Maybe you’ve tried to make your relationship better before?
Huge numbers of people have read books, magazines, articles and blogposts, listened to audio tapes and podcasts, watched Youtube videos and TEdx presentations in the vain hope that if they get enough information, if they truly get a handle on what it takes, and truly understand it fully then they may be able to make their relationship better and maybe even truly rewarding.
A few, a very few may actually achieve that, at least to some degree. However, for the vast majority, experience says, that is not how it will work out.
Generally there will be discussions with their partner about what’s missing in their relationship, discussions about what needs to be done and how they will do it, and then, for the most part, nothing much will change. There may be a slight improvement for some for a short while, then the same old stuff happens and the same old behavior patterns reassert themselves.
Many believe that what’s needed is to acquire the appropriate knowledge, awareness and understanding and lo and behold all will change. Which is why all the reading and listening to podcasts etc.
However the overall dynamic of behaviour change and relationship improvement involves something more than that.
Us humans tend to develop patterns of habitual, deep seated behaviours. These behavior patterns are mostly helpful, but sometimes unhelpful patterns develop as well. Usually this happens in our formative years and then they become supported by deeply ingrained neural pathways that ensure that the behaviour continues many years later. When we reach adulthood and begin to form relationships with other’s, we bring a foundation of deeply ingrained, and largely unconscious, fears, certainties, beliefs and values. This is fertile ground for couples to develop both deep love and commitment – and also deep anxiety and distrust. A key issue that can impact on our adult relationships is whether we have developed the ability to maintain a sense of attachment and connectedness when friction and disharmony arise in the relationship. Relationships where one or both parties struggle to do this, will need more than knowledge and awareness to resolve their differences. They will need the further support that's available through skilled and effective counselling, to resolve those deeper underlying patterns of behaviour.
The following are four possible relationship situations where couples may see themselves benefiting from counselling.
“We laugh often as we pull out wee sayings and strategies from our sessions with you, and we chat about you often. Your help and guidance has been a real saving grace for us Hal, and we are so thankful!”
– Sam Silby
The "it's great, it's not so great" relationship.
It would seem that for a lot of couples varying degrees of alternating satisfaction and frustration are the norm. They have their good times that are sometimes great and then they have those times that are not so good. At times they get stuck when attempting to resolve an issue. At other times old issues re-emerge and become more and more difficult to cope with. Like for example where one person feels their partner doesn’t listen, or appears distant, or they themselves feel overwhelmed or not valued. Where both parties can see there are issues and they both want to do something about it, skilled counselling can be very effective in bringing about significant changes in attitude and behaviour and thus to the relationship. As the couple experience a more respectful style of interaction, a greater level of trust and intimacy tends to develop in the relationship. Couples then often report that they experience a far greater sense of fulfillment and satisfaction in their relationship than they did previously.
The "we've almost crashed and burned" relationship.
Some couples relationships have deteriorated to such an extent that although still living together their relationship is in name only. They may be at the point where at least one of them is wondering whether they need to leave, figuring how the separation might unfold, how the children would cope. Dire it may be, and to leave the relationship may indeed seem to be the best option. However it can be useful for the parties to commit to a series of counselling sessions where as a couple they can work together to explore the often difficult issues that need to be resolved. These conversations can be fraught and difficult; however they are an essential part of the moving through or moving on process. When these conversations are mediated by a skilled and impartial third person it is possible to ensure that they remain safe, respectful and useful. Couples often find that through this process, when the issues are discussed quietly and rationally, they can actually see the possibility of themselves reconciling their differences. If both parties can get to the point where they can see hope for a better relationship and they are both prepared to genuinely work at it, then it is possible to progress a strained relationship back to the point where it can be experienced as safe, respectful and satisfying. However in some instances one of the parties may wish to end the relationship and then the counselling process can support both parties to clarify the process and work through the issues involved, be they care of children, where the parties will live, financial issues, time frames etc.
“Things are going really well with us and many of the communication tools you taught us are second nature now. So a huge thanks to you Hal. I really don’t think we’d be at this place in our lives and so excited about the future without you. So glad that we decided that counselling was worth a shot!”
Hal Kennedy has been a fantastic counsellor for us. Not only has he given us strategies for use and help in our relationship, but has also given important life skills to help myself personally.
He is an upbeat and modern counsellor, who knows how the world and relationships are in this current time, while also respecting traditional views.
As soon as I met him I felt at ease”
– Kate MacLeanl
The "ok, but somewhat wobbly" relationship.
A lot of couples wobble along in their relationship and it can be sort of OK, yet both parties will know how easy it is to get off side with one another. Almost at the drop of a hat the arguing can start and that sense of frustration at knowing that this is not going anywhere useful can settle in. As couples learn to understand each other and the dynamics of their relationship more fully and learn how to communicate and respond differently they are able to have conversations, even significant, important ones without generating the resistance and antagonism that can sometimes be there. Gradually this process can grow until the couple experiences more of the caring and intimacy that was there at the beginning of their relationship.Under Hal’s insightful guidance they can learn more effective ways of looking after themselves and resolving the differences that can be there in a relationship. They can learn how to stand their ground over things that they feel strongly about and do it in a way that maintains the goodwill in the relationship. Being able to do this effectively can encourage strength, resilience and a sense of satisfaction in a relationship.
The "we need to communicate better" relationship.
Communication can be seen as the cornerstone of the success or otherwise of a relationship. How we communicate, interact and pass information across to another person has a huge influence on how that person is likely to respond. Communication is a series of actions or non actions which people use to pass information to another and if any of the words, gestures, tone of voice etc is perceived as being uncaring, disrespectful or just downright offensive then the scene is set for a level of resistance or acrimony that can reignite old patterns. Hal with his many years of experience in this field can provide an in-depth understanding of how couples can communicate with each other so that they can both achieve more of what they want and yearn for. He is able to demonstrate to couples how they can do this in a way that enhances their partnership, bringing a greater sense of trust and intimacy into the relationship resulting in both parties experiencing an increased sense of fulfilment. You may see your particular relationship dynamic in some way in one or more of the above situations or your particular situation might be some other variation of a myriad possibilities. Whatever the issues are for you, they will get dealt with by Hal’s style, and his focus of working with the process, means that what ever is there gets addressed.
"Hal Kennedy is a relaxed and easy going counsellor. He taught us useful, practical techniques to resolve issues. Kate and I are engaged to be married! Thanks Hal.”
– Warren Saky