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Has anybody done it?
Please tell me your experiences of it
I did it. Sort of okay but ultimately it was a bandaid for real deep problems that we didn't overcome. I think it can be a bit amateur. For example, my ex hated it because he said the counsellor liked me more. Of course that was part of his problem with me (always thinking other people liked me more) but I think a more skilled counsellor might have picked that sort of thing up and managed it to insight rather than leaving it as resentment. All in all, I don't think I'd go back to them.
I did it too, with H. In fact, we went twice, several years apart and it worked for a while but as nkf says, it didn't resolve things long term, not for us anyway. Emotionally it's pretty draining as you'd expect and the sessions can be very painful, depending on what's said or what comes out. If you're still living together, like we were, you then have to both leave the room and get back in the car to go home! It was often difficult to get things back on to an even keel afterwards because you're reeling inside from what's been said.
But on the upside, it does bring stuff to the surface. It can work. I know people who have transformed their marriage through Relate, so if you're at that stage, it's definitely worth having a go. Don't expect to be given a direction though - the work is really down to you as the counsellor will just try and steer you by asking pertinent questions.
Be aware that it can also get very booked up - I seem to remember having to be very flexible on times etc to get in.
I did Relate with my husband after his affair. We didn't find it that useful. He's now left us for his second affair partner.
I think a lot depends on the issues you need to work through (they explicitly said that they were not there to help us get over the affair, just to work through the issues that led up to it). Also the quality of the counsellor plays a big role.
I did it. With my ex. It was horrible and painful but ultimately helped me to leave him, so maybe a success for me. It was horrible and painful because he still didn't get what the problem was even with the counsellor so ended up feeling ganged up on I think, and no better off in the long run.
I guess I would consider it again if required.
My DP did it with her Ex. They went for one session. It began like this:
Relate counsellor: "well where shall we begin?"
My DP: "how about we start with his affair?" [Affair still ongoing at that point]
Ex: "I knew you would start with that"
After 20 minutes of this the counsellor said, "I'll put you two down for mediation for a divorce settlement".
It's been said often on these threads and I know from experience that Relate or any joint counselling does not work if you are in an abusive relationship. That is not a situation where it's 'both our faults' or 'six of one' etc...counselling in this situation might just make him more abusive.
However in my case 'doing Relate' really woke me up to the fact that my relationship was abusive. The sessions were gut-wrenching and he gave vent to his most despicable ideas about me. And there was I thinking that being in front of a counsellor in a neutral zone would calm him down! Not a chance. So if you think you may be in an abusive relationship, best thing for you would be to go to counselling on your own. I did that later, and slowly started to understand what had been happening to me.
If you are in a relationship where both sides want to repair whatever damage there is in a spirit love and respect - even if you have to dredge for it - then do go ahead. I am sure that there is hope for you and some Relate counsellors are very skilled. Unfortunately there wasn't much that ours could do. He certainly couldn't make me feel safe, but it helped me to realise finally that I could not be emotionally 'safe' ever with my STBXH. Lesson learned.
Best of luck.
I went with my ex. It probably helped the most by driving home to me just how dysfunctional the whole relationship was when my ex couldn't be bothered to show up.
I didn't like the counsellor, she seemed to side with XP, while I'm still certain that he was EA. I didn't feel she did much and both me and XP wondered what she was actually doing that justified the £30 or whatever per hour.
It did help me realise that I needed to leave though.
Ours was useful. We had nine sessions. He didnt admit his infidelities until after session 4, and then at home. I did feel that Relate steered fairly clear of that territory, although it was key for me, and even more so when not admitted.
However, it was also very clever, I thought. The (male) counsellor was clearly trying to support us to get to a place where h felt he could admit it. For example, he definitely managed to carefully challenge h on quite a number of his opinions, eg the sort of opinions which no doubt enabled h to feel justified about not admitting anything.
There was alot of 'she did this so I did that' stuff going on, and the counsellor was very helpful in pulling that apart.
I nearly fell over when h admitted so early and readily a fair heap of generally unreasonable behaviour, which he would have died before admitting at home.
The point there is that quite a ot of couples get into irresolvable arguments because of entrenched position, and at couples counselling, because there is a third and intelligent person in the room, it is much much harder to refuse to admit or accept the obvious.
So for me, it would have been helpful even if we had split up. Because couples counselling cant turn a total prick into someone who isnt, but it can shift someone who is selfish and defensive, if they are prepared to shift, and if they are bright enough to realise when they are seen through.
And if they dont shift with counselling, maybe they never would have, so that is useful to know.
Luckily my dp of 11 years has never been physically abusive. I found out last week that he had restarted an emotional affair he'd had 2 years ago. No further than texts and emails and in one of the texts he turned down meeting up so I am quite sure it wouldn't have gone further.
He says he loves me and can't live without us (said that last time too) it wasn't dealt with properly last time so we want to sort it this time and work out where we both went wrong for him to do this again!
"Where we both went wrong"?
I hope you don't feel at all responsible for him restarting this emotional affair. He's a big boy and has to take responsibility for his actions. If he is trying to make you out to have played some part in it, he is a complete loser. Sorry, but that's just the way I see it.
Oh I know it wasn't my fault that he went out and did that BUT things in general got in a rut and we both kind of just plodded along in a boring relationship - I have become emotionally distant from him and very untrusting since the last time he did it.
We've just had our third session at Relate, to be honest the jury's out for me. I think the counsellor is very competent, I just think that for us it might be too late. The emphasis seems to be on how to repair the relationship and for me it just doesn't feel repairable. I think the problem is that many people use Relate as a last resort rather than going proactively before things get bad.
I'm looking at Relate and similar options at the moment, so am watching this thread and marking my place in case there will be more people sharing their experiences. And thanks to everyone who already responded.
I also found it amateurish. I went with my ex (he was frigid and negative) and was told the problem was that I was scared of intimacy. Luckily I saw the light and left him.
New partner suggested I needed therapy and that time I saw a professional. Helped me see my ex was abusive and I was understandably wary around him. Dealt with those issues, let new bloke get close and lived happily ever after.
Thank god I trusted my instinct that the relate guy was an idiot. Friends have only ever had similar experiences. Quite worrying how many awful people are acting as experts.
Loved it. Sorry that we came to the end
Me and Dh were going through an awful 12 months. Dh went on his own for his initial consultation (we weren't thinking couples counselling at this point). He saw a man and he didn't like him much.
After 6 months, I told Dh that we needed to go together. Dh reluctantly agreed. We saw a woman. She was great. I really felt that she was totally supportive of both of us. Dh was pleasantly surprised as he assumed she would just 'tell him off'. Personally she opened my eyes to my own behaviours and brought out some painful memories from childhood I'd brushed aside.
All in all. Dh and I both got a huge amount out of it. Whilst we were going we were incredibly close. 6 months down the line, things are much better than they were (although day to day drudgery sets in again after a while). I find it a huge help to remember very emotional and livings things that Dh said during our sessions. We also find it easier to talk.
I'd recommend to anyone. Although I accept it may not be for everyone.
I know two couples who've found it helpful and are still together. But no abuse in either case.
It was one of the best things I've ever done. Went with ex who I'd been in long term relatinship with& just helped us communicate better.
Taught me loads as to why I am the way I am & so much stems from childhood & parents as to my way of thinking etc (all sounds obvious but really useful to hear stuff from a third person).
It can't do any harm I think but yes a lot depends on the counsellor. We broke up a couple of years later but it was still worth going & agree it's preferable if can be done before last resort stage.
Me and Ex went shortly after I left him. It was brilliant. She helped me realize that he was EA and that I had done the right thing leaving him. She encouraged him to continue his own therapy and recommended some books to each of us.
I would urge you to be open and honest. Sometimes people slate it, but then go on to say that they didn't talk about x, y & z. Therapists are not mindreaders so say what you have to.
It seems good that they want to sort out what led to the affair rather than the affair itself. Most people seem to think that the affair is the be all and the end all but if you really want to save the marriage then you both need to look at what had gone wrong in the marriage in the years leading up to it. Its not victim blaming at all, its realising that most people don't just have affairs for no reason.
We still go. It's very good. The counsellor is male, and actually quite tough on bs.
Does anyone have tips on how to prepare? We're at a stage where - more than anything else - we are feeling confused/lost. Not quite knowing why relationship doesn't work the way we would like it to.
I'm thinking that if the counsellor will have to untangle it all, it might take forever.... Are there any questions that you could go through (ask yourself) to make the most out of the sessions?
Here's what I found:
Why am I here?
Am I angry, unhappy, distressed, afraid....?
How do other people in my life impact the situation I'm in now?
How do I normally feel on a typical day of my life? Sad, frustrated, afraid, trapped....?
What changes do I want to make for the future?
Would this be a good start? What else would you think through prior to the appointment?
I found that it helped exH and I part with far less animosity than we may otherwise have done!
More seriously, we tracked the journey of our relationships and it taught us both a lot about what the crunch points were and what weaknesses needed to be addressed in the relationship. The counsellor was balanced but challenging. It was very uncomfortable at times but ultimately very worthwhile. It was very much our last ditch attempt to see if we could mend our marriage and we couldn't but we are on good terms now ( no DCs so I don't have to see him which may help )
On the other side of the coin my now DP went with his ex-W and their counsellor sounded like a loon. She cried when he said he had feelings for me and wanted to leave the marriage which I think just sounds insanely unprofessional. When they came to the end of the process and he did in fact decide to leave the counsellor said "well now you hold all the cards and you can take him for everything". I judge her for that.
His Ex-W continued to go for at least 2 years after that and I doubt she would have done this is she hadn't found it helpful, so maybe as an IC this woman was fine.
We've just had our initial session with Relate. We're now waiting for our weekly slot.
It's hellish expensive at £48 a time. But if it saves our marriage, or even just helps us to end it well, then it has to be worth it.
The first session was tough. I felt that we were both completely open, once we had relaxed (wrong phrase, but you know what I mean!). For the first few moments, I couldn't even speak, such was the weight of the situation.
But, I feel it helped us. It made us speak to each other. We haven't communicated like that for a long time. Since the session, last week, we haven't really spoken to each other since about it - or our issues, and things haven't got better. Possibly even worse. So we definitely need help.
I worry that we left it too late to seek help.
IMO the counsellor was very good. She was good at listening and then finding the right questions to delve deeper. I did feel she took my side, and felt a bit sorry for my H.
THe other comments in this thread give me hope that Relate could help us. If there are issues in our past that we need to address...
I came to the elationships threads to see if anyone had posted about whether, once your DH bores you to death, and annoys you, if there's any way to get the feelings back... maybe the answer is Relate. I think I'll chase up that appointment!
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