Mike Gray Couple Counselling for Kingston upon Thames and Surbiton

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Couples and Marriage Counsellor in Kingston upon Thames

Are you having problems in your relationship?

Maybe your relationship isn’t everything it used to be. If you try to talk to your partner about it, they get angry, or refuse to discuss it because they think you’re trying to blame them. Or perhaps they are always trying to tell you how you need to be different. Sometimes you aren’t sure if the problem is you or them. Whatever the discussion is about (money, relatives, sex, children, work…) somehow it isn’t possible to have a sensible conversation. Maybe you feel lonely in this relationship.

I specialise in relationship therapy. I can help get things back on track.

I particularly work with people who are having relationship difficulties such as:

  • difficulties with communications
  • arguments or conflict
  • an affair or infidelity
  • disagreements over parenting, over money, over in-laws...
  • disagreements over sex, or different levels of sexual desire
  • depression affecting the relationship
  • the "midlife crisis"
  • individuals having difficulties in forming successful relationships.

    Please contact me via the "Contact and FAQ" page if you have relationship problems like these.


  • Talking to a couples counsellor

    Sometimes a relationship problem becomes too hard to talk about. Perhaps when you try to discuss it, it blows up, or one partner simply refuses to have the conversation. This can be very frustrating. Talking to a couple counsellor, also known as relationship therapy or marriage guidance, can be a help in getting your conversation going again. It can be a relief to each be able to express your point of view safely. A relationship therapist will be non-judgemental and will not be trying to decide which of a couple is right, or who wins the argument. I often use the approach of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT for couples).

    If you are having problems, it is much better to address them sooner rather than later.

    I also often work with individuals on their relationship issues, like getting over a past relationship, or difficulties with confidence or assertiveness.

    See my "About" page for more about my approach.


    Couple counselling in Kingston upon Thames

    I offer relationship / marriage counselling at Kingston Natural Health, on Old London Road in Kingston upon Thames. It's a few yards from the landmark "leaning-over phone boxes", and a short walk from Kingston railway station and the bus station. Conveniently located also to offer relationship therapy for Surbiton, Thames Ditton, Teddington, Raynes Park, Wimbledon, and Richmond.


    Depression

    Depression can be the cause of relationship problems, and vice-versa relationship problems can also cause depression. Life can be difficult for the partner of a person suffering from depression. And equally, sometimes the partner can, through no fault of their own, do things that don't help with the depression. A major study suggested that couple counselling with both partners attending could be as effective in dealing with one partner's depression as CBT or antidepressant tablets. It can also be very helpful in combination with antidepressants. The NHS has now adopted a model of using couple counselling as one way to treat depression, because of its proven effectiveness.

    The symptoms of depression in men are often different from those of women. Men who are depressed often suffer more from irritability, a loss of interest in things they used to engage with, a lack of concentration, forgetting things. There can also be physical symptoms such as back pain, digestive problems, or difficulty sleeping. Obviously these symptoms can apply to women too, but because men often don't have the persistent sadness, crying, or emptiness that's usually associated with depression in women, it can be harder to recognise.


    Latest blog post

    Find something to agree with

    If your partner is “giving you a hard time” criticising you, see if you can find something, anything, in their point of view, that you can agree with.

    Most people do the opposite. If they don’t like what they are hearing, they’ll look for any little point they can correct. “It wasn’t a Tuesday, it was a Wednesday”. If it’s in writing, they’ll point out a typo or a spelling error. If they can’t deal with the point, then they’ll say “you’ve said this 100 times before”, or “you’ve never said this before”, or “there’s no need to shout”. Or “now is the wrong time to bring this up”. They look for any irrelevant reason to reject the message.

    My recommendation is, look for something in what they are saying that you can sincerely agree with. Not sarcastically. Ask for more information if you need it.

    How does this work? Suppose your partner says “whenever you get in from work, you just slump down and watch television”. You can tell from the tone that it’s intended as a criticism. The worst thing you can do is say “not every night”. Getting all defensive, contradicting over pointless details. Or saying “but you…” and counterattacking. Slightly less bad would be to explain: “I’ve just got in from a commute where I’m on the train for an hour and I don’t even get a seat” or whatever. That may be a good point, but it’s not good tactics.

    It might be better to agree. Say “yes, I guess I do” and see what comes next. If more information doesn’t follow, ask: “does that bother you?” It’s important that these enquiries are sincere. Find something you can agree with. If your partner says “it’s really annoying”, perhaps you could say “yes, I can see it could be disappointing”. Keep your sentences short and non-defensive. A similar approach might work if the criticism is "you always talk so much", or "you never say anything", or "you eat too fast", or "you eat too slow" ... start by acknowledging anything that you possibly can.

    Ideally, at some point, they will stop trying to prove to you how bad you are, and come up with an actual request for things to be different in the future, which you can then discuss.


    See more blog posts on my Blog page.


    To men

    Masculinity today is a puzzle: how are you supposed to be these days? Strong? Or emotional? How can you be "emotionally supportive" in a masculine way?

    Have you perhaps looked at men’s web sites, “red pill”, “MGTOW”, or “No More Mr Nice Guy”?

    As I am a man, I am aware of these issues. As a couples counsellor I can help you with them, without trying to push you into a feminine way of dealing with them. Men and women often tend to have different ways of dealing with emotions and relationships.


    Other sources of support for couples

    Many good books on marriage and relationship problems are available - I particularly recommend those published by RELATE on topics such as infidelity.

    Internet Forums - there are quite a number of free marriage guidance forums and discussion groups on the internet where visitors advise each other about their relationship problems such as affairs and arguments. I would recommend caution with these. Generally the people providing online advice are not trained marriage counsellors or therapists - they are other people having problems, so they often have quite a negative view, and urge people towards separation. Some forums advise almost everyone to divorce! Beware of this. Most relationship problems can be improved, if the partners want to. Most couples who think about divorce but don't, are glad later that they stayed together.

    If you have a problem, such as an addiction or a medical problem that requires specialised treatment, I may be able to advise you on what kind of therapist to look for, or give you a referral to a counsellor in the Kingston / Surbiton area.


    Please go to the "Contact and FAQ" page to get in touch with me

    Contact and FAQ page


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