Have you ever pulled into the driveway after a tiring day of work or errands and hesitated to open the car door? You stare at your front door and your spinning mind suddenly come to rest with the thoughts circling around the theme of ‘What happened?’ What happened to the joy we felt when we found this house that was going to be our home? We were so excited. And now you allow yourself to acknowledge, perhaps for the first time, that you have no want or desire to walk through that door. That romantic and comforting idea of ‘our home’ is no longer a shelter from storms but has become ‘a house of tension, a gray shade of loneliness’, with floors made of eggshells and walls of emotional isolation.

Most Frequently Asked Questions:

Life is hard, but never so hard as when your marriage or partnership is hurting.

All couples hurt. Yes, I said ALL. What is the difference between couples that are fulfilled in their marriage and those who are chronically unhappy? The happy couples have learned to do certain things well. However, hurting marriages and relationships can be restored to health. We have worked with thousands of couples over the last twenty years. If we could take a video camera into their homes, you would hear the stories of how they learned to create peace through learning effective communication and problem-solving skills. They would tell you amazing stories of loss, betrayal, and pain, but also stories of insight, forgiveness and hope.

Perhaps the most important thing they would say to you is that you, too, can improve your relationship, and that when your marital relationship is strong, the hard challenges of life are so much easier. Just focus and work on what is important! Family! Relationships!

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What does a healthy relationship look like?

We often hear . . .

  • I feel I am married to a roommate.
  • I feel like I don’t have a partner but a third child.
  • I feel like I have lost myself in this relationship.
  • I feel like I can’t do anything right.
  • I am lonelier married than I was when I was single.

What does a healthy relationship look like? This is such an important question, but not necessarily an easy one. Of course, our mind is quick to roll out the description of a relationship that is loving and respectful. After all, the Beatles said “All we need is love. . . . da dadadada! Well, how hard can that be?

Anyone with hippie parents out of the 70s would describe a healthy relationship as one of ‘Peace, Love and Groovy’. Today we would hear this generation say ‘No Judgement’ and we all have the ‘right’ to be ‘happy’.

I have sat across the room from maybe ten thousand couples over my career, and I can tell you that achieving a healthy relationship is like hitting a moving target. We are forever moving, changing and becoming. Once we feel we have the formula someone has the nerve to change. So, as you might guess, having a healthy relationship is a life-long goal. Here is my stab at articulating what a healthy relationship looks like in a constant state of movement

A healthy relationship is a dynamic conduit or space that provides acceptance of two people, as they are, and not as someone thinks they should be. In that space of pure acceptance, the power of trust, love, empathy and truth can be freely shared equally with the primary goal of betterment for meeting both individuals’ (physical, emotional, cognitive, social and spiritual) needs for health, enjoyment and growth.

What are the most common marriage issues?

  • Conflict Resolution
  • Trust
  • Intimacy and Sex
  • Loneliness
  • Money
  • Power Struggles
  • In-laws
  • Betrayal
  • Value Differences
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Children
  • Meaning and Purpose
  • Mutual Growth

How do you solve relationship problems without breaking up?

Breaking up is a very difficult, disruptive and expensive decision. For most couples it is the last resort. In order to solve problems, you need to acknowledge them, address them and solve them. This is not rocket science! It is called being an adult! However, perhaps being an adult is not as common as we all would like to admit.

If you have not had success solving issues – ask for help! Put your big girl/boy pants on and be responsible. Fight for your marriage.

How do you fix relationship problems?

We fix relationship problems with effective communication, skill development and understanding. I personally believe that most people already have a good number of the tools necessary to solve the majority of their problems. Unfortunately, those same people have not been taught or mentored on how to use those tools safely and effectively. This is where a therapist comes in, to coach and assist couples to learn skills necessary to develop mutually satisfying relationships

How do you build trust in a relationship?

We build trust in relationships by having character and integrity. We do what we say we will do. We keep our promises. When we mess up (and we all mess up) we own our crap (without excuses and blame). We are faithful in the little things. We do not forget what is important to our partner. We do not avoid issues, but we proactively raise them with the spirit of humility, compassion and hope in order to protect what is precious- the love the two of us share.

How do you know if your relationship is over?

One of the first signs that your relationship is over is the absence of sex. The lack of physical expression of love is usually the first sign of a relationship in trouble. For most people it is incongruent to have sex with someone and no longer love or be attracted to them. Secondly, no longer are there emotional investments into the relationship. Actually, there is the opposite – emotional distance and resistance for connection. Addictive behaviours may also fill the gap in one or both partners’ lives. Whether it is substances, like drugs, alcohol or food, or through activities like work, shopping or golf. All addictions endeavor to lift mood when needs are unmet.

When a person looks elsewhere for love and intimacy it may be one of the signs that your relationship is over. Certainly, a serious flag is raised if they do not want to work on the relationship. Online therapy maybe the first step to turning your relational ship around.

How can I make my marriage stronger?

Solid marriages are strong because they have faced and overcome difficulties. It is in the solving of issues that we begin to have a confidence in the relationship. Individuals in strong marriages understand that they must take turns from time to time in being the strong.

How can I make my married life interesting?

Be creative, adventurous and proactive! Work and play together!

What are the signs of an unhappy marriage?

You know you are in an unhappy marriage when you are no longer spending time together. You find yourselves in different rooms watching TV, or have separate vacations, few mutual friends, or you have very few shared interests. You no longer laugh or play together. Certainly you may know that you are in an unhappy marriage when either one of you seems stuck more in resentment and contempt than in gratefulness and admiration.

What are the signs of an unhappy marriage?

You know you are in an unhappy marriage when you are no longer spending time together. You find yourselves in different rooms watching TV, or have separate vacations, few mutual friends, or you have very few shared interests. You no longer laugh or play together. Certainly you may know that you are in an unhappy marriage when either one of you seems stuck more in resentment and contempt than in gratefulness and admiration.

How do I make my marriage a partnership?

Partnerships are about sharing of power and responsibility. Responsibility is seldom an issue if a person feels both competent and has the power to influence and act.

What if my partner wants a divorce?

If your partner wants out of the relationship you should try to listen in order to understand why they are unfulfilled. If you are able and willing to make some changes, those changes may alter their position. The good news is that it takes very few shifts within a dying relationship to start a beating heart again. Seek help as soon as you can! Don’t lose hope!