Successful Marriages

The phrase ‘it takes two to tango’ can be applied to many aspects of our lives….from dancing to relationships!  Primary to successful relationships are when two people are fair, just and sensitive. Of course we can not be these at all times yet when we are not we are able to recompense by making amends, repairing the ruptures, making right of the wrong, if our marriage is to be successful. Stan Tatkin in his latest released book “We Do” offers practical skills for relationships whether the couple are just starting out on their adventures together or for those who wish to enhance their relationship after years of togetherness.

Committing fully to a loving relationship, which can be the most fulfilling experience we’ll ever have, can also be one of the most challenging.  When people come to me for relationship counselling most do not realise the opportunities for their own personal growth which lay in front of them. These opportunities, alongside the focus they are placing on their partner, are part and parcel of relationships as successful relationships demand that some of the hard questions that we tend to avoid need to be answered.

Some of these questions center around responsibility, honesty, compassion, curiosity, trust, respect, your ability to regulate your emotions as well as take care of your partners.  Sounds like a tough call? Well it is, but then these questions don’t happen all at once. They happen and develop as we engage and grow with our mate over time.

It is the willingness to engage with ourselves and our partner that either will make or break our relationship.  Couples who take the steps to come to  counselling are usually at a crisis point. It is their ability to repair, patience, willingness to understand, facing up to themselves and their beloved, along with their care for each other and commitment to stay with the process that gets them through  these tough times.

Developing Resources- a way to expand a stronger sense of ourselves

Developing resources – a way to expand a stronger sense of ourselves by Christine Urja Refalo. MA.Gest.Therapy.

I want to write. I have so much to say yet the task of writing is so challenging for me. The spoken word being so different from the written, as I discovered in the many essays I needed to produce during my studies.  It took me a while to understand the difference, and my patient partner and editor, endured many hours of correcting my work whilst also witnessing the whittling down of my resistance to the writing process, painfully yet lovingly.

I say ‘lovingly’ now, yet at the time we debated and argued, tolerating each other and the task at hand with such difficulty. The endless stream of words overwhelmed my sense of peace and tranquility.  Much of the time my brain felt swollen; inflamed with so much cogitating and processing. Coming across the term ‘Brain Gym’ now, brings with it an ache as I remember exercising in this way.

As I write now, I feel and literally see in my mind’s eye, my brain firing, synapsing and then pinging, when it has found the ‘what and how’ to express itself. My breathing in rhythm with its workings; becoming shallow and slow as it mulls over what to say, sometimes quickening when it is grappling to focus on the idea, and giving a long out breath when the ‘how’ is in place, and flowing through my fingers onto the screen in front of me.  This period of intense work, where I used my brain in new ways was difficult, yet rewarding, to the point where it gave me a ‘fit’ brain. I now know how to think and realise that there’s work involved, something for which I had such resistance, ‘till I challenged that part of me that I had long denied’.

Denial can take many forms. It can be that we are so fixed on the path we are taking, that we simply forget parts of ourselves, or we hide them and do a good cover up job as this keeps us in a more comfortable and secure place. We may eventually have to acknowledge our actions or inaction as we get stuck in life or feel like a change, a challenge. This could be at a time of crisis, whereas for me it was a conscious choice to further my education.

I recall a recent client, whose life had got ‘too much’ for her; the situation she found herself in had become unbearable. She became ‘burnt out’ in her demanding job, which she had once enjoyed immensely, and some of her personal and work relationships had become problematic. She was no longer able to cope emotionally, physically and mentally.  Now six months along the road she was ready to resurface into the world with a better balance between work and play; a place where she could also stop and care for herself.

As she was familiar with mindfulness and meditation, a valuable resource she had put aside over the last few years, we worked with this as a tool to access her process around fear, anger and sadness.  Working this way, she discovered that she was able to ‘be with’ her physical sensations and feelings rather than become overwhelmed with them as had happened in the recent past. She was able to observe the patterns and fluctuations of her internal experience, and through this process, broaden and expand her experience beyond the pervading emotions and intrusive thoughts.

One of the rewards I find from working with people is the recognition, acknowledgement and development of the myriad of resources available to them. These resources are usually not seen at crucial times in our lives, as it is at these times our logical brains are not functioning as well as normal. Along with the initial steps of building a good working relationship, are the development of resources and creation of emotional stability, where the client learns to calm, soothe and manage oneself.  Learning to do this helps us to enrich self-esteem, strengthen confidence and generate more positive feelings.



In a 75 yr Harvard Study found that good relationships keep us happier and healthier and its the quality of your close relationships that matters. The people who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80. Good, close relationships seem to buffer us from some of the slings and arrows of getting old. Happily partnered men and women, in their 80’s, report that on the days when they had more physical pain, their mood stayed just as happy. But the people who were in unhappy relationships, on the days when they reported more physical pain, it was magnified by more emotional pain.

Good relationships don’t just protect our bodies, they protect our brains. It turns out that being in a securely attached relationship to another person in your 80’s is protective, that the people who are in relationships where they really feel they can count on the other person in times of need, those people’s memories stay sharper longer. Whereas the people in relationships where they feel they really can’t count on the other one,those are the people who experience earlier memory decline. Those good relationships, don’t have to be smooth all the time. Some octogenarian couples could bicker with each other day in and day out, but as long as they felt that they could really count on the other when the going got tough,those arguments didn’t take a toll on their memories.

We learn how to make a living, play sport and do craft but we learn little on how to create satisfying and fulfilling relationships………………………