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Couples Counselling Practice Counselling for Couples and Individuals with Dawn Kaffel
West Hampstead in North West London and Central London W1



Couples Emotional Attachment to Money

In a session recently a client disclosed to her husband that she was in a lot of debt but had been too afraid to share this with him. This came as a complete shock to him and he questioned what sort of marriage they had if his partner didn’t feel able to share this with him. Yet again this made me acutely aware of just how difficult it is for many couples to talk about money and their finances. It seems to be even harder than talking about sex.

Even when there is a lot of love and connection in a relationship, money issues are high on the list of subjects that couples argue about and cause conflict. This is probably why couples avoid the topic, particularly in the early stages of a relationship. Couple arguments about money tend to be more problematic and more likely to remain unresolved.

We come into our relationships with inherited attitudes, emotions and beliefs about money from our family backgrounds. We may not be fully aware of what we bring to our relationships about our own feelings about spending and saving, but it often gets acted out in our relationships. If we experienced parents who were careful with money, we often want to emulate that if it was a good experience. However if it wasn’t, we may want to do the opposite and be frivolous with money.

Understanding that we have an emotional relationship with money helps make sense of our feelings and behaviours around it. How we feel about money is often tied up with our need to feel secure, in control and independent.

Money can be challenging in a relationship when partners have contrasting relationships to money for example if one wants to spend and the other to save there is the potential for conflict. What happens if one wants to spend in a certain way and the other to save in a different way? Having polarised views can be challenging if not talked about and understood. Our individual emotional relationship with money often gets projected into our relationships. For example if we see ourselves in the role of a care giver and provider which makes us feel secure, how will this effect a partner who may not be used to being provided for and highly values their financial independence.

We don’t like to acknowledge that money can cause a power imbalance in our relationships. This is more likely to happen when there is a big difference in a couples salary and how money is spent and bills paid. Do you have separate bank accounts and/or joint accounts?

Money doesn’t have to be a wedge in your relationship. Learning how to talk to a partner about finances in a healthier more satisfying way is hugely beneficial for a growing relationship.

The key to dealing with this complex issue is to be open and honest with each other about how you feel about money, what money means to you, your attitude and values and where money fits into your relationship with each other. The need for clarity in how you plan to share finances, manage your spending and pay bills will enable you to have a better understanding and connection to one another’s perspective.


Useful questions to ask each other:

  • How important is money to you?
  • What messages did you get from your parents about money?
  • How do you feel about spending money?
  • What are your thoughts about saving money?
  • Do you identify with being a spender or saver?
  • Do you budget?
  • Are you worried about money?
  • Do you manage money well?
  • Have you ever been in debt or had gambling problems?


If you feel money is an on-going issue that is contributing to conflict and distancing in your relationship, you may find it useful to take time out to talk to a Coupleworks counsellor in a confidential safe setting.

If you would like to discuss things further or to make an appointment, you can call me on 07976 403741 or (020) 8959 9528. Alternatively you can contact me by email by clicking here.



Mistakes that Couples Make - 2018

A recent article in the Times entitled “You’re doing it wrong ! the 60 mistakes we all make” made me reflect on how often couples can make mistakes in the their relationships without even realizing the potential damage this can cause.

Here are some of the most common mistakes that couples repeatedly make that are avoidable:

1. We’ve known each other for so long, we don’t have to work on our relationship
Too many couples are falling victim to Complacency. Content with rushing through life and maintaining a certain life style, couples are oblivious to the reality that their most important relationship is missing out on the effort, attention and care it so desperately needs.

2. Work and children take up all of our time
It’s too easy to allow work and children to become the centre of your universe. It doesn’t hurt to reflect on the time when you were the centre of each other’s universe and how that’s been lost. How important it is to recognise that you both need to show more interest, concern and affection towards each other.

3. Trying to change the other person
Couples are often attracted to each other because of difference but after a while we can be tempted to try to change them to be the same as us. This often leads to a build up of on-going disappointment and resentments which contributes to emotional disconnection
Try to take a step back and remember why you fell in love in the first place.

4. Trying to control your partner
We are often driven crazy by our partner’s behaviours. Being told what to do and how to do it consistently can drive a wedge. Do not treat your partner like a child, who has to be told what to do you are a partner not a parent!

5. Criticising and complaining about your partner
Couples get into bad habits of often using always and never statements that criticize the whole person. When this happens we often feel distant and pull away. This in turn creates feelings of uncertainty and insecurity that triggers the complaining behaviour.

6. Not feeling listened to
Being able to communicate well with your partner is an essential component of a close loving relationship. By paying closer attention to how you talk to each other the tone of your voice, your body language is likely to make you feel that you are being heard, valued and understood. It is more likely to elicit more empathy and understanding from your partner rather than a defensive and negative response.

7. Not feeling understood
Its important to recognise that men and women communicate so differently and getting through to each other in a meaningful way is often a struggle. Women often feel misunderstood by their partner’s emotional disengagement and their offer of a solution. Men often feel overwhelmed with partners changing and often challenging emotional needs.

8. Bringing unresolved issues from our past
Often our past experiences in our families can get re-awakened and projected into our current relationships and its important to take responsibility for what belongs to us as individuals and what belongs to the partnership. This shared understanding can bring empathy and closeness.

9. Depending on each other for happiness
Being completely dependent on the other for your own happiness will only lead to disappointment. Its important to stay connected to who you really are and what you need for yourself to bring happiness both inside and outside your relationship

10. We never argue
Never arguing is often seen as a badge of honour for some couples. In fact couples that argue effectively are more likely to have a stronger more secure attachment than those who avoid arguments out of fear.
Couples who argue tend to be more passionate

11.Spontaneity is the only way to have sex
How difficult is it to bring spontaneity into any aspect of our busy lives let alone our sex lives.
It is argued that putting aside set times to enjoy sex takes away any excitement. However planning sex can help couples maintain their sexual connection and feel closer and intimate.

12. Coming to couples counselling is a last resort and will make our relationship worse
Couples often put off going to couples counselling because for some there is shame in having to ask for help and others believe the therapy process will end the relationship.
In reality counselling offers a safe non-judgmental space to understand and explore our relationships better, in the same way as we use a gym to help us improve our bodies.

Being more aware of these common relationship mistakes means you have a much better chance of happy healthy relationship.

If you would like to discuss things further or to make an appointment, you can call me on 07976 403741 or (020) 8959 9528. Alternatively you can contact me by email by clicking here.



Can Long Distance Relationships Work for Couples - 2018

Since the start of the new year it has been noticeable how many more clients are requesting counselling sessions via three-way Skype (the couple are in two different places) or trying to arrange face-to-face sessions weeks in advance for the few hours or days that they know they are going to be together.

There are many reasons why couples find themselves in long distance relationships and it appears that the geographical distance is often seen as the reason why these relationships can be so problematic.

It is often suggested that long distance relationships (LDR) are less happy and satisfying and bring more difficulties and problems than couples that are geographically close. In fact, recent studies show that those couples that have a strong emotional connection will function better with distance than those couples who are in a regular relationship and lack emotional connection. Only today I heard a couple describe their 30-year marriage as very lonely and emotionally disconnected despite having worked and lived together for so long.

What is it like for a couple to be in a long distance relationship?
Choosing to be in a long distance relationship can be tough and challenging and is often not a choice that is taken lightly. Long distance relationships can be short in duration or go on for years. In some cases it is not a choice but a necessity due to work commitments, job enhancement, opportunities, family commitments etc.
What is clear is that we can often find ourselves in long distance relationships without realizing the huge amount of patience and understanding being in one requires.

Here are some crucial points that clients bring to their counselling sessions that they have found useful to think about:
  • The need for a very solid base to a relationship when you are long distance. To feel you can be open, honest and trusting with each other is vital in order to be able to manage the difficulties that you will encounter.
  • Be prepared to work harder on your relationship than if you were together. Don’t take things for granted and show each other respect for the roles you find yourselves in.
  • Feel confident in sharing any insecurities or shaky times you may have with each other
  • Make sure you take time out to work out together the best way and times to communicate even if you are in different time zones. Make each other feel you are interested in what they are doing and care about them even when you are miles apart?
  • The importance of knowing when you will next see each other and to take time planning where that might be and what you will do.
  • Having a schedule for when you text, skype or call is essential. Checking that whichever mode of contact it is it works for both of you. It’s often easier to get caught up in text messages than take a risk and spend time talking on the phone.
  • The pressure of being together again and what are your expectations? Do you spend all your precious time together or do you use the time to catch up with friends? Do you have close family who also expect to see you? If there is often a lot of pressure to feel the time you have together has to be “perfect” this will bound to lead to massive disappointment.
  • Do you tend to put off talking about difficult things because you don’t want to end up rowing but then get resentful that you don’t feel that close?
  • When you finally meet up knowing you are going to be apart again, don’t waste precious time fretting about the impending good-bye as this will prevent you enjoying every precious moment you have with each other.
  • Always make time to check in with how you are both managing with the distance itself. At times it will feel manageable and at other times not. What’s important is you feel you can be honest with each other about how you feel otherwise this can build up into resentment.

So, yes, long distance relationships can be challenging but certainly with closer communication and shared understanding, couples can make it work

“Contrary to what the cynics say, distance is not for the fearful;
its for the bold.
It's for those who are willing to spend a lot of time alone in exchange
for a little time with the one they love.”

Dawn Kaffel


If you would like to discuss things further or to make an appointment, you can call me on 07976 403741 or (020) 8959 9528. Alternatively you can contact me by email by clicking here.



A Couples Check List for the New Year - 2018

We are already three weeks into 2018 and how many of us are still going strong with our new year resolutions to do more exercise, eat less sugar, have a dry January? How many of us have given up already and prioritised on refocusing on work? How many of us have resolved to improve our relationship this year?

Judging from the amount of enquiries that have been received from clients wanting to make appointments, its very clear that many couples are struggling to make the significant changes that they need in their relationships to ensure that 2018 brings them more contentment, excitement and connection.

Relationship patterns are hard to break, but if you start to think more and use some of these strategies there is a strong chance your relationship can really improve this year:

Here are some things to think about:

  • It’s the small everyday things that can make the biggest difference: how we greet each other, show kindness, respect and appreciation. What tone of voice and words do we use with each other.
  • Can you let go of past hurts and focus on sharing your goals for 2018 to help each other achieve what you want.
  • If you really want to make your relationship better, you both have to focus on making time to put energy and commitment into overcoming your problems to make your relationship the best it can possibly be. It won’t happen without this.
  • How well do you know yourself and what you are looking for in your relationship? What do you bring to the couple? Is it what your partner needs?

    How often do we check this out?

  • The importance of feeling you come first for your partner.
  • Do you feel supported by each other? Couples who feel they have each other’s backs and see each other as team-mates are usually more positively emotionally connected and see a future as an exciting time for growth.
  • Are you still curious about your partner or do you think you know and understand everything about them and how they work?
  • Recognising we have different needs and drives in our relationships that change over time. When was the last time you checked this out?
  • Focus on your partner’s strengths rather than their weakness. Start by complimenting more and criticising each other less
  • Taking responsibility for what each of you are bringing to the relationship and is that what you want?
  • How good are you at making compromises that will help strengthen your bond?
  • Recognising that we all make mistakes and the need to rebuild our trust in each other. Can we forgive?
  • The importance of keeping your sexual energy alive and growing
  • Take responsibility for your own behaviour in the relationship and how it makes your partner feel.
  • Instead of closing down and turning away from your partner, turn towards your partner to share how you feel.

    Of course the New Year will bring challenges – that is part and parcel of being in a relationship. With a shared desire to put more effort into spending time focusing on what you both need and what needs to change, you are on your way to a more loving and fulfilling relationship for 2018.
    Dawn Kaffel


    If you would like to discuss things further or to make an appointment, you can call me on 07976 403741 or (020) 8959 9528. Alternatively you can contact me by email by clicking here.



Stress and the Couple

Two news items caught my attention this week: how stress impacts relationships and whether there is a stress gender divide.

1. The first is new research released for National Stress Awareness Day on 1 November 2017 shows that many more women than men are feeling stressed and anxious.

Data showed that:

  • more than half of women (54%) experiencing stress or anxiety are struggling to sleep – while less than 4 in 10 men do (39%)
  • More than half eat junk food due to stress compared to a third of men
  • Nearly half (45%) have taken out their stress on partners or family – in contrast to less than a third of men (31%)
  • Almost a third (29%) have had panic attacks due to stress compared to less than one in in five of men (31%)

Do women juggle with more caring and parenting responsibilities which need to be juggled with their careers?

2. The second is the BBC 2 programme Trust me I’m a Doctor Mental Health Special who were testing out some of the claims that can help to reduce stress, only some of which are supported by scientific evidence.

Working with couples it is becoming more evident how big a part stress can play between partners and how difficult it is to stay connected amid the difficulties. When conflicts arise it’s much easier to blame our partners – 'How could you have done that?' 'Why didn’t you empty the dishwasher?' 'You never ask me about my day.'

These are all everyday examples of annoyances, disappointments and criticisms that can easily lead to the blame game with our partners. It seems simpler to focus on these negative interactions than to consider how much stress may be a major contribution. Do we even realise how much stress can be the cause of our relationship distress?

Many couples continually juggle with busy work schedules and parenthood and run a hectic lifestyle. This can be difficult enough. Throw into the mix lack of sleep, financial worries, illness and family issues – its not difficult to appreciate stress’s constant presence in our lives.

How does stress affect a relationship?
When a stressed partner does not get the support they need from their partners, this often leads to feeling isolated and ignored in the relationship and the tendency is to withdraw or fight. If we confront our partner for not supporting us, they often feel misunderstood – not even realising their own behaviours.

Even if we aren’t stressed ourselves, we are often not very responsive or miss the opportunity to provide comfort and help to our partners. We often don’t want to admit to ourselves that everything and everyone is making you irritable.

If both partners are overwhelmed with stress at the same time, which often happens, the situation worsens. We use each other to vent and take it out on our partners by picking fights over little things and being overtly critical. This often becomes a competition for who is not cared about the most.

How to stay connected under stress
Some partners chose to keep stress to themselves in order to protect a partner. Other partners chose to off-load at every opportunity making it difficult to find any relief. Neither way is ideal. Use this situation as an ideal opportunity to connect with your partner and really try to understand what they need in the way of support from you right know and how to give it. It may be as simple as practical hands-on assistance or it may include more physical comfort and emotional reassurance.

Learn to be more aware of just how much stress your partner may be experiencing. Don’t just look at the negative behaviour but try and understand together what might be going on below the surface.

At times we presume our partners should know when we are stressed and get reactive when they don’t respond in the way we want them to. Perhaps the answer to this is to ask for help when it is needed in a way that will get the response you need from your partner.

Take time out to support your partner's stress head on. Sitting down together, taking time out to listen, to offer comfort and understanding rather than focusing on yourself, these are not only key factors in managing stress but show our partners in those important moments that we are truly there for them side by side no matter what.

Stress doesn’t need to threaten our connection to our partners, it can bring us closer together when our stress hormones activate our brain's systems. Instead we can respond with compassion, love and cooperation.

If you would like to discuss things further or to make an appointment, you can call me on 07976 403741 or (020) 8959 9528. Alternatively you can contact me by email by clicking here.



Blog Archive


Navigating Change
in a Couple when the
Children Leave Home

Please click on the image
below to read the blog.


Blogs. Jun 18: PDF: Coping with Children Leaving Home



The Importance
of Father's Day

Please click on the image
below to read the blog.

Blogs. May 18: Blog Archive PDF: The Importance of Father's Day 2017



Why don't couples
come to counselling?

Please click on the image
below to read the blog.

Blogs. Mar 18: Blog PDF: Why Don't Couples Come to Counselling



Couple Therapy can help
with mental health issues

Please click on the image
below to read the blog.

Blogs. Blog PDF: Couple Therapy can help with Mental Health Issues



Building and
Repairing Trust.

Please click on the image
below to read the blog.

Blogs. Sep 17: Blog Archive: Building & Repairing Trust



What Happens to couples
when the children leave home?

Please click on the image
below to read the blog.

Blogs. Jun 17: Blog Archive PDF: What happens to couples when the children leave home?



Is giving up on marriage
easier than working on it?

Please click on the image
below to read the blog.

Blogs. Nov 17: Blog: Is it easier to give up on marriage?



Difficulties with commitment
in your relationship?

Please click on the image
below to read the blog.

Blogs. Nov 17:Blog:Difficulties with Commitment


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