In a lab study, for example, we were able to predict with 94% accuracy whether a marriage would last — after observing the couples for just 15 minutes. One of the biggest determining factors was how often a couple “turned toward” their partner instead of “turning away.” CNBC - 11 Nov 2022 (Gottman Method)
After a decade as a Couples Therapist, I believe that the number one determining factor as to whether your relationship will last or not comes down to ACCEPTANCE and RESPECT. This is demonstrated by you both in the amount of times you turn towards, listen to each other’s opinions and advice and are fully present with each other.
The baseline of any romantic pairing is LOVE. But often that love is not unconditional. In fact, it is because that person we are partnered with offers us things we need and traits we do not have ourselves. ‘Completing us” if you will. We fall in love with an image of who they are, but this may not be who they are. Also, we can emphasize the good when we are first in a love bubble and ignore really big red flags! Which is why, it is so vital to know who you are together with, before you move in – and like and accept who they are. This compatibility is paramount.
In Gottman Couples Counselling, this is known as Love Maps. Learning all about your partner so that you know how what they like, what is important to them, where their vulnerabilities are and to make them feel special, safe, protected, heard and respected.
A great way to learn more about your partner is with a Pre-Marriage Contract. This is a list of things that you agree on for moving forward with your relationship towards co-habitation or marriage. It is very popular in the United States. I run a 3 hour workshop for couples who are planning to move in together or get married.
This contract or list can go on the inside of a cupboard door and be used by both parties to constantly negotiate. It reduces conflict by about 44% according to statistics from the US.
Love and attraction is just the baseline folks. You have to have the acceptance, respect and will to maintain your relationship. Turn towards often. To use a metaphor, a relationship is not unlike a plant. Are you watering yours and giving it sunlight?
Ghitas' Blog August 2023
The 'Marriage Jar' is a simple concept and it is amazing how this simple idea can adjust one's behaviour every day. Basically, it works like this: When you are first together, the metaphorical love jar is full. As time goes by, the jar empties. For every kind gesture, kiss, supportive comment, intimate moment, etcetera, two marbles go in. For every sarcastic remark, episode of not listening or avoidance of connection, five marbles come out.
At Ghita Therapy we have a real “Marriage Jar” for sale to remind you about the importance of your interactions. Why? Because couples are always asking if they can buy the one in the therapy room!
The marriage jar needs to be replenished regularly. It should be cherished and fed daily so that it overflows and is not in deficit.
This jar, placed somewhere very prominent (like the kitchen, lounge or bedroom), will remind you on a subliminal basis to make sure that your positive interactions far outweight your negative one's.
It is a physical manifestation of the 5:2 ratio. It will keep your marriage communication on track inbetween therapy top-up sessions; just like happy photos of you in your home remind you of the love and intimate moments you share.
*Freight not included
Pick up jars from Ghita Therapy (Currumbin) by arrangement
Tuesday, 13th June 2023:
A big thanks to Coolangatta Surf Club (seen here with Manager Steve) for letting me talk to staff about the importance of mental health balance. This club was crazy busy over the Cooly Rocks festival recently, and as you know, hospitality is a stressful industry.
The Coolangatta Surf Lifesaving Club club offers their staff up to three counselling sessions if they need it. And the feedback from staff to me has been awesome.
Ghita Therapy is the designated counselling service for Gold Coast Surf Clubs at Coolangatta and Palm Beach. This amazing 'mental health first-aid' concept by Cooly Management for Gold Coast Surf Clubs will no doubt go viral and spread to RSL and sports clubs, too.
CSLS club also offer their staff gym joining fees to keep staff stress levels down.
When a lot of companies are removing their HR departments and employees are feeling workplaces are becoming less humanistic, this team are working on keeping their staff as happy as possible.
Getting what you want in your relationship should not be a win-lose proposition. Ideally, we should want to make our partners happy. We should want to feel like a team. A bonded union. Otherwise, why be in a relationship?
But so often couples fall into divisive patterns, especially after children come along and things get harder. Suddenly one person’s freedoms get questioned and another feels that they carry too much responsibility.
“Why are you allowed to go surfing on Saturdays and I have to watch the kids? When do I get to do what I want?” The competition kicks in. The score-keeping. Partner’s feel resentful. The honeymoon or Bonding period is over. Words like ‘selfish’ are thrown around. Cold shoulders, silence and stonewalling follow.
So often couples forget to negotiate their needs and say them with soft, neutral delivery. They forget to say, “I feel…. I think this about… "They use generalisations and exaggeration phrases like ”You never... you always... you should....”
The word ‘you’ at the start of a sentence is blaming and creates conflict. Partners retreat, defend or avoid conflict. Intimacy suffers when partners withdraw emotionally. The couple are no longer bonding, but differentiating or feeling separate.
A person needs to feel that they are not the problem. Even though, their behaviour sometimes is. It is hard to have empathy though when you are constantly defending yourself. When we talk in ‘I’ phrases, the experience we are talking about is our experience of our partner’s behaviour. It is not a direct attack. It is not a character assassination. It may or may not be true or real. It may be one perspective. We may have gotten things wrong. When we start a dialogue with ‘you’ it is an attack on our partner’s character and often comes with finger waving. So much better to think… “He/ She is telling me about their experience of me. They aren’t talking ABOUT ME!”
It is easier to listen and to go into problem solving mode when one’s fight or flight response has not gone off! Yes, we want to understand. We want to give them the benefit of the doubt. We want to be loving and hopeful. If we get sensitive and take things personally our danger signal will go off and we will be flooded with emotion - often anger or a sense of injustice. We will be in the reptilian brain mode ready for a fight, instead of the frontal lobe ready to think laterally, creatively and calmly. One is mature and geared for solutions and one is immature and geared for bear wrestling.
We all have needs. Having needs does not mean betraying the partnership. We are the people that our partners were attracted to. We still have individual friends, hobbies, family, sports etc. Family life just means trying to fit it all in.
Ultimately, we have no choice but to do deals. It is not a good idea to insist that our partners change. Resentment often develops when we do not lay down our boundaries with assertiveness. If we feel like the doormat, it is because we have given too much. Taken on too many chores. We feel hard done by. Yet, no one made us. In fact, the person we should be mad at is often ourselves.
Our partners are not mind readers and we often project our own feelings or motivations onto them. Couples Counselling can teach you to negotiate, lay down your boundaries and accept that relationships are give and take. There are great skills and strategies to be learnt to create wonderful, symbiotic relationships that last. And your friends will be asking you how you do it.
Methods I use:
Text me for a 10 minute call-back on 0439888070.
Ghita’s Blog April 2023
Exercise for Couples Counselling Individual Sessions (Part 2 of 3 Step Package)
In the individual sessions, we look at how the parties are bringing in behaviours which sabotage the relationship. This may be Anger, Resentment, Anxieties, Mistrust etc.
When we are having conflict in or relationships, it is common to have certain thoughts and phrases in our minds which are counterproductive. These phrases often repeat. They are often generalisations, exaggerations, black and white thinking or negative mantras etcetera, which we have learned growing up. We may have adopted the fighting styles of our parents – in particular one parent. We may be playing out the Shakespearean drama of our parents or past partners in some sort of workshop with our current partner.
This is how we try to heal conflict of the past. We have some things unresolved and we trust our partners enough to reveal them and try to heal them. But then we fail. We have released a demon in the household and our relationship is deteriorating fast. How did it happen? Interestingly, it is not events themselves which cause upset, but our reactions to them. It is the ‘monkey chatter’ of our Internal Critic also known as the Gremlin, Top Dog or Ego.
Top Dog and Under Dog
Imagine if you will, the classic, movie scene where Donald Duck has a Devil on one shoulder and the Angel on the other. Naturally, Donald gets into trouble by listening to the Devil. It does not go well, he is easily angered and consequently he pays for it. And the Angel just shakes his head.
Our Ego Monkey Chatter, Gremlin or Top Dog is connected to our reptilian Fight or Flight nervous system response. More often than not, it chooses anger as a demonstration of it’s childish, egocentric thinking; like some toddler having a tantrum. It is the culmination of our lifetime of shameful events, dislike of vulnerability, low self-esteem and self-judgement rolled into a cartoon character. It divides, it judges, it holds grievances, it does not share, it keeps score and it is super competitive. It is the voice of everything bad that has ever happened to us – with a smattering of Mum and Dad and that school teacher that once washed our mouth out with soap. (Yes, that happened to me.)
When our partners challenge us by complaining, or asking for their needs to be met when we are not capable of responding, this voice pops up out of nowhere and starts turning them into the enemy. Gone are all the nice loving things that they have ever done for us and all we can see is their faults. We get defensive, aggressive and we may stonewall or avoid. But here is the thing, instead of taking a time-out, we keep going and make things much worse. We do not give our partners the benefit of the doubt or read between the lines, nor do we correct ourselves, or our behaviour. We do not reframe what we are saying or change our tone. In fact, we get pretty righteous! Gone are all the strategies we learned in Couple’s Counselling, the Love Languages book we were reading or that educational Youtube video.
Why? Because we forgot that our monkey chatter Gremlin is 99% fearful rubbish, exaggeration and childhood resentments.
We have to know that. We have to argue with the Gremlin and ask it for it’s evidence!
And yes we can argue with the Gremlin. This is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – 101.
Here is some examples of Gremlin talk:
‘He never listens!’
‘She doesn’t understand me.’
‘Relationships are too hard.’
‘He doesn’t respect me.’
‘Here we go again!’
‘She’s always on at me.’
‘I have to do everything!’
‘I can’t do this anymore.’
‘She treats me like an idiot.’
‘She is never happy.’
‘I’m not appreciated.’
“They never want sex anymore.’
If you love your partner and still fancy them, try Couples Therapy: 3 Step Package.
This package starts with an intense diagnostic (2 hours) to unpack the issues from each person’s perspective. We look for evidence of the four horsemen (Gottman) This is followed by two confidential one on one session (1 hour each) - where we what look at what each party is bringing into the relationship which may be counterproductive. This is followed by an intense communication workshop (2 hours) of Active Listening – an amazing skill set everyone should learn.
In the one on one session, I may use a combination of Narrative Therapy and Art Therapy. The client gets to externalise their Gremlin onto paper and then talk about the strategies the Gremlin uses to mess things up. By looking at the problem as the problem, and not the person as the problem, therapist and clients can figure out ways to outwit the Gremlin to tone down or remove it’s troublesome repertoire.
This is not to say that individual counselling for some childhood issues is not warranted outside of couples counselling. It might be. But this is sometimes enough to help each person see that their behaviours and responses are fully responsible for escalating the conflict. It takes two to tango. (*However, if one person has anger issues, then they need to do some counselling work independently.)
When we come back to the intensive couples communication exercise (Active Listening – Carl Rogers) the couple should be feeling more hopeful and united. The topics for the exercise tend to be unresolved topics (Circular arguments) or talking about feelings related to an event or disappointment etc. Due to the nature of Active Listening, clients are coached along the way and nothing can become heated or escalate. Each person has a turn to resolve one issue. Then we review what has been the most helpful for each person and decide whether further sessions are needed.
If you have any questions about couples counselling, please see the website information and recommended reading under the Couples Counselling tab or you can text me for a call-back: https://www.ghitaandersen.com/couples-counselling.html
Here are the methods we use:
The Ghita Therapy Combination consists of the Best of the Best - Worldwide:
Ghita Therapy Blog: April 6th 2023
Things have fundamentally changed in our world over the last few years. It looks the same, but internally we are all different from who we were. I was talking with Counsellor Kathie the other day and noted that we used to laugh so much when we got together for our regular lunch as co-workers. We have changed and become more serious. I think it comes down to the illusion of control. We thought that we had some control over our lives. We thought that we created our reality to some degree. Many of us are mourning the loss of this control. We are all noticing our inflexibility and feeling the resistance to change.
Change is PAINFUL
While it is true, that there is no growth without pain, no one likes being forced to change. Most people like to change in small, tiny bite sized chunks. We can flex, but not flex too much. Even trees don't like category five cyclones. Generally, our battle is internal: ‘But I am not ready to change.’ ‘But I don’t want to get out of my comfort zone.’ In fact, many have resisted the change by blocking with substances, alcohol, anger towards others (scapegoats) and self-sabotage. They have tried to erase it, but it is there waiting – sitting in their minds and bodies. It waits until some inopportune moment to come out as frustration, anger, intolerance, polarised opinion, stubbornness, rage, anti-authoritarian behaviour, facebook venting etc.
Moreover, those that block change only delay their suffering and later get hit by a tidal-wave of emotion. It must be expressed – this stress and anxiety! It must be expressed with words, body language, exercise, discussions, painting, cold showers, work outs, writing/ journaling – anything other than holding it in.
The Toll on Our Mental Health
The stress response has been triggered more in the last 3 years (from the media and society) than it has in most people’s entire lives. We have to understand that staying ‘normal’ in an ‘abnormal world’ is extremely difficult. Our survival fight or flight response has been on so long creating cortisol (which blocks production of serotonin). In a nutshell (excuse the pun), we are all running our cups on empty.
Methods that we once used for work/ life balance are not working. Combine that with a loss of social connection and finances and you have more anxiety and depression (inward aiming anxiety) than ever before.
Slight dis-regulation is easy to recover from. Prolonged Covid level stress is not.
I have many clients who tell me that they think they should be handling things better. They feel self-doubt, contempt and criticism for themselves. But I answer, ‘How could you do things better? The world has never had such prolonged stress except in war time.’ We need to normalise how hard this has been; this toll on our mental health. It has been hard for therapists too. We are witness to this suffering of our fellow man. We have to balance ourselves more often and with more methods than ever before.
Self-Love Demonstrated as Boundaries
We have to set new boundaries in place for this new world. The old world seemed safer. This new world is unknown. We find that everyone has an opinion about this new world. We have to be more tolerant than ever before. We have become so polarised it is like two political party loyalists within a family. So what do we do about maintaining a sane brain after this when there is potential for more disease or calamity? We must change our internal voice, our inner-mantra…
What is the mantra that you tell yourself regularly? (There may be several for different situations.)
Whatever it is, you can change it. You unconscious does not know that difference between fantasy and reality. It only knows what the conscious commands. And how do we do that? Naturally, with repetition - either spoken out loud or internally as thought…
‘I am doing the best that I can.’
‘This is meaningful what I am doing.’
'Everyday in every way I am getting better and better.' (At least 1% better is true)
‘My body is excited! Oxygenated.’
‘It is okay to feel sad or powerless sometimes.’ (Most emotions last 90 seconds! Ride it out. Sit in it.)
‘I am complete. I am enough.’
‘I am a tragic optimist!’
(High five yourself in the mirror)
Strategies for Relieving Prolonged Stress and Anxiety
Exercise: Dancing, Gym Workouts, Downward Dog /Yoga, Walking, Hiking, Jogging, Deep Breathing, Wimhof Breath work, Golf, Surfing, Hugging for 20 seconds, Sex.
Nature: Looking at a Horizon, Beachcombing, Viewing a Nature Scene, Earthing: Walking Barefoot on Grass, Earth or Sand, Lying on a big rock, Sunshine, Sitting Under a Tree or in Nature.
Other: Talk Therapy/ Counselling, Cold or Hot Showers/ Warm Bath, Watching Funny TV (Belly Laughing), Film, YouTube Videos (laughing), Listening to Happy Music or Sounds of Nature, Positive Visualisation, Affirmations, Mindfulness & Meditation, Reading Books, Getting a Body or Foot Massage, Serotonin Boosters, B Vitamins, Pro-Biotics, Herbal Teas.
Engaging the Frontal Cortex: (Getting out of reptilian fight or flight brain mode) Puzzles, Games, Crosswords, WhoDunnit Books, Stop watching fearful TV and news (Censor your television), Learning something new (Online study?), Problem Solving, Singing.
Take walks together: Walking in parallel creates shared pace. Men listen better on their side. (It is okay not to talk for the first ten minutes.)
Name and express personal needs while the other listens.
Acknowledge disappointments without blame. (I feel this about that because this is important to me…)
Future proof by talking about shared hopes and dreams. Problem solve together. Make plans. Talk Goal Setting. Try Couples Counselling. Intimacy, Touch, Massage, Making Love.
I hope that this blog has been useful to you. If anxiety is severe, see me for Counselling, NLP or Time Line Therapy.
It is not uncommon for adults to have issues with low self-worth due to communications in childhood; usually from adults, but sometimes by other children.
These negative comments, criticisms, rejections are what we call negations. The interesting thing about these hurtful statements is that it is the future adult that takes them in, not the child. Yes, the child holds onto these hurtful words, but they become the limitations of the later adult, not the child that hears them.
It might seem crazy for grown people to still believe the words of someone who was themselves, flawed, abusive, lacking self-esteem, unable to control their temper, a failure, a bad parent/ partner, or a person who certainly would never be the world's biggest expert on what was right, moral or good.
And yet, because a child thinks that it is not acceptable to aim their pain back at the person who launched the words (Eg; a parent), they hold it in and aim it squarely at themselves. Afterall, it is not appropriate (and impossible before the age of about 7) for a child to think that their parent is anything but perfect, righteous and experienced in life. The fault must lie with the child not being good enough, worthy of love, kindness, interest, time, support, validation etc.
Children are of course innocent and rarely hardened by the world. They are sensitive and vulnerable - as they should be.
So the child, now an adult, is mature enough to know that all adults have a lot going on and their parents were probably no different. They were just as human as anyone else. They understand that it was not an issue of deserving (or not deserving) the unkindness shown, it was just that the person delt with whatever was going on in the only way they knew how. They were coping with the fall-out of their own childhood, their own failures, their own internal baggage, their parent's values / morals and their own stress and pressures.
An adult knows that deep down. But somehow they can't get past it or know how to let it go. Of course, there is no internal peace in holding onto grievances. There is only suffering. And often the people who caused the suffering are gone, don't want to acknowledge it, or have forgotten. The only person who suffers is the one remembering and keeping the belief fresh. The belief is often something like: 'I wasn't good enough.' 'They couldn't love me.' 'I was different and different isn't good.' 'If I was better maybe they could have loved me.' "I wasn't smart enough, pretty enough, likeable enough...' 'I wasn't worth a new bike.'
If only the child could really know that it was never a reflection of their worth, but on the capacity for the parent/ person to extend their love under stress. Often the amazing skills a child had were never validated by the parent, so the adult child does not even notice or promote their own talents. Many a high achiever is trying to get validation that never comes...
Consequently, when a person is lacking in good parenting, they have to learn to re-parent themselves. To think about another child at the same age and to consider with compassion how a child of that age should be treated. And so treat themselves accordingly.
You know it is normal and natural after the age of 30 not to consider the opinions of parents anymore than you would consider the opinions of their friends and peers. If you do care too much, you are still in child-mode. No doubt from some guilt and trauma bonding. You cannot self-actualise if you care too much about the opnions of your family of origin. This is the time to be making a family of your own.
A good question to ask yourself is this: Is the person who said the comment worthy of being the world's biggest expert on the subject? Even if they thought they were at the time.
Second question: If they are not, then why accept the criticism as if they were? (Time for them to come down from their pedestal.)
Third question: Are you willing to re-parent yourself: Eg: Father yourself (Make safe, protect, provide for) or Mother yourself: (Nurture, love, care for) from now on? Are you willing to take the best role models and create a perfect-parent instead of the one you got? One that you can use as your new benchmark? (Even if it is in your imagination!)
I hope so. Otherwise, see me for Counselling, NLP or Time Line Therapy.
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
If you are wondering if it’s worth fighting for your relationship or whether it is time to leave, and you are at a point where you are serious about finding that answer, this blog may be an important resource for you right now.
It doesn’t matter where you’re at right now – married or de facto. If you are feeling alone and wondering if this is the end, reeling from an affair, or longing to feel more connected to your husband or partner and wondering if there’s a way back, you’re hurting and in a rut; feeling like a failure, and most likely stressed.
Sometimes women book a couples counselling session when they are at the eleventh hour. In my experience, they do this to gain some clarity. They may be thinking, “Can we do something to make the marriage to feel right again?”
However, when these women have tried everything they know for years to make the marriage work it may be too late. They would try different tactics, spice things up in the bedroom, be more accommodating of the husband’s dreams and hobbies etcetera, and things would be better for a while, but they would always return to this sense of disconnection, the same resentments would begin to build up, and the feelings of not having the life they wanted would be there haunting them.
So... the woman would step back emotionally, give up on ever fixing things, give up on her partner. And she may not tell her husband that she had given up on the marriage until maybe during couples counselling.
Why is it that women often leave a relationship mentally before women leave physically?
There comes a point in every diminishing relationship where the whole process of physically leaving (especially if children are involved) seems like a logistical nightmare. So, by the time a woman makes up her mind to leave in boxes and crates, she has already moved out emotionally perhaps months or years before.
The problem is that when a woman asks for a separation or divorce, she may surprise her partner. Yes, she now has her husband’s undivided attention. And he will have enough anxiety and fear to be willing to make the long-overdue changes… In fact, he will bow to any demands in order to save his family and marriage.
The wake-up call for husbands. Common outcomes:
After the first couples counselling session
Despite some excellent suggestions and exercises for getting the marriage back on track, none of the activities seem to work for the woman. These marriage building exercises and tips might have worked years ago, but not now. She feels hopeless, forsaken, empty and guilty. The partner feels powerless, impotent, vulnerable and unprepared.
Unfortunately, no matter what he tries, he can’t turn back time and her heart is without empathy (a defense mechanism). This is because in the time between leaving the pain of a failed marriage behind (mentally leaving) and the time she actually declares she is leaving the marriage cannot now be fixed by last-minute behaviour and changes. This is what people call ‘too little, too late.’ It is now at the point where all marriage coaches wish they had a magic wand for the sake of the children and pleading husbands.
The magic wand
Despite the hopelessness of the situation, miracles do happen. I have had clients who have used Narrative methods or Gottman methods and rebuilt a crumbling marriage. Couples should at least attempt to repairs their relationships, even if it seems hopeless. No one wants to be a single parent and statistics show that new partners will never love our children as a real parent does. These days, it is not uncommon for some couples to stay living under one roof as co-parents (flatmates) for the sake of the children and/ or for financial reasons.
Here is a testimonial for a couple who used my Narrative method even when all hope seemed lost:
"Ghita, thank you so much for what you have done for our family!" Mr & Mrs Lees (36 and 39), Couples Counselling, Gold Coast.
When it is a case of ‘too little, too late’, however, I will honour a wife’s decision. I may try to reality check how a future as a single parent will play out though and explain what mediation is like, so that she does not ‘cut off her nose to spite her face.’ Sometimes being ‘right’ about some old argument or being disappointed in a husband as a gender role model is not worth the loss of a family. This is an ego perspective. The ego is never your friend and wants to keep you alone and focusing on your grievances.
After all is said and done the final decision is of course up to the individual woman.
More information under the couples counselling tab in our recommended reading pages and eBooks.
While all marriages will go through tough spots from time to time, sometimes those bumpy patches can go on from weeks to months, to years. In a hopeful way, we tell ourselves that it will get improve, or that we’ll “sort it out,” even though we don’t really don’t know how to ‘fix’ the problems which come around like some sort of recycling argument. We know that fixing things is probably beyond our skillset, so we ask our friends and family, who don’t seem to have much in the way of good advice either.
So the intimacy wanes, the communication divide widens, mutual resentments appear, and the tolerance for each other’s disappointment in the marriage grows ever louder. In fact, arguing becomes more frequent. Alternatively, the silence between you becomes deafening. If it wasn’t for the man-cave and television, you might attempt a repair. But regardless of the vibe at home, you are nervous, frustrated and out of your depth.
For the men who are struggling in their relationships, I have created some coaching exercises to reconnect men with their partners - in between couples counselling, or individually.
Here are some of the things men ask therapists
Courage for the warrior
It takes a lot of courage to even examine what’s not working in our relationships, so being willing to change the parts that are not working takes a ‘warrior mentality.’
It can be difficult to take a step back and to think impartially. When you are close to a situation and it is causing you pain, there is a part of the brain that switches off the logical thinking, so solutions are not as easy to grasp. Sadly, all men see themselves as ‘fixers’ and this is hardwired into the reptilian brain. Seeking help with a counsellor can seem like an intrusion and it feels as if this somehow reflects upon one’s manhood. “I should be able to handle this.” “I should be the one to cope with family dilemmas.” “Surely, it is my job to make my woman happy?”
But just as all the big CEO’s and professional footy players have a coach (yes, every single one), couples now need a relationship coach to help them to get back on track and to stay at top performance. Furthermore, it makes sense that if you want to improve your relationship game, you can leverage the knowledge of an expert to help you get further, faster, for longer.
Should I stay or should I go?
The methods I share in my workshop with you take both time and effort, but it has worked wonders for many clients. And I believe it can help you too. The processes I will be sharing with you have taken scores of my clients from a state of confusion, to crystal clarity as to whether they are still committed enough to their marriage to fight for it.
3 myths about leaving
Myth 1: I don’t need to work on myself, she does...
It is always easier to lay the blame on our partner, even though we know that we played some role in the relationship’s demise. Perhaps we were not good at communicating our needs to our partners. Perhaps we were not honest with our partners about our expectations of their roles, or honest with ourselves about what we expected. It does not matter. What matters is that we heal any emotional wounds so that marital baggage surrounding the failed relationship does not get carried into the next relationship, creating a pattern.
Myth 2: If I am the leaver, I get to escape the pain
It is not uncommon for people to think that if they are the one that leaves the relationship, that we get to forego all the pain associated with abandonment. Unfortunately, no one gets through a broken marriage or de Facto relationship completely unscathed. You can expect regret, guilt, loneliness and potentially some family shame to work through. A decision to end a relationship has far reaching consequences and will impact your children, in-laws, family and mutual friends. In fact, there will be those who decide to choose sides. When a person is the initiator of separation, they are more likely to be labeled negatively and blamed.
Myth 3: Happiness is external: I will find happiness with someone else
In a modern world, it is not uncommon (post separation) for partners to swipe left for a new partner before they have gone through the five stages of grief - which inevitably come after a break-up. However, a ‘too soon’ relationship is not an antidote to our grief and loneliness. We might believe that a new relationship will fill the gap of the old. But happiness can only come from within.
While it is possible to find long-term love the second time around, the bureau of statistics (Australia) says that 65% of second marriages or de Facto relationships (and 74% of third) will fail. It is important that you know, understand and love yourself first. AKA, do the work on yourself in therapy!
You are the only one that you can change
If you are considering leaving because you are not getting what you want in your marriage, it is not always the answer to walk away. Remember that you will be taking you, your issues, your communication problems and other things with you when you go.
One of the top reasons that people are unfaithful to their partners is because they want to feel like they did when they were single. They want to feel significant, desired, young, special etcetera. It may be that you have let yourself become the breadwinner, the father, the husband, the handyman and the dogs-body. When you feel so numb that you start to get your emotional needs met with the cute girl at work, a secret dating app or social media likes, you know that you are getting desperate for attention.
If you are feeling insignificant, then you have to realise that it is something that you have allowed to happen, through laziness, over time. The questions you need to ask yourself before you leave are these:
“Where did I abandon myself and my own heart and my own needs?”
“When did I make my partner responsible for my happiness?”
“What was I believing about myself that allowed me to make the choices I was making?”
“How can I become the kind of loving partner that I am seeking for myself?”
The shifts need to come from within you. You need to become the type of person that can both give and receive the kind of love and passion you wish you had.
A shift requires you to be willing to see the role that you played in what happened. And it requires you to get really clear about how you want your life to be going forward because the chances of this happening in another relationship are high after the joys of new love and hot sex have faded. You can reverse this feeling of insignificance in your current marriage with coaching. You may discover that your partner may also be feeling insignificant.
Counselling can improve relationships from the first session. I have seen tremendous breakthroughs and forgiveness in one session. It is my experience that individuals and couples never regret couples counselling. What they do regret is not beginning it years before. They know that their happiness and marital contentment would have been sustained from the early years instead of having a prolonged, unhappy period in between.
Counsellors cannot offer advice about whether you should stay or go, but we do help you to look at pros and cons of staying and increase clarity. We talk about our own experience with couples, common trends for Australian marriages, and support clients in their decision making.
More on Couples Counselling. Recommended Reading and eBooks on the website:
Quote by Anthony Hopkins
′′Let go the people who are not prepared to love you. This is the hardest thing you will have to do in your life and it will also be the most important thing. Stop having hard conversations with people who don't want change.
Stop showing up for people who have no interest in your presence. I know your instinct is to do everything to earn the appreciation of those around you, but it's a boost that steals your time, energy, mental and physical health.
When you begin to fight for a life with joy, interest and commitment, not everyone will be ready to follow you in this place. This doesn't mean you need to change what you are, it means you should let go of the people who aren't ready to accompany you.
If you are excluded, insulted, forgotten or ignored by the people you give your time to, you don't do yourself a favor by continuing to offer your energy and your life. The truth is that you are not for everyone and not everyone is for you.
That's what makes it so special when you meet people who reciprocate love. You will know how precious you are.
The more time you spend trying to make yourself loved by someone who is unable to, the more time you waste depriving yourself of the possibility of this connection to someone else.
There are billions of people on this planet and many of them will meet with you at your level of interest and commitment. The more you stay involved with people who use you as a pillow, a background option or a therapist for emotional healing, the longer you stay away from the community you want.
Maybe if you stop showing up, you won't be wanted. Maybe if you stop trying, the relationship will end. Maybe if you stop texting your phone will stay dark for weeks. That doesn't mean you ruined the relationship, it means the only thing holding it back was the energy that only you gave to keep it. This is not love, it's attachment. It's wanting to give a chance to those who don't deserve it. You deserve so much, there are people who should not be in your life.
The most valuable thing you have in your life is your time and energy, and both are limited. When you give your time and energy, it will define your existence. When you realize this, you begin to understand why you are so anxious when you spend time with people, in activities, places or situations that don't suit you and shouldn't be around you, your energy is stolen.
You will begin to realize that the most important thing you can do for yourself and for everyone around you is to protect your energy more fiercely than anything else. Make your life a safe haven, in which only 'compatible' people are allowed.
You are not responsible for saving anyone. You are not responsible for convincing them to improve. It's not your work to exist for people and give your life to them! If you feel bad, if you feel compelled, you will be the root of all your problems, fearing that they will not return the favours you have granted. It's your only obligation to realize that you are the love of your destiny and accept the love you deserve.
Decide that you deserve true friendship, commitment, true and complete love with healthy and prosperous people. Then wait and see how much everything begins to change. Don't waste time with people who are not worth it. Change will give you the love, the esteem, happiness and the protection you deserve."
Founder of Ghita Therapy - Ghita Andersen (B.Soc.Sci: Psych & Coun; Grad Cert FDR, Hypnosis Cert.) is a professionally trained Psychotherapist, Couples Counsellor, Hypnotherapist and a Federally Accredited Family Dispute Mediator (FDRP).
- Individual Counselling
- Anger Management
- Time Line Therapy
- Family Mediation