Relationship problems are surprisingly common and can cause huge distress to those who experience them. Relationships may be between unmarried partners, co-habiting partners, partners in civil partnerships or married couples, all of whom can experience difficulties and conflicts in their relationships. These may be internal i.e. between the couple, or as a result of external pressures such as the extended family, work pressure or perhaps an affair. Unresolved, these issues can lead to mental health problems, relationship breakdowns and divorce, all of which can be extremely painful for all concerned. Despite this people find it very difficult to talk about such personal issues and this may mean that problems continue for years or even forever. It does not need to be like this. Relationship therapy is one place that we can go, alone or in a couple, if we want to talk about these kinds of concerns and have discussions about how we want to relate to each other.
All of us experience conflict as part of day-to-day life. In personal relationships we may come together from different backgrounds, religions, education experience, political background etc. As such the scope for conflict can be enormous. Avoiding conflict, or ignoring problems, can result in avoiding important issues in our relationship, which may lead to resentment and anger. Anger can be acknowledged in a constructive way, but anger can be destructive and expressed in a physical or verbal way, which may be abusive to the other partner. Relationship Therapists are trained to help you learn to become skilled at dealing with conflict and negotiating a win-win solution for you both.
In a relationship, it is important to reflect together on what you can learn from conflict. You can find some general advice about what to do if there is conflict in your relationship in our conflict download PDF document.
Finding out about an affair can have a devastating impact on your relationship, and you can be left with difficult and painful decisions. Will you stay together to heal and repair the relationship? Or, will you end the relationship and move on separately? Whatever the decision, it is vital that you both understand the real reasons why this happened so you can face the future in a positive manner. Affairs rarely have just one cause, and they don’t always happen because of unhappiness or dissatisfaction in a relationship.
Often, the partner who has not had the affair blames him or herself, and this can have an effect on their self-esteem and confidence. However, it is important to understand two things. Firstly, a happy fulfilling relationship can protect against infidelity, but it is not an insurance policy. Secondly, you can only preserve your own fidelity. As such you cannot take responsibility for your partner’s infidelity and blame yourself.
To understand how you came to this point in your life can be a painful process for you as a couple, and can take time to unravel. It also requires self-reflection and courage from you both. However, if you do not explore what went wrong in your relationship, you will not be able to make changes in the future that will enable you to come to terms with the affair and rebuild the trust.