Blog

Are you an Explorer or a Climber?

Are you an Explorer or a Climber?

blogs
Not all mountain climbers start from the same place Some people have to travel a long way just to get to the mountain Learning how to be the kind of person who can have a successful long-term intimate relationship is a big mountain to climb.  There are many ups and downs along the way and it requires bravery and persistence.   We face similar dangers - anyone can be swept off the mountain by some avalanche of external circumstances (illnesses, injuries, losses…).  And yet, although we all have to climb the same mountain, the journey is very different for us all. Some people come from wealthy mountain-climbing families.  They have athletic genetics and all the right gear. They start their journey being helicoptered in (by secure attachment and healthy differentiation in…
Read More
Being “logical” isn’t always rational

Being “logical” isn’t always rational

blogs, Communication, Relationships, Self-awareness
Do you try hard to stay “logical” or “rational” when talking or disagreeing with someone?  On the surface this looks like a good idea – we want decisions made on factual information, not just emotions.  But, as fans of Star Trek will know, this is a doomed enterprise (pun fully intended, with apologies). What we usually acheive is the exact opposite of being rational.   When I talk in an “unemotional” way, what I actually do is disown and deny the feelings that are the motivation for my opinion.  Emotion researcher Karla Mclaren (https://karlamclaren.com) stresses that emotions are a fundamental part of our cognitive system.  In other words, emotions are another way our brain sends us messages just like our senses do. We can’t think without feeling. When we present our…
Read More
What is “couple time” for?

What is “couple time” for?

blogs
MAKING TIME FOR COUPLE TIME IS A GOOD IDEA Like a business or a garden or a vintage car, relationships need constant maintenance; frequent and consistent attending to. If you are not attending to your relationship by investing time and effort in it, you can't expect it to work well. Lots of people have got a handle on the notion that it’s important to schedule couple time into their busy lives.  Which is great.  If you’re a busy person and something is important to you, it needs to be in your diary. But we often find that couples don't talk about what the time is FOR. It can be useful to think about three key categories of communication that couples need to put time into: 1. PRAGMATICS AND LOGISTICS Coordinating…
Read More
Getting to resolution: In praise of persistence, persuasion & openness

Getting to resolution: In praise of persistence, persuasion & openness

blogs, Communication, Intimacy, Relationships
For many of us, it’s hard to know what we want, let alone express it to our life partner.  If we are brave enough to actually tell our partner our preference/desire/fantasy, it can feel crushing when this is not met with immediate and enthusiastic acceptance. Yet, the truth is we are always attracted to someone who is different from us.  An inevitable result is that our partner will see things differently, will have different preferences, and organise their priorities in ways that are alien to us. This creates conflict.  It doesn’t mean there is anything going wrong. This is where we need to be persistent.  To hold on to what we think, want, or feel and keep treating it as important and worthwhile.  Yet, just to make the business of…
Read More
Supporting your relationship through Covid 19

Supporting your relationship through Covid 19

Communication, Covid-19, Intimacy, Relationships
As this event unfolds we recognize the increased stress that many of us are feeling due to the uncertainty of the impact of Coronavirus on our own lives and those we love. This stress can challenge our relationships in numerous ways. Perry King, one of our team here at Couples Therapy NZ was interviewed by Mindfood and offered advice on being in self isolation with your partner  https://www.mindfood.com/article/self-isolation-with-your-significant-other-advice-from-a-couples-therapist/ and another on caring for your kids during lockdown https://www.mindfood.com/article/a-therapists-advice-for-caring-for-kids-in-lockdown/. Furthermore a colleague of ours at The Couples Institute, Stacy Lee, has written two helpful blogs to support our relationships during this stressful time. In her first blog she raises our awareness of the normal struggles that we may face whilst in voluntary isolation (or in lock down) and offers tips on how…
Read More
Boundaries and Intimacy

Boundaries and Intimacy

Communication, Intimacy, Relationships, Self-awareness
This image encapsulates a really important lesson that many of us struggle to learn. If we want intimacy then we have to risk the vulnerability of authenticity, of being really honest. Among other things, being authentic means saying what is and isn't OK for you. That's what us therapist types mean when we talk about "setting boundaries" The right-hand column in this picture is a good summary of what happens if we don't do this. If we are not looking after ourselves by setting good boundaries we are likely to end up resentful and lonely. So why is it so difficult for many of us to set boundaries? Typically it is because (perhaps unconsciously) we don't believe we are good enough, important enough, loveable enough or safe enough to get…
Read More
How can I change what I’m not aware of?

How can I change what I’m not aware of?

Self-awareness
Some people are really practiced at noticing what's going on inside themselves, how they really feel, what they really want, owning how they behave and being able to explain why. For the rest of us, there's therapy. Whether it's couples or individual therapy a big part of the process is recognising and accepting that quite a lot of what we do is outside our conscious awareness. Our mind is like an iceberg where the bit that we can see above the water (the bit we are conscious of) is only a fraction of all that is going on for us. Conscious thought consists of anything we can notice if we direct our attention towards it. We may not be aware of, say, a memory or a feeling until we focus…
Read More
Selfishness and Self-sacrifice by Nic Beets

Selfishness and Self-sacrifice by Nic Beets

Communication, Relationships, Self-awareness
Lots of couples have one person who is more self-centred and one who is more self-sacrificing. It can be very hard to acknowledge the unhelpfulness of these tendancies as there is a lot of judgment about these ways of being.   Further more we have usually learned these ways of operating as a self-protection in our formative years and, as a result, just think these ways of being are “normal” and that being “selfish” or “selfless” must be more extreme than what I’m doing.  To make matters even harder, if this is a long standing way of protecting yourself, it can be hard for us to imagine what the alternative is.  Typically we fear that we will become like our partner (whose behaviour hurts and frustrates us).  We fear that "If I’m not self-sacrificing then I’m…
Read More
Love is a collaborative work of art…  by Paula Dennan

Love is a collaborative work of art… by Paula Dennan

Communication, Intimacy, Relationships
Intimacy is a word that is used widely and often as a way to describe sexuality. However it involves much more than how we experience our sexuality. Intimacy includes the sharing of tasks and interests, being emotionally in tune with each other and non-sexual forms of touching and closeness. It requires the capacity to work together and to connect with each other. It involves the deepest possible sharing of ourselves with our partner, mind, body and soul. This can grow in collaboration or stagnate over time. Intimacy can be uniquely constructed together and as such is a team creation. One way develop intimacy is to consider the various domains of intimacy. These domains offer a guide on areas that you can use to help you grow your connection. Any area…
Read More
Fitness For Intimacy by Verity Thom

Fitness For Intimacy by Verity Thom

Communication, Intimacy, Relationships
Having a strong relationship requires both people to be able to keep themselves in a strong and resilient state.  If you are burnt-out, overworking, neglecting your self-care either emotionally or physically, dealing with your stress in unwholesome ways like using a lot of alcohol and drugs, food, social media etc, then the chances are you aren’t in a fit state to offer your partner or relationship very much. If you are not looking after yourself then you are more likely to behave in a stressed, grumpy, irritable or depressed way.  You are likely to have a shorter fuse or be shut down and withdrawn. So often the first step for couples wanting to improve their relationship with each other is to improve their relationship with themselves.  Often people need to…
Read More