As a nation, we’re more willing than ever to seek professional help over matters of the heart.
Couples counselling is booming — 110,000 pairs went for relationship counselling last year and Relate says 80 per cent of their clients report that their bond has been strengthened as a result.
So what really goes on behind the counsellor’s door? With hour-long sessions costing an average of £50 it can be an expensive process, so is there anything you can do before you get to this stage?
Growing trend: 110,000 pairs went for relationship counselling last year
We asked Jenny Mays*, a registered psychotherapist with more than 25 years of couples counselling experience, to share her insights.
THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS A ‘NORMAL’ MARRIAGE
I’ve seen relationships where one partner is gay, others where the pair never have sex and others where the partners have separate homes and take separate holidays. I saw one couple who took a year-long sabbatical from each other. These set-ups would be unacceptable to many, but if something works, then who’s to say it’s not ‘normal’?
IT DOESN'T MATTER HOW MUCH SEX YOU'RE HAVING
Everyone thinks everyone else is having more sex than they are. Despite the myths we are bombarded with, there are plenty of couples I’ve seen who have sex once a fortnight, once a month or once every three or even six months. The important thing is that both partners are happy with their situation.
YOU AREN'T THAT SHOCKING
There will always be another couple with more outrageous problems than yours. I saw one couple in their 40s where the wife discovered her husband dressed as a woman. She was ashamed and embarrassed, but in the end, they agreed that every Thursday she’d go out with friends and he could do his thing. It’s all about compromise.
One woman thought she was a great communicator because she ‘spoke her mind’. In fact, she was aggressive and insensitive. Her husband had an affair — it was the only way he could get through to her. In most cases of infidelity, the couple have deep-rooted communication problems. Try listening in a way that’s neither too passive nor aggressive.
SAVING YOUR RELATIONSHIP
The key is whether you both want to save it. This is the single most important thing determining how successful counselling will be.
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