Gift wrap a Re­la­tion­ship MOT

HOLLY CARTER, who works in Ex­eter as a re­la­tion­ship ther­a­pist, of­fers a very al­ter­na­tive idea for a Christ­mas gift

Devon Life - - An Alternative Gift -

Iam propos­ing a dif­fer­ent sort of present this Christ­mas. How about gift­ing your loved ones with an ex­pe­ri­ence which will nour­ish and en­rich their per­sonal life? A re­la­tion­ship MOT – two ses­sions with a re­la­tion­ship coun­sel­lor.

You might want some pretty gift wrap, how­ever, since the in­ten­tion is not to sug­gest that our loved ones’ re­la­tion­ship is man­i­festly in need of ur­gent help! Rather, it is an in­vi­ta­tion to a cou­ple to give them­selves some at­ten­tion, pass­ing on the mes­sage that re­la­tion­ships mat­ter, and need to be looked af­ter.

What might hap­pen at such an MOT? Con­ver­sa­tions. The con­ver­sa­tions that maybe we have just for­got­ten to have, or never got around to, or felt shy about rais­ing. A cou­ple who have been to­gether for decades, with adult chil­dren, may find it hugely re­as­sur­ing to dis­cuss how they will nav­i­gate the de­par­ture of their chil­dren from the fam­ily home, or the ap­proach of a re­tire­ment, or the sale of a beloved house.

A dif­fer­ent cou­ple may re­ally need to talk about al­low­ing their lives to take a rad­i­cal change of di­rec­tion – a new ca­reer or work­ing abroad maybe. A cou­ple with young chil­dren…well, they will al­ways have a lot to dis­cuss!

There are many myths that are held about coun­selling and ther­apy: an in­dul­gence; navel gaz­ing; sit­ting with some­one who will just agree with you, etc etc. In re­sponse, I can only state that that has not been my ex­pe­ri­ence.

For a start, there is of­ten a huge amount of laugh­ter to be heard from the cou­ple coun­sel­lors’ rooms. Of course there is. Re­la­tion­ships are funny, and should be, in part, about fun. Our part­ners’ quirks, which were so en­dear­ing when first en­coun­tered, can be­come the foun­da­tions of re­peated an­noy­ances – but it can be pos­si­ble to re­con­nect with the quirk­i­ness, or at least recog­nise what it rep­re­sented.

What could one hope to have achieved, af­ter two gifted ses­sions? I would ex­pect a cou­ple to feel re­freshed. To have started lis­ten­ing to each other again. To have heard a lit­tle more about how they are val­ued and ap­pre­ci­ated by the other, and to have re­minded them­selves how im­por­tant it is to com­mu­ni­cate that to some­one we love. For some cou­ples, one or two ses­sions may just shake things up a lit­tle, for oth­ers it may bring about some fairly sig­nif­i­cant changes.

It will cer­tainly be an orig­i­nal gift – and not one with the re­ceipt tact­fully at­tached! Holly Carter has an MA in Re­la­tion­ship Ther­apy. She can be con­tacted through ex­eterther­apy.com

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