Types of relationship problems

Relationship issues vary considerably, depending on the nature of the relationship and the circumstances that have led to problems. A relationship counsellor will work with both individuals and couples, and while we are all different, there are common issues that occur during relationships and are common in relationship counselling.

Common types of relationship issues include:

Affairs and betrayals

Betraying your spouse or a close friend can cause a great deal of damage to your relationship, as it destroys that oh-so-valuable sense of trust. Whether it’s an affair, financial secrets or a hidden addiction, betrayal can be heartbreaking and in some cases, can lead to the end of the relationship. However, a great number of people will want to work through a betrayal in order to overcome the pain, rebuild the trust and continue the relationship.

Separation and divorce

Sometimes couples will decide to separate or divorce without considering the practicalities, or if the relationship could be saved. Separation counselling provides an opportunity for a breakup to be explored before a final decision is made. While not all relationships can continue, helping couples to get closure and move forward in a way that is healthy for their needs can really benefit them in the future.

Pre-nuptial issues

Some couples seek extra support and advice on how to prepare themselves should the relationship breakdown or encounter difficulties in the future. Relationships are naturally full of ups and downs (we may naturally crave companionship, but we’re also very opinionated creatures). Pre-nuptial counselling can help couples to be aware of any potential stressors that may occur during different stages of their relationship, such as the birth of a child, and know how to cope, overcome and flourish.

Family issues

Our relationships with family members form an integral part of our lives, and when these become strained, it can cause a lot of pain and disappointment. In some cases, it may be one family member that is causing a rift, or it could be a previous disagreement or a number of issues that have built up over time and never been properly dealt with. Family counselling provides a safe and supportive environment where family members can communicate openly, listen to each other and work through any disagreements.

Cross-cultural relationships

Relationships involve two people coming together from different backgrounds to build a new unit. While for many, this process is relatively straightforward and seem very natural, for others, their differences can be too prominent to come to a compromise. Counselling helps couples to better understand each other’s beliefs and values, to learn how to work with their differences and compromise, building a stronger, healthier bond.

How can counselling help?

“Counselling gives us space to be the truest version of ourselves, offering us the opportunity to look at what we, as individuals, really want from our relationships. It offers us the opportunity to explore our past and current experiences of being close to others, and what this really means for us, whilst working to strengthen our own sense of self, so that we no longer feel bewildered by the relationships we choose and patterns of behaviour we adopt throughout our lives. Counselling can lead us to a greater sense of ourselves in the world we live in, and a deeper understanding of our relationships.”

Relationship issues can be attended as an individual, or in the form of couples counselling, a type of counselling that utilises talking therapy in a way that is designed to help two people. It really depends on you, and what it is you want to gain from counselling.

Sometimes, a relationship can leave you feeling crowded and like you’ve lost your sense of self - you may benefit from individual sessions, to have the opportunity to talk in a safe space, free from judgement. Other times, you may both benefit from talking in a zone that is out of your usual lives - somewhere private, safe and completely neutral. It may not always be an issue in the relationship, but if one of you is struggling, it could be negatively impacting your partner and in turn, your relationship.

Trust, respect and communication are three key factors that lead to a successful, happy relationship. When something happens that changes or impacts one of these factors, the relationship can start to break down. Sometimes relationships aren’t meant to be and you separate, and that’s OK. If you want to work through it and rebuild your bond, that’s OK too.