There are many reasons why a relationship may be struggling or lacking in intimacy. From our experience, a lack of effective communication skills is a very common reason behind unhappy relationships.
Most of us want a relationship like the ones we see at the movies, the long term relationships where the couples still have those ‘in love’ feelings. There are many different components to having a satisfying relationship but one important component is communication. When we don’t communicate effectively with our partner we tend to lose a sense of feeling connected to them and then worry it’s not an emotionally secure place to be.
When a relationship becomes distressed it’s common to avoid communicating with our partner because it’s often unpleasant. Some couples arrive in therapy stating that they communicate well about most things in their relationship. On the one hand, this communication includes the ‘functional’ aspects of the relationship, such as, daily chores or taking care of the children’s daily needs. However, on the other hand, there is a lack of communication with respect to the deeper ‘emotional’ aspects of the relationship (i.e. shared goals, experiences, fun, dreams, passions etc). This lack of communication often leaves the relationship feeling empty.
Good communication skills are something we learn, rather than what we’re born with, unfortunately many of our ‘teachers’ weren’t particularly good role models. At New Leaf Psychology we can help you develop your communication skills, problem solving and conflict resolution skills to help nurture greater emotional intimacy between you and your partner again.
The End of a Relationship.
At New Leaf Psychology we aim to nurture and assist in re-building unhappy relationships, unfortunately some relationships do come to an end.
Even if the relationship was an unhappy, the decision to separate can be very upsetting. Often, there can be feelings of grief similar to other responses to loss (e.g. death of a loved one).
The stages of Grief and Loss include shock, denial, anger, bargaining and acceptance. Although there are 5 separate stages not everyone experiences them all and not everyone experiences them from beginning to end. Everyone’s response to grief and loss is unique to them. The important thing is to get to the acceptance stage of grief and loss.
During the stage of ‘shock’ you may physically nod and accept the news but on the inside, feel frozen. You might start saying to yourself “this can’t be happening to me” and you may need to listen to the bad news a number of times before you actually hear it.
During the ‘denial’ stage you pretend as though nothing has happened. This response is normal, given you are not ready to accept the news yet alone cope with the emotions loss.
The ‘anger’ stage is an explosion of emotion. All the bottled up emotion you’ve been ‘pretending’ isn’t there during the ‘denial’ stage starts to bubble to the surface and you explode. The feelings pour out and you may find yourself questioning “why me?”; “Why do I deserve this?”; “This isn’t fair”; “How could this happen to me?”.
During the ‘bargaining’ stage we generally seek ways to avoid the bad news and cling to the hope that it will become reversed. In relationships – this is the ‘friendship’ dream – that is, “can we still be friends?” or “we are are the best of mates, we do everything together but we’re only friends”. This stage is one of the most common to become stuck and unable to move on to the final stage. It is this stage that often requires the help of a psychologist to address the unresolved issues with the grief and loss.
The ‘acceptance’ phase is where we all want to be. It is here where we accept what has happened and start to move on. Someone who has gone through any of the previous phases and ends up here may actually begin to consider dating someone new, dinner, coffee or a movie and may even start new dreams of a life with someone else.