How “to do” relationships well, is frequently asked about in the therapy world, with monogamy or non-monogamy often being raised as concerns. The last few years has allowed a more inclusive and open discussion about this subject, as for many years there was a prevailing view that to be a “valid” relationship, it must be monogamous. The clear implication of this position was that any person who wasn’t monogamous was in an inferior or invalid relationship. So, many of us grew up hearing that the only socially acceptable model for sexual expression was to find “the one” and settle down.
Does this mean that if monogamy doesn’t work for you, other ways of loving are not valid?
Thankfully, there are no one-size-fits all rules for doing relationships. It’s more about finding out what works for you. So, for some, this means being monogamous – having only one partner. For others, it means being non-monogamous, which means having more than one partner or having one partner but having sex with other people as well.
Many couples practice and enjoy non-monogamous relationships; finding it deepens the love they have for each other. For both monogamous and non-monogamous, those who don’t understand what the rules of their relationship are, can lead to problems.
What is non-Monogamy?
Basically, non-monogamy is a category used to describe any relationship that isn’t monogamous. So, a couple who have an open relationship, or a couple who are polyamorous are examples. It’s important to mention that somebody being unfaithful to their partner isn’t non-monogamy – that’s infidelity. For non-monogamy to be applied, both partners must agree that this is something they want to participate in, and both feel comfortable with.
Why do people choose non-monogamy?
Some people don’t support the idea that we’re meant to love just “one person”. Others like exploring intimacy with others, yet still have the strong love they share with their primary partner. Other couples are open to having feelings for other people and practice polyamory openly. Some couples like to experiment and prevent their relationship becoming stale. Openness, honesty, and consent are the keys.
A useful starting point to understand some of the different types of relationship is definition; so the next section outlines some of the relationship labels and what they mean. Brook, the Sexual Health and Wellbeing Experts offer a useful overview: –
Monogamy – a relationship with only one partner at a time. A monogamous relationship can be sexual or emotional, usually both.
Open – a couple agree that are both free to have sex with other people. While sex with other people is OK, loving someone else is generally not OK
Polyamory – “many loves”. In this type of relationship, it’s considered OK to love more than one person, as well as having sex with them.
Hierarchical Polyamory – some people have one main partner, then other relationships that are not so important (primary and secondary relationships), known as hierarchical polyamory.
Egalitarian polyamory – in this type of relationship, each partner is considered equal.
Monogamish – a relationship that is a little bit open.
Solo Poly – this refers to a person that lives alone but visits or is visited by several partners.
With many ways of expressing sexual and loving relationships, it can be useful to see monogamy and non-monogamy as on a spectrum, rather than an either/or thing.
The different types of relationship available and the different terminology, can be confusing. and for some anxiety provoking. It’s also possible that what you want from a sexual relationship in your early 20s may differ from what you want in your 40s. Therapy can be a useful space to explore any questions or concerns you have. We have more information and resources on our web pages, including a useful overview about relationships.
Are you having a mid-life crisis? However clichéd it sounds, it’s an experience that many people go through. Not only can this sharp reassessment of your life’s goals and priorities have a profound influence on the course of your own life, it will affect your relationship with others too. And if you’re married or in a long-term relationship, reviewing your commitment to your other half may be part and parcel of this often painful process.
How does a mid-life crisis manifest?
A ‘classic’ mid-life crisis can be triggered by all sorts of things, and it doesn’t necessarily have to occur when you reach the middle of your life. It could be an anniversary of a significant life event, getting to a certain point in your career, experiencing the loss of a family member or friend, or living through the COVID-9 pandemic.
What all these experiences have in common is that they bring a sudden realisation of your age along with a growing sense of anxiety about the amount of time you have left to live. Faced with a greater awareness of your own mortality, you may be questioning whether you are content with the life you are living, and whether the decisions you’ve made to get to this point have been the right ones. Perhaps you are wondering whether life is passing you by without the chance of doing all the things you still want to do before it is too late.
At KlearMinds, our professional team of psychotherapists, counsellors and life coaches are highly experienced in dealing with mid-life crises. We see many clients who are struggling to figure out the path ahead, and can provide the right therapeutic environment to help you see the bigger picture and decide on what the next steps should be. If you feel that it would help to speak to a trained therapist, please don’t hesitate to book an online video or telephone appointment to find out how we can help you.
What effect does your mid-life crisis have on your marriage?
You may have started to question the nature of your relationship and whether you are as happy as you could be. Maybe you and your partner have developed entrenched patterns of behaviour over the years and you are now wondering if ‘this is it’, or whether there could be more? Many separations and divorces are the result of a mid-life crisis being experienced by of one of the partners, though splitting up doesn’t have to be the outcome.
What’s more, being faced with a sense of getting (and looking) older can also take its toll on the relationship. We’ve all heard of the old cliché of a middle-aged person seeking out a much younger partner in older to feel young again themselves, suddenly dressing more youthfully or adopting new hobbies to help recapture a lost youth.
If there are children present in the relationship, reaching mid-life can throw into sharp relief the contrast between your current life and their teenage experiences, and you may wonder where the time has gone. Many mid-life crises happen around the time when grown-up children move out, leaving the parent to readjust to the empty nest. Can you remember how to be a couple again without the now long-established roles as Mum and Dad getting in the way? Is there still a spark?
Can you get through a mid-life crisis and stay together?
The good news is that not all couples split up when one partner has a mid-life crisis. If you can take the obvious challenges and turn them into opportunities to grow and adapt together, you can in fact become stronger as a couple. At KlearMinds, we offer counselling for relationship and marriage problems to help you understand why things are not working and what you can do to make them better.
Staying connected and communicating together as a couple is key. It may be natural to consider things in terms of what they mean for you personally, but try to reframe them in terms of your relationship. Be honest with your partner about what you are finding difficult, even if these thoughts are uncomfortable for your other half to hear. Conversations that require you to be truly vulnerable with each other, really hearing what the other person has to say, are often the biggest relationship test. You may not be able to find immediate solutions but by communicating as a couple, you are demonstrating your commitment to each other to try and find a way forward together.
Another key requirement for the relationship to move forward is for both partners to be open to change and willing to adapt. Life happens and people change – successful marriages manage to take this in their stride, staying in touch with each other and staying on the same team while facing whatever experiences life throws at you together.
Finally, don’t forget the element of fun. One of the feelings experienced during a mid-life crisis is that the fun has gone out of life. Just as important as having meaningful conversations with your spouse is to take time out and have fun together. You may find that it makes a bigger difference than you think.
At KlearMinds, our experienced relationship counsellors can help you identify what is causing problems in the relationship and show you simple steps to take to improve your marriage. We use a powerful combination of relationship counselling and coaching, advice and active strategies you can put into practice to achieve the improvements you want.
Every marriage has its ups and downs. You may have found your perfect partner and be living happily ever after now, but it is normal for any long-term relationship to ebb and flow. If you want to keep you and your spouse happy together in the long term, you should be prepared to invest in some essential regular relationship maintenance.
At KlearMinds, our experienced couple counsellors have helped many married couples navigate relationship issues. We also offer pre-marital counselling to help you learn the strategies to build a lasting, fulfilling marriage together. The key to being able to weather any storms is to form good habits from the start. With that in mind, we’ve collated some of the key strategies that will help you build a strong and healthy marriage.
1 – Learn how to manage conflict
Conflict is something that every couple has to deal with on occasion. One of the most common misconceptions is that happy couples never argue – but that is just not true. Every human relationship will encounter conflict at some point; it’s part of how we grow and change.
Don’t see conflict as a sign of weakness that is to be avoided at all cost. Nor should arguments descend into name calling, blame storming or physical violence. Rather, you must both learn how to handle disagreements in a loving and respectful manner.
Focus on identifying where you own needs are not being met, and communicate this openly to your spouse so they can support you better. Whether the issue is sharing household chores, needing your own space or trusting in each other’s decision making, you need to get to the bottom of the conflict to enable you both to move forwards in a positive, productive way.
2 – Always check your assumptions
It is all too easy to jump to conclusions when you feel that you’ve been hurt. But perhaps you were too quick to judge? Not everything has to be interpreted in the way that you think, especially in the heat of the moment. In other words, your assumption that you know exactly why your partner acts the way they do, or what they mean by a particular statement, can be one of the greatest downfalls of your marriage.
It’s always better to check your assumptions before making a judgement, to avoid misunderstandings and unnecessary conflict. Take a deep breath to regain your composure, and when you are feeling calm, centred and ready to communicate, ask your spouse to clarify their words or actions.
Remind yourself that your marriage is based on mutual love, trust and respect, and that your default position should always be that your partner has acted with the best of intentions.
3 – Support each other’s personal growth
Whether or not you are in a relationship, you will experience change and personal growth throughout your life. In successful marriages and similar long-term relationships, each partner will have the freedom to evolve, and are supported wholeheartedly in this endeavour by their other half.
Many couples drift apart or experience conflict when they are changing in a way that is not complementary, which pushes them further away from each other. From new interests and hobbies to career development opportunities and more, if you try to stop your partner from changing, you will inadvertently be stifling their ability to grow, which can lead to resentment. Change is inevitable and the most successful marriages remain open to embracing it as a couple.
4 – Ask for help when you need it
While clear, honest and respectful communication is the key to relationship success, not everyone knows how to be a good communicator. Start by learning to listen to your spouse for the purpose of understanding, and separate this from your desire to respond straight away, or the urge to ‘win the argument’.
At KlearMinds, we have been teaching communication strategies and relationship tools to many couples over the years – and we can do the same for you. No two marriages are the same, and it is up to you and your partner to figure out what works for your relationship. It takes honesty, vulnerability and courage to do the inner work needed for a strong and healthy marriage. If you feel that KlearMinds couple counselling may be helpful, please get in touch.
When things go wrong in a relationship or marriage, it may be difficult to pinpoint what exactly the issues are and how to resolve them. Perhaps you’re having constant arguments or are no longer communicating meaningfully? Have you stopped being physically intimate or has one of you had an affair? Should you break up??
If you’re unhappy with your partner, all may not be lost. There are many qualities that, if you can find them in your personal dealings with each other, are a good sign that your relationship can indeed recover.
1. You are sensitive to each other’s needs
If you’re not happy because she’s not happy, it means you care – that’s a good thing. If the other person didn’t matter to you or there was no emotional connection, you would have little concern for your partner’s feelings.
As long as there is still a strong connection between the two of you, it is not over and the relationship can be saved. With time and space dedicated to accommodating each other it is definitely possible to improve the quality of your marriage or relationship.
2. You have more in common than having sex
Great sex is a wonderful thing but when physical intimacy is lacking in a relationship, it is often seen as the end. Not so – as long as you have a strong emotional and intellection bond, with patience and persistence you can each relearn how to fulfil your partner’s physical needs.
Strategies to get closer might include spending more quality time together, and focusing on communicating and destressing so you feel comfortable and relaxed in each other’s company. Add more flirting and eroticism to your day and take steps to rediscover having fun together.
3. You are both willing to make changes
We all change as we go through life, and this affects our close personal relationships. Major life events such as illness or losing a loved one, moving home, a new job, to name a few, can place additional stress on a relationship.
As long as you and your partner are able to talk with love, honesty and respect about what is happening and how it is affecting one or both of you, you can heal the rift. In a good relationship, you find ways to adapt to whatever new circumstances life brings, and deal with them together.
4. You can communicate your needs to each other
Being able and willing to communicate your unhappiness to your partner, and to listen and understand their unhappiness when they open up to you, is a key requirement for improving things between you.
If you can learn how to really hear what the other person is saying, and communicate healthily, with open minds and respectful hearts, and without allowing bitterness, jealousness or other negative feelings to get in the way, you have every chance of moving forward together.
5. You feel safe with your partner
In unhealthy relationships, a partner may manipulate the other person’s weaknesses and question their self-worth in an effort to get what they want. Of course, everybody has insecurities but if your partner generally makes you feel valued and respected and isn’t using your insecurities against you, that’s a good starting point.
In a healthy relationship, you can work on healing your insecurities yourself because your partner will do all they can to avoid triggering them. If you can both embrace each other and be kind and open with each other, then your relationship has every chance of surviving and your love can be rekindled.
At KlearMinds, couples therapy and marriage counselling can help you understand why things are not working, and what you can both do to improve your relationship and rebuild a fulfilling future together. Making the decision to go to counselling is a big step. Whether you choose to attend sessions together, or even if only one of you takes part, as long as the indicators are right it is possible to make positive, lasting improvements to your relationship. Take the first step to make your life better and get in touch.
We all deserve to feel safe, loved and happy in a romantic relationship but sometimes it’s not as straightforward as all that. But how can you tell whether your relationship is a healthy one or whether it’s time to say goodbye?
Most of the time, this is not a clear cut issue. Relationships are complex webs of human interaction and problems may develop slowly, over many months or years, possibly without you or your partner even realising. However, once the feeling sets in that ‘something isn’t right’, that’s when an experienced relationship therapist may be invaluable to help you understand what’s going on.
Do any of the following scenarios sound familiar?
Fighting too much
It’s normal to have arguments but as you get to know each other, you would expect there to be a progression towards better understanding and communication. If you keep going round in circles arguing with each other, possibly over the same thing, there may be a problem. Poor communication that never improves is toxic, stopping the relationship from moving forward.
Walking on eggshells
Is your partner dominating or controlling? This doesn’t necessarily have to involve threats of violence. It could be that you’re nervous and afraid of your partner’s emotional reactions, and change your views or behaviour to make sure s/he doesn’t get upset. Or perhaps your partner chooses what you wear, how you spend money or who your friends are? Manipulative behaviour is not the sign of a healthy relationship.
Wishing your were home alone
Do you find yourself wishing that your partner wasn’t around? Do you have more fun on your own? If you prefer spending the evening home alone while encouraging him to go to the pub, or you increasingly socialise independent of each other, all may not be well at home. With tensions building while you’re together, you may start to realise that life would be happier on your own.
Constant power games
In a good relationship, the balance of power is evenly distributed; there’s plenty of give and take so that both parties feel that their voice is heard. However, if one partner feels powerless or disenfranchised, they may try to redress the balance by inadvertently upsetting the proverbial apple cart. Suddenly, the relationship feels on edge, destabilised and uprooted, upsetting both partners.
Positive communication is key in any relationship – you need to be able to talk about important issues to move your relationship forward. But what if your partner refuses to talk about the big stuff such as moving home, getting married, having a baby? Blocking the possibility of talking about the future means the relationship is stuck in the present, which could be a toxic situation.
People change and the secret of a long-term relationship is to keep adapting to each other and still make it work. If you find yourself thinking that ‘this isn’t how it used to be’, ‘this doesn’t feel good anymore’ or ‘this isn’t what I signed up for’, then perhaps what was once a good relationship has turned bad. Can you bring the good times back?
If you’re tired of feeling stuck, lonely or unhappy in your current relationship, seeing a relationship counsellor may help. At KlearMinds, we can show you simple steps you can take to improve your relationship difficulties, giving you plenty of advice and active strategies to help you achieve the improvements you want. Contact KlearMinds today on 0333 772 0256 for a confidential chat to see how we can help.
There may be many reasons why your love is on the rocks. However, if things between you and your spouse or partner are not going well, it’s not always obvious to see what the underlying problems are. How serious are the issues? Is it just a temporary blip or is it terminal? Should you stay and make it work or cut your losses and leave?
It’s important to understand that most serious relationship problems occur around the same themes. So if you recognise any of these in your marriage or partnership, it’s high time to take action to improve your relationship.
In any relationship, it’s completely normal to have arguments and disagreements. However, when a person is criticised for the person s/he is and a relationship problem is staged as a character flaw in a partner, it’s hard to move past that. If one or both of you provoke arguments and then look for reasons not to forgive the other person, that is a big problem you need to work on.
Contempt is the number one predictor of breakups. If left unchecked, negative behaviour such as finger pointing, insults, sarcasm and talking down to your partner will chip away at the very foundation of your relationship over time. If one or both partners are unwilling to soften the conversation and inject some positive emotions into the relationship, there’s little point in being together.
Lack of sexual desire
For most people, having a mutually fulfilling sex life is an essential part of any good long-term relationship. If one partner has a much lower sex drive or shows little interest in wanting to be intimated, this needs to be addressed urgently. A marriage or partnership without sex could be a deal breaker.
Commitment and exclusivity are the foundation stones of a long-term partnership. Being in a relationship with someone who cheats on you is tough. It is possible for both of you to work through the infidelity with honesty and forgiveness and a promise to put it behind you. However, chronic infidelity and broken promises are much harder to fix.
Lack of communication
Sharing your innermost thoughts and feelings about each other is what gives each partner reassurance. But if one partner shuts down emotionally or is unable to open up, it’s much harder to connect. How can you deal with relationship problems if one of you keeps it all bottled up? Communications skills can be learnt; it’s essential to keep talking to each other so you don’t drift apart.