Life a strain for modern marriages

Counselling has become more acceptable as its success in repairing and maintaining healthy relationships is recognised.
Counselling has become more acceptable as its success in repairing and maintaining healthy relationships is recognised. Lisa F Young

MORE couples are turning to marriage counselling for help as modern-day changes put a strain on relationships.

Relationship counsellor Shirley Cornish said most issues stemmed from a difference in each other's belief or expectations of how a marriage should work.

"Each of us enters adult life with specific ideas based on what we have observed in our individual family environment," she said.

"Issues occur when each of the couple's viewpoint does not match that of their partner."

"When a couple 'tunes into' the desire of the other all goes well but, if either one cannot relate to the other's specific needs to feel nurtured and respected then, over time, this unmet desire becomes a breeding ground for dissatisfaction and resentment.

"Also, because many of us perceive that 'love conquers all' we become disillusioned when the relationship begins to falter. The truth is that relationships have to be worked at with positive intention, forever, for the love and respect to be nurtured and sustained."

Shirley said the fundamental reason for possible failure had not changed but the environment had.

"Recently I have found more clients coming to counselling because one of the partnership, mostly the male, is working away from home," she said.

"This working arrangement has its financial benefits, however, the relationship can suffer because of the pressure one, or both, feels, because of this lifestyle.

"For example, Tom is home for three days in 14. On his three days off he is tired from his long shifts.

"He feels overwhelmed when he has to balance his three days between sleep, Mary, the children and his relaxation pursuits.

"Mary has not had a break from parenting, and possibly working herself, and needs Tom to be physically productive and emotionally supportive while he is home."

Another change Shirley noticed in the past 10 years was an increase in second and third marriage couples, or couples with a blended family seeking counselling.

"I see this as a positive step because they want to get it right next time around," she said.

"Having to let go of their idea of what did or did not work in the former relationship is necessary, because that idea might not match that of the new partner."

Shirley credited the increase to counselling being more acceptable, and its success in repairing and maintaining healthy relationships.

"Asking for help to solve issues in a relationship is no different to having your car serviced regularly or suggesting your child seek help from a tutor if they experience difficulty with Math at school," she said.


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Topics:  counselling dating lifestyle marriage relationships

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