The age and range of couples coming to Phoenix Rises vary from young couple’s considering marriage; to young newly-wed couples making adjustments to shared life; to couples having their first child; couples immersed in raising children, building careers, and building assets; empty-nesters and aging couples entering retirement, even those facing the adjustments of older age in terms of increased mental and physical limitations, the loss of a partner and/or entering a seniors facility.
Each of these life phases have something in common: change. That is letting go of what was in the previous stage, in order to embrace new challenges in the next life stage of the coupleship. Each new phase has it’s own learning, challenges and joys. How do couples manoeuvre through each phase? What are the issues that arise? What are the tools to help meet the challenges? How do you keep love alive? How do you deal with resentments and relationship hurts and betrayals such as affairs, addictions and life’s trials such as job loss or the death of a family member? These are all unexpected life circumstances that challenge any couple. Often couples feel powerless to step out of the circus of negative dynamics that get entrenched when these are not resolved over time. This strains any coupleship. Knowing when to seek help is a sign of wisdom. Too often couples wait too long before reaching out to a couple’s therapist. Often this delay is because one of the two parties wants to come to counselling and the other refuses to do so, much to their regret later when the willing party has given up trying to be heard and walks away.
Don’t wait and let pride or fear get in the way of making progress and improvements in the relationship. If one person is having trouble and expressing it that means the relationship is in trouble. Pay attention and take action.
We Cover an Extensive Range of Couples Counselling Issues
Over 30 years in practice Phoenix Rises therapists have encountered a vast range of coupleship issues and we understand that often they are intertwined.
Workshops for Couples
We also offer transformational workshops for couples where those in a long-term, committed relationship learn how to Resolve their issues, Release negative thoughts and feelings and Reignite their Passion. You can read more on the Workshop page and you can sign-up for email notifications of up-coming events.
The art of communication is a skill that has many elements. For example, how to share with a partner and how to listen carefully; how to confront unacceptable or difficult problems that arise in a respectful manner and communicate to bring resolution; how to constructively argue and reconcile; how to make collaborative decisions that are mutual and agreed upon and not unilateral in nature. These are but a few of the communication skills that are necessary for healthy relationships. A proper relationship assessment and therapy will reveal the realm of communication need and provides the context to introduce the skill development most applicable to the issue at hand.
Power Struggles are about who sees themselves as in control or in charge and of what territory in a relationship. Too often, couples do not have good personal boundaries and as a consequence lack healthy relationship boundaries; they therefore step into the other’s realm of responsibility telling the other what to do and how to do it. Sometimes one person is a caretaker and oversteps into the other’s territory thinking they are being helpful; or one person is a controller and sees their role as one of telling the other how to do something, or what they can and cannot do. How to resolve power struggles so that neither person feels disempowered and controlled is the art of resolution. A good understanding of what are the cornerstones of a healthy relationship in terms of attitudes, beliefs, shared values and personal boundaries, with clear understandings as to what a healthy relationship actually looks like in practice, is a foundational piece to resolving power struggles. In this way both parties can feel valued and maintain personal empowerment.
DESTRUCTIVE, REOCCURRING RELATIONSHIP DYNAMICS
Destructive, reoccurring relationship patterns, often stemming from each partner’s unresolved, unconscious issues from their family of origin, create a repeat pattern of reactivity, misunderstanding and ensuing arguments – no matter the subject under discussion. The antidote is a proper assessment that allows the couple to see these patterns and how they are lived out in present time. Once seen, then it becomes evident what needs to happen to bring resolution to the unresolved issue and ensure it is no longer a trigger point in the coupleship.
SEXUAL FUNCTIONING AND DESIRE
Sexual functioning and desire issues are not uncommon and arise from a myriad of possible causes, the main one being other unresolved relationship issues. However, there can also be medical and physiological reasons for certain sexual presenting problems. For example, one person may suffer from desire and/or performance issues due to things like the side effect of medication or hormonal issues. People may also have unconscious trigger points due to some trauma from the past such as sexual abuse, which can trigger an adverse reaction in the sexual relationship. Often a full assessment of the coupleship issues is necessary to determine the source of such presenting problems and therefore how best to resolve them.
RECONCILIATION OF RESENTMENT & BETRAYAL
It is virtually impossible to be in a long-term relationship without suffering some offence from the other whether intentional or unintentional. Resentment may arise from affairs or unresolved issues and hurts resulting in contemptuous behaviour; and these act as the single most destructive aspect of a relationship leading to intimacy issues. The antidote to this issue is learning the skill and attitude to fully reconcile these offences.
Money almost never gets discussed until the differences in handling, priorities, and control of money become evident in the coupleship. Some people are spenders, others are very thrifty folk who fear spending, but at the core of each person’s pattern is an underlying, often unconscious need or feeling that spending behaviour is attempting to satisfy. Disagreements arise as the difference in priorities and needs around money become evident. The antidote to this is understanding the meaning given to money by each partner, to assess the situation, to educate the parties about money and it’s place in the family and look at the power struggle around money. Helping each partner to understand the value of the other’s priorities, as well as educating both partners in the whole realm of financial literacy, creates a context to meet all of the needs related to money within a family.
- How can we help?
The Phoenix Rises therapists have extensive experience in all these issues and more, employing a wide range of couple therapies as appropriate: from Systemic therapy, to Harville Hendrick’s Imago therapy and to John Gottman’s lab-based scientific approach to couples therapy, that is, the Sound Relationship House.
Diane Monteith in particular has additional training in financial literacy and planning, with an understanding of business from a structural and financial point of view which she has used in her couples work when issues of money and business arise. In addition, Diane has developed ‘the Deep Soul Reconciliation Process’ which works wonderfully for couples with unresolved resentments and long held offences against each other, so that they no longer act as the invisible barrier to closeness and intimacy.