Individual & Relationship Counselling. Wimbledon - Kingston Upon Thames - Putney - Surbiton


What’s Your Relationship Dance?

The couple sit down and as she starts to talk, her husband looks away. He seems more interested in the books on my shelf. The more emotional and pleading she gets, the more withdrawn and shut down he gets. He says he wants the relationship to improve but he can’t handle her critical complaining. Why is it that this young man, who professes love, seems to withdraw emotional just at the moment his partner so deeply needs his love and reassurance? She looks back at me hurt and angry whilst he remains unmoved, withdrawn and determinedly casting his eye away from his distressed partner. What’s happening?

What we know, through years of research, is that we develop an internal model of operating within our relationships. This develops from the moment we are born. The amazing thing is that this template can be found across all cultures and nationalities. This template is your attachment style and there are three styles of operating. The ratio between these styles is also universal. Our attachment style is our relationship operating system. Depending on our template we all will operate in a similar style. When there is emotional anxiety we either withdraw, step forward or keep our emotional equilibrium. Once we understand this we start to make sense of how we operate within our relationships.

Attachment is my first love. Once we get a grasp of how this operates suddenly we are no longer polarised we are able to reduce the tension and start to feel connected. We suddenly are able to shape our relationships and are no longer captive to our internal emotional drive. Having a good relationship is the difference between thriving and just surviving! If your relationship sometimes feels like my couple’s then perhaps it would be a good time to think about your operating system. Discovering our unique attachment style can be a game changer.

Pam Custers is an experienced relationship therapist in Private practice in Wimbledon.
Working with individuals, couples and families
Specialising in Relationships and marriage counselling.

Family Loyalty

Family loyalty is such a complex thing. Blood is thicker than water. Our family of origin is where we learn the many unwritten rules of how we relate. We can often hit a snag when we form our own families and new rules and loyalties need to be forged. Many years ago I met a women who felt her marriage was in tatters. It became clear that she had never been accepted by her mother in law and to compound matters her husband, in her eyes, never supported her. She was distraught. She had been married close on thirty years and this feeling of not having her husband’s loyalty had coloured her marriage.

Making the emotional transition from family of origin to our partners is a difficult step. When we are able to shift our primary relationship to our partner our ability to make joint decisions that are in the best interest of the new family become less fraught. It is heartening to see how a gentle shift and a release from the guilt of divided loyalties can reduce conflict so rapidly.

I still think of those thirty years that that woman lived in what felt like emotional purgatory and how sad that she left it so long. The emotional transition may not be easy as loyalties run deep. Our respective families of origin are the foundations on top of which we build our own family with its own rules and dynamics. The interesting thing is that in getting our priorities right we do not take anything away from any of the important relationships. They all just seem to fall into place.

Pam Custers

Relationship Therapist

Perfect Parenting

There is no such thing as the perfect parent. There I said it! Many of us strive for that goal which in its self is not a bad thing but not if it makes us feel like a failure. Children don’t need a super parent, nor the perfect version of you just you with all the imperfections. We can easily get trapped into thinking we have to be perfect at all times. We all have good and bad moments but the key is to know how do we get ourselves back on track when things go awry. There are a range of ways to get things back on track.
Key to good parenting is to model behaviour that we wish our children to have. If you don’t agree, brainstorm with your child different options to tackle the conundrum. Relax about saying the right or wrong thing, make an educated guess and if your little one has more info on the subject be happy about being enlightened. Make mistakes “Oops I interrupted you, sorry” Play with your children, relaxing and just allowing some free play will connect you with your child.
Be kind to yourself; you are learning as much as your children. Parenting is a moving feast if one set of parenting tips doesn’t work that’s ok try something else. If parenting is overwhelming you that’s ok, seeking help is not a sign of failure indeed it shows that you want to have a flourishing family.