Being able to handle conflict and deal with differences is important in maintaining healthy relationships.
Everyone who is in a relationship or cares about their relationships may need assistance at some time to:
- help them deal with problems or difficulties in a relationship
- learn how to form or improve relationships
- cope with a relationship that has broken down
- help to change a relationship where there is violence and abuse.
Differences are part of relationships
People often get very emotional and angry when they see their partner has different values, beliefs or expectations to them. We all need to understand and accept that between any two people there will be differences in ideas and expectations and, at times, conflict and strong expression of feelings.
Our relationships actually become stronger if we talk about these differences. We need to find out that differences are always going to be part of the relationship and that issues might have a solution if they are discussed more.
All couples experience problems in one form or another - it's part of sharing your life with another human being. The difference between relationships that work and those that don't is how well couples deal with the challenges and problems they face in their life together.
Warning signs of a relationship breakdown
Noticing early warning signs of relationship breakdown can help a couple resolve conflicts. Some early warning signs are:
- abandonment of joint activities - just living parallel lives
- recurring arguments which are never resolved
- feelings of dissatisfaction and unhappiness
- preoccupation with interests and activities outside the relationship, leading to one partner feeling neglected
- complaints of loss of feeling - one or both partner/s speak of no longer being in love
- an affair - becoming emotionally and/or sexually involved with a person outside the relationship
- increased fatigue and reduced ability to meet responsibilities at work
- arguments over parenting.
When is a good time to get professional help?
Advice or extra skills can often assist. If your relationship has some of the early warning signs, it is time to seek advice. Counsellors can help you sort out what the problems are and help you find ways to try to mend your relationship. Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners (family mediators) can work with you to define practical issues and identify present and future needs.
The sooner that you act on issues the easier they will be to resolve.
It is good for couples to learn new ways of relating, communicating and resolving conflicts.
Relationship Support Services
Counselling can support you with your relationship problems or challenges. The counselling environment is a safe environment. In counselling couples are supported to develop skills and establish common goals in their relationship. The counsellor is respectful of the individual and the relationship challenges and facilitates a respectful counselling process. In counselling couples are supported to speak with each other about sensitive and difficult things.
Family Dispute Resolution Services can help you resolve conflict by identifying issues, exploring options, testing possible solutions and putting agreements into writing.
Family Violence Prevention services are available for those who have difficulties with violence or abuse in their relationships.
Relationship courses and seminars are available that focus on preventing problems and help you to enrich your relationships. They are helpful for singles, couples, parents, and for people who have separated.