Relationship Counselling for individuals is helpful when you have a conflict with your partner, or something about the relationship is bothering you or unresolved. Women are deeply affected by distress in their relationships especially when they've tried couples counselling and it didn't help or only helped for a little while.
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Table of contents
Women in Relationship
Most of the women I work with seek meaningful connections with others and enjoy relationships. We see the desire for connection most clearly in early childhood. When you were a little girl did you ask others, "will you be my friend?" Did anyone ask you "will you play with me?"
These are examples of "bids for connection." For girls connection is often established by being friends and being likeable and less so by the activities of the friendship. I'm sure you said and/or heard, "you're not my friend anymore" or "we don't like her" at least once growing up. How do you feel when you read the words now? Not good right?
This is where you originally learned to be likeable, what to say and what not to say, regardless of what you actually thought for felt. And this is where the "need for everyone to like you" and "caring what people think of you" comes from. From the beginning of time, little girls and adult women have compromised who they are and what really think and feel to maintain connections, to be liked, to fit in and to keep the peace in relationships.
The Couple Relationship
Adult ways of interacting are generally more sophisticated (at least in public) than children's but the need for connection and distress over loss of connection is still there. Disconnection and problems in the couple relationship affect women in all aspects of their lives.
Early on in my career I studied with relationship expert Dr. David Schnarch. He said, "Relationship is a people growing machine" and "Nobody is ready for marriage. Marriage makes you ready for marriage." After more than a decade of working as a marriage counsellor I couldn't agree more. Whether it's women wanting to talk about relationship problems or men wanting to fix things, the couple relationship definitely comes with opportunities for growth.
Connection & Disconnection
Disconnection or reluctance to reconnect causes women a lot of heart ache in couple relationship. The same way it did for them when they were little girls in the people growing machine. Except there is far more on the line in the couple relationship.
While I no longer do marriage counselling, I still do individual relationship counselling with women. Their sense of themselves is tied to their feelings and relationships and is deeply affected by disconnection and relationship problems.
Do you need to talk about your experiences to make sense of them?
When the "you're not my friend anymore" conversation shows up in the couple relationship, it can trigger shame, fear and self doubt. Disconnection can become a form or self protection as a result.
When you try to talk about your experience to make sense of it and you're partner wants to fix it, you get caught in a cycle. The more he tries to fix it, the more you feel unheard and the need to talk about it. But the more you talk about it, the more he needs to fix it. Neither of you gets what you need to feel better about it or to resolve the issue. And you get further and further apart.
Individual Relationship Counselling
Individual relationship counselling is helpful for women in part because talk therapy fits well with their need to talk about, process and make sense of things. In counselling women feel heard, understood, validated and supported and are able to see where their partner is coming from, have compassion for their partner and reengage in their couple relationship.
Does Relationship Counselling Help?
Counselling helps Women by:
- improving their distress tolerance
- decreasing their emotionally reactive communication with their partner
- increasing their willingness to tolerate the vulnerability of connected relationship again
- reducing their people pleasing behaviours as a way to keep the peace within their couple relationship
- helping them develop and maintain healthy spoken boundaries
Let's Talk & Make Sense of Things Together
You don't have to "settle for" being misunderstood, shutting down or keeping it in to keep the peace. Your experiences and feelings are valid and you can feel better - YES REALLY!
You might have tried couples counselling and it helped for a while but went back to how it was, or it didn't help and you feel stuck. Maybe you want to go to couples counselling and your partner won't go. Either way, individual relationship counselling can help you get your needs met and improve your couples relationship.
You can get started with a one hour phone, online or in-person session or with a Free 15 minute Phone Consult.
Please feel free to email Elizabeth using the contact button below with any questions or concerns you have about counselling.
About Elizabeth Lacey
Oakridge Counselling offers in-person, phone and online session. Walk & Talk Therapy, a Walk & Talk for Wellness Group and Supervision & Case Consultation in London Ontario and online throughout Ontario
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