You will both have different expectations of relationships. Sometimes this can create difficulties. Learn to understand how your relational styles combine.

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When Jeff and Marion first came to see me for couples therapy, Jeff was at his wits’ end. “However much I try to get closer to Marion, she just won’t have it. I feel she is constantly pushing me away.” Marion sat in stony silence. I could practically feel her discomfort. Eventually she said: “He needs attention all the time — he just never gets enough.” The couple engaged in a constant dance of Jeff’s advancements and Marion’s attempts at distancing herself. …

We were born to bond. And understand that can help.

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Loneliness can be one of the most debilitating experiences for us. It can lead to depression and anxiety and a whole host of other mental health presentations.

From the moment that infants are born they are hardwired to relate to other human beings. We are born to bond. Our very survival depends on it. New-born babies come into the world with instinctual behaviours like the rooting instinct which enable them to locate mum’s breast. The newly born infant attaches to the primary caregiver in a very special emotional interplay. Babies can recognise human faces and within weeks of coming into the world they know the smell, voice and face of their mum or caretaker. …

Both you and your partner will change in a relationship. And that is OK.

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You are not the same anymore

Jane sighed deeply, arms folded. Again she was exasperated with Martin: “‘How many times have I told you that I hate it when you constantly check on me. I want to be able to meet up with my friends without always having to check with you.”

Jane and Martin had been together for two years when they came to see me in my therapy practice. Both felt that the other wasn’t really present anymore. Their initial courting had been very fiery and Jane felt for the first time ever that she had truly met her soulmate. Martin even liked Concrete Poetry, one of her passions in life. For the first six months of their relationship they experienced a whirlwind of excitement. Now, both felt deflated. …

Addressing shame needs deep understanding, gentleness, compassion, and empathy.

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Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash

“Soul, if you want to learn secrets, your heart must forget about shame” -Rumi

Shame is one of the most underrated while simultaneously omnipresent and corrosive emotional experiences in life. We may not even be aware that what we are experiencing is related to shame. Shame has many disguises — it may present itself as anxiety, as low mood and depression, as low self-esteem or self-worth, or as loneliness. Shame is frequently the underlying experience for many clients who seek therapy.

The origins of the words ‘shame’ and ‘guilt’

Shame is a deep-seated feeling of evaluating yourself as being somehow bad or wrong and dreading exposure of this very intense negatively associated feeling of impropriety. The etymological roots of the word ‘shame’ go back to notions related to covering up, losing self-esteem, and feeling disgraced. Another interesting root for the word shame is related to the physiological response of having red cheeks. …

Are you in control of your intelligence?

What is your thinking about intelligence and your abilities? Is it nature or nurture? Do you think of your intelligence as something that you are born with and that you can’t do much to change? Or do you think that you are in control of changing your intelligence, your capacity for learning or your abilities considerably if you want to?

Depending on your response to these questions you are likely to display a very different set of behaviours and ways of thinking about the world: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. Mindsets are meaning systems that help us to make sense of our experiences. The idea of two distinct mindsets was developed by the Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck. When investigating why some people are more likely to achieve highly in life than others even though they seem to have the same level of talent, Dweck realised that it’s s people’s attitude that matters. Your attitude in life will make huge differences in terms of self-believe and subsequent performance. …

Knowing how to listen to your partner will change the way you resolve conflict.

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photo: iStock

Shouting into a black hole

Natasha raised her voice bar by bar: “I told you a hundred times already — I do not want to spend my holidays with your sisters again. They are toxic and I won’t waste my time on them anymore!” Michael stared out of the window — his face expressionless, his body rigid.

The couple had started couple therapy three months ago on the verge of ending their 10-year-old marriage once and for all. They were both worn out by their constant arguments that resolved nothing.

Most of the time when you are arguing with your partner you do so because you want to be connected, to be really understood and listened to. You are frustrated that your partner is not connecting with you, not taking on board your feelings and the impact your partner is having on you. Arguing is a way of protesting, of making yourself heard and understood. In Natasha’s case she expressed her frustration with Michael’s difficulty to understand that Natasha’s relationship with his sisters was not as positive as he wanted it to be. …


Angela Dierks

Counsellor, Psychotherapist, Couple Therapist, Clinical Supervisor and University Lecturer, MSc Counselling and Coaching, London—

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