Couples counselling: the benefit imbalance

At a dinner, I listened to a man less than thirty, telling his friends that it was an expensive year coming up. Couples known to the circle had issued their invitations for legal wedding ceremonies. He joked that as more friends would be doing this, he too would have to find someone he didn’t like, to settle down with.

It is usual that such remarks are like the jokes of comedians. We may smile or laugh, perhaps inwardly cringing, that cynicism is hurt unhealed? It may also be ‘too close to home’ if we have known and witnessed our parents’ relationship deteriorate.

Sociologists have assessed marriage to benefit men more than women in heterosexual legal partnerships. Another joke could follow that women benefit from divorce more than men! In research, the Holmes- Rahe scale of stressful life events puts death of a spouse at the top and divorce is second, with marital separation third.

In divorce, there are inevitable ramifications for each person. There will be unwanted changes, personally, emotionally and  financially with long or life lasting negative consequences. These may even be physical somatic complaints such as pain, illness and disease. Relationship networks collapse and the slow demise of ‘in-law’ family can also disadvantage or devastate. It is a serious business and January 2017 will again see a flurry to the offices of divorce lawyers.

As a therapist who works with individuals and couples, I am not alone in noticing there are couples who embark on the process too late for a constructive dialogue. When one person is silent it is likely a manifestation their belief in the value of the marriage has them mentally packed up and gone. Their attendance at therapy is an expression of “don’t say I didn’t try”!

I have immense admiration and respect for couples who elect to begin a therapy relationship. It takes considerable physical, emotional, mental and financial commitment. Both parties must learn how to consciously separate, repair and restore values and beliefs as lived actions. To achieve intimacy can be a challenge, and this is much more than just sex.

So why would anyone go to this effort? Because if you cannot understand the complexity of why you need to leave or stay, there is the greatest possibility that the choices and behaviours that are unconsciously motivated will drive the next involvement in relationship. If a third party has already facilitated the exit strategy and there is a fantasy of the new and improved, the disillusionment, disappointment and disapproval may surface, sooner or later.

What is evident is that married men live longer than single men; married men accumulate more wealth and achieve greater proficiency, status and reward; married men are less likely to die a violent death than single men and suffer less from depression and addictive behaviours than do single men. After recent heart attacks, men who believe they are loved by their spouse suffer fewer complications and have better recovery outcomes than men who are in distressed marriages.

Contrary to my dining companion’s opinion, married men report being happier than men remaining single.

Contact us today to book an initial consultation and discuss how we may be able to help you.

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