help with your relationship issues can make things a lot easier.
Relationship problems hurt
We invest a lot in our relationships, on both an emotional and a practical level. We build families on the basis of our connection to other people. We pour out our hearts to those we love, and plunge a lot of trust into them. We come to rely on our relationships – we even absorb aspects of our relationships into our own selves. So, when things start to fall apart, it’s incredibly painful.
When a romantic relationship falters, the heartache can be unbearably intense. But trouble within any relationship hurts. Often, problems arising from a deteriorating relationship aren’t just emotional (although the emotional stuff is bad enough!). Problems with work colleagues can damage business and careers. Problems within families can cause deep fissures which splinter out through the generations. The fallout from a falling out can be extensive.
What makes a good relationship?
The very best relationships are mutually beneficial and mutually supportive. If a relationship is not fulfilling everyone’s needs or expectations, it can have a serious impact upon quality of life. If a relationship is very one-sided, insecurity and anxiety can arise. If one party does not feel valued, frustration may erupt into anger. So, a balance is required.
Every relationship is different, but there are a few basics which can help people to achieve that all-important balance within their relationships:
- Trust. There has to be trust on both sides if a relationship is to work. This is a two-way thing: not only does each party need to trust the other, they must also be worthy of that trust. Trustworthiness and trust work hard together to strengthen any relationship.
- Care. This does not just mean ‘caring’ in the conventional sense of looking after your loved one (although this certainly comes into it!). It also means caring about their feelings, and being mindful of these when you speak or act. True care needs a deep knowledge of the other party.
- Mutual respect. Trusting and understanding the other party is all very well, but it means nothing if you do not respect them enough to be trustworthy and caring. The best relationships involve genuine, mutual respect for one another.
- Communication. This is the foundation of any good relationship. It benefits from and facilitates the other three factors. Good communications comprise trust, care, and mutual respect. Good communications can also help to build greater trust, care, and mutual respect. By communicating well, people grow to understand one another better and forge stronger bonds.
If your relationships are struggling with any one of the above factors, it’s likely that things aren’t going so well. A healthy dose of good communication can help a lot. However, if communications are breaking down and you feel that you’re getting nowhere trying to hash it out yourselves, it’s a good idea to find a counsellor who specialises in relationships.
How can a counsellor help with relationship issues?
It’s important to clarify that a relationship counsellor is not the same as a mediator. If you want to settle a dispute, apportion blame, or hash out the practicalities of a separation, you need a mediator or a solicitor.
So what does a relationship counsellor do? Well, they’ll work with you to enable you to understand your relationship (and everything which affects it) in a deep and truthful way. They will help you to establish what it is that you seek from your relationships, and how your expectations interplay with reality. They will give you the tools you need to uncover the roots of your current issues. This may involve looking at expectations you’ve carried forward from past relationships, or a variety of other factors. No counsellor will force you to go anywhere you don’t want to, emotionally, and you will remain in control of the process at all times.
A relationship counsellor will help you to develop a stronger sense of self. The more you understand yourself – your limits, your needs, your desires, your faults, your history – the better placed you’ll be to set healthy boundaries and engage with others on a firmer footing.
Relationship counselling can be undertaken alone or with another. If you decide to do relationship counselling as a pair or a group, the counsellor can guide you through the depths of the relationship, bringing out a greater understanding of the way in which you respond to one another, and why you do so. You’ll hopefully end up with a better knowledge of both the other participants and of yourself. What you decide to do with that knowledge is up to you. Some relationships may have naturally run their course. But whatever the outcome, you will move into the future with a stronger foundation from which to build up your current relationships and forge new ones. Visit The National Counselling Society for more information.