Couples struggle to maintain a sense of connection when there is too much conflict and miscommunication between them, especially when kids come along.
Even without kids, it is such a challenge to manage not being on the same page about all the things that seemed so in synch when the couple first got together.
As stress and tension increases in a relationship, issues related to money, intimacy, who makes the "big" decisions, the fair division of emotional and physical labor, past abuse, extended family responsibilities, etc., eat away the good will in the relationship.
One or both partners can feel as though they are "doing it all" even though they want to do less. It just seems so automatic to say "yes" rather "no". In the short term, not rocking the boat to avoid a fight with one's partner or a challenging adolescent seems the easiest and less stressful course of action, even though in the long term things keep getting worse.
As the difficulties increase, symptoms can develop, like depression and anxiety in one or both partners, or an increase in alcohol intake or the use and abuse of other drugs. Physical symptoms can also emerge as more stress and tension compromise the capacity for the immune system of one or both partners to recover more successfully.
And children and young people can start to bear the brunt as they absorb some of the tension that belongs to the couple relationship. Kids who are more sensitive to their parents' distress often develop anxious and depressive symptoms themselves.
One parent can often feel "on the outside" of the closeness experienced by the other parent with one or more children. This also adds to tension between the couple. Often it also impacts the outsider parent's relationship with the child that gets more of the focus from the other parent, adding to the tensions in the family.
It is important to respect that the above issues are no one's fault, whilst understanding that this does not absolve a partner from taking responsibility for their own actions. This is particularly true if a partner is emotionally, psychological or physically abusive, and forms a large part of the work of therapy.
A Bowen family systems focus to individual, couple and family therapy also takes into account the neurobiology of trauma and the impact of prolonged exposure to stress and tension,
AS THESE FACTORS PLAY OUT IN RELATIONSHIPS.
So to find out more about how to begin to challenge any patterns of relating that are no longer working, book an initial session. You can decide to come alone to talk about your relationship or your struggle as parent, or you can come as a couple or a family, whatever it's constellation.
If your family is grown, but conflict or worry about adult children or older parents is nevertheless intensifying, book an appointment with Linda to discuss the best way to begin to think through these issues.