couple in heart

6 brilliant relationship resources that are cheaper than counselling

And no, you don’t necessarily need to force your partner to engage with them too…

We’re all very aware that we’re supposed to take care of our physical health and mental health (whether we actually do it is, of course, another matter). But relationships? Quite often – especially if you’re consumed by work, kids and life in general – they just tick along in the background without much thought or focus… until trouble strikes. 

Rather than spending tons of time and money on counselling, how about doing the work on an ongoing basis? If you’re anything like us, as a teenager you probably took endless magazine quizzes about matters of the heart and while we’re not sure anyone’s grown-up relationship needs Dawson’s Creek-esque levels of analysis, giving it a bit of attention could be the romantic equivalent of looking after the pennies so that the pounds look after themselves.

We can’t guarantee these relationship resources will provide a lifetime of happiness, but they’re worth a spin… 

THE APP: Paired (download for iOS or Android – free, but there is a premium version too)

Paired’s tagline is “10 minutes a day to a better relationship” which basically means you can get a hell of a lot out of it while eating your lunch or sitting on the loo (hopefully not at the same time). It’s packed full of personalised expert advice and resources, based on your life stage and situation, along with – the best bit – quizzes that both you and your partner can answer (if you can persuade them to download it too…) on everything from your attitude to domestic chores to how much you like shagging. 

THE PODCAST: Where Should We Begin with Esther Perel 

A friend recommended this one a while back and it’s since become the soundtrack to many lockdown walks. Esther is a highly-regarded New York couples therapist who’s impressively managed to persuade dozens of couples to allow their sessions with her to be recorded, and it makes for fascinating, and often heartbreaking, listening. Issues like infidelity and sex droughts are, well, laid bare, and it feels like a privilege to get this access to Esther’s valuable wisdom. It’s also quite reassuring since you may well come out of it realising that your relationship niggles aren’t so bad compared to the many dramas and heartaches that Esther’s couples have been enduring.   

THE COURSE: Couples Talk Money Programme with Sara Jane Maxwell and Kim Crewe

If money is an issue in your relationship – whether it’s not having enough of it, or disagreeing on how you spend it – we’d really recommend Sara (a financial advisor and certified coach) and Kim’s (an accredited therapist and certified coach) series of workshops. Finances can be a huge source of relationship misery (hiding your latest ASOS purchases in the back of the cupboard might seem trivial, but it doesn’t inspire a lot of mutual trust, does it?), but Sara and Kim – two of our founding course creators – offer a safe space to discuss them as well as providing practical exercises to do between sessions.   

THE BOOK: The 5 Love Languages by Dr Gary Chapman

Since its original release in 1992, The 5 Love Languages has sold over 12 million copies. Yep, it’s a classic cheesy American self-help book, but there’s a lot of truth in it too – the premise is that we all have a “love language” based on what’s most important to us – “Quality Time” or “Physical Touch” for instance – and if it isn’t compatible with our partner’s, there may be misunderstandings and issues. In almost 30 years, the Love Languages concept has evolved into a whole brand, including podcasts, events and spin-off books, but we think the original book is a great starting point. And you can always just do the quiz online if you’re too embarrassed to commit to the whole book. 

THE EXPERT: Dr Gina Brown

Dr Gina is a clinical psychologist and couples therapist who’s recently started turning her wisdom into useful, practical and accessible Instagram nuggets. Her posts – for instance on attachment styles – are accessible but thought-provoking, and a good way to make your late night scrolling a bit more meaningful (heck, they might even inspire you to put the phone down and give your partner a cuddle…). 

THE SEXPERT: Ruth Ramsay 

… and what happens when that cuddle turns into something else? Or doesn’t, as the case may be? The fabulous Ruth Ramsay is Discoco’s sexpert in residence – aka one of our founding 50 course creators who happens to specialise in all things bonking. Yes, we still say bonking, that’s probably why we need to take one of her courses. Ruth runs lots of live workshops throughout the year, but her flagship course is the Passion8 Programme, an 8 week programme for couples which aims to bring more joy, fulfilment and pleasure to your sex life – and if that’s enough to make you hide behind the hood of your flannel dressing gown, don’t worry – you can attend anonymously! Her next programme kicks off soon, so put on your big girl pants and book in… before hopefully taking them off shortly afterwards. 

Check out our Love It section for more great relationship resources.

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