Do you know anybody who has not had relationship problems?
I don’t know if I do. I would have to think long and hard to come up with names. The best I can do is our very elderly next door neighbour, affectionately known by our children as Nanny Margret. Mind you, I say this in complete ignorance of her earlier married life, which, for all I know, could have been as stressed and as difficult as many relationships are today.
I’m not going to blather on about how modern day life adds an unprecedented amount of stress on relationships, but it does; money problems, working overseas or away from home, career competition, job insecurity not to mention having (or not having) children all play a part in placing demands and problems on all relationships.
There is a common and central thread that runs through all relationship problems though that is sadly neglected in most marriage guidance therapies, and that is the role of ambivalence (feeling at least two different ways about something). Ambivalence haunts relationships like an early morning mist around a lake in autumn.
Without even knowing you, I bet that ambivalence is playing some kind of role in your relationship problems. The feeling is encapsulated so eruditely in the line by the rock group The Clash “shall I stay or shall I go” and also perhaps the most well know line ever uttered on a stage “to be or not to be, that is the question.”
Resolving ambivalence is a major part of our relationship counselling holiday. It sounds a lot easier than it actually is, as, just like an early morning mist it just doesn’t seem to go away.
Here are a couple of simple exercises that may help you to resolve relationship ambivalence:
Think about how important it is to resolve ambivalence. Is it equally important for both of you? For example, do you want it resolved as much as your partner who maybe having the affair? Do both of you have an equal interest in resolving ambivalence, or does it actually serve a purpose for one or both of you? If it does you will probably need help to untangle the situation and move forward.
Think about how confident you feel that the feelings of ambivalence can actually be resolved. If you, or your partner, don’t think they can be resolved then it’s unlikely anything will really change. If we don’t have confidence that we can actually achieve something or change something our chances of success are automatically reduced. The best changes happen when we are fully committed to the change (i.e., it’s really important to us) and when we fully believe that we can do it (i.e., we have confidence that we can change).
If you are struggling with problems in your relationship and think that marriage guidance maybe useful then please do have a look at our Couple Therapy Retreat.
We have helped many hundreds of people over many years successfully resolve problems in their relationship and make happy lasting changes.
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Lily Thompson says
The article throws light on a major dilemma faced by couples on a regular basis. It is indeed easier said than done to be on the same page as your partner. Any relationship can only work when two people involved in it want to make it work. Couple’s therapy can help people to resolve this dilemma of whether relationship is even worth salvaging.
Katherine Williams says
Therapists can help couples to identify the reasons why they decided to spend their lives with each other in the first place. This can make them realize what is at stake here. Though this can only be applicable for cases of Infidelity. Ambivalence is not usually seen in cases of abuse.
Millie Hue says
One of my parents’ friends apparently wanted to undergo marriage counseling because they don’t want their children to have a broken family. It appears that the problem started when their business got bankrupt last year. Like you said, job insecurity and money problems are some of the things that damage a relationship due to the stress that both parties are experiencing. I hope they find one soon. Thanks!
Millie Hue says
I totally agree when you said that, to fully solve the problem, you must first believe that it can be solved. I will definitely share this with my best friend to help her save her marriage. She already told me that she plans to seek a counselor for both of them, but she is unsure if it will be worth it. This will help her realize that it starts with them.