Several years ago I was in an abusive relationship. Though in later years I spent most of my time building up my strength to get out, the earlier years were spent trying to save it.
I had a friend who started attending relationship counseling and found it really had helped she and her partner through a difficult patch. Inspired, I sought advice from an online counselor and eventually booked us into a session.
I spoke to my then-partner about this and he was reluctant. He was the type of person who didn’t believe in depression, he didn’t believe in doctors, and he certainly didn’t believe in therapy. But I was desperate. I eventually convinced him to attend and we headed up to central London for our session, only for there to have been confusion over times with our counselor, who wasn’t there.
That was the end of my opportunity to get him to counseling. On reflection, the counseling actually was just for me, and all the help I received from therapists over the years led to me leaving that relationship because it was unhealthy. However, talking with a counselor about my relationship was so effective for me that I can see just how much it could help a couple that wants to make it work and is facing challenges due to living with endometriosis.
Endometriosis can, and does, put many couples under strain. When I worked for an endometriosis charity, we spent some time on a brilliant project focused on looking at how endometriosis impacts couples and what support is accessible for them. We found, which I’m sure many of you know and experience, that it can strain day-to-day activities, social lives, sex lives, finances, and potentially issues about starting or caring for a family.
Relationship counseling is an effective way of dealing with these issues and may help couples to manage the challenges that come with endometriosis. Relationship counseling is when a couple speaks with a trained counselor about the thoughts, feelings, and challenges they are facing in their relationship. The counselor will help them to work through these experiences, looking for solutions, and occasionally making suggestions or giving them “homework.”
Relationship counseling can help you make sense of both of your behavior and emotions while in a relationship. You may be able to discuss things in a calmer manner than you usually would at home, avoiding arguments and actually making progress and finding solutions. It also could help you understand your partner’s experience better, or help them to understand what you’re really going through every day with endometriosis.
For me, during that difficult time, Relate was my go-to support service. Relate is a U.K.-based charity that offers counseling to couples and singles. You can have counseling in person, over email, online, and on the phone.
Relate offers free online chats for 30 minutes with a trained counselor, and these were one of the helpful forms of support I received during that time, especially in moments of great distress. I also continued some of these conversations over email, free of charge, before taking the next step of booking a face-to-face session.
Because Relate is a charity, its staff also works with your budget, so sessions can be discounted if necessary to meet your needs. Relate also offers other forms of counseling, such as sex therapy, and it has an array of books written by experts in areas such as sex, marriage, working through arguments, and improving your relationship.
Endometriosis UK also has an extensive page on couples and relationships that discusses how counseling can affect couples and where to find support. It has a video that I know has helped many couples already.
Relationship counseling can seem a bit scary and awkward. I admit, I would find it hard to talk to someone about my sex life with my partner in the room, but it doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be helpful or necessary. If you’re curious, but you’re not sure you’re ready for that face-to-face contact, perhaps try some of the Relate books or others that are similar. Find organizations that offer online chats or phone counseling so that you can get a feel for it and maybe progress from there.
Sometimes having endometriosis makes it feel as if there are three people in a relationship. Hopefully, if relationship counseling is the right choice for you, it can help you make it feel more like two.
Note: Endometriosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Endometriosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to endometriosis.