Shall We Talk?

In our society fewer and fewer people grow up seeing a strong relationship modelled between their own parents and so it comes as no surprise that it is not because of incompatibility that many marriages break down, but because the couple have no idea what it takes to make their relationship work.

As a relationship therapist I am often astonished when working with couples just how little they know about each other’s views on things that are of fundamental importance to a relationship. I see couples shocked in the realisation that they have never really talked about what their partners reveal to me, a complete stranger. Feelings, thoughts, hopes, dreams, disappointments and expectations that they had not known even existed which can be both painful and enlightening.

At the heart of a strong marriage is a strong friendship and like all friendships they need time and attention to be maintained. Communication is at the very core of any relationship and yet topics such as money and sex seem to be cloaked in mystery between two people who have chosen to spend the rest of their lives together.

Relationships that break down are usually as a result of a process of growing apart over many years as this poem describes: –

The Wall
Their wedding picture mocked them from the table.
These two whose lives no longer touched each other.
They loved with such a heavy barricade between them that neither battering ram of words nor artilleries of touch could break it down. Somewhere between the oldest child’s first tooth and youngest daughter’s graduation they lost each other.

Throughout the years each slowly unraveled that tangle ball of string called self and as they tugged at stubborn knots each hid their searching from the other.

Sometimes she cried at night and begged the whispering darkness to tell her who she was while he lay beside her snoring like a hibernating bear unaware of her winter. Once after they had made love he wanted to tell her how afraid he was of dying, but fearing to show his naked soul he spoke instead about the beauty of her breasts. She took the course in modern art trying to find herself in colors splashed upon a canvas and complaining to other women about men who were insensitive. He climbed into a tomb called the office, wrapped his mind in a shroud of paper figures and buried himself in customers. Slowly the wall between them rose cemented by the mortar of indifference.

One day reaching out to touch each other they found a barrier they could not penetrate and recoiling from the coldness of the stone each retreated from the stranger on the other side. For when love dies it is not in a moment of angry battle. Nor when fiery bodies lose their heat. It lies panting exhausted expiring at the bottom of a wall it could not scale.


I work with couples at all stages of relationship. I offer five weekly marriage preparation sessions, which allow couples to have the often forgotten conversations before walking down the aisle together. I offer sessions for couples having a challenging time. These can be anything from a fifty minute session, to sessions of up to four hours in one go. These allow enough time for issues to emerge and time to devote to creating a better understanding of what is happening to the space between the couple, which is ‘the relationship’.

In the words of Robert Louis Stevenson ‘marriage is one long conversation chequered by disputes.’ Sometimes couples are under the impression that it is because they argue that things are wrong in the marriage. From my experience it is not the topic that is usually the main issue, but how disagreements are or are not discussed and resolved. In relationships, disagreements are not nearly as dangerous as secrets and for as long as there are strong emotions there is hope. As written in the poem it is when barriers of self-protection are created that resemble impenetrable walls that a relationship is most at risk.

I offer a safe space for couples to come and speak to each other and support them in doing so in a way that has perhaps not been done before, so that each party feels heard, which is often the starting point to resolving issues that have seemed insurmountable.

There is no magic to couples therapy and yet for many couples who have had the courage to seek help at times when it would have been easier to walk away, turn a blind eye or ‘wait for another time to have a conversation’ magical moments of connection can be created by talking to each other in new ways.

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