Relationships are not always as easy to maintain as we would like. They can be full of conflict, pain and confusion.
Relationships also come in many forms: friendships, those with work colleagues, familial and of course, those with our romantic partners. Pressures on couples can be many and varied; these may include work, finances and the pressures of being part of a blended family. This latter is part of the progression in society, with parents taking on children from their partner’s previous relationship(s) and children emotionally negotiating having step parents; sometimes two homes can present challenges for children and their parents.
In blended families, the step parent can often find themselves on the outside; perhaps not knowing what is expected, wanted or desired in terms of parenting a child/children of their new partners. Often couples want to blend children from both their previous relationships, yet may feel defensive if their new partner attempts to discipline their child or children. Thus conflict between the couple arises with neither feeling sure of what to do, what their new role requires, what their partner wants or what is best for the children.
A child in a blended family can feel confused, may display behaviour that is out of character or difficult to negotiate. This can arise due the having a new parental figure in their lives, new step brothers or sisters, plus newly acquired extended family. The child/children may experience their own conflict in divided loyalties to their biological parent who may only have access rather than custody. All the aforementioned can place stress on families; counselling, either couples counselling or family counselling, can help with these complex feelings and behaviours.
Counselling provides the space for those involved in the relationship(s) to discuss their feelings openly and begin a process of listening in order to gain an understanding of how they can better interactive with one another. Sometimes an individual within a relationship or family group can feel unheard and hopefully counselling can provide a place in which this person feels enabled to vocalise feelings and explain behaviours.
Counselling can be a emotionally challenging process, but the rewards can be worth it. Opening up in a safe and non-judgemental environment, often facilitates greater understanding for the couples/family group of how each feels. In this way, communication can become healthier and conflicts resolved.