SOME QUESTIONS THAT COUPLES HAVE ASKED RE THEIR MARRIAGE ISSUES OR PARTNER ISSUES.
Q. I’m a married man whose wife is so not affectionate. She has never been an affectionate person since we have known each other. I love her so much and I know that she loves me but just a little affection would be nice. She has told me that she doesn’t show it much because I’m always doing it to her and she doesn’t have a chance. So I backed off and she still shows none towards me. This eats me up inside and my stomach churns all the time. Can you give me some advice on how to deal with this?
A. You state that your wife has never been affectionate since you have known her, yet you married her knowing this or did you marry her in the hope that she would change? The rule of thumb is never marry anyone for their potential. Most of the time, what you see is what you get! Your wife possibly grew up in a household where she felt love from her parents and felt secure, but they weren’t affectionate thus she doesn’t have the same needs as you have. Your need for affection may be because you grew up with affection from significant people in your life, or may be the opposite, whereby you didn’t receive love and affection, thus now crave it. I work on the theory that knowledge is power. If you understand what you both need and what you received in your past, it is more beneficial to talk objectively about it than for you to wake up every day with a churning stomach. This behaviour may come across like a needy child and can be unattractive, so that in the end, your neediness may push her away. I suggest you talk to her and discuss how you can compromise and give each other what you need. If you still feel insecure, I suggest you seek professional help to show you how to effectively live with you wife and understand that she may show her love to you in different ways. People have different love languages. Some people show their love physically and others may show it by what they do and say. These are the things a counsellor can teach both you and your wife, if you choose to see one together.
Q. My partner and I have been living together for 20 years. She has asked me to marry her dozens of times over the years, but I never saw any reason to do this. We have two children and I have thought that this would be sufficient to show her that I am committed to the relationship. Our children are now teenagers and they have asked us why we have never married. A few months ago we had a scare where she thought she had breast cancer, thank goodness it was just a scare. This made me sit up and realize how much I love her and wanted to show her so I asked her to marry me. She and the kids were ecstatic, and now are busy planning a wedding ceremony at home. I am starting to feel fearful and wonder if it will be the end of us. I have seen people I know do this and within three years of marriage, they break up. I am not sure why, but I don’t want this to happen to us. Can you tell me why does this happen, if I know the reason we can avoid falling into the same trap?
A. Good on you for having the courage to write this email and raise an interesting question. I applaud the fact that you want to live happily ever after, and not become another statistic. I don’t believe marriage ends relationships. It’s all about familiarity, values, attitude and being nice to one another. It concerns me that your partner had to have a potential life threatening illness before you decided you love her and want to marry her. It took you 20 years to realize this? If you were sitting in front of me, I would question why you haven’t stopped to listen and validate her needs over 20 years. You didn’t even stop to ask your children why they wanted you two to marry. It appears to have been all about you and your needs. If you are really interested in looking at ways to maintain your relationship after marriage, I suggest you sit down with your partner and ask her what her expectations are for herself in this relationship over the next 10 years. You do the same to her about your expectations. Ask her if she could change anything what would it be, and listen. Don’t justify. If what she is wanting is possible, make a decision to fulfil her needs and vice versa. Your friends who married after years of being together and divorcing soon after most probably did not share the same future values, goals and passions, became too familiar with each other and stopped showing appreciation for each other, and finally they probably stopped being nice to one another. –This is what ends relationships, not a formal piece of paper.
Q. My fiancée and I have been together for 2½ years and we plan to marry next year. The first nine months of our relationship was great, we got on exceptionally well, in fact in that time we planned to spend the rest of our lives together. Unfortunately since we have become engaged we do nothing but argue: we do not agree on anything and things have got so bad we decided last week to see someone professionally. I can’t understand what happened to us, we got on so well in the beginning. Do you think it is possible for us to get back there again?
A. In answer to your question, anything is possible if you both are prepared to give up something of yourselves in order to please the other. I think it is a good idea to seek professional help to get you back on track to looking at the positive things you were both attracted to initially and to learn about compromise. I also urge you to examine: 1. How do you get on with other people in relationships? (not necessarily lovers, but friends, work mates, family); 2. Have you both had difficulty in the past compromising with others?. I suggest you go to counselling with an open mind to learn about yourselves and each other. However, if in the end you find you are still not back where you were initially, I do not recommend you stay in the relationship in the hope that the other person will change, as I strongly believe that no one should every marry another for their potential.
Q. My partner and I argue all the time. We have got into a rut where we are seldom civil to each other, we fight and there is never a resolve. Is there some tool you can give us to stop these fights. Our house has become a very unpleasant place to live in and I wonder if it has gone too far and we should seriously think about separating. I realize there is no quick answer but maybe there is some tool you can give us to snap out of it before it gets too far?
A. Conflict resolution is a common presenting problem for most relationship therapists today. When two people meet and fall in love, most fall in love with each other’s differences. After the in lust phase wears off, each person decides that they want their partner now to be more like them, thus conflict occurs. Each person believes they are right and the other is wrong, and neither ever back-down. I give my couples a little test, which shows them how they interact with each other. More often than not when one person criticizes the other, the partner responds in a rebellious way thus they set up a parent/child relationship with each other. They often reverse roles and can even be like 2 rebellious children with each other. I teach my clients how to stop and listen to what the other person is saying. For example, if you partner comes home and tells you how tired he is, don’t respond with, ‘I am tired too’, stop and listen, validate what he has said by stating,’ I am sorry you are feeling so tired, is there anything I can do for you now?’ and go out of your way to please him. Most couples get into a contest as to who is the most tired. Showing some caring usually has a snow balling effect and you may find he will start doing the same back to you, whereby you can both start being nice to one another again and treat each other as you do your best friends. Another tool is to put up your hand when you argue and say” STOP, we have a problem let’s look at our options how to fix it” Then listen to each other’s options, you must always have at least three options to be able to be objective. I have given you some tools as requested. The most significant piece of advice is go back to treating each other as you did when you first met and embrace each other’s differences.
Q. Our son and his wife ended their marriage quite recently. Unfortunately it was her decision to end the marriage. My husband and I have always loved her and of course our grand-children and want to keep in contact with her and the kids. Our son is very bitter and angry and resents our friendship with his wife and has asked us not to have any contact with her. We are afraid that if we do this she might stop us from seeing our grandchildren. We are sad that our son is so hurt but we are objective enough to understand why she has chosen to leave him. He is not easy to live with and is very moody. We have told him this on many occasions but he has done nothing to change his behaviour. As I stated earlier we really love her and we don’t want to end our relationship with her just because our son wants us to do this. Do you think we are being disloyal to him and what do you suggest we do?
A. Your son is not thinking rationally. Unfortunately, your son is grieving the loss of his relationship not only with his wife, but the daily contact with his children too. Therefore he is angry and wanting to see some form of loyalty from you. I feel sorry for you because you are dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t. I suggest you talk to your son and tell him how sad you are for him and how you understand how he is hurting. The last thing he wants to hear right now is how he is getting what he deserves, or you warned him this would happen. He wants his pain validated. So I suggest you do this and tell him how important it is for you to keep in touch with his wife in order to have access to your grandchildren. Keep it simple and you don’t have to elaborate how much you care for her.
QUESTION RE ON-LINE COUNSELLING FOR COUPLES
QUESTION: RUTH, DO YOU DO ON-LINE COUNSELLING FOR COUPLES? IS ON-LINE COUNSELLING AS EFFECTIVE AS FACE TO FACE. IF WE WANT TO DO THIS AND YOU DO HAVE THIS ON-LINE SERVICE, HOW DO WE GO ABOUT BOOKING A SESSION.
ANSWER: Yes I now have a SKYPE online counselling service. I am founding that online counselling is just as effective as face to face. You can contact me through my website www.ruthsimons.com or my email: [email protected] and we can set up a time that will suit our time zone, anywhere in Australia and the world. I am also happy to work with you on weekends if that is more suitable.
QUESTION RE: FREE MARRIAGE COUNSELLING OR FREE COUPLES COUNSELLING SERVICES: DO YOU HAVE A FREE MARRIAGE COUNSELLING OR COUPLES COUNSELLING SERVICE, OR DO YOU BULK BILL?
ANSWER: NO, I DO NOT HAVE A FREE MARRIAGE COUNSELLING OR FREE COUPLES COUNSELLING SERVICE NOR DO I BULK BILL.
QUESTION RE: MARRIAGE COUNSELLORS IN MY AREA
HOW DO I GO ABOUT LOOKING FOR COUNSELLORS IN MY AREA. HOW DO I DETERMINE WHO IS A GOOD COUNSELLOR? A. I SUGGEST YOU TYPE IN GOOGLE, “COUNSELLORS IN MY AREA” (WRITE IN YOUR AREA), THEN GO TO THEIR WEB SITE AND READ THEIR AREAS OF EXPERTISE. CHOOSE SOMEONE YOU GET A GOOD FEEL ABOUT AND BOOK AN APPOINTMENT. HOWEVER, IF YOU DON’T FEEL A CONNECTION WHEN YOU MEET, YOU CAN SHOP AROUND UNTIL YOU FIND ONE THAT YOU CONNECT WITH. YOU WILL NOT HAVE GOOD COUNSELLING IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A CONNECTION. YOU CAN ALSO ASK AROUND AND CHECK OUT WITH PEOPLE IF THEY CAN RECOMMEND SOMEONE. CLIENT REFERRALS ARE VERY POWERFUL. ATTENTION: DANNY AND VICTOR I CAN SUPPLY QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON EVERY SUBJECT IF REQUIRED. PLEASE NOTIFY IF THAT IS WHAT IS NEEDED.