The idea that prevention is better than cure is a broadly accepted adage when it comes to our health, but few of us are aware that the same can be said for our relationships.
Going for check-ups with a relationship educator or counsellor can help couples maintain healthy and strong relationships, which are vital for individual and family wellbeing.
Now is a great time for a check-up. All couples across the country in a committed relationship can receive a $200 discount off the cost of relationship education and counselling through the Australian Government’s Stronger Relationship trial.
According to acting head of education at LifeWorks relationship counselling and education service, Tita Cook, visits to a relationship educator or counsellor should be viewed as essential as regular visits to a dentist.
Cook says strong relationships rely on effective communication, respect and understanding; and neglect of these elements in a relationship can cause serious long term damage, like teeth left to decay.
“If people come to me when they just have a niggle, then their relationship may just need some tweaking,” Ms Cook says.
“But if you come to me when you have a relationship that feels more like an abscess we may need to work with a very painful part of your relationship. I may be able to help, but you will have already suffered a lot of agony and damage.”
Moving in together, getting married, buying a house, having a first or subsequent child are particularly good times for relationship check-ups.
Andrew Rush, a relationships counsellor and manager of family services at Drummond Street Services, says counselling can help couples navigate through transitional life events such as these.
Through counselling, he says, “couples are able to both support each other and clearly communicate to each other and feel they are being heard by each other as to what they want to see happen with this most significant change.”
“Couples may not always agree, but your partner should know what you want, who you are, how you are and what matters to you. Talking through these matters is a process that builds trust and deepens your relationship.”
Questions such as these are important to be answered at any stage of your relationship.
With a $200 subsidy currently available through the Stronger Relationships trial, it is a good time to experience the benefits of relationship education or counselling.
Details about how to register for the trial can be found at www.dss.gov.au/strongerrelationships.
Couples who register will be able to access a range of education and counselling services at an approved provider of their choice.
All couples in a committed relationship can take up this opportunity. They don’t have to be newly-weds, they don’t have to intend to marry, they don’t have to have children, and they don’t have to be living together. But they do have to be Australian citizens or permanent residents and aged 18 years or older.
The Stronger Relationships trial runs for 12 months from 1 July 2014.