Navigating the Storm: How Couples Counselling Can Help Relationships Thrive

This blog post, written by a Calgary Psychologist, discusses common challenges couples face, provides practical tips and strategies for overcoming them, and further explores the question, how does counselling help couples.


Kaylee Procter


How does couples therapy work?

Couples therapy often gets a bad rap. It's seen as a last resort, a sign that something is seriously wrong in your relationship. But here's the thing: couples therapy isn't just for couples on the brink of divorce or break up. It's for anyone who wants to strengthen their relationship, improve communication, and deepen their connection with their partner.

All too often I see couples beginning therapy with years worth of emotional wounds impacting the relationship. If they would have attended earlier, the extent and impact of the hurt caused in the relationship would have been greatly decreased.

So, what exactly happens in couples counselling? Well, think of it like a tune-up for your relationship. Just like you take your car to the mechanic for regular maintenance, couples counselling helps you identify and address any issues before they turn into major problems. If they have already turned into major concerns, then couples counselling can focus on healing the wounds and developing skills so they don't happen again in the future.

All in all, couples counselling helps you strengthen your relationship by deepening your connection, intimacy, and communication.

Communication Issues: The Bridge to Understanding

One of the most common challenges couples face is communication issues. You know the drill: one of you says something innocuous, the other takes it the wrong way, and before you know it, you're in the middle of a full-blown argument about who forgot to take out the trash. Sound familiar? Trust me, you're not alone. It's not just about talking, but truly understanding and being understood by your partner. Miscommunication can lead to misunderstandings, resentment, and even arguments.

To improve communication, it's important to create a safe and open environment where both partners feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and feelings. Active listening is key - it means giving your full attention to your partner, without interrupting or formulating a response in your mind. Reflective listening, where you paraphrase what your partner said to ensure you understood correctly, can also help avoid misunderstandings. These are skilled that are worked on in every couples therapy session as you process your concerns with each other and your therapist.

Another effective strategy is to use "I" statements instead of "you" statements. For example, instead of saying "You never listen to me," try saying "I feel unheard when I share my thoughts." This shift in language can help prevent blame and defensiveness, fostering a more constructive conversation. Couple this with expressing your needs and you can start creating healthy expectations and connection with your partner!

Trust Issues: Rebuilding the Foundation

Trust is the bedrock of any healthy relationship. However, trust issues can arise due to past betrayals, insecurities, or simply a lack of transparency. Rebuilding trust requires patience, understanding, and consistent effort from both partners.

Honesty is crucial in rebuilding trust. It's important to be open about your feelings, fears, and concerns. Transparency can help remove doubts and create a sense of security within the relationship. Trust can also be rebuilt by setting clear boundaries and expectations, and following through on commitments.

Forgiveness is another essential component of rebuilding trust. It's not about forgetting the past, but rather acknowledging the hurt and choosing to move forward. Seeking professional help, such as couple's therapy, can provide a safe space to explore trust issues and develop strategies to rebuild it.

Navigating Major Life Transitions: Anchoring Together

Life is full of transitions - from moving to a new city, starting a new job, having children, or even retiring. These transitions can put strain on a relationship as individuals adjust to new roles and responsibilities. However, with the right mindset and support, couples can navigate these transitions and emerge stronger than ever.

During major life transitions, it's important to maintain open lines of communication and express any concerns or fears. It's normal to feel overwhelmed or uncertain, but sharing these emotions with your partner can provide comfort and reassurance.

Flexibility is key when navigating major life transitions. Being willing to adapt and compromise can help ease the transition process. It's important to remember that change can be challenging, but it also presents an opportunity for growth and deepening your connection as a couple.

Seeking professional help, such as couples therapy, can be invaluable during major life transitions. A licensed Calgary couples therapist with Tri Lotus Psychotherapy can provide guidance, support, and practical strategies to help couples navigate the challenges and uncertainties that come with these transitions.

Deepening Connection and Strengthening Intimacy

Couples therapy is not only about strengthening communication, rebuilding trust, and navigating life transitions. It can also be about strengthening connection and intimacy in your relationship. We often don't learn the skills to deeply connect with our romantic partner and couples counselling can be a place to learn them.

Whether it's getting guidance on what types of conversations to have with your partner to deepen emotional intimacy and how to have them; exploring the role physical intimacy plays in your relationship, how to talk about it and ideas to spice things up; or simply date night ideas, couples counselling can be invaluable.

How Therapy Can Strengthen Relationships

Let's take a look at an example to illustrate how therapy can help couples strengthen their relationship. "Jennifer" and "Joe" had been together for 10 years when they started experiencing communication issues. Fights became more frequent and they reported spending more time independently than with each other. Life became busy, so the time they did spend together was filled with television or other activities that didn't involve "truly connecting."

They decided to seek therapy and, through the guidance of their therapist, learned effective communication techniques. They practiced active listening and reflective listening, which helped them understand each other's needs and concerns better. Over time, their communication improved. They were given tangible strategies to connect with each other in a meaningful way - ones that they could fit into their busy lives. Because they were fighting less, they had the desire to connect more, and because they were connecting more, they were fighting less.

In another case, "Mark" and "Summer" were hoping to take the next step in their relationship - marriage. They still had some discussions to have about what their future looked like and their individual goals, but were struggling to have them productively. They knew that there were important conversations to have prior to getting married, but they weren't sure what questions to ask each other. Couples therapy helped them learn how to navigate these potentially difficult conversations, as well as provided guidance on what other conversations were important to have. Couples counselling allowed them to enter into marriage with a stronger and more resilient relationship.

Therapy provides a safe and supportive space for couples to explore their challenges, learn new skills, and develop a deeper understanding of each other. It can help couples build a stronger foundation for the future and create a relationship that withstands the test of time.

Is Couples Counselling Expensive?

Now, I know what you're thinking: "But isn't marriage therapy expensive? And time-consuming? And, let's be honest, kind of awkward?" Trust me, I get it. Therapy isn't always easy—or cheap. But think of it as an investment in your relationship, your happiness, and your future together.

Fortunately, Calgary couples counselling is the same price as individual therapy! See more about Tri Lotus Psychotherapy's fees here.

How does insurance work for couples therapy? At the end of each session you will receive a receipt that may be reimbursable by insurance. Please be sure to check with your insurance company, as each plan is different.

Relationships are not always smooth sailing, but with the right tools and strategies, couples can overcome common challenges. By improving communication, rebuilding trust, strengthening intimacy, and navigating major life transitions together, couples can strengthen their relationship and build a solid foundation for the future. Remember, it's not about avoiding the storms, but rather learning to navigate them together.

Tri Lotus Psychotherapy offers Calgary couples counselling, as well as online therapy throughout Alberta. For more information on the specific approach used, click here. Reach out to book an appointment or a complimentary introductory call to ask any questions you have and further see how couples therapy can help.

Relationships are like sailing on the ocean. Sometimes the waters are calm and serene, while other times they can be rough and tumultuous. It's natural for couples to face challenges along the way, but it's how they navigate those challenges that determines the strength and longevity of their relationship.

This blog post discusses common challenges couples face, provides practical tips and strategies for overcoming them, and further explores the question, how does counselling help couples.