Nina Simone I Got Life

Songs for Sound Minds #26 – ‘I Got Life’ by Nina Simone


‘I ain’t got no home, ain’t got no shoes
Ain’t got no money, ain’t got no class
Ain’t got no skirts, ain’t got no sweater
Ain’t got no perfume, ain’t got no bed’

Why is it that we often focus on the negative side of things? Glass half empty, not half full. Counting our tribulations, not our blessings. Sometimes we seem stuck in a rut imagining all the things that might go wrong and all the things that we believe are ‘wrong’ with our life.

This melancholy outlook on life is exhibited perfectly in the opening lines of this Nina Simone classic. Focused on the negatives and downsides of life, she sounds like a women concentrating on the things to be upset, scared or worried about.

I got life… for now, says the caveman


One explanation for this behaviour offered by psychologists and sociologists is that it is a primitive instinct.

The caveman that was vigilant to danger was more likely to survive than his ever-optimistic friend. While the former considered rustling in the bushes a reason to be on guard, the latter headed towards them in wide-eyed anticipation. In that situation, expecting the worst – a sabre-tooth tiger perhaps – was a necessary element of survival.

Thankfully these days we only need to avoid overly-pushy double-glazing salespeople or high-street ‘chuggers’. But the mind-set remains for many of us.

In maintaining such an outlook on life, we risk falling into a life of constant pessimism and, potentially, isolation and depression. There is a reason Eeyore – from AA Milne’s much-loved Winnie the Pooh stories – was always alone.

Forget the bad things, I got life


Simone’s song takes a sudden positive turn however and we realise that it is not about darkness after all but rather it is about the opposite:

‘I got my arms, got my hands

Got my fingers, got my legs

Got my feet, got my toes

Got my liver, got my blood’

The song is encouraging us to acknowledge the simple things in life, to appreciate what we already have and to stop worrying about what we don’t have or might never have.

Nina Simone I Got Life

Nina Simone was a prominent activist in the US civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. She experienced first-hand the segregation and discrimination of the time. Despite her natural musicality and training as a classical pianist, she failed to gain entry to the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia due to the colour of her skin.

Simone’s personal experiences and that of African-Americans throughout history give added meaning to another of the song’s verses:

‘Ain’t got no mother, ain’t got no culture

Ain’t got no friends, ain’t got no schooling

Ain’t got no love, ain’t got no name

Ain’t got no ticket, ain’t got no token

Ain’t got no God’

But in spite of all of this, she still proclaims the virtues of maintaining that positive attitude to what life throws at you.

Celebrate life today


‘I Got Life’ is a real celebration.  There are always reasons to choose the positive side of life, no matter how bad things seem or how difficult the way ahead looks.

Nina Simone’s exuberant response to adversity brings to mind the words of poet Maya Angelou, another civil rights activist:

‘My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour, and some style.’


Songs For Sound Minds – music tracks written as an anthem to overcoming the storms of life. The songs that give hope in those times when we are struggling.

Find more Songs for Sound Minds or suggest a track on Twitter or Facebook using the hashtag #SongsForSoundMinds

confidential sign

We have reached the final part of our 4-part series looking at the most common counselling myths.

The Spark is busting the myths and misconceptions that can end up stopping people from considering counselling as a way to overcome the challenges and difficulties of life. By highlighting the truth about counselling we hope to offer a clearer picture of the ways counselling can help navigate the challenges of life.

Read on for part 4 of the series or catch up on part 1, part 2 and part 3.

Counselling myths no. 9: A counsellor will judge me or look down on me


There are many different types of counselling. There are also different types of counsellor, with unique approaches to therapy. But one thing unites them all: the desire to help others.

Individuals that become counsellors do not do so in order to look down on clients or to judge them. They do it to be able to provide assistance to those struggling with life or dealing with painful experiences.

In many cases, but not all, individuals decide to become counsellors because of experiences in their own lives. Influential psychoanalyst Carl Jung coined the phrase ‘wounded healer’ to explain this. Jung determined that a ‘healer’ (in this case a counsellor) is often compelled to do so because of their own difficult experiences in life.

Carl Jung
Psychoanalyst Carl Jung

Counselling myths no. 10: People will know I’m seeing a counsellor


Privacy is the cornerstone of counselling. Anything and everything you discuss with a counsellor is private and confidential.

A counsellor will never disclose information about you or your therapy sessions without your express permission.

There are some exceptions to this rule when there is a suspected risk to your own life or that of another person, which a counsellor will explain to you at your first appointment.

More detail on this is covered in The Spark’s privacy policy.


The truth about counselling

Heard a myth about counselling we haven’t covered? Send it to us on Twitter or Facebook and we will bust that one too!

Find out more about individual, couple, marriage or family counselling with The Spark or complete an informal enquiry form.

marriage counselling broken heart satchel paige

Chances are you will have heard or read the idiom “love like you’ve never been hurt before”. Similarly, the chances are you have no idea where it came from or who said it first.

This particular piece of simple but deeply profound advice did not come from any of the usual suspects like Confucius, Aristotle or Maya Angelou. It came from one Leroy Robert ‘Satchel’ Paige.

I’ve never heard of Satchel Paige…


Paige is considered by many as the best pitcher in the history of American baseball. Not only that, Paige holds a record unlikely to ever be beaten – the oldest player ever to have pitched in major league baseball history, which he did at the age of 59.

His advice is a nice sentiment. In practice, of course, it is too hard to actually follow through, right?

How can we live and love like the hurt and pain inflicted upon us in the past never existed? In the case of Satchel Paige, he did despite a life that was scarred by racism, segregation, abuse and poverty.

The life and hard times of Satchel Paige


Satchel Paige
Paige was African-American and grew up in the time of the USA’s Jim Crow segregation laws. One of 12 kids in a poor Alabama family, Paige started work aged 8 carrying luggage at the local train station (where he gained the nickname ‘Satchel’). Petty crime followed and 5 years in reform school. During that time he developed an incredible ability to throw a baseball with extreme speed and accuracy.

Because of the colour of his skin, Paige was only able to play in Negro leagues. These were formed by black players barred from playing in the major leagues. Unable to make enough money playing, Paige worked second and third jobs and toured the country in ‘showcase’ teams – a sort of Harlem Globetrotters for baseball.

Eventually, Paige’s showmanship and skill drew white fans to the games and in 1949, at the age of 41, Paige stepped up to the major leagues with the Cleveland Indians.

More hurt than we could imagine


Paige’s time in baseball – like all African-American players – was plagued by racist abuse, in some cases from fans of his own team. Rival teams would deliberately line up their best batters to try and embarrass him on the big stage. Throughout his subsequent 18 year career in the major leagues, Paige experienced hurt and pain most of us will, thankfully, never have to experience.

All of this makes his attitude to life all the more powerful and highlights the importance of forgiveness.

Overcoming hurt and finding reconciliation


In life, it is often the people we care about the most – spouses, our kids, close friends – that end up hurting us the most. Invariably the pain of whatever they have said or done overwhelms our ability to channel the love we still feel for them into an attempt at forgiveness and reconciliation.

marriage counselling broken heart satchel paige

Many individuals, couples and families come to The Spark for counselling because of the difficulties of repairing relationships and finding reconciliation.  Often, to use another popular idiom, they tell us they have been fighting for so long, it is impossible to remember what started it. The hurt is left to fester and builds, creating more unhappiness in our own lives and diminishing the chances of rebuilding those broken relationships.

Be more like Satchel Paige


Our advice is simple: be more like Satchel Paige. Pick up the phone to that friend that you fell out with. Send a card to that family member who hurt you. Or if these feel like big steps you are not ready to take just yet, consider speaking to a counsellor about the hurt you have experienced.

We might not all be able to enjoy a life and career as long as Satchel Paige’s was, but we can certainly try and replicate his outlook on life.

myths about counselling

Welcome to part 3 of our 4-part look at the most common myths about counselling.

At The Spark have been looking at the misconceptions that can end up discouraging people from considering counselling. We are busting the myths and highlighting the truth about how counselling can help navigate the challenges of life.

Read on for part 3 of the series or catch up on part 1 and part 2.

Myths about counselling no. 7: Counselling is only for really serious problems


Many individuals with really challenging issues like addiction or self-harm can benefit from counselling. This does not mean however that there is some sort of minimum criteria for counselling.

The vast majority of The Spark’s clients are dealing with issues and challenges that we all face from time-to-time. Relationship difficulties, stress, depression, parenthood and bereavement are just a few examples.

Couple counselling couple back together myths about counselling

Increasingly individuals and couples are viewing counselling – as we at The Spark do – as a normal part of managing the ups and downs of life. Often they will undertake a block of counselling sessions to deal with a new issue or life challenge as therapy is about developing strategies to deal with everyday issues.

Counselling is non-discriminatory in every sense of the phrase. There is no issue too small to be of concern and if it is of concern to you, a counsellor will be happy to help you with it.

Myths about counselling no. 8: Counsellors have it ‘all sorted’


Though it may come as a surprise, counsellors are human beings like you and me. They face the same challenges in life that we do and will go through the same emotions when it comes to loss, bereavement or relationship breakdown.

myths about counselling

Through their extensive training counsellors develop a skill called self-awareness, which allows them to leave any of their own ‘baggage’ at the door of the counselling room. Once a therapy session starts, the time is devoted to you and the challenges you are facing.

Counsellors also undertake something called supervision. This is where they use the services of a clinical supervisor to review their own work, how they are progressing professionally and also to deal with any issues in their own personal life.

This combined with self-awareness allows professional counsellors to be completely focused on each client during a therapy session.


Myths about counselling

Look out for part 4 coming up soon by following The Spark on Twitter or Facebook.

Catch up with part 1 and part 2 of our ‘Myths about counselling’ series.

Find out more about individual, couple, marriage or family counselling with The Spark or complete an informal enquiry form.

Heard a myth about counselling we haven’t covered? Send it to us on Twitter or Facebook and we will bust that one too!

myths about counselling

We are continuing to look at the most common myths about counselling in part 2 of our series.

These are the misconceptions that often discourage or prevent people from considering counselling. At The Spark, we are busting the myths to highlight the truth of counselling and its ability to help us deal with the challenges of life. Catch up with part 1 of the series.

Myths about counselling no. 4: Counselling will take forever


A common myth is that as a result of the counselling process, you will need to be in counselling (or therapy as it is often called) for a lengthy period of time.

The duration of your counselling depends on many factors. For some clients, it can be a process that takes half a dozen sessions, for others longer. In some cases, clients may come back to see a counsellor a couple of times a year to talk about new issues in their lives.

myths about counselling

Couples, in particular, are increasingly using counselling intermittently to help them tackle the natural challenges of life. Major life transitions like starting a family, career changes, periods of financial worry, or bereavement have a way of unsettling us.

Ultimately it is about what best fits your circumstances and your needs. By way of a rough guide, the majority of our clients typically see a counsellor for approximately 6 sessions.

Myths about counselling no. 5: Counselling is only for ‘weak’ people


The reality is quite the opposite. A decision by an individual or couple to seek counselling is actually a demonstration of strength and wisdom, not weakness.

It is an admission that the challenges faced have proven too great for an individual or couple to resolve on their own. That is a brave decision for anyone to make. And it is a decision which comes from a determination to protect the individual or the relationship in question.

myths about counselling - it is only for the weak

In our experience, people seeking counselling are often some of the bravest we have had the pleasure of meeting.

Myths about counselling no. 6: You can only receive counselling face-to-face


Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, counselling is no longer restrained by the confines of the therapy room.

While many clients prefer to see their counsellor face-to-face, The Spark provides counselling via telephone, online and video streaming. Meaning you can undertake your counselling session pretty much anywhere.


Myths about counselling

Look out for part 3 coming up soon by following The Spark on Twitter or Facebook. Catch up with part 1 of our ‘Myths about counselling’ series.

Find out more about individual, couple, marriage or family counselling with The Spark or complete an informal enquiry form.

Heard a myth about counselling we haven’t covered? Send it to us on Twitter or Facebook and we will bust that one too!

Old image of a counsellor with patient lying on a couch. Myths about counselling.

It is not uncommon for myths about counselling to discourage or even prevent people from trying therapy. Popular misconceptions – given credibility by people who have often never had counselling – can colour our opinions of counselling and talking therapies in general.

Rather than allowing these myths about counselling to remain unchallenged, at The Spark, we are tackling them head-on. And here is the result: part 1 of our guide to debunking 10 common myths about counselling.

Myths about counselling no. 1: A counsellor will tell me what to do


A counsellor never tells a client what to do or pushes them towards a certain conclusion. The role of a counsellor is to help you pinpoint the experiences and thought processes that result in behaviours that cause you unhappiness or distress.

A counsellor discussing myths about counselling
“This is what you will do …” said no counsellor, ever.

Once those are understood, counselling then aims to enable you – the client – to better cope with or (if you wish) to change those behaviours. Counsellors support clients in this process by providing insights and tools/techniques (sometimes called ‘coping mechanisms’).

For example, a counsellor might share techniques on how to prevent or cope with anxiety attacks or suggest better ways to communicate with your partner. But they will never tell you what to do.

Myths about counselling no. 2: I will have to lie on a couch


Thanks to countless cartoons, TV programmes and movies a lot of us wrongly believe that a counselling session involves lying down on a couch, staring at the ceiling.

Old image of a counsellor with patient lying on a couch. Myths about counselling.

Counselling is an active process that requires the client to be just as engaged as the counsellor. Rather than being a passive action – something that ‘happens’ – counselling requires the client to commit to being involved.

Sitting in a comfortable chair or on a sofa is a more appropriate position and is adopted by the vast majority of clients. A counsellor will typically sit opposite their client in a similar way.

Myths about counselling no. 3: Counselling offers a ‘quick fix’ for your problems

In some cases, counselling may help a client deal with a very specific issue in a short space of time. However, as counselling deals with experiences from the past, present circumstances and our deepest emotions, it often takes time to fully understand them.

This, in turn, means the process of dealing with those experiences and modifying their impact on you can rarely be achieved quickly. For some clients, past experiences over an extended period of time have contributed to their current difficulties.

Much like a house that has experienced many years of neglect, helping a client rebuild typically takes more than just a couple of counselling sessions.


Myths about counselling

Look out for part 2 coming up soon by following The Spark on Twitter or Facebook.

Find out more about individual, couple, marriage or family counselling with The Spark or complete an informal enquiry form.

achieving good mental health

The focus of this year’s Mental Health Awareness week has been ‘stress: are we coping?’  This got us thinking about books that have helped us cope with the stresses of life.

One, in particular, is a recommended read for us. And it just happens to be the birthplace of many of the idioms that pop up regularly on your social media feeds.

Are we coping when life gives us lemons?


‘How to Stop Worrying and Start Living’ was first published in 1948. Yet it contains timeless wisdom that has helped people through periods of severe stress.

Alongside author Dale Carnegie’s own guidance ‘when fate gives you a lemon make a lemonade’ there are references to ancient wisdom and true life stories of battles with anxiety and stress.

Cover of Dale Carnegie's book How to stop worrying and start living

Carnegie is best known for his book ‘How to Make Friends and Influence People’.  The book was written in the 1930s and became a template for a certain type of guide to personal development. As examples of this, see the more recent ‘The 12 Rules of Life’ and ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’.

The book is highly rated by many including successful American businessman and investor, Warren Buffett. Despite being over 75 years old it still regularly appears on bestseller lists.

How to stop worrying and start living


Whereas ‘How to Make Friends…’ focuses on how to succeed in a business arena, his follow up, ‘How to Stop Worrying and Start Living’, attends to tried and trusted ways of dealing with life’s trials and tribulations.

Both books have one important point in common; they are not meant for casual reading.  Rather, they are to be used as prompts for action.

The book is structured into sections that look at worry from different angles. Chapters include ‘Seven Ways to Cultivate a Mental Attitude that Will Bring You Peace and Happiness’ and ‘How to Keep from Worrying About Criticism.’

Each section contains 3 or more chapters with the section ending with a short to do list.  For example, the section on criticism ends:

  1. Unjust criticism is often a disguised compliment. It often means that you have aroused jealousy and envy. Remember that no one ever kicks a dead dog.
  2. Do the very best you can, and then put up your old umbrella and keep the rain of criticism from running down the back of your neck.
  3. Let’s keep a record of the foolish things we have done and criticise ourselves. Since we can’t hope to be perfect, let’s do what E. H. Little did: let’s ask for unbiased, helpful, constructive criticism.

This is where your favourite #WednesdayWisdom quote came from…


Carnegie loves slogans and, in a way, was the forerunner of the social media phenomena of ‘Monday Motivation’ and ‘Wednesday Wisdom’.

He was well read, often quoting leading philosophers and psychologists of the day like William James (‘Be willing to have it so.  Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune.’)

Wednesday Wisdom text How to stop worrying

He also understood that his way was only one of many ways of approaching the challenge of worry and anxiety.

Carnegie concludes one chapter with the Serenity Prayer, a central part of the Alcoholics Anonymous approach: ‘God give me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.’

Are we coping? From the perspective of people like you and me


‘How to Stop Worrying’ ends with a section of short case studies written by individuals about their personal struggles dealing with worry.  Much of the content of the book centres on stories of ordinary people faced with extraordinary circumstances.

Written just after the Second World War many stories relate to the personal challenges men and women faced during this difficult time.  Other stories in the book are more familiar and deal with the common experiences of life, for example, losing a loved one.

This reliance on everyday examples was used by Carnegie in his other books, as a direct result of his background in public speaking.  It is said that he listened to and critiqued over 150,000 speeches in his lifetime and these provided a rich seam for his books.

‘How to Stop Worrying…’ was written some time ago and there are many self-help books that have been published since.  Perhaps there’s a book that you turn to when times are challenging.  If so we’d love to hear about it.

Share your favourite books with us on Twitter or Facebook using the hashtag #TheSparkMindBooks


Are you coping with life?

If you are finding life a struggle, speaking to a counsellor can be helpful to understand the emotions you are experiencing and develop strategies to cope.

At The Spark, we have been providing counselling and support to individuals, couples and families for over 50 years. We are also the biggest provider of school-based counselling services in primary and secondary schools in Scotland.

Find out more about counselling or talk to a member of our team on 0808 802 0050 during our opening hours. Alternatively, complete an online enquiry.

exam myths fail

Exams are on the horizon for young people up and down the country. So we decided it was time to bust a few exam myths which can create unnecessary stress and anxiety before exams.

Exam myths busted #1: poor exam results will ruin your life


Exams are a part of your development and growth as an individual. They are a way to assess whether you have retained what your lovely teachers have been trying to teach you.

They are important but they are unlikely to ruin your life. Here are a few reasons why.

By the end of your education, the idea is that you walk out as a well-rounded individual, not just an exam passing machine. Therefore skills you develop from part-time jobs, school/uni clubs or voluntary work are just as vital as exam results.

What comes after these exams?

Secondly, consider the fact that exams tend to be followed by, well, more exams.

Of course, that means going through the emotional wringer more than once but it also means poor results can be overcome.

Next time you might need to take a few more classes or do some additional study but it is possible to recover from poor exam results.

Exam myths busted #2: your parents will be ashamed by your poor results


This is one of the exam myths that cause many young people to carry a crippling level of expectation upon their shoulders.

What we might interpret as pressure to avoid the shame of poor results, is often well-intentioned encouragement from our parents.

They just sometimes do it really badly.

We believe in you

Your parents want you to realise your potential because – and sit down for this one – they believe in you more than you probably believe in yourself.

Though it might not seem like it at times, your parents love you no matter what. And the possibility that you might not get straight A’s in all your exams is nothing compared to what you’ve already put them through.

They loved you then and will still love you now

They loved you when all you would do is poop, cry and throw up. They loved you when you rolled around in the muddy grass all day and then sat on their new cream sofa. Or that time you threw the mother of all tantrums in Asda.

I could go on but you get the picture. When it comes to something as tough as high school or university exams, does it seem likely that they will disown you if results don’t go your way?

Rest easy and know that your parents want you to do well for yourself, not because they want to boast about you on Facebook.

Exam myths busted #3: failing exams makes you a failure in life


Exams are important but their ability to ‘make or break’ your life is another one of the most damaging exam myths.

It is easy to lose sight of one simple truth: your life is yours to live. Therefore what are you looking for in your life?

What will success look like for you based on your perspective and not the opinions of your parents, friends or society?

Getting into the toughest university courses and becoming a brain surgeon might be what you want to achieve. Or it might not.

How do you define ‘success’?

From that truth, a logical conclusion follows: what constitutes ‘success’ is defined by literally thousands of decisions and experiences over the course of your life.

Exams are a part of that process but not the be all and end all. For example, if you don’t get the grades needed for your chosen university course, you might wrongly assume that is it. Game over.

exam myths fail

There are plenty of alternative options: start a related course and transfer across later; retake classes at college to bag the results you wanted; find a company that takes on school leavers as apprentices/trainees. The list goes on.

Ultimately what you want to do in your life is up to you. Exams will form part of that journey but they certainly will not mark the end of it.

Don’t let exam myths stop you in your tracks.


Coping with exam stress

To help students and parents navigate the difficult time before, during and after exams, The Spark has produced a series of articles.

These cover our tips on how to approach exams and ways to manage and reduce the stress and anxiety you might be feeling.

Exam stress: tips for parents and students

Exam stress tips for students

Do exam results define your future?

Tips for parents during exam time

Exam results: a young persons’ guide

Parents’ guide to exam results day

The Spark is one of Scotland’s leading providers of counselling services. We provide youth and family counselling, alongside our couples and individual counselling.

If you need support with issues in life – exams, relationships or just the challenges of growing up – we are here to help.

Find out more about counselling or talk to a member of our team on freephone 0808 802 0050 during our opening hours.

Alternatively, complete an online enquiry.

You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more tips and advice.

The Pretenders I'll Stand by You cover artwork

Songs for Sound Minds #25 – ‘I’ll Stand by You’ by The Pretenders

This week’s pick by The Pretenders was suggested by one of our followers on Facebook: a timeless classic about love and faithfulness in times of trouble. A song made special, not by the experiences of those who wrote it, but by those who heard it.


‘I’ll Stand by You’ started out as a joke that turned into a dream come true for songwriter Billy Steinberg. During a conversation with music publisher Jason Dauman, Steinberg was asked who he wanted to collaborate with in the future.

Prince, Bruce Springsteen and Chrissie Hynde

Thinking the question a joke, Steinberg replied somewhat facetiously: “Prince, Bruce Springsteen and Chrissie Hynde.”

“I said those names because they were three of my favorite songwriters and he sort of took it seriously. Then a little while later he called me up and he said, ‘Chrissie Hynde wants to write with you and Tom (Tom Kelly, Steinberg’s writing partner).’  And I thought, ‘Right.’”

“I get a phone call and this woman said, ‘Billy, this is Chrissie Hynde,’ and I thought somebody was playing with me or something.”

Star struck and a little soft

Despite writing hits like ‘Eternal Flame’ and ‘Like a Virgin’, Steinberg was star struck: “The butterflies in my stomach were fluttering so much I could barely speak because I love The Pretenders.”

Hynde joined Steinberg and Kelly in Los Angeles and their efforts created a total of six songs, including ‘I’ll Stand by You’; but Pretenders fan Steinberg had mixed feelings.

“I remember when we wrote it I felt two things. I felt one, we had written a hit song; and I felt two, a little sheepish that we had written something a little soft, a little generic for The Pretenders… I know that Chrissie felt that way too to some extent.”

The dream turns sour

In an interview with Mojo Chrissie Hynde admitted being unimpressed with the tune: “When I did that song, I thought, Urgh this is s–t.”

The Pretenders I'll Stand by You cover artwork

As the dream turned sour for Steinberg hope emerged in the form of an impromptu gig.

Despite her initial disappointment with the track, Hynde pressed on: “I played it for a couple of girls who weren’t in the [music] business and by the end of it they were both in tears. I said, OK, put it out.”

The universality of the lyrics that Steinberg feared were too soft and generic is exactly what makes ‘I’ll Stand by You’ such a special song.

It speaks of complete love and unquestioning support when we are at our weakest. The kind of love that means someone is there to wipe away our tears and walk with us.

Thanks to Steinberg, Kelly and Hynde we can experience the shared understanding that we all feel that way sometimes. And that we all want to be there to stand by someone we care about.


Songs For Sound Minds – music tracks written as an anthem to overcoming the storms of life. The songs that give hope in those times when we are struggling.

Find more Songs for Sound Minds or suggest a track on Twitter or Facebook using the hashtag #SongsForSoundMinds

us time

Life is busy. For couples with children life is even busier as they shuttle kids from activity to activity, keep the house running and hold down full-time jobs.

It is not a surprise that when our counsellors ask couples about how much ‘ us time ’ they get, the answer is usually ‘no time for that’.

No time for us time


When our counsellors ask why, the responses are again similar.

us time

The general theme being that as a relationship matures, the practicalities of life – raising children, demanding jobs, caring for older relatives – impinge on our time. ‘Us time’ simply gets squeezed out.

That realisation saddens me because we are sleepwalking into an exhausted acceptance that ‘us time’ is a luxury we simply cannot afford.

Thinking about relationships as living entities


We have talked before about how the relationship with our partner is a living entity in its own right. By that definition we must think of it in the same way we would our children; vulnerable, precious gifts that require time, love, attention and protection.

This consequently poses some tricky questions we all need to consider.

Ask yourself honestly if your relationship gets the time it deserves. For example, when was the last time you sat down with your partner and talked? And by talking I don’t mean the nightly bedtime ‘did you pay the insurance?’ Q&A session.

us time

I mean a proper conversation about both of you and your relationship. Discussing hopes, fears, emotions and how you are doing in life right now.

How much love do we give to our relationships?


Equally does your relationship get much love?

In the busyness of life we often take it for granted like the foundations of a house; reliable, out of sight and requiring little thought. Investing love in our relationship becomes something we used to do when it was fresh and vibrant.

Going through the motions during us time


How much attention we give to our relationship goes a long way to deciding how healthy it remains. Neglect a child and their behaviour, health and wellbeing will deteriorate rapidly.

So is ‘us time’ an afterthought?

Do you plan a date night together and really make it a special occasion or is it a case of going through the motion when you have time?

When it does happen are you guilty of being present in body but not mind? Distracted by work emails or Instagram on your smartphone?

us time
This is not what date night is for

Protecting our relationship


When we think about protecting a relationship, typically our minds turn to the risks posed by affairs and neglect. Threats, however, can be more subtle.

A good example is whether your time together is protected. Or is it the first thing to go when schedules get really busy?

Do you nourish it by thanking and praising your partner for what they do or is it more often harsh criticism (to their face or behind their back)?

Give your relationship what it needs to thrive


The relationship with your partner is far too valuable to sacrifice.

We must ask ourselves if packing the week with activities for our kids and working every hour that God sends is worth it if our relationship becomes a deeply unhappy, lonely mess.


The Spark Counselling

The Spark’s couples counselling and marriage counselling services offer the opportunity to speak to a professional counsellor about the difficulties and challenges you are facing in your relationship right now.

To find out more freephone 0808 802 0050 or complete an online enquiry.

Follow The Spark on Twitter and Facebook for the latest updates, advice and blogs about relationships and how to make them work.