Counselling in Wokingham – Where does the time go?

Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – paulcockayne3@gmail.com
This blog is intended to give you a flavour of how I work as a counsellor. You can find more information about me by clicking one of the links above

Couples often tell me that they don’t seem to have time to spend on their relationship – with children and busy working lives, the relationship just gets “squeezed out” and when, at the end of the day, jobs are done and the kids are in bed (sometimes even asleep!) they are just too tired to give each other quality time. Then it is easy just to turn on the TV and sit in silence – and of course that’s sometimes what we need, to switch on the TV and switch off our brains, to give ourselves the chance to relax mentally.

All this is easily done, and easy to justify – other things are always more urgent, and you are mentally or physically exhausted after my day. But if, day after day, this becomes a pattern, there is never time to talk, never time for our partner, or for the relationship.

It can be useful to “ring fence” a time every day, or every week, that is designated as couple time, free from work and kids. It is useful and important to define when these times will happen and to protect them from interruptions so that the time you spend together can be genuinely quality time. In a way that is more important than what you do with the time; protecting it gives your partner the message that they are important, that you do care and keeps a mutual belief in the relationship, that otherwise can dwindle.

Another idea to consider is to develop an understanding of where the time really goes and so I sometimes suggest to couples that they log their time for a week and draw up a pie chart to show themselves, and their partner, how they are spending their time. That can help to see if there are things that maybe can be changed to free up more time. Maybe chores can be split differently – maybe some are unnecessary – maybe the internet is gobbling your time – maybe you can encourage the kids to be more independent or to help more. If you can approach the problem together, it is almost certain that a solution can be found.

Sometimes, though, couples don’t really want to talk. It can be that the TV, the internet, the kids, the chores, are all excuses, ways of avoiding a conversation that might be difficult. There may be things – awkward things – that you and your partner need to talk about but are avoiding, finding excuses or ways of making yourselves “too busy”. You may not really be conscious of what those things are and in fact, if the pattern of avoidance has been going on for a long time, there may be quite a lot of things you’re not talking about, and they may be mixed up with each other in a confused jumble. This, of course, makes it even more difficult to talk about them.

Does this matter? If it’s a short term thing, perhaps not. We all go through busy periods, stressful times during which it is genuinely best to postpone things. However, if the pattern continues it can be dangerous. Poor communication in a relationship is one of the common causes of affairs and can exacerbate other problems such as drinking or depression.

Counselling can really help couples in these cases. In the first place, you are committing time to the relationship – even an hour a week can make a difference. You are also putting yourself in an environment where it is difficult to avoid the conversations. You haven’t got the easy excuses – no kids, no emails, no chores. And you have a professional to help guide the conversations in a constructive way. For many couples, they soon find that the pattern is broken and that they can find the time and have the conversations without needing to come for counselling.

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About Paul Cockayne

Counsellor, musician, iPhone developer, games-player, cheese-lover....
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