Relationship Support

Relationships…. love them, hate them, desire them… want to make sense of them?

  •  Do you struggle to CREATE and KEEP the relationship you truly DESIRE?
  •  Does your relationship fall SHORT of expectations?
  •  Are you willing to work on YOURSELF as well as the RELATIONSHIP?

Your situation is not unique and you can truly be in a relationship where you feel cherished and desired.

  • Experiencing lies, infidelity, arguments?
  • Want to find a way to resolve relationship conflict?
  • Feel like you do everything for everybody?
  • Do you feel you attract similar types of relationships?
  • Do you need a place to offload safely and just feel heard?
  • Are you struggling with knowing who you really are?
  • Do you want to feel confident and in control of your life?

The good news is that therapy helps address all these areas as long as you are prepared to work with me to achieve the results you desire.

If we are happy in ourselves, then we can be happy in relationships and core day to day activities.  Life flows through us meaningfully, consciously and we become more responsive, less reactive.

We may find ourselves repeating patterns, putting our needs on hold and wondering why we are treated badly – although this is something that may be more commonly experienced by women, it can be also experienced by men.

This book is great at addressing these patterns and showing us how we can help ourselves – and even if you’re in a relationship (that might be dysfunctional) it is incredibly insightful and helpful.

Do you sabotage your relationships?

Here’s Brene Brown’s talk on Vulnerability. I include this video because it may be that you come from a background where you had to be “strong”, but in fact showing how vulnerable you are is an immensely “connecting” experience for those who are close to you.

If you wish to take part in a valuable online “Relationship Checkup” this too can be arranged. There is a fee of £20 per couple. Please ask for details!

Gottman Approved Member

Divorce – A New Beginning?

Divorce is one of life’s most stressful events in life.


To start with, there is the build up to the separation which in itself can be living in constant difficulty, wondering whether to separate or not, whatever conflicts you may be experiencing and then the decision is finally made. Perhaps you have children, and telling them is one of the worst things you’ve ever had to do in your life. Then one of you moves out, or you both move out.

Perhaps that is a sense of relief, but then you find it’s not over. You have finances to agree, maintenance and any other kind of settlement. Sometimes maintenance is not agreed and wrangles may continue long after the split has taken place. You worry about the effect on your children, you see your ex with a new partner. It’s tough, the children (if you have them) may want you to “be a family again”.

Well meaning friends and family inform you of the statistics, they wonder why you didn’t try harder, or worse, think you’ll somehow “infect” them with divorce.

I have helped people resurface from the stressful feelings of divorce and worked with them to move on from patterns that do not serve, and often it is a case of learning how to de-stress yourself and to love yourself again.

Perhaps you may want a new relationship, or you’ve walked into another one that is a replica – feelings-wise – of the one you had with your ex. Whatever it is that is in your situation, I can help hand-hold you through to your desired future.

Conscious Relationships

Conscious Relationships – Two Scales of Intimacy and Depth

Relationships have meaning at different levels. Firstly there is the depth of the relationship. At basic level you may have friends and acquaintances in your life who you see from time to time and you say hello to them but that is as far as it goes. Someone you nod to in the street; maybe a friendly shopkeeper, a neighbour perhaps. The secondary scale is the level of consciousness, personal awareness that each individual has in that relationship.

Depth
At the “top” end, it may be a romantic relationship, sibling, parent, best friend. The stakes are far higher because of the importance of the relationship.

Need vs ego – Levels of Consciousness
On the other scale is the “need” for the relationship, or “consciousness” of each individual.

Perhaps both partners “need” each other, their ego requires the relationship because each one serves to keep the other close. This is potentially unhealthy if the depth of the relationship is high; it can be seen in co-dependent relationships, people with addictions and need the other to continue supplying, or keep drug taking / drinking so the other feels “safe” to continue in their habit themselves. This is potentially life threatening. If one partner chooses to stop using, recognising the relationship is in fact killing them, the partner who needs to catch up may use tactics to get the partner to keep using so the other doesn’t face life alone which can feel life threatening.

If there is significant depth to the relationship it is vitally important to recognise the level of consciousness because clearly there are high stakes involved in keeping the status quo. If the depth is less, then it is easier to “walk away” from something potentially unhealthy – again, depending on one’s level of conscious awareness.

It may be surmised that a healthy relationship consists of two individuals who are not dependent upon each other to meet each other’s’ needs. They choose to be together and support one-another to be the best they can, acknowledging relational depth being one of choice.

In a more ego-driven relationship, one individual may need the other, involving “trade-offs”, in other words “I need you to meet my needs, I need you to make me happy”, not “I desire you in my life and you do not need to make me feel anything at all, I am simply here because I am happy in myself and your presence is a choice I make. Perhaps incidentally we make each other happy anyway, but “need” comes from the ego, choice comes through conscious awareness.

1. Depth of Relationship

Deeply Intimate (parent, sibling, offspring, romantic partner)

OR

Acquaintance, friend, neighbour

2. Levels of Consciousness

Awake, aware of impact, place in the world. Choice to be together

OR

Need – fuelling ego, “I need you to make me happy / keep me alive”.

Many theorists propose three, four and seven levels of consciousness if you want to read more on this subject. Sigmund Freud talked of three levels, the Id (the instinctive ME, the Ego (I Need) and the Superego (“I Moderate”)

Philip Holder talked also about three levels, Spontaneous, Calculated and Imposed.

Richard Barrett discusses 7 levels of consciousness, and his progression focusses on “existential” needs which are connected and dependent on the human condition, which motivate towards survival. These are, quite simply: survival, relationship, self-esteem, transformation, internal cohesion, making a difference and then service.

Maslow talked of a “Hierarchy of Needs” – the base layer of which is of course basic survival, moving towards self-actualisation, including relationships as a need – being part of a group, exchanging ideas once basic needs have been met.

I think this knowledge can help many couples understand where they are on their own scale which in turn may question our relationships and the part they play in our lives, and where we are ourselves on our path to true conscious awareness.

Where are you on the scale, in your relationships?

Here is a link to a book “I love you but I’m not In Love with you”) that I have found to be helpful for couples struggling with the “love” versus “in love” symptoms that many couples often cite as a reason for separation and / or divorce.

Additionally, here’s a link to another book “How Can I Ever Trust You Again?”: Infidelity: From Discovery to Recovery in Seven Steps”) by the same author.

I welcome comments!

Scales of Relationships

Conscious Relationships – Two Scales of Intimacy and Depth

Relationships have meaning at different levels. Firstly there is the depth of the relationship. At basic level you may have friends and acquaintances in your life who you see from time to time and you say hello to them but that is as far as it goes. Someone you nod to in the street; maybe a friendly shopkeeper, a neighbour perhaps. The secondary scale is the level of consciousness, personal awareness that each individual has in that relationship.

Depth
At the “top” end, it may be a romantic relationship, sibling, parent, best friend. The stakes are far higher because of the importance of the relationship.

Need vs ego – Levels of Consciousness
On the other scale is the “need” for the relationship, or “consciousness” of each individual.

Perhaps both partners “need” each other, their ego requires the relationship because each one serves to keep the other close. This is potentially unhealthy if the depth of the relationship is high; it can be seen in co-dependent relationships, people with addictions and need the other to continue supplying, or keep drug taking / drinking so the other feels “safe” to continue in their habit themselves. This is potentially life threatening. If one partner chooses to stop using, recognising the relationship is in fact killing them, the partner who needs to catch up may use tactics to get the partner to keep using so the other doesn’t face life alone which can feel life threatening.

If there is significant depth to the relationship it is vitally important to recognise the level of consciousness because clearly there are high stakes involved in keeping the status quo. If the depth is less, then it is easier to “walk away” from something potentially unhealthy – again, depending on one’s level of conscious awareness.

It may be surmised that a healthy relationship consists of two individuals who are not dependent upon each other to meet each other’s’ needs. They choose to be together and support one-another to be the best they can, acknowledging relational depth being one of choice.

In a more ego-driven relationship, one individual may need the other, involving “trade-offs”, in other words “I need you to meet my needs, I need you to make me happy”, not “I desire you in my life and you do not need to make me feel anything at all, I am simply here because I am happy in myself and your presence is a choice I make. Perhaps incidentally we make each other happy anyway, but “need” comes from the ego, choice comes through conscious awareness.

1. Depth of Relationship

Deeply Intimate (parent, sibling, offspring, romantic partner)

OR

Acquaintance, friend, neighbour

2. Levels of Consciousness

Awake, aware of impact, place in the world. Choice to be together

OR

Need – fuelling ego, “I need you to make me happy / keep me alive”.

Many theorists propose three, four and seven levels of consciousness if you want to read more on this subject. Sigmund Freud talked of three levels, the Id (the instinctive ME, the Ego (I Need) and the Superego (“I Moderate”)

Philip Holder talked also about three levels, Spontaneous, Calculated and Imposed.

Richard Barrett discusses 7 levels of consciousness, and his progression focusses on “existential” needs which are connected and dependent on the human condition, which motivate towards survival. These are, quite simply: survival, relationship, self-esteem, transformation, internal cohesion, making a difference and then service.

Maslow talked of a “Hierarchy of Needs” – the base layer of which is of course basic survival, moving towards self-actualisation, including relationships as a need – being part of a group, exchanging ideas once basic needs have been met.

I think this knowledge can help many couples understand where they are on their own scale which in turn may question our relationships and the part they play in our lives, and where we are ourselves on our path to true conscious awareness.

Where are you on the scale, in your relationships?

Here is a link to a book “I love you but I’m not In Love with you”) that I have found to be helpful for couples struggling with the “love” versus “in love” symptoms that many couples often cite as a reason for separation and / or divorce.

Additionally, here’s a link to another book “How Can I Ever Trust You Again?”: Infidelity: From Discovery to Recovery in Seven Steps”) by the same author.

I welcome comments!

What now?

What do you do when it’s all going wrong?

You are married or in a committed relationship but facing separation or divorce, in fact perhaps you’ve already been “replaced” in his or her affections. What do you do?

The natural human tendency is to kick and scream; your security is threatened, you might have a child, the last thing you want is to face a future without your partner.

You ask him or her why, you remind them their responsibility, their vows, the children you share. Nothing seems to work. In fact he or she seems to be moving further away.

Think for a moment about the person who is “doing the thing”, that thing you don’t like, the thing that is threatening to split you, divide you and your family up into little pieces, the relationship becomes nothing more than a financial arrangement. How does he or she feel I wonder? Do they feel good about their decision, are you constantly reminding them of what they’ve done wrong?

Without stopping this round robin of table tennis and who did what to whom, you’re still on that losing streak that you’re wanting to turn around. The only thing you can do is STOP. Look around, try and put yourself in the others’ shoes, and start to believe that it’s not just you who is hurting. Hard to believe perhaps . Nothing happens in a vacuum. Is there something innate in the other person that they feel unable to show you their vulnerability, to ask for what they need whilst you are fighting yet simultaneously pushing them away through the pain that you’re feeling?

Gosh, it can be so hard. When we are hurting to not want to hurt the person we love the most who is in turn hurting us. We want to lash out, and tell them how hurt they are making us, and they, conversely, are frightened and want to run away. Without facing each other, listening and reflecting to each other, there is no forwards movement – or if there is, it is a movement with bitterness that can remain for a long time until one or other of you simply “lets go”. Remember that you are both feeling the pain but in different ways.

What would it be worth to you to resurrect peaceful communication with your partner?

It isn’t necessarily easy but it will require hard work. And a letting go of the anger.

Write down your list today of at least 15 things you admire about your partner; recollect the happy times, when you first met, what you enjoyed in each other. And agree with your spouse that no action take place for at least eight weeks whilst you work on what you do have together.

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Relationships – 12 Top Tips

Top Tips for Managing Your Relationship

1. Recall those early days when you *always* had time for each other, remember the feeling.

2. Discover each others’ primary Love Language… and do it! [click the link for the recommended book!]

3. Set aside any differences you’ve had in the past and now.

4. Make time every day to “check in” on how you are both feeling.

5. If conflicts arise, observe the following:
– acknowledge the feeling (yours and theirs)
– respond (rather than react)
– If you cannot resolve right now, ask for some time to reflect
– avoid defensive behaviour (eg. “no, I didn’t” or “but you said…”)

6. Make time for a “date” every week, where you both solely focus on each other, leaving all negatives behind.

7. “To assume makes an ass of you and me”… if you feel you are in danger of assuming when you’re not sure, take time to ask questions.

8. If you are told “you should know by now”, acknowledge that yes, you perhaps should know by now but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to refresh or remind.

9. When you both feel comfortable again with each other, ask one important question to which an answer would make a world of difference to you.

10. Remind your partner how much you appreciate whatever they do for you.

11. Tell your partner how much they mean to you.

12. Lastly if feelings to arise that are difficult to process or feelings that you cannot bring up between yourself and your partner, write them down in a diary, date and keep.

Imago Work

When working with relationship issues, I often refer to “Imago Therapy” which was coined by Harville Hendrix who wrote “Getting the Love you Want”, wherein he discusses the reasons behind partner choice which may also – conversely – lead to reasons why couples may end up separating.

What he does is to highlight the deeper, unconscious ways in which couples are drawn together which is more often than not based on how our parents treated us *and* how our parents are with each other. It can highlight the reasons why we may run into conflict and have a less than healthy way of managing conflict.

Take this quiz to understand some of the core differences you may face as a couple. It is taken from this link. Do consider purchasing a copy of Harville Hendrix book Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couplestoo, which I frequently refer to when I help couples work through the issues they might be facing.  It’s a brilliant book aimed at raising conscious awareness about relationship choices and releasing problematic communications.  There is an accompanying workbook that I regularly draw on.

Are You a Turtle or Tiger Quiz

Based on Imago Relationship Theory by Harville Hendrix, PhD, and Minimizing and Maximizing energy, developed by Joyce Buckner, PhD.

Answer each of the 8 questions below. Choose the answer that makes sense to you. For the best results, pick the answer that matches what you do first. Each answer has a Point Value (1 or 2). Add your points and compare them to the scale at the bottom of the page. Click the link at the bottom of the page to return to the Blog and read more about what all this means for your relationship.

“WHEN I GET UPSET, I TEND TO…”

(1) Feel tight inside and not express my emotions.

(2) Express my feelings with a lot of energy.

“WHEN I GET UPSET, I TEND TO…”

(1) Adopt an “I’ll take care of myself, I don’t need anyone” attitude.

(2) Turn to others and talk to them about what I am going through.

“WHEN I GET UPSET, I TEND TO…”

(1) Not be able to tell my partner why I’m upset.

(2) Tell my partner all about my upset.

“WHEN I GET UPSET, I TEND TO…”

(1) Have very little needs.

(2) Be very open with my feelings and believe I need others around me.

“WHEN I GET UPSET, I TEND TO…”

(1) Exclude others from my personal space.

(2) Express my needs and try to get my partner to hear and respond.

“WHEN I GET UPSET, I TEND TO…”

(1) Withhold my feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.

(2) Be excessively generous.

“WHEN I GET UPSET, I TEND TO…”

(1) Figure things out by myself.

(2) Feel responsible for making the relationship work, and getting my partner to open up and talk.

“WHEN I GET UPSET, I TEND TO…”

(1) Feel safer alone or in situations that are not intense.

(2) Get others input about what I should be doing to handle the situation.

Points Scale

Are you more Turtle-Like, or more Tiger-Like, or perhaps both?

8……………9……………10……………11…………..12……………13……………14……………15……………16
Turtle Turtle/Tiger Tiger

What It All Means

Chances are that you can be both a Turtle and a Tiger because this really just describes a person’s Energy to withdraw or pursue in times of relationship stress. When feeling flooded and overwhelmed, Turtles tend to divert their energy inward and withdraw from their partner. And Tigers can pursue their partners with a lot of energy when they experience a loss of connection or feel abandoned or lonely. We call Turtle and Tiger behavior defenses because people try to protect themselves when they feel like they are being either attacked or abandoned. Since we have the capacity to minimize our energy inward like a Turtle or maximize our energy outward like a Tiger, why then do we tend to choose one defense over the other?

The answer to this question goes back in time to the day you were born. When you were born, you had two basic needs: Safety and Connection. It is rare that a baby is born with the same level of need for both safety and connection. Most of us come out of the womb with a slightly higher need for one over the other. The baby born with a higher need for Safety has internal radar that scans the environment for danger. If the baby experiences aggression or intrusiveness from caregivers (or others), he or she will retreat into the “turtle shell” for protection. And the baby who is born with a higher need for Connection will be painfully aware when there is no one to connect to. He or she will get big with “tiger energy” and even throw a temper tantrum if necessary, just to get someone to come and ease the pain of abandonment.

Are men typically Turtles, and are women typically Tigers? Certainly the environment can reward or punish certain behaviors that have been stereotypically associated with men and women, and it may be tempting to view men as turtles and women as tigers based on society’s expectation; however, the bigger factor seems to be the greater need at birth for either Safety or Connection. Therefore, turtle and tiger behavior can present in either gender. And nature has a way of pairing us with the opposite energy person to create balance in the relationship. Turtles and Tigers fall in love. The sooner each partner understands the unique needs of the other, the sooner the relationship will feel both safe and connected.

For the relationship to “grow-up” and mature, the turtle and tiger have to step into new behaviors, meaning, they each need to learn how to do the opposite energy so the turtle will feel safe and the tiger will feel connected. Therefore, the turtle needs to approach the tiger during times of stress, as opposed to withdrawing, even when the tiger is in a high-energy state. This new behavior will soothe the tiger, reducing the pain of abandonment and the tiger will naturally soften. And the tiger needs to stop the big energy attacks that come in the form of criticism, judgment, or blame so the turtle will feel safe and enjoy spending time in the relationship space.

Now that you’ve read the explanation, are you more Turtle-Like or more Tiger-like?

What’s Your Relationship Dealbreaker?

We are social beings.  Primarily one of our goals is to be connected to others – for some it may be one special person, others enjoy the company of many. So it is when it comes to relationships; we have a desire to love and be loved in return. But sometimes things go wrong; we lose sight of the person we first met and things we used to find loveable or cute now become annoying.  Perhaps we sabotage the relationship because at some level we feel ourselves to be unworthy of a primary attachment.  Or maybe seek the company of others in a bid to fuel our ego and make ourselves feel better when we don’t feel we are getting our needs met anymore.

Maybe your partner is sabotaging the relationship and you’ve had enough.  You witness little “problems” and turn a blind eye.  But then instinctively other things start to happen – he / she is on the phone or the computer more than usual, staying out more often or working late.  You start to believe that your partner may be straying or lying to you about their whereabouts and red flags start to show themselves.  As a result perhaps your behaviour becomes more erratic or uncertain, you question your partner who denies any wrongdoing.

At this point you might start to formulate a get-out plan or decide to confront your partner.  But first, what is your dealbreaker?  It could be any number of the following:

1. Lack of Trust
2. Lying
3. Infidelity (if this is the case, how far do you take it? Talking to someone else? Going for coffee / a meal? Touching them on the shoulder / shaking hands?  Kissing? Cuddling? Sex?
4. Drinking
5. Smoking
6. Idleness
7. Poor personal hygiene
8. Lack of effective communication

Whilst some of these may be far fetched, they can feature as dealbreakers for some couples.

What is your dealbreaker and how would you communicate this to your partner?

Relationship Patterns

Do you find that you keep repeating relationship patterns and keep getting involved with the same person but with a different face?

Do you find that even though he says he loves you, you don’t feel loved, or perhaps you feel smothered?

Do you feel insecure in your relationships?

Perhaps you feel as though each time you state your feelings, they somehow get turned around, and you end up apologising for feeling the way that you do?

Maybe you have emotional needs that are not being met?

Relationships are a dynamic, interactive and two-way process. They grow, change and evolve as an entity just as you do. As you change, in an ideal relationship, things get talked through and both of you evolve as individuals and draw together as a couple. In less than ideal relationships one person travels whilst the other stays static. With a strong basis for understanding these difficulties can be worked through if desired.

Your past can dictate those whom you are drawn to, just as your sense of self-worth can draw you to relationships that may be ambivalent or static.

Work with me to discover your relationship patterns, improve your sense of self and self-worth and stop repeating patterns of relating that can be destructive.

It’s not just about you and your needs, but how you relate to others given your own sense of self in the world.

John Donne said “No man is an island, entire of himself”.

We are social beings in this world but sometimes we need a helping hand to understand our own inner needs whilst complementing this with our way of being in the world. Relationships are the cornerstone of our human existence.

Work with me to discover your own patterns of relating, your sense of self and self-worth, and learn how to create better relationships both intimate and in the wider social context and as a result, feel totally at one within you!
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