Couples Counselling & Therapy Ottawa

High quality relationships and high quality marriages are considered by most people to be the most rewarding and also the most challenging part of their whole life. They often underestimate just how challenging relationships can become. They tend to project that a relationship is about two static beings reacting to each other. It is actually about two dynamic beings continuously re – negotiating their inter – actions. This is why it is called a “relation…ship”. It is about two people on a finite deck of life navigating through sometimes rough and sometimes placid waters. The hallmark of a good relationship is the ability to, “communicate, negotiate, communicate, renegotiate, communicate, re – renegotiate”. Most couples complain that this hallmark is, “too much work”. The answer to that complaint is that it is much more work to not do that. There is less chance of a ship going onto the rocks if there is good communication and negotiation going on between the co – captains than if there is not.

If one is fortunate enough to come across a soul – mate in this life then don’t let them slip away.


Notice that the word “negotiate” starts with “neg”. The reason for this is that in every good negotiation “no” has to be one of the initial possible positions of each of the parties. If fear prevents this, or if respect for this principle is not present on the part of both parties, then it is not a true negotiation. To get to “yes” it is often necessary to go through a tentative “no”. Each party must be “standing on their own two feet” for good communication to exist. They must be “free to be you and me”. They must each leave their “control cloaks” on the coat rack at the front door. In the English language we have the words “dependent”, “independent” and “inter – dependent” and we do not have the word “inter – independent”. No wonder there are very few relationships running this way. There isn’t even a word to describe it. Perhaps with the growing co – equality of men and women this concept and this word will find a larger place in our relationships and in our lexicons.

No discussion of relationships would be complete without a thorough analysis of the often dreaded word “commitment”. For many people commitment has come to mean duty to another, and thus they look at it as drudgery. Consider the concept of commitment as an individual act of being committed to honesty, courage, presence and “response – ability” each and every moment and in each and every situation. Certainly this is a type of commitment that transcends the duty type of commitment. It is also much more difficult because it requires that individuals be continuously conscious and emotionally available to themselves and to their loved ones.

BE in such a way that our closeness increases.
BE such that other relationships positively impact on us.
BE into enjoying our relationship where it is now.
Be free and perennially joy – full.
BE honest with yourself and with me. Honesty is the solvent.
BE courageous enough to be honest.


by Richard Haney, Ph.D. (Counselling Therapy)June 1, 1998

When beginning a relationship with someone it is important to understand that one is getting involved with their whole family, whether that family is present or not, and whether they are alive or not. The relationship that one’s mate has or had with their parent of the other sex is a very big determinant with regard to the viability of a newly evolving relationship. Any “unfinished business” with that parent will probably surface in a problematic way in one’s present evolving relationship with them. Usually the type of sibling relationships that they had, and in particular the type of sibling rivalry that they endured, will impact strongly on one’s present relationship with them as well.

For couples to survive and thrive they must be able to “take the long view”. When they fight and get angry they must ask themselves, “Will I still be angry about this issue one year from now?” Invariably the answer is “no”. So then let it go. When the anger arises keep it conscious and let it come right out and get it over with. This is called “clean anger”. Don’t let it fester and linger on for hours, days and even years. Also, when the infatuation and the chemical hits of dopamine subside after two or three years of a relationship it is important to leave oneself open for the next level of relationship. This next level is deeper and richer and infused with endorphins which last longer and are much more satisfying than the earlier dopamine – induced “highs”.

Above all else, “follow your bliss” in your relationships.


The single most important question for a man to ask with regard to the intimate relationship(s) in his life is, “Am I a one – woman man or not?” For a woman the question is, “Am I a one – man woman or not?” It is very, very important for a couple to fully negotiate just how open a relationship they want. It is important to continuously renegotiate this topic as time marches on and many changes set in. It is highly recommended that couples talk about sexuality and sexual issues quite frequently. Sex therapists report that only 5% of the couples who come to them actually have a problem with sex. The rest have a problem with communication.

If one is fortunate enough to come across a soul – mate in this life then don’t let them slip away. Cherish them. They are very, very special. Do everything, and anything, to nurture the growth of a relationship with them. Whether one’s loved one is a soul – mate or not, form a compact with them. A compact is a fluid, malleable boundary between a couple and the rest of the world. Let it be “two people with the world” , and not “two people against the world”.

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