By Emma Wynne
Amanda Lambros has been a relationship counsellor for 15 years and in that time has treated a wide range of couples, from young lovers to those who have been married for 40 years.
So what is the one issue most couples have in common — communication.
“They just say: ‘We are not talking anymore’,” Ms Lambros said.
“We are so overwhelmed with life and work and whatever that we are not focused on each other.
Two years in, the test begins
Ms Lambros, a lecturer at Curtin University, said it was usually less than two years into a relationship before couples began to settle into this type of routine and take each other for granted.
“When you first meet you obviously pulled out all the stops to make sure you stayed with that person.
“But once you are with that person, you think the hard part is over and you become complacent.
Unless people actively make an effort to continue to pay attention to one other, this was the point at which a relationship can start to falter.
Counselling — a last-ditch effort
Most people will spend years in a relationship that is not working before seeking help from a counsellor, Ms Lambros said.
“Usually I am the last-ditch effort to save the relationship.
Ms Lambros said she was clear with couples that she could not fix their relationships for them but could be a sounding board and offer suggestions.
Reflect on happier times
She said struggling couples should reflect on when they first met and think about what they used to do to make one another happy.
“Usually they can come up with a whole list without much help from me at all,” Ms Lambros said.
But even if a couple does not have happy early memories to draw on, Ms Lambros said the relationship could still be saved — if both people were committed to making it work.
Invest in your relationship
While most couples waited until they were on the brink of breaking up to seek out a counsellor, Ms Lambros suggested getting help earlier rather than later.
“Understand what the value of your relationship is for you,” she said.
This post originally appeared on ABC News.
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