You meet, you fall in love, get married and have children. Life starts to get busier and more stressful with more demands at work and your family and your relationship begins takes a back seat.
Then one day perhaps you realise you are no longer in love with your wife or husband. Maybe you feel more like best friends rather than passionate lovers as your sex life becomes non-existent.
Marriages do not necessary have to be "rocky" to become stale and loveless. As this becomes more and more apparent that the relationship is now a friendship many married couples feel that once they have fallen out of love with their partner there is no way back and the only option is separation or divorce.
What if there was another option?
Here at the Heart of Relationships, John Donlon a leading London Marriage Counsellor and Coach, and Linda Connors is a Sex Therapist and Life Coach has worked and helped many individuals and couples repair and heal their marriage, ignite their sexual relationship and discover the path back to love, respect and fulfilment.
What will you experience through working with us?
Our approach is a unique formulae and step by step guide to help your marriage to become strong once more.
You will experience a space to help you to understand what forces and issues and underlying issues which caused you to fall out of love with each other.
More importantly you will receive a space to connect with an honesty of who you are, your values, your ideas and hopes and dreams and together create a path together back to love and an even stronger and loving relationship, marriage and partnership. During this time you will honour your individuality and honour your marriage.
Your next step
We realise that the challenges in your marriage provides the opportunity to create an even more loving relationship and grow even stronger as a partnership together.
So if you want to create a more powerful marriage, and a step by step approach to building a compelling future together, call Linda and John today on 0800 024 8647 or 075 3421 3557.
In our couples therapy work one aspect which comes up is what we call an "Inner brat." This is an aspect or part of a person which is having a effect on the relationship. I'd first like to identify the kind of behaviours associated with what one author calls an inner brat, with the help of Pauline Wallin, Phd, who has written the book, "Taming your Inner Brat, A Guide for Transforming Self-defeating behavior."
She writes, "Most inner brat thoughts are accompanied by unpleasant feelings. Usually these are experienced as irritability or a sense of urgency." Which comes may come across as impatience, wanting to be in control, or bossy, with a great sense of immediacy - things have to happen now!"
She goes on later to say, "Your inner brat...is a very powerful force inside you. It is a primitive part of your personality that seeks immediate gratification, no matter what the consequences. You may sometimes become so consumed by your inner brat that you get caught up in the impulse of the moment...People who are ruled by their inner brats act only to what they want right now, or to what is irritating them right now.
"Many of them feel irritated and victimized much of the time. Who wouldn't when they believe that none of their problems, losses or pain is ever their fault?
"It's time to stop blaming others for your irritability and demands. You are responsible and accountable for every word that leaves your mouth. While you aren't guaranteed a comfortable life, you do have a certain degree of control how you experience it. Your self-esteem and relationships with other people can be vastly improved when you take charge of your inner brat."
Awareness in relationships
I prize self-awareness in a relationship as one of the highest values - ever.
If someone is fully associated into a problem state like their inner brat - the likelihood is they are not going to have any self-awareness whatsoever. They are likely to put their projections onto the other person, and take no responsibility for how impatient, unreasonable, and how rude they are being - and what the effect their behavior has on the other person. This is because they are working inside of the problem.
However, if they - or any person, can come outside of a state and be objective, then that's self-awareness - and then they can begin to work on that. But until they have that awareness for themselves, then they are effectively working form inside the problem. And that is not a good place to be.
"They only are like this 'with me'!" If someone’s inner brat only emerges in their most intimate relationships, then this is part of their “deep relationship pattern.”
This is going to relate to how their mother and father brought them up.
If their mother and father were physically or emotionally abusive to them as a child, its very likely that the child part of them is still caught up in that early relationship dialogue. It is like an ongoing continual conversation – of abuse and being abused – and their own unpleasant hatefulness back to their parents, at that age.
Later knowledge and changing relationships with their parents still will not influence the hurt, wounded – and also hateful and rebellious and out of control inner child – which now runs this relationship pattern, as a walled of, encapsulated part of the person’s personality.
That whole experience of childhood may be transferred, onto you and your relationship with the person who has suffered thus as a child.
Many many times then they may treat you, as if you are abusing them. They may take innocent comments, innocent looks, tiredness, and simply human negativity – as if you are attacking them now.
It is as if the constant criticism and abuse they received as a child is what they are hearing from you now in the relationship – even though reality is totally different. They will be prone to misreading your thoughts, feelings, mood, and also missing much of the actual goodness in you – for their own transferred and projected experiences onto you.
This does not mean that the relationship you have with them is not real. It does mean that an awful lot of affection, love, goodness, is going to be lost – and an awful lot of arguments, negativity, vilification of you is going to take place – until they may come to sort themselves out, if they ever do.
How they responded to their parents when they were children is also very important. If they rebelled, if they were outlandish, if they fought back, then they may also enter into that hateful state with you in this present relationship also.
I have heard one gentleman say about his relationship with his wife, who was abused as a child, and was to have a much better relationship with her mother when she was older, “It is like being with someone who makes your life absolute hell for no good reason.”
And that is what it can be like.
That the person may have little or no self-awareness is a bigger problem in my opinion than the actual problem itself.
Any thing which is remotely negative like an attack. In fact, even if nothing is happening, from their childhood, they have this siege mentality as part of their deep relationship pattern, and effectively are at war within themselves – based on and reliving and re-creating this early relationship pattern.
They may also transcend the behaviors of their parents, and in other ways be much more aware.
But until they really deal with the little child within them who is locked away, the pattern will continue. No matter how much adult knowledge and wisdom is needed, and added to the adult part of the personality.
The brat, or damaged inner child will still be in much of the control of their life – and the adult may not be aware, enlightened, or even willing enough, to rescue themselves, and move on with their self-development in a profound integrative way.
If this is the case, then your partner – or you – may justify their bad, impatient, immediate demanding behaviour however outlandish, rude, critical, hateful they are being towards you – and far from being aware they are very likely to claim that you are at fault – thus distorting the reality of the situation – again because of never having to deal with it.
A self-aware man or woman has an amazing chance to heal themselves from such self and relationship sabotaging behaviour – and once they heal themselves – then they are in a position to create a more amazing relationship.
The elephant in the relationship
Imagine having this behaviour, and saying you want to heal the relationship? It is like healing on a very superficial level – as there is no ownership of one’s own hurts, Paradoxically, because the need of people who have suffered abusive childhoods is greater – not less than others, they are more prone to “defend” their parents to the death now, seeing any encroachment upon awareness of what actually happened to them when they were a child and how their parents actually were to them – as the ultimate threat. They usually focus on how “good” their relationship is now, and how much things have changed, and how much is “water under the bridge.”
This is resistance, plain and simple. It is self-neglect, and the idealization of their parents, which makes real forgiveness, in the sense of becoming a person, impossible.
At war with themselves, their past, their own hurt child – who may also be a rebellious hateful brat who is willing to attack anyone who comes into close relationship – as close relationship brings up this pattern – the huge developmental task and the huge kindness of becoming a person in the deeper sense is lost to them – not because of their childhood, but because of how they are choosing to relate to their childhood and their inner child – now.
That is not kind. That is not self-love.
Working with us at couple counselling success
In therapy at The Heart of Relationships, we give a space for real kindness, real kindness to ourselves, in the deepest sense, and anyone who needs and really want this kind of healing, can access it in a process of re-integration, which makes possible a truly loving relationship, in one person becoming whole, in having a truly loving relationship with themselves first of all – in truth, admitting everything as it was and is in truth – as it was in childhood, and as it is now – giving the person the opportunity to work on healing their inner child and making their adult more responsible, stronger, more empowered, aware, complete and whole…
This is an amazing kindness, and sometimes one person will need to go through this process on their own, before coming into relationship counselling. Or they may go through this process with their partner alongside them in relationship counselling if this feels right for everyone concerned.
The changes people make is so profound, the understanding of themselves becomes so much greater, and the acceptance and love for themselves becomes so great – and their partner’s love for them becomes so great – that this is profoundly healing and also lays an amazing foundation of trust and understanding – with new skills and insights, compassion, kindness, creativity and love – to open up a boundless ocean of love and possibilities – which can be passed on to a couple’s children too, if they have children.
Having done their work, parents who do this work, kind of clear their garden and make it more beautiful, so that their children inherit a beautiful relationship from their parents, and don’t have to cope with a garden full of weeds which has not been properly worked with – with someone’s painful and paining inner brat operating bit time in the relationship.
If you would like to call John to arrange an appointment to create a relationship with an amazing foundation of love, call 0800 024 8647.
Want to know one of the real reasons brad and angelina - and hundred of other couples - split up? and how you can avoid making the same mistake and keep your own relationship growing and safe...
If you've been following the news recently, you may have heard how very sadly Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have split up? These two exceptional people, who are so environmentally aware, compassionate, and socially giving, have made one mistake, which may mean - if they don't get the right help in future - the end of their relationship.
Want to know what that mistake is? And it's not what you might think...
They put the children first...
That's it. You see, as laudiible as it may sound, doing this one thing, creates a dysfunctional dynamic which unwittingly puts any relationship in jeopardy.
And if you notice the news, if the press releases are true, this is something Brad and Angelina are still continuing to do. The press releases are all about how they are putting the children first and thinking of them. This may sound natural after a break up - but it was cited by Brad as one of the reasons instigating before their break up.
Why Putting the Children First is A Big Mistake.
This is because you - and your partner - need to Put Their Relationship First to show their children the healthy dynamic of a model of love where two people are meeting each other's needs. This creates a healthy core for the family, and as well as showing their children what it is for two people to love each other in a male-female way, showing and giving their children a love they can experience and pass on to their children - and can go on for generations to come.
My own grandparents were like this. And this has gone down through their children, grandchildren, cousins, and relations for generations.
90% of couples I see come to me because they have made the mistake of putting the children first. And when they receive bad advice from counsellors, relationship coaches, psychologists, who themselves are unaware of how healthy family dynamics work, they tend to learn nothing and unwitting repeat the same mistakes.
And this can happen with two otherwise kind, caring, and socially enlightened people like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. And the worst thing is, they will probably take this unhealthy dynamic into their next relationship - and their putting the children they have now first - if they literally do that - will put their next relationships in jeopardy - because it creates a block in the intimate man-woman relationship.
If you put anything as more important than the love of connection of your intimate relationship first you are not creating a solid foundation for your relationship, for your family, nor for your children.
In other words only by putting the love and connection of your relationship first can you create a healthy relationship and a healthy family dynamic which will ultimately benefit your children and everyone around you too.
If that thing you put anything else as more important than your relationship with your partner, then if that thing is in any way threatened or insecure - you will also be willing to exit the relationship to maintain it; and that puts the relationship in jeapardy - as that in no way creates a secure family dynamic.
That means if you put security, money, significance, a quality of life, or your children before your relationship - or the way you parent your children (as Brad and Angelina did) as more important than your relationship...then if that thing is threatened you will exit the relationship...
This is very reason Brad and Angelina cited in the press was the cause of their relationship breakdown - different parenting styles. If they were really clear about it, they wouldn't say different parenting styles were the cause of their break up, but putting their different parenting styles as more important than their relationship - was the real cause of their break up.
And ultimately if they continue to "put the children" in their next relationship, this will continue the n unstable, pain-causing, unhelpful dynamic which has split apart their family now.
Not surprisingly, putting the children first creates an unstable foundation for any Couple Relationship on. And the Couple Relationship - stable or unstable - is the Core of the Family.
If this resonates with you and you would like to change the mistakes of the past, and discover the how to create a loving relationship which will last, a relationship which is wise, strong, kind, creative and abundant, and growing for the rest of your lives, please contact us on 0800 024 8647 to begin your journey to creating your ~ Foundation of a more fulfilling relationship today.
When couples come to see me for London Couple Counselling or marriage guidance, very often, they have seen other relationship therapists before.
I run through a few questions to gauge their experience and how helpful or not it might have been.
I would like to share a rough checklist with you, because out of what I offer you if you work with me, you may want to make sure you are offered at least the same - or hopefully more, from any therapist you choose to work with.
1) Listening skills: Usually couples talk over one another, having something to say even before the other person has finished speaking. To really listen to another human being as a person in their own right is a special skill. I take you through experiential exercises allowing you to say what is truly in your heart and mind to your partner, and help you to be heard by your partner in a way which is open, undefended, positive, and real.
Learning this skill and experiencing this in your day to day life, can change the quality of your relationship.
2) Individual fulfillment, joy and purpose: To be happy as part of a couple you need to be fulfilled as an individual. We will look towards what makes you happy, what you want out of life, and the kind of relationship you would like to create.
3) Relationship Dynamics (this is deeper than understanding what went wrong - it's understanding what works for you as individuals and as a couple)
4) Male Female Polarity: Four and a half billion years of Evolution knows nothing of political correctness nor the changes of society within the past 60 or 70 years. In fact, these changes, such as the pill and new-found sexual freedoms, have thrown many people into confusion with regards to our deeper and our more basic drives, desires, passion and our human nature as men and women.
Understanding what men and women truly want, can be the key to having a harmonious and fruitful relationship, which fulfills all of our human needs, and allows us to contribute to each other, and in the fullest sense to the world.
5) Mindfulness: As a way of exploring reality and becoming clear of our illusions and presuppositions - certain questions can release us and open up our eyes to a life which taps into our presence, our love, generosity and creativity - and allows us to live much more deeply and fully.
As part of our daily practice we can then communicate much more directly, openly, and honestly - and come to feel much more connected with ourselves and our partner.
6) A process of aligning your values and goals as a couple; even though they are probably in a different order of importance! For some couples, this differentiation can literally be the difference between a life of contention or really working together as a team, and creating the life they want in the way they really want.
7) Always having a positive outcome - making sure you sort for positives - and making sure you agree a positive outcome for therapy as well as for your life!
8) Understanding you and your partner's communication styles: If you have ever wondered why your partner may not be hearing you as you intend, it may well be down to different communication styles. I help you build a bridge which you can permanently use to connect with each other, as well as honoring each others' individuality!
9) Understanding your vision for you and your partner's life as individuals and as a couple
10) Understanding the Six Universal Human Needs: According to Psychological Understanding these are (in no particular order): A) Contribution B) Significance C) Growth D) Variety/Fun E) Security/Certainty F) Love and Connection.
Understanding which needs are most important to you and your partner can open your eyes to the dynamics of your relationship and help you align with each others' most important needs to have a successful relationship.
11) Deep relationship patterns: These are the patterns of relationship, often influenced by our imprinting with our parents, and our experiences through life, which pertain to the relationship of those closest to us - namely our partner. Our social and other relationship patterns can be completely different.
If you have ever heard one person in a couple say about their partner "No one else treats me this way!" they are speaking of their deep relationship pattern. When we master this particular pattern and it becomes mutually gratifying we have a treasure and source of joy and support for life.
12) Sexual intimacy and connection: I support you in being able to fulfill this as an individual and really come together as a couple.
13) Your model of love. A mature model of love is one based on individual and mutual fulfillment and includes every one of the six human needs being supported and fulfilled. Through therapy you can move to a deeper understanding of a mutual model of love which enables you to have the relationship you both desire.
14) Loving-kindness. A way of being in your life. Towards yourself and others.
This list is far from comprehensive, but I hope when looking for couple counselling, marriage guidance, or relationship coaching, you can explore the therapist's own understanding and what they can offer you - and match these with your needs, the type of therapy you want, and the quality of relationship you want to achieve.
John Donlon, Couple Counselling, Marriage Guidance, Relationship Coaching in Harley Street, 0800 024 8647.
John offers relationship advice, solutions and share their thoughts on love, relationships, marriage and intimacy.