Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to my counselling blog. You can find more information about me by clicking one of the links at the top of this page
When you meet someone special and fall in love, everything’s exciting and rosy and wonderful. And if things go well, you’ll make plans together, to live together, to buy a house, to get married, to have children, and so-on. (It’s interesting to reflect on which order people tend to do these things in, compared to 20, 50 or 100 years ago).
If you were living in a fairy story, you would meet your princess or prince (who of course might initially be in asleep for 100 years, or look like a frog). Having overcome the routine problems you’d expect in forming a relationship with someone who is in a coma, or is trapped inside the body of an amphibian, you would fall in love live happily ever after, and there the story would end.
Real life, of course, is not a fairy story and people don’t live happily ever after. Even the best relationships have their bad patches, times when you and your partner need different things, or disagree about something important, or come under stress that may be nothing to do with the relationship, or become attracted to somebody else. Life has a way of throwing unexpected problems in your direction, and sometimes this can pull couples closer together, while at other times it can push you apart.
Quite often, couples find themselves pushed apart in such a gradual way that they don’t realise it’s happening until suddenly it hits them in the face, and with a shock they realise that the relationship they thought was for ever, was solid, that they could depend on, is suddenly very rocky. They find themselves asking “Where Did It All Go Wrong?”
Sometimes the answer to this question is obvious – an event sticks out as the start of a couple’s troubles – but often the answer is hard to find. In working with couples in this situation, I think that the key is often to think about teamwork.
To clarify what I mean by this, let’s go back to that first paragraph about the start of a relationship, when couples make plans together “to live together, to buy a house, to get married, to have children, and so-on”. At this point, whatever your particular plans are, you and your partner will probably have the same objectives, and will be working as a team to achieve their common aims, hand in hand. As time goes on, your hopes and aspirations may diverge. A job that is attractive to one of you may pull the other to a place they don’t want to live in, one of you may love being a parent while the other finds it difficult, your sexual needs may start to differ – for these and hundreds of other reasons you may find yourselves wanting to go in somewhat different directions.
At the start of your relationship you probably spent a lot of time talking about your plans for the future, and making sure that they matched, or finding compromises if they didn’t. Two or five or ten years in, when things changed, you may not have put in the same effort to talk things through – you may have got on with day to day life and ignored the problem, or told yourself that it wasn’t important and it would go away.
More often than not, these things don’t just go away, and indeed, one little difference between you can become two and three – until it seems that there are more differences than similarities between you. And that’s when you can wake up and wonder where it all went wrong, what happened to that fairy tale relationship? But if you and your partner can ask that question, and find answers together, you have made a big step in making it all go right again – because in recognising the problem you have identified a common objective, and in starting to work on it together you have re-established teamwork. It has become a problem you can fight together, hand in hand.