Counselling in Wokingham – Step Families

Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 –
This is a sort of counselling “blog” to give you a flavour of how I work. You can find more information about me by clicking one of the links at the bottom right of this page

In situations where one or both of a couple have children with other partners, the dynamics of the relationship can become extremely complex. Trying to fit in time for all the various children, trying to make sure that all the relationships are (reasonably) harmonious, working with ex partners on important issues involving children, keeping some contact between children and their grandparents, not to mention the financial issues…..all these things can put an immense strain on a relatively new relationship. It is not uncommon to feel “he cares more about his ex than he does about me” or “she just uses me as a source of income”.

These situations can be particularly difficult for people who try to keep everyone happy. There are plenty of people like this – people who put others’ needs before their own, who try to be flexible, to fit in, to help others. These are all laudable qualities but these people can find themselves pulled in too many directions at once, and in trying to please everyone can be attempting the impossible – sometimes it’s just not possible to do that. They can start to feel that they are making all the compromises, that everyone is demanding too much of them, that nobody is thinking about them.

Being able to say “no” is a valuable quality in these situations. New boundaries need to be set, new rules need to apply, and that is going to mean that, in the short term at least, some people in this complicated extended family will be unhappy. It can be really useful to ask yourself “If I can keep only a small number of people in this family happy, who would be top of the list?” Then concentrate on what you’d like to do to help these people, before worrying about anyone else.

Another important question to ask about your relationship is “are we working together on the issues or are we working against each other?” If you feel that you are working more against each other, you need to address the situation, because my experience is that the situation is likely to get worse rather than better. Once you start to feel like this, things your partner does will start to rankle with you, something they do that’s a little thoughtless can be very hurtful; you start to hear casual remarks they make as criticisms, you start to notice signs that they don’t care about you, rather than the signs that they do. And so the feeling that you are working against each other can grow.

This can be an area where counselling can help you – to understand your partner’s perspective, and to talk about approaches that you both agree on, so that you are working as a team. Rather than feeling isolated, you suddenly find you have an ally. In situations which you’re uncertain how to handle, you now have help. You can talk things through, you can get a hug, you can even have a laugh.

About Paul Cockayne

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