Mike Gray Couple Counsellingfor Kingston upon Thames and Surbiton

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Couples and Marriage Counsellor in Kingston upon Thames

Are you having problems in your relationship?

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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.

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

  • Coronavirus

    I am updating this page most days. You must stay at home unless you absolutely HAVE to travel.

    Self-isolating, not travelling, working from home or losing work, these can all put a lot of stress on a relationship. There is a lot of anxiety around, and it can be contagious, just like a virus. I urge you not to make any big, snap, decisions at this time. Keep a very gentle hand on the steering, don't make any big sudden moves.

    As the government’s response to coronavirus has been strengthened, I am seeing couples for counselling by webcam to avoid travel. The situation in the UK has changed rapidly, in the last few days. I have moved to online working, using the Zoom platform, which is the system I have experience in for counselling. I have a Zoom licence -- you do not have to have one.

    In order to do this, you need a quiet room where you will not be disturbed or overheard, with a laptop or computer with camera, browser and internet connection. Preferably wifi, not mobile. I do not recommend trying to do this on a phone. Whatever it is, it can't be hand held for 70 minutes. If you can set this up, we can make it work.

    You will need to arrange to be undisturbed. It won't work if you are having to worry all the time about what the children (or the dog) are getting up to while we talk.

    We should take this pandemic very seriously. I do not regard therapy, or support for couples having difficulties, as "non-essential". I think it is essential, at a time of anxiety.

    Self-isolating can be a bit like Christmas only worse: couples are confined together, and relationships can take a turn for the worse. There are stories of a spike in divorces in China post COVID. Obviously many people will have financial problems or the fear of them. I urge you to give each other support, consideration, and space. Now is not the time to try to change each other! Tolerate your partner's style of coping. We can discuss how this is working out for you.

    Please email me if you have questions or concerns regarding counselling at this time.

    Talking to a couples counsellor

    Talking to a couple counsellor, also known as relationship therapy or marriage guidance, can help to get your conversation going again. It can be a relief to each be able to express your point of view safely. Very often, one of the couple is more keen to do counselling than the other. This is normal. A relationship counsellor 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). I do not generally think of my clients in terms of having something wrong with them, but rather in terms of having got into a bad pattern of interaction.

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

    I also sometimes work with individuals on relationship issues.

    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.

    Latest blog post - Maybe it's not about you!

    Maybe it’s not about you

    When we look below the surface-level complaints about the dishwasher or whatever it is, I am trying to get to: “yes, and why is that so explosive when you try to talk to each other about it?”

    And the reason it’s explosive is because people are driven by deep emotions, longings, and fears. It’s important for their partner not to take those personally. It might not be about them.

    For example, many people get overwhelmed in arguments because they have a fear of abandonment. When there’s an argument, they may feel desperate because at some level, they fear this is the end, and so they over-react. Or, they may equally fear being dominated, made to comply, and again, they over-react. Or they may fear that they aren’t good enough to keep their partner. So I will need to talk to them in the counselling session about these fears. But it is important for their partner not to hear it as a criticism, and not to take it personally. It probably comes from somewhere else, from way back.

    So if one partner is talking about their fear of losing the relationship, for example, it’s important for their partner not to leap in with “but I’m not going to leave!”. That doesn’t help. It’s not even about you. It’s like as if you had a partner with a fear of spiders, or a fear of heights. You just need to accept that that’s how they are, and take it into account. It’s even worse if you act offended or indignant about their deepest fears, when you should be sympathising.

    This usually applies equally to both partners, by the way.

    You can find more short notes like this 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, or the book “No More Mr Nice Guy”?

    As I am a man, I am aware of these issues. I understand the problems that men face in relationships. 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 recommend caution with these. Generally the people providing online advice are not trained marriage counsellors - 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.

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

    Contact and FAQ page

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