When does it get serious?

When you’re dating someone, it’s pretty obvious. You go out together, hang out at weekends, and probably do other stuff, too. But figuring out whether you’re just dating or in a serious relationship can be a grey area.

For some, you’re serious after three months of consistent dating; for others, it’s not until after you move in together. But it’s hard to know – unless you talk about it.

Relate researchers asked 6,000 people relationship questions, including what they think defines a ‘serious’ relationship. Half of all couples said ‘sharing problems’ is the top indicator that things are pretty serious.

That’s ranked even higher than ‘being exclusive’ (cited by 44%) or ‘getting married’ (cited by 39%).

Basically, conclude the researchers, if you don’t share your problems, you still have things to work on. In a great relationship you share the good and bad things in life and help each other through them.

If you’d like to talk with one of our counsellors about relationship issues, give us a call on 01234 356350.

New beginnings

People of a certain age don’t always readily admit to using Relate’s counselling services. Chat with younger people and there’s nothing odd about finding someone to talk with in confidence. Their mates do it; they do it.

So it was a bit surprising when a lady of more advanced years came up at a public event where we were promoting our services and thanked us for the counselling sessions that might have restored her relationship with her husband – but ended in her decision to divorce. We remember her comment: “Best thing I ever did.”

That encounter came to mind when we read this week about another woman who celebrated freedom from her ex by throwing a ‘divorce party’.

For many, when marriages come to an end, it can be a time of depression, hiding out under the covers, crying for weeks. But for others it’s a time to party, a day to celebrate a new chapter in life.

“When I walked in, I cried,” said the party host. “But they were happy tears. When my friends started to arrive, all of them dressed up for the event with gifts (yes, you get gifts when you get divorced!), I thought I was living in a fairytale. The crying stopped.”

Divorce, she later concluded, didn’t have to mean you’d failed.

Quite the opposite in fact.

Give us a call at Relate if you’d like to talk with a counsellor about divorce. We’re on 01234 356350.

Good communication better than pills?

In a week when we were told that talking therapies are just as effective as antidepressants, the comparative benefits of a new pill for low libido in women have also been brought into question.

Popularly described as Viagra for women, Flibanserin is taken daily and aims to treat low desire, but has potential side-effects such as dizziness, nausea, fatigue and insomnia. In a similar way to antidepressants, it can take weeks to have an effect.

One study showed that women who took Flibanserin had just 0.8 more satisfying sexual events per month on average than women on a placebo – who also found their sex lives had improved!

How To Decide Who To Spend Christmas With And Avoid Family Rows

As the Christmas lights go up and the heart-warming festive TV adverts appear, anyone who hasn’t confirmed how they are spending Christmas this year may be feeling under pressure to commit. New Picture (7)

Who to spend Christmas with sounds like such a simple question but it can actually be rather complicated and cause a lot of stress and tension within families and between the couple themselves. In fact, Relationships charities Relate Bedfordshire and Luton and Marriage Care say that this is something which often comes up in the counselling room. The charity has therefore released top tips on how to avoid rows about who to spend Christmas with. (more…)

Should you be worried if your teenage son is watching porn?

People have different responses to porn. Whether they think about it from a moral, ethical or even legal point of view, often no two people have the same opinion.

One of our Relate counsellors says that clients’ sexual issues frequently, to a greater or lesser extent, involve problems with attitudes towards using porn.

Some see it as a harmless pastime, while others feel degraded by the mere thought of it. For some, using porn gets out of control and has detrimental effects on them and those around them. (more…)

How much sex you need for a happy relationship?

According to a study in the journal  Social Psychological and Personality Science, the magic number is once a week.

The study used data on sexual frequency and happiness from more than 30,000 Americans who completed a social survey between 1989 and 2012.

It found that couples were happier if they had more sex, but that more than once a week didn’t increase their happiness.

The once-a-week rule held true regardless of age, gender or length of relationship.

The take-home message, says lead author Amy Muise, is that the pressure is off – the average person doesn’t benefit from having sex as often as possible. “Sex does not have limitless benefits for well-being,” she says. “Only too little is bad for you.”

This new study supports evidence from another in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization that found couples who were having sex about once a week – and were asked to double their amount of sex – enjoyed it less, and were slightly less happy than before.

Apparently, the average amount of sex American couples have is, indeed… once a week.

So that’s all good.

Family Consultants Work In The ‘Grey Area’

Our clinical supervisor Diane Whitmore is adding another string to her bow – this time training to take on the role of ‘family consultant’ to a local ‘pod’ of collaborative lawyers – so-called because they get clients to collaborate over settling issues such as divorce rather than going to court.

Using all the skills of a counsellor and more, Diane will be offering the lawyers’ clients guidance and support through the difficult family transitions brought about by divorce. (more…)

‘Don’t stay together for our sake’

Eight out of 10 children and young people with experience of parental separation or divorce would prefer their parents to split up if they are unhappy, rather than stay together.

So says a poll of young people aged 14-22 with experience of parental separation, carried out on behalf of family law organisation Resolution.

It reveals fresh insights from children about the levels of involvement and amount of information they would like during their parents’ divorce. The findings are released ahead of a Parliamentary launch of new advice for divorcing parents.

An overwhelming majority (82%) of young people surveyed said that, despite their feelings at the time, they felt it was ultimately better that their parents divorced rather than stay together unhappily. Asked what advice they would give divorcing parents, one young person said: ‘Don’t stay together for a child’s sake; better to divorce than stay together for another few years and divorce on bad terms.’ Another suggests: children ‘will certainly be very upset at the time but will often realise, later on, that it was for the best’.

Key findings show that children and young people want greater involvement in decision-making during the divorce process:… (more…)

New ways of doing Christmas

Whom to spend Christmas with torments so many of us year on year. A Relate survey shows that 90% of us would like to spend Christmas with immediate family. Only 54% think that including extended family members is a priority.

It gets more complicated when family members have different ideas about who these important ‘nearest and dearest’ actually are.

Deciding who to spend Christmas with can be a major source of tension in relationships, especially where families are trying to cover all angles. (more…)

How do you tell your grown up children you’re getting a divorce?

Our youngest son (18) recently left home to move to another city. Things haven’t been good between me and my husband for a while (i.e. five years or more), but having time to talk about things properly has made it clear neither of our hearts are really in this anymore and we’ve decided to separate and most likely divorce. I’m worried about how to tell our boys though. The older one is very perceptive and has probably seen this coming, but the younger is much more sensitive and I know he’d rather we stayed together as a ‘proper’ family. How do I talk to him about this?

That’s a familiar question in our counselling rooms. So we asked one of our counsellors to respond… (more…)