Paula is an experienced and passionate therapist offering relationship counselling in Sydney, Gladesville. Paula has helped hundreds of Couples reconnect and fall in love with each other all over again through teaching some simple and effective evidence-based strategies. As a goal-focused therapist, Paula creates positive lasting changes in as little as 4-6 sessions for Couples who have become disconnected and believe they’re on the brink of separation and divorce.
No marriage or relationship is perfect. We can all argue at times and experience stressful life-events that put a strain on our relationship. However, some conflicts and life-stressors can outweigh our ability to deal with them effectively.
Common Relationship Issues Include:
- Conflict in parenting styles
- Children’s poor behaviours draining the relationship
- Blended family issues
- Poor communication (passive/aggressive)
- Built up resent and negative feelings towards your partner
- Not being able to let go of past hurts and betrayal
- Emotional and physical affairs
- Poor work/home life-balance
- Enmeshed relationship (“If S/He’s OK, then I’m OK”)
- Financial issues
- Role/chore division
- Substance abuse
- No quality time
- Conflict in Values
- Personality differences
- Unrealistic expectations of one another
- Stuck in a rut
- Feeling more like friends than lovers
- Dynamic of ME instead of WE
- Pre-conception / Infertility / unplanned pregnancy
These issues in themselves, don’t cause relationships to deteriorate, rather, it’s usually our approach to trying to solve these issues, by using unhelpful strategies, that lead to further deterioration and relationship distress.
Research shows that the following negative communication styles predict relationship failure with 90% accuracy, as the ongoing frustration, hurt, resent and disconnection results in the end of the relationship.
Paula gave us the tools to allow us to reconnect to the things we prided our relationship on; that is: friendship, trust, love and a future together.
Paula’s expertise, practical strategies, empathy and non-judgmental guidance put so many things back into perspective and as a result we gained closure on the very things that drove us apart.
Thank you Paula for putting our lives back together. It was a tough process but worth every minute of the journey.
(Kerry & Stephen, 2017)
Criticism is when we attack the character of our partner, rather than express our negative feelings about how their specific behaviour is affecting us and expressing a positive need. The solution to criticism is to express your feelings without blame. For example:
Criticism: “You never listen to me. You just don’t care. You’re so selfish”
Solution: “I feel frustrated when I see you walk away when I’m talking to you. Can you please stay and talk to me. I need support and need to talk to you about my day”.
It’s very easy to become defensive when we perceive our partner is criticising our character. We have a built in self-protection switch which will turn on automatically when we feel criticized. The problem with this automatic response is that it prevents problem-solving. The part of our brain that’s responsible for problem solving (executive functioning) is switched off when the fight, flight, freeze, switches on and releases a flood of stress hormones through our body. In this mode, we counter-attack and engage in the ‘Blame-game”. ‘Yes but you…”. “It’s not me…, it’s you…”. This leads to the conflict escalating further and nothing is resolved. The solution to this dysfunctional communication style is to take some responsibility (not all). Just accept that you may have contributed to the negative outcome in some way. For example:
Becoming Defensive: “It’s not my fault we’re always running late. You’re the one who spends hours getting ready!”
Solution: “Sorry I didn’t give you enough notice. In future I’ll try to give you plenty of notice in future, so we can be on time”.
Feelings of resent and contempt towards your partner is not a healthy sign. Your relationship needs to get help from the A & E Dept of Marriage Counselling. Contempt is when we subconsciously assert a stance of being superior to our partner. Contempt manifests in eye-rolling, sneering, cynicism, mocking, hostile humor, name-calling and sarcasam. Contempt is the greatest predictor of divorce. The solution to Contempt is to develop a culture of respect and appreciation of our partner.
Contempt: “You’re such an idiot, how could you have let that happen?”
Solution: “I appreciate that you tried hard to get it right. We all make mistakes. Can I help make it better in any way?”
Stonewalling happens when we avoid, withdraw and emotionally shut-down from our partner. The ‘Cold-Shoulder’. This typically occurs after perceiving criticism, becoming defensive and experiencing contempt from our partner. Stonewalling gets us nowhere. It just festers the wound of hurt, frustration, resent and contempt. The solution to stonewalling is:
- Be aware that you’re flooded and that your brain is not in problem solving mode. It is in Fight, Flight or Freeze mode. Your body will be flooded with stress hormones that will last at least 20-30 minutes.
- Once you’ve become aware that your flooded, and in defence/attack mode, press the PAUSE button on the negative interaction with your partner because you will not get anywhere in the argument when your problem solving brain is switched off. You will not hear a thing your partner is trying to tell you. You are likely to explode (make threats or demands, say something you’ll later regret) or implode (thoughts of righteous indignation “I don’t have to take this anymore or resort to role of innocent victim “Why does S/He always do this to me?”).
- Once you press your mental PAUSE button. Tell your partner that you need to take a break from the conflict interaction and will come back to it later when you’re feeling calmer.
- Then engage yourself in physiological self-soothing activities such as; take a drive, go for a jog, listen to some music etc. Take at least 30 minutes.
- Then return to the discussion later when you’ve both calmed down, the children are in bed and you’re both alone.
Call Paula Today on M: 0405 526 963
For expert advice and guidance on relationship counselling