Marriage and Relationship Counselling

A man an a woman each holding their head in their hands, not speaking - marriage and relationship counselling

Relationship counselling

Relationship counselling (sometimes called marriage counselling) is about helping you build, maintain and develop healthy relationships. It can help individuals who have difficulties forming or maintaining relationships, those contemplating marriage, and anyone who is facing challenges in any of their relationships. These can include siblings, parents and children, and those in romantic relationships.

Couples face all kinds of issues, including:

  • preparing for marriage;
  • dealing with conflicting “time clocks” or ways of being;
  • coping with a new baby, teenagers or children leaving home;
  • arguments, conflict or domestic violence;
  • recovering from an affair, the use of pornography or Internet sex;
  • sexual problems, including sexless relationships and lost libido;
  • difficulty maintaining a healthy work/home life balance;
  • step-parenting and blended families;
  • considering ending the relationship and the challenges this brings;
  • dealing with a failed relationship.

Sometimes the issues may seem apparent. Other times there doesn’t appear to be a specific problem. Many couples say, “We just don’t talk anymore” or “We have just drifted apart”.

Whether you’re just starting out in your relationship, have been together for years, or feel your relationship is coming to a natural end, couples counselling can help you explore your situation and improve your relationship.

Would I benefit from relationship counselling?

Many people think relationship counselling is only for couples whose relationship is falling apart. Maybe the last chance they have to save their relationship. However, relationship counselling can be helpful at all stages of a relationship. Most people don’t wait until their car has broken down before taking it for a service or MOT. In the same way, marriage counselling can help keep even an excellent relationship on track.

What can I expect from relationship counselling?

Every person who comes for counselling is unique, as is every relationship. There is, therefore, no particular outcome we can promise from our work together. However, we will offer you a warm, safe environment in which you can explore your situation and help you move to the best resolution for you.

If you come for counselling, you would meet with an experienced counsellor who has undergone additional training and gained significant experience working with relationship issues. Your therapist will ask you some questions to help them understand what’s brought you to counselling and what you would like to achieve. During this session, we would also discuss how often we will meet, agree on our fees, etc.

You can come to counselling individually or as a couple. If you came together, we would usually see you individually, at least once, too. These individual sessions help us gain an understanding of your background, feelings and personal expectations, helping us help you as we move back to working with you as a couple.

If you started with individual counselling, then wanted to bring your partner, this might be possible. Once we had been working together for some time, we would have established a strong relationship. If you then wanted to come with your partner, they might feel this puts them at a disadvantage. Sometimes, we can address the balance by seeing them individually for a session or two, too. Often, however, it is more appropriate that you see a different therapist for the relationship work.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will relationship counselling help me?

Evidence has shown that the vast majority of people who come for relationship counselling gain benefit from it. For some people, this can be the transformation or restoration of their relationship. For others, it might help them find a voice, resolve an issue or even bring the relationship to an end. We cannot promise any outcome, but we will do our best to help you find the best way forwards for yourselves, whatever that might be.

What if there is domestic abuse?

Our priority is to keep you safe during a session, and your counsellor will have had substantial training and experience to help them do that. If you have recently experienced domestic abuse (or any form), we would discuss it with you and decide together the best course of action. Maybe relationship counselling would be appropriate, or maybe separate, individual therapy would be a better starting point.

It should be noted that domestic abuse takes many forms, for example, giving the cold-shoulder, name-calling, shouting and aggression, and domestic violence. Where children are involved, there may be safeguarding issues, too. While we have no legal mandate to disclose any form of abuse, we have a moral and ethical responsibility for your safety and the safety of others. Except in extreme circumstances, we would not make any disclosure without your prior knowledge and (ideally) consent. We would talk with you about the limits of confidentiality at the very beginning of our work together. If you have questions about the limits of confidentiality (or anything else), please call us on 0151 329 3637, email enquiries@counselling-matters.org.uk or ask your counsellor. We will be delighted to talk about this with you.

Will therapy help me improve my relationships?

Probably the single most crucial aspect of successful counselling is the relationship you develop with your therapist. As, together, you build a secure, trusting relationship, you can explore alternative ways of communicating with others. Your counsellor might help you find more effective ways of expressing your feelings, needs and wants, and helping you hear and understand the needs of others. As you grow in confidence and self-expression, it is highly likely that you will become more able to form deeper relationships with others.

Marriage counselling can be difficult. Is it worth the effort?

Yes, marriage counselling can be challenging and, sometimes, stressful. However, most people have said they made a lot of progress and that it was worth it. Your counsellor will never make you talk about anything you don’t want to address and will always endeavour to provide a safe environment, moving at your pace.

Will I need to talk about sex?

Well, that depends on you. If you want to talk about sexual issues, your counsellor will do everything in their power to help you feel comfortable doing so. However, they won’t push you to talk about anything you want to. Many couples experience challenges regarding their sex life at some point. Talking openly with a professional therapist can make a massive difference.

What if one person doesn’t want to come?

It is not unusual for one side of a couple to be reluctant to come to couple’s therapy, and there can be many reasons for their hesitation. Some people may not be used to talking about their personal life. Others may fear being blamed, shamed or judged. Some have said that they thought it would be all about making them stay in their relationship, even if they are not sure they want to.

Your counsellor is used to this and will endeavour to help them relax and feel at ease. If they come to the first session but don’t want to continue, that’s fine. Even if the other person is unwilling to attend, relationship counselling may help you determine what you want and how to move forward.

What if someone had an affair?

Affairs and betrayals are devastating in any relationship, and it’s hard to recover from them, but recovery is possible. Your counsellor will help you unravel what went wrong and help you move forward in whatever way is right for you. They will not take sides or judge, but help you talk safely, openly and honestly, moving towards an appropriate resolution for you.

Where do I go from here?

If you want to know more about how counselling might help you in your particular situation, or if you would like to make an appointment, please complete our online referral form, call us on 0151 329 3637 or email enquiries@counselling-matters.org.uk. We would love to hear from you.