Interview with Wendy Capewell – Author of “From Surviving to Thriving in a Romantic Relationship”
Q. Congratulations on your book Wendy. Can you give us a summary of what it’s all about?
A. Relationships go through all kinds of stages. It starts with the romantic, or honeymoon stage, where love seems so effortless, and people don’t see or overlook the other’s less endearing habits. When people are asked why attracts them to the person they fell in love with, they often respond with the physical attraction, and then say they like the same activities, but as we know these things change in time, so I believe its good to look beyond those – at core beliefs and values, as they are more likely to hold a relationship together and sustain it through the tough times. As a relationship moves forward life events can affect a relationship, such as moving in together, getting married, a baby, blended families, affairs etc. as well as the emotional challenges couples may face, such as communication issues, or the need for time and space on their own. Each chapter of the book focusses on one of these area. The reader can then be prepared for those events and plan ahead, or understand what they can do if they are currently facing them. It also provides exercises & questionnaires that couples or individuals can take to help and support them. ( The Kindle Version has a link to download them)
Q. If I was struggling in a relationship how can the book help me today?
A. It a really easy book to dip in and out of, so readers can just look up the thing they are struggling with at the time, and find something that will help them. Or equally they can read the relevant chapter for something they may face in the future.
Q. We totally agree that all relationships are different. Can tell us more about this from your perspective?
A. I think too often people look around at their friends – or even media hype and compare themselves to others. This places a huge pressure on couples, because they feel their relationship isn’t measuring up. They see the grass as looking greener over the other side of the fence, and it looks more inviting. This leads to discontentment and can lead to affairs. As long as two people are both happy in their relationship, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. If it works for them that’s the most important thing.
Q. Our clients are all affected by affairs. Having them, suspecting them or are the cause of a relationship. Do you see clients who are experiencing the same and how do you help?
A. I often see clients where one or sometimes both have had affairs, and also those where affairs are suspected. I believe that affairs or cheating most times are a symptom and not the cause. I’m far more interested in what else is going on in the relationship for the affair to happen. Often the ‘innocent’ one feels they haven’t done anything wrong, but when we start to look deeper, looking deeper at the part they played, which is really tough, but perhaps they neglected their partner, or the relationship as a whole. Maybe they didn’t listen when their partner raised concerns. I encourage them each to see the others perspective. The one who has cheated usually wants to move forward and put it all behind them, whereas the one on the receiving end is devastated as their trust has been broken and its affected their self worth, lost as to the reason why they haven’t ‘been good enough’. I encourage them to listen to each other, and hear the other’s truth, without interrupting. When they are able to do that they can often learn more about each other and how to repair the relationship. Its obviously very hard to especially if the affair is still raw, and they aren’t in a place to do that. So it’s a case of taking things slowly.
Q. Sadly affairs will always happen but how they start, what they consist of and how they end is a fast changing landscape. What changes have you seen in this area?
A. Social media and technology play a huge part. Its made affairs far easier. Whereas before the internet flirting would still happen, it would take a lot more effort to turn it into something more. Maybe there was more time to weigh up the consequences of taking the next step. Now it just takes a few finger strokes to connect, and that seemingly innocent flirting turns into something more much more quickly. People get found out due to carelessness, they forget to erase messages. Or they use social media to connect, which is much easier to be discovered. Private messages can be found by partners, friends and neighbours share their concerns via social media. People blatantly disrespectfully chat to someone else right under the nose of their partner, getting caught up with the excitement of it, and totally ignoring their partner’s feelings.
Q. How do you view websites set up purely to connect attached people, encouraging affairs?
A. I guess if someone wants to cheat on their partner they will find a way. Everyone has to take responsibility for their actions. Alcohol and cigarettes are freely available, and everyone knows the dangers associated with them. It’s the same when someone takes those first steps towards cheating. They have to actively seek out the sites, instead of taking the adult view of talking things through with their partner. So I’m unsure whether it makes it easier or not.
Q. As counsellors who see the destruction affairs cause on a daily basis, is there more we can do to highlight the possible consequences?
A. I guess we can only highlight the consequences at every opportunity, whether in articles or discussions with people. Sometimes they listen, and we can only hope they will see the trail of devastation it causes to children, family, and even themselves. But often people just aren’t prepared to see that, until its too late and the damage has been done.
Q. Other than the temptations of affair websites, what are the other main reasons clients that you have seen are having affairs?
A. Often people have affairs because they feel they aren’t loved, or shown appreciation by their partner. As soon as someone outside does that, their heads are turned. I would say that is the main cause of affairs in my experience.
Q. What would you say are the 3 most important factors in a healthy relationship?
A. I believe there are three main ingredients which I call the 3 C’s.
Caring – demonstrating loving care and attention to each other in words and gestures every day. They don’t have to be grand gestures, but demonstrating that care in small regular ways, keeps the spark alive. Accepting the other as they are and loving them despite their foibles, as we also have them too. Cheering the other one on and supporting them in their achievements.
Commitment – being committed to the other person and making the relationship work, even through the tough and trying times, of which there are many in all relationships. Not giving up at the first problem, and recognising there will be times when they won’t particularly like each other, but knowing that they have each other’s backs. Its about accepting that relationships are about two imperfect people doing their best.
Communication – Listening to each other, giving each other their full attention, and then responding to what they say – instead of what you thought they said! Good communication is the cornerstone of all relationships. Its not just the transactional every day conversations of daily routine. But sharing thoughts, concerns, dreams and goals. Communication is also more than words, its about connecting with bodies too. Kissing, cuddling, stroking and sex are all ways of communicating with each other.
Q. Self-care for counsellors is imperative to our work – how do you relax?
A. I love the countryside, and am lucky enough to be surrounded by it. So walking in the peace and quiet of nature relaxes and grounds me. I also enjoy socialising with friends and family, as this re- energises me.
‘From Surviving to Thriving in a Romantic Relationship ‘. Available on Amazon as paperback and Kindle.
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This post was written by Yvonne