Nathalie McClure - Relationship Counselling for Couples and Individuals
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Affairs and how relationship therapists work with them
Has your relationship survived Christmas?
Difficult transition to parenthood? You're not alone!
Modern life turning people off sex?
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Affairs and how relationship therapists work with them

As part of the BACP requirements for Continuous Professional Development, I recently attended a training course on Affairs and their impact on the couple relationship. It was a fascinating course with therapists from different cultures, training and moral values. Affairs are always a controversial subject, often touching both therapists and clients deeply and on a personal level. 25% of couples coming for relationship counselling present an extramarital affair as their reason for seeking counselling.

Has your relationship survived Christmas?

You may have heard that early January is the busiest time of the year for divorce lawyers. They report on average an increase of 30% in new enquiries post Christmas/New Year break compared to the rest of the year. Relate, the leading organisation providing relationship and couple counselling in the UK, also records significantly higher than average calls and demand for appointments in January than in any other month of the year. 
So why is that? People have generally high expectations for this time of year, thinking they will have a wonderful family time putting themselves and their loved ones under a lot of pressure if things don’t go according to plan.

Difficult transition to parenthood? You're not alone!

Did you know that 2 thirds of couples experience a significant drop in relationship satisfaction after the birth of their first baby? While for some couples, relationship satisfaction will eventually recover, for most couples the low will persist. It does not take a rocket scientist to identify the causes of such a drop: lack of sleep, constant demands of a new baby, being stuck at home a lot of the time, lack of freedom or spontaneity. But also, becoming a parent is a huge adjustment for both partners, not only in terms of lifestyle and what they might want to achieve in life, but crucially it sends one back to their own childhood i.e. what kind of child they were, how was the parenting they received, what do they want for their own child, what do they want to replicate and what do they want to avoid. Furthermore, research tells us that it is the changes that men make to their behaviour during that adjustment period that can significantly improve relationship satisfaction. This appears surprising at first and definitely at odds with what happens the rest of the time when trying to address relationship issues where efforts from both partners are much more balanced. So why is that? In the majority of cases, it is still the woman who is the partner staying at home to look after the baby and therefore the most impacted by his/her arrival. As she struggles through adjusting to her new life, to feelings of guilt that often come with motherhood and to find her new identity as a woman and a mother, could it be that increased understanding and support from her loving partner make all the difference? It is fascinating to observe what that one third of couples who successfully transition from childless couple to parents do differently. The overwhelming difference is that these couples work as a team. They are aware that they are in it together and must work together to get through the bad nights etc. They acknowledge each other’s contributions and support each other through thick and thin. And when, inevitably at times, tempers run short, they try to repair the situation quickly and don’t let anything fester. There are many ways any couple can learn to do this and, obviously, relationship counselling can help. If you like books, a good starting point is “And Baby makes three” by John and Julie Gottman (2007). The Gottmans are a real life couple of American relationship therapists who have developed over the years a keen interest on how couples handle the transition to parenthood. The book can be a bit cheesy at times but offers lots of tools and tips parents can use or reflect upon. 

Modern life turning people off sex?

Have you seen the BBC news article titled ‘Modern life turning people off sex’ yesterday http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-25094142? It describes the findings of a once in a decade poll of 15,000 brits enquiring about the number of times they’re having sex per month. Significantly, it is the first time since the poll began that a reduction in the frequency people are having sex has been registered. Dr Cath Mercer from University College London was quoted as saying “…we also think modern technologies are behind the trend too. People have tablets and smartphones and they are taking them into the bedroom, using Twitter and Facebook, answering emails.” I am not surprised by these findings as they confirm what my clients have been reporting more and more during relationship counselling. Couples can easily spend the whole evening side by side on the sofa each on their smartphone or tablet hardly saying a word to each other. When people are tired at the end of the day, this is easy entertainment requiring minimum effort and certainly no ‘real’ human interaction. Not exactly a turn on, is it? Things get worse when technology gets in the bedroom, as people tend to fall asleep on their phone/tablet instead of turning to each other for a cuddle. So if you’re in bed reading this, maybe something to think about?
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