Most clients who come to me don’t know what to expect from couples counselling in Toronto.
That’s too bad!
They already feel uncertain about their relationship.
And now as they are considering counselling, there’s even more uncertainty.
Today, I’ll show what kind of advice you can expect.
Check a companion podcast episode if you prefer audio:
What to expect from couples counselling in Toronto, idea #1:
A psychotherapist Ken Fierheller said:
Go into counselling with an open mind, be prepared to share honestly, and sincerely listen to what the other person has to say.
Doing so improves the chances for both of you being happier in the years to come.
“The feeling isn’t there anymore.”
I love the example that Stephen Covey provides in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
A man comes up to Stephen after a seminar and says that he has a problem with his marriage.
Their dialogue goes like this:
“My wife and I just don’t have the same feelings for each other we used to have. I guess I just don’t love her anymore and she doesn’t love me. What can I do?”
“The feeling isn’t there anymore?” I asked.
“That’s right,” he reaffirmed. “And we have three children we’re really concerned about. What do you suggest?”
“Love her,” I replied.
“I told you, the feeling just isn’t there anymore.”
“You don’t understand. The feeling of love just isn’t there.”
“Then love her. If the feeling isn’t there, that’s a good reason to love her.”
“But how do you love when you don’t love?”
“My friend, love is a verb. Love – the feeling – is a fruit of love, the verb. So love her. Serve her. Sacrifice. Listen to her. Empathize. Appreciate. Affirm her. Are you willing to do that?”
Practice unconditional love
Most relationship problems stem from our inability to love the other person.
When we fall in love, our body produces chemicals that draw us to our partner.
We assume that state is love.
But it’s unsustainable.
As soon as we satiate our craving for the other person, our body stops to produce those chemicals.
And our feeling is gone.
We need something more sustainable.
Seeing “love” as a verb, an action, is exactly that.
We retrain our mind to feel love not from the chemicals but from the attention, care, and support we give to our partner.
Here are a few tools that help rethink love in that way.
Tool 1: Stop complaining and be a role model.
Complaining means finding faults with our partner.
But we are not perfect either.
Complaining prevents us from seeing our own shortcomings.
When we stop it, we often realize that the problem was with us.
For example, a client, Kristin, wanted her husband to take her out more.
He never did it and she would get angry with him.
But then she realized she wasn’t proactive: she could ask him out herself.
She did so and started to come up with other things they could do together.
Her husband was passive at first but then joined her in this game of ideas—just what she wanted.
It illustrates the importance of being proactive:
I work on myself and improve things in me in a hope this will improve my relationship.
Here’s an example of how a woman made her man obsess over her by meeting his 6 human needs.
Tool 2: Acceptance
When we have love chemicals, we are a role model of acceptance.
Our partner seems perfect.
But when the chemicals are gone, we start finding fault with the partner.
Even about the things that attracted us in the first place!
I help my coaching clients recall the state of acceptance they were in.
And I teach them to be able to go into that state at any moment and stay there.
As a result, they become less judgmental of the partner.
Tool 3: Gratitude
Another tool that is important in coaching couples is learning to be grateful for each other.
Instead of focusing on issues, we focus on what’s great about our partner.
And then those issues seem unimportant.
One tool I use in my practice is making clients visualize their partner’s funeral.
I tell them to imagine the entire process in detail.
And I teach them to remember that feeling of loss and sadness in their body.
It creates a powerful state they can recall to bring their focus back to appreciation.
What to expect from couples counselling in Toronto, idea #2:
More specific tools to reignite the passion
Now, let’s look at more concrete tools that I use with couples counselling clients.
Tool 1: Deep conversations
This is yet another technique I learned from Stephen Covey.
He built a great relationship with his wife using deep conversations.
When he went on a sabbatical to Hawaii, they would drive a car for two hours and talk to each other.
They would start talking about trivia but would then move on to deeper topics.
Deep feelings, childhood memories.
For example, his wife told Stephen about how close she was to her father.
Those long talks opened them both up and helped them bond on a whole new level.
Practicing this has a huge therapeutic effect on couples.
We feel that our partner is the closest person we’ve ever had because they know and understand us.
Tool 2: Light your partner up by making them feel more significant.
This is the next tool I teach to couples.
I love the example of my friend’s family.
His wife admires him for being great with all his hobbies.
Like driving, boxing, or shooting.
She laughs hard at every joke that he makes.
Whenever he fixes something that’s broken at home, she makes sure to thank him.
She also says things to make him want her more.
And he does it, too.
He is the breadwinner and always lets his wife know about what’s going on in his business and asks for advice.
He also tells her how proud he is about her for taking good care of their two daughters.
By doing so, they make each other feel significant.
And that’s a pathway to being confident and happy.
Tool 3: Spend more time together.
One way to do so is for one of the partners to be a leader.
In one couple, the husband was older than the wife and was more of a “sit on a couch and watch TV” type.
When the wife offered him different activities, he kept refusing.
So she took dancing classes and kept telling him how great it was.
He got interested and also a little bit jealous when she mentioned other men.
And eventually, he joined her.
In another couple, the wife started inviting friends over every week.
The smart thing she did was involving her passive husband in the process as much as possible.
She asked him to be in charge of the barbecue.
He went out to buy beef and get everything else together.
He felt significant by doing that and also had a sense of ownership.
And he started looking forward to welcoming guests each week.
Tool 4: Spend time apart strategically.
I remember how my ex-wife went to study in Moscow for one week five years ago.
And I loved the experience of being apart.
First of all, I enjoyed the newness of talking to her over the phone rather than face-to-face.
I also loved waking up in the middle of the night to go pick her up from the bus terminal.
And I loved hugging and kissing her after spending one week apart.
See, we also have a fundamental need for variety.
And we can meet that need by spending time away from each other.
What to expect from couples counselling in Toronto, idea #3:
Help with parting ways
I am a huge proponent of saving a marriage for 3 reasons:
- I believe love is sacred. It’s a gift from the Universe that we must appreciate and nurture rather than question.
- Finding a new partner takes a lot of time and energy. And you never know if they will be better.
- If couples come for counselling that means there is hope—they have the motivation to work on their marriage.
That said, I’ve seen cases when people had lifestyles that were just too incompatible to stay together.
There was this couple who got married because of an unplanned pregnancy.
But then they lost the baby on the fifth month into the pregnancy.
So now they were questioning if their marriage had been necessary.
And the trauma was also bringing them apart because they reminded each other of the loss.
And last but not least they had radically different lifestyles.
He was younger than her and appeared to be not mature for the marriage enough.
On weekends, he worked as a DJ in a club and party whereas she stayed at home and didn’t want to join him.
When they came for counselling, no one would give in.
For example, it’s common to think that a husband shouldn’t party without his wife until 5 am.
But this man didn’t think so.
So nobody would give in and with the help of a counsellor, they chose to part ways amicably.
Get couples counselling in Toronto
If you need help with couples counselling, check out my relationship coaching services.
I’ll fight for your marriage.
And I’ll give you my best tools and do my best interventions so that the two of you reconnect to your feelings of love.
Our family is what brings us the most joy in life.
Stop the pain and feel that joy by taking action now.
Here’s a link to contact me for a free session.