Marriage, Relationships, and Couples

All couples have conflicts or disagreements at times. The difference between a happily married (or otherwise committed) couple and an unhappy union most frequently involves the ability to discuss and resolve those differences in a positive manner that respects the interests and needs of each individual.

Common problematic, damaging relationship communications usually include such interactions as:

  • Hostility, or verbal or physical attacks on the other person
  • Put-downs, name-calling or other contempt for your partner
  • Dragging old information or experiences into a current argument
  • Defensive responses
  • Withdrawal from a disagreement
  • Escalating negativity in the relationship
Areas of conflict often focus on issues related to money, sex, unemployment, cultural differences, physical or mental health issues, anger, substance abuse, parenting, how time is spent, and division of labour.

Couples counselling is often short-term. A few sessions can help you weather a crisis. Or, you may need marriage counselling for several months, particularly if your relationship has deteriorated over time. 

In couples counselling, I usually see both members of the couple together, although I may, on occasion, also see each person individually. My goals in counselling are to help couples:

  • Improve communication patterns
  • Develop empathic, active listening skills
  • Improve problem-solving skills
  • Resolve conflicts in ways that meet the needs of both partners
  • Explore ways for old wounds (from this or previous relationships) to be healed
  • If possible, find ways to stay together in a positive and mutually satisfying relationship
  • If not possible to stay together, then to separate in a healthy and respectful way
You don't need to have a troubled relationship to seek therapy. Couples counselling can also help couples who simply want to strengthen their bonds and gain a better understanding of each other. It can also help couples who plan to marry - ironing out differences before a union is formalized.