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Lessons in love

Relationship counselling can be an enlightening experience – and not just for the couple. Here, Caroline Buchanan, a long-time Relate counsellor, reveals five insights she has learned from her clients

relationships

1 Opposites may attract but…

My experience in the therapy room has shown me that, the more you have in common, the better your chances as a couple. But there is a big difference between shared interests and shared values. A couple can have all kinds of varying interests and still be in sync. Their individual hobbies and activities, as long as they are not in deep conflict, can bring freshness to the relationship.

Shared values go a long way to making life easier in your relationship – and with it comes a shorthand about what is and isn’t acceptable to you both.

One couple I saw was struggling in stereotypical roles. She was clearly far more ambitious than he was, and wanted to be out in the world enjoying a career that would support the family. He was unfulfilled at work, yet they both valued and encouraged self-fulfilment and a loving family life, and, after negotiating a few stumbling blocks, they decided to swap roles. It turned out well – he enjoyed caring for the children at home and getting on with his writing in his spare time. Imagine that scenario if they hadn’t shared these values. Having conflicting opinions isn’t the issue; it’s how you deal with them that matters. For example, if you’re at loggerheads about what sort of holiday you want – if you both believe in respecting each other’s point of view, you’ll find a solution before too long.

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Psychologies March 2017 - Double Your Energy
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