Secrets of a couples counsellor

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mr and mrs smith . Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's characters seek couples counselling in Mr and Mrs Smith

London -Couples counselling is booming — 110,000 pairs went for relationship counselling in Britain last year and Relate says 80 per cent of their clients report that their bond has been strengthened as a result.

What really goes on behind a couple counsellor’s door? Going to one can be an expensive process, so is there anything you can do before you get to this stage? A psychotherapist (not named to protect her clients) with more than 25 years’ couples counselling experience shares her insights:

* THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A ‘NORMAL’ MARRIAGE

I’ve seen relationships where one partner is gay, others where the pair never have sex and others where the partners have separate homes and take separate holidays. I saw one couple who took a year-long sabbatical from each other. These set-ups would be unacceptable to many, but if something works, then who’s to say it’s not “normal”?

* IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW MUCH SEX YOU’RE HAVING

Everyone thinks everyone else is having more sex than they are. Despite the myths we are bombarded with, there are plenty of couples I’ve seen who have sex once a fortnight, once a month or once every three or even six months. The important thing is that both partners are happy with their situation.

* YOU AREN’T THAT SHOCKING

There will always be another couple with more outrageous problems than yours. I saw one couple in their 40s where the wife discovered her husband dressed as a woman. She was ashamed and embarrassed, but in the end, they agreed that every Thursday she’d go out with friends and he could do his thing. It’s all about compromise.

* COMMUNICATE

One woman thought she was a great communicator because she “spoke her mind”. In fact, she was aggressive and insensitive. Her husband had an affair – it was the only way he could get through to her. In most cases of infidelity, the couple have deep-rooted communication problems. Try listening in a way that’s neither too passive nor aggressive.

* SAVING YOUR RELATIONSHIP

The key is whether you both want to save it. This is the single most important thing determining how successful counselling will be. – Daily Mail

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