Transcript of the video: Marriage and Relationship counselling – Who usually makes the call?
As the principal therapist at From 2 to 3 Relationship Counselling in Crows Nest, New South Wales, I work with individuals and couples that are going through the transition from a couple to a young family.
I mostly work with couples who are expecting a baby or have got young children and newborns, and what I’m often asked is who instigates this process to come and see a relationship counselor like myself. The answer to that question is that it can often be both, but what I notice is that their needs are different.
What tends to happen is that there’s a common undercurrent where neither feels validated, heard, understood, acknowledged and the couples are usually lacking in communication skills on how to work out their differences. They often end up in a very gridlocked position, with a lot of resentment, hurt and sadness that is sitting underneath the relationship.
It is a very tough time when a couple is having a baby or have a young family because of the roles and the identity change for both people. The expectations, beliefs, dreams, and yearnings, all of that is underpinning the lens that each person is going to be viewing the relationship, and how it should look like at that time.
When Men Make the First Call?
What I realized is that a lot of men will pick up the phone because they’re feeling that they are not being in a good place, they’re distanced from their wife or don’t feel acknowledged or validated. They are trying and want to be a part of the relationship, but what happens is that they often feel that they’re not let in by their partner to do the tasks or to mind the baby without being micromanaged by their partner or by their wife. That tends to bring up a lot of issues of resentment and anger, and then they either get into the passion of withdrawing or attacking back.
That frustration and that resentment lead to thinking “Well, why bother?”. That way of thinking will cause focusing on friends, sports, work, and not on the relationship between them. This will cause her to feel the same way as him. Her needs are not being met, because he’s then not present and that makes her feel resentful towards him as well.
What happens next is that they’re starting to separate, and in that separation, there’s a lot of resentment and anger. At that moment the ultimate act of connection and intimacy is sex, and that sex by either party can then be used as a weapon against the other where it’s been withheld at that point.
What Incites Women to Make the First Step?
When the woman picks up the phone some of her struggles might be the change of a role, the change of identity. A part of work is their identity, the satisfaction and sense of fulfillment, but also a social circle that happens when one has a baby or has young children. The whole network potentially can change if they don’t have children, because you may not necessarily have the same things in common.
Many women join mothers’ groups where they can learn and make new friendships, but there is still a sense of loneliness and isolation. I hear that it very often kicks in for the women when they’re suddenly at home, and a lot of people struggle with the identity of going from working to becoming a mom. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that is an issue, as far as you can find out what that new role looks like. When that sense of loneliness kicks in, it is possible that you’re not quite communicating well with your husband because you are very task focused on the child at that point.
Lack of Communications Increases the Gap
What gets missed is the connection between the two people because of tiredness and feedings, the child’s duties and everything that needs to happen around the baby. That might cause that the time to connect between the couple which before children wasn’t so hard to make happen, now needs to be nearly scheduled.
People don’t realize they need to make time for that too happen and to connect, and so quality time together gets affected and becomes very task-focused rather than couple focused. When that starts to happen again, different emotions come in. There are resentment and anger, but there is also often a sadness that’s sitting underneath and the tendency to withdraw or attack again.
The result is that the couple is more separate instead of being more connected. In that separateness there is no sex, there is a lack of touch and the lack of intimacy. Also, there is a lack of checking in with how you’re doing at the moment, and that increases the gap between partners. When that starts to happen neither party is feeling heard, validated or understood, and the resentments start to build. What I tend to see happen, is that those little things are like a little pebble in the heel. That pebble gets bigger and bigger until it becomes really painful in the heel to the point where you know you’ve got to get this out and do something about it.
If you completely can relate to, and you are thinking “Hey, these are the niggling things that are happening in our relationship!”, I would encourage you to pick up the phone and call me or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t Neglect Those Little Pebbles
I used to do a lot of work with separation and divorce, and they were the couples or individuals that never addressed these little pebbles at the beginning of the relationship they just let them there. Then, the gap has become too big for them to want to fix it, or there’s just too much in the gap. Because of that, I would encourage you to do something positive now and learn some communication skills to be able to work through any of those unfinished or unresolved emotional issues that are between the two of you. Please pick up the phone today, and I look forward to supporting you in developing a much deeper connection that you have in your relationship.