our logo

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



Mind the Age Gap

Getting back into work after the summer break is always a varied and an interesting time. Some couples feel the break has been far too long and can’t wait to resume their weekly sessions. Other couples feel the summer break has been good for their relationship and decide to end their sessions. It is often a time to reflect and be curious as to what new clients may present at an initial session.

Interestingly a theme that has already presented is navigating couple relationships when there is a big age difference of over 15-25 years?

Traditionally these relationships have been the subject of many clichés – ‘It’s a mid-life crisis’, ‘toy boy’, ‘old enough to be your mother/father’, she’s only after his money’. Now due to more celebrity relationships being in the public eye age-gap relationships are more common and acceptable and not always regarded as negative and suspicious!

Before beginning a relationship with someone much younger or older it’s important to consider your motivations. Someone who dates an older person may be seeking a more parental figure than a romantic partner. They may be firmly established in a career and will be able to provide financial security.
Someone who dates a younger person may be seeking more fun and excitement in their lives plus the sexual connection is more energising and exciting.

Does Age Matter?

Research suggests that the success of a relationship depends on the extent to which partners share values, beliefs and goals, trust and support each other and if there is a strong physical and sexual attraction. These factors have little to do with age. It is acknowledged that as long as couples can communicate and work at their relationship, age should not pose a barrier.

Make sure your values, morals and life goals match up. That doesn’t mean they have to be the same but to understand where the other is on these issues and to be able to work on them together.

However what brings age-gap couples into therapy is often they are at a very different stage in their relationship where the age gap appears to be more significant and they are finding it very difficult to talk about how they feel and start to behave very differently with each other. This starts to make the relationship feel insecure.

Issues that present in age gap relationships and questions we should ask each other:

  • Do we share future goals, where and how we live?
  • Do we want a family?
  • Do we fit in with each other’s family and friends?
  • How does it feel to be the older and more mature of the couple?
  • How does if feel to be the younger and more of the caretaker?
  • Does it feel as if the relationship is equal and one partner doesn’t hold power over the other?

At the start of the relationship, the age gap can feel exciting and something couples don’t make a big deal of. It’s often after many years of being together that cracks can start to appear.

An older partner can slow down and have less energy for the younger partner. They may be happier spending more time at home than previously. The younger partner starts to feel resentful and can decide to lead a separate social life, not wanting to be a carer and no longer showing much interest in sex. This in turn triggers feelings of anxiety in the older partner who feels they may be rejected for a younger model. Alternatively, a younger partner may be wanting to start a family of their own, but now realises this is not what their older partner now wants since they already have a family from a previous relationship and don't want to start again with a young baby.

Having said all this, the age gap shouldn’t become the total focus of your relationship. Sometimes unnecessarily dwelling on this can turn things negative when they don’t need to be. Whenever there is conflict we tend to go to our vulnerable spots, which in this case may be the age difference, but that might not actually be the issue at all.

Taking time out to understand these feelings is vital to maintain a successful relationship. Each partner needs to understand themselves as well as understanding their partner and what they need to keep any relationship alive and growing.

Its good to remember:
“When you truly love someone, age doesn’t matter, whether it's
a difference of 2 years or 30 years,
Love is Love.”


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.



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.







click
©2018 Dawn Kaffel is powered by WebHealer
Website Cookies   Privacy Policy   Admin Login