THE BLOG

Why Couples Counselling Would Have Been Good for Nigella and Charles

10/12/2013 13:37 GMT | Updated 08/02/2014 10:59 GMT

The first thing that comes to my mind when I read or hear anything about what might have transpired in the relationship between Nigella Lawson, the Domestic Goddess and Charles Saatchi, art dealer cum advertising success-story, is how terribly sad it is that this all has been played out in the public.

But then, with my therapist's hat on, I am naturally curious to learn whether or not the couple had sought professional help or couples counselling when they were going through such a difficult time.

After all, both had been married before, and Nigella must have had a particularly difficult time coping with the death, from cancer, of her first husband, the columnist and author, John Diamond.

Both Nigella (aged 53) and Charles (aged 70) have been witnesses at the Isleworth Crown Court during the trial of their former PAs, Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo. It is they who have been accused of spending £685,000 on his credit cards. Yet the focus is not really on them during the trial, so far, but instead on the cook and the art man.

We learn about their intimate habits: his "intimate terrorism" for instance and her drug taking. What, for instance, he wanted on a tray served for breakfast. All the details of what normally is private and goes on behind closed doors in any marriage have now been exposed.

Yet I do ask myself what is normal - can any relationship be considered as normal? Every couple is different and bring difficult and different aspects of their past into their relationship.

I have absolutely no inkling or evidence about whether or not Nigella and Charles sought professional help. Most couples, if they do, don't talk about it publicly anyway, and no couples counsellor worth his or her salt, would be in a position to talk to anyone about his clients - let alone divulge who they are.

The Lawson-Saatchi's, when they were married, lived in Notting Hill, and goodness knows, there are an abundance of suitable therapists in the area, or even nearby, had they wished to find someone locally.

But Sir Paul Coleridge, who sits in the High Court as Mr Justice Coleridge and has spent his career as a family lawyer and judge, has suggested that Nigella and Charles should have thought seriously about help before their marriage reach a crisis point.

He said: "No one can fail to have been moved last week by hearing Mr Charles Saatchi in a public court bemoaning the break-up of his marriage to Nigella Lawson.

"His cri de Coeur, that he did not want things to end up this way, and that he still adored his wife, must have chimed with many who had been exposes to the rigours of the break-up mill."

Like me, Sir Paul had no idea whether the couple sought help from a couple's counsellor as he says it would be "idle to speculate whether this high-profile celebrity couple had ever thought about stepping back from the brink and seek professional help.

"I hope they thought seriously about getting help," he concluded, criticising the "yawning public ignorance" about relationship education.

It is indeed a very difficult thing for any couple to admit that their relationship is in trouble and they need help, but getting professional help, in my view, can often be a sensible and responsible thing to do.