What makes love last? Why does it fade? How do we decide if our partner is who we need them to be? Unconsciously, we regularly look to them for reassurance and wonder:
Success is not a solo pursuit - it's a team effort. You know this. You no doubt have some great support people amongst your family, friends, and colleagues. You no doubt employ a range of 'switched on' and trusted professionals - accountants, financial advisors, mechanics, baby sitters, doctors, cleaners, etc. The team approach not only smart, it's just good old fashioned common sense. There are only 24 hours in a day, and everybody has their strengths. Having a team means you are not alone on the road to success. You have access to the best resources to solve practical problems before they arise and provide a safety net if they do.
Yet, for some reason, when it comes to problems of a personal nature, most people hesitate to seek professional support because we think it means we are failing or weak. But the simple truth is, life can be incredibly complicated and quite challenging to say the least! Everybody struggles from time to time. Juggling relationships, children, work, friends, relatives, work, chores, and squeezing in some time for yourself or a little fun can seem like an impossible dream. No matter how well organised you are, every which way you turn there's yet another thing to sort out, or something or someone demanding your attention. New problems can be quite daunting or overwhelming, and old ones become a continual source of frustration.
Many of my clients find themselves in similar situations - frustrated, angry, and stressed. Some are becoming depressed, others developing anxiety. Most have difficulty concentrating and lack motivation. Chest pains, nausea, insomnia, low energy, ringing in the ears, and headaches are quite common. What is causing this epidemic? Work. Stress at work is literally making them sick.
Budget cuts mean less staff to the same job and meet the same deadlines. Requests for additional support staff are regularly denied, despite an acknowledgement that there simply aren't the resources to do the job efficiently or effectively. Workplaces have become reactive rather than proactive, with the minimum done and mistakes made regularly. Not because of incompetence, but because of burnout. With the economic downturn and reduced staff, employers are expecting more and more from less and less resources. People are expected to work longer hours and effectively be 'on call' and respond to emails outside of work hours (even non-urgent matters). The latest technology is both a blessing and a curse. As a result our brains never switch off, we start to be permanently in work mode. Even though employers have a legal duty of care, most people are afraid to challenge these expectations through fear of being the next in the unemployment line.
When it comes to relationships, think of having a ‘Love Bank’. When you first start dating, there's generally a vast amount and time and energy spent on your relationship. Consequently, there are lots and lots of deposits and the bank balance grows and grows to over-flowing. Unfortunately, as reality settles in – we have work, friends, family, children, community commitments, etc. and it just isn't sustainable to continue directing so much time or energy solely on each other. Often times, the little energy we have left, while well intentioned, can be misdirected. We think to ourselves “I’d really like that … so I’ll do that for them” and if your partner's needs are the same as yours, this will work well. However, if they aren't, those efforts will fall flat. You can find yourself trying harder and harder, to be more giving, caring, helpful, etc in an effort to get things back on track, but find that no matter how hard you try nothing changes. We begin to feel confused, frustrated, resentful and even hopeless.
DEBORAH FARRELL (MCounPsych)