Counselling and Psychotherapy with Caryn Nuttall, Providing:
A UKCP accredited counsellor and psychotherapist with my own small, personal and friendly counselling practice in Central London
Relationship Counselling / Couples Counselling / Marriage Guidance
If a couple wants to stay together, my aim in therapy is to help them to connect; it is surprising how many couples donít.
If a couple is ambivalent about whether or not to remain together therapy can help them decide.
If a couple cannot live together amicably, therapy can at least help them to separate relatively amicably. This is vitally important if children are involved.
Regarding difficulties in relationships, very often problems occur when false assumptions are made with each partner having expectations that are not communicated to the other. Most couples sign a marriage contract without ever discussing what marriage means to each of them.
One partner might feel hurt and unloved but pretend they can brush these feelings aside; they canít. That hurt will likely show itself in a verbal snipe or with emotional/sexual withdrawal. Repeated real or perceived hurts lead to accentuations of these reactions - histrionic attacks, separate bedrooms. What the hurt person is usually silently screaming out for is connection, but their behaviour brings about the opposite result, and so the ratchet effect of the breakdown begins.The other partner might not understand what despondent feelings of alienation lie under the outbursts and tries to fend off more attacks by, ironically, withdrawing further, spending more time elsewhere so further infuriating the other, and increasing the feelings of abandonment.
What is missing is effective communication leading to a sense of connection and a sense of safety and belonging in their relationship.
The Welsh word Ďcwtchí (the word rhymes with butch) is the best word I know to describe this basic need. A cwtch not only means a hug but is also a safe place. Itís a magical word as it is exactly what most people need from their partners. We need holding in a safe trusting relationship.
Curiously adults are usually good at intuiting a distressed childís need for a cwtch, but what happens to that intuition when itís that person's partner who is in need of reassurance?
A young child securely attached to the caregiver is comfortable being briefly separated secure in the knowledge the person will return and all will be well; that they will be lovingly , safely and securely held. Whereas an insecurely attached child will show signs of distress when the caregiver leaves and might punish by ignoring or by acting out on their return. Babies and young children need this secure attachment, and so do adults. Our basic needs donít change with age.
Frequently one partner may have been silently withdrawing from the relationship over an extended period of time, and then seemingly out-of-the-blue as far as the other is concerned, they announce their wish to separate.
This news often comes as a shock to the other who had not picked up on there being such major problems. At this stage they often experience their partner as cold, withdrawn and unprepared to communicate. This can be because the withdrawing partner may have had years to prepare themselves for the dismantling of the relationship and have done the grieving, and experienced the possible feelings of guilt, privately and silently. The other partner meanwhile is left in emotional turmoil believing they have been living a lie. They cannot understand why their partner had not flagged the problems earlier so that they could have negotiated and to worked through their issues together.
Couplesí counselling can be short-term work. The sooner the problems are address the better the chances of working them through. It is common for one partner in a relationship to be reluctant to see a counsellor, but in my experience they most often change their mind after the first session. But if only one is prepared to have therapy I would strongly urge them to come on their own.
BBC2 television filmed a series on love poetry in which I was invited to
appear. An excerpt appears below. Debbie Stanley and Andrew Lincoln
enact a couple in D.H. Lawrence's poem Intimates. This clip shows Andrew
reciting the poem to me in my consulting room.
The next clip is of Andrew reciting Hugo William's poem Saturday Morning.
It may help you recall how things likely once were for you, and could be again.
Below is one of the half hour films from the series from which the above clips were taken.
You might find that one or more of these poems resonates with how you are currently feeling.
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