couple relationship Posts

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Description of Program:
The 7 Principles Couples Program is not therapy but is psycho-educational. The format includes lectures and private couple exercises. It is 12 modules and 6 separate question and answer sessions on Zoom. How great is that?

To learn more, go to or click the link in the sidebar for 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work.

Hierarchy of Relationship Needs

Hierarchy of Relationship Needs:

Recently I have been challenged to write down exactly what I do in couple’s therapy and in relationship coaching. It is a daunting task. When you have been counselling couples for more than 20 years, it seems more like an intuitive art. I am continually being educated every year with new research and I am a voracious reader. This adds to the complexity of what I actually do! I decided to use the model of Maslow’s hierarchy of need and make a hierarchy of committed relationship building skills (or needs – haven’t decided on a name yet) . The theory of Maslow’s hierarchy is that you must have the bottom of the hierarchy fulfilled before moving up the hierarchy. The bottom of the hierarchy is about survival needs such as food and shelter and moves up the hierarchy to the top which is self actualization. It is a useful concept and helped me to put down on paper what I actually do intuitively.

Let me give you an example that might help you in your own relationship. When a couple comes to see me, they are often in high conflict and may even be separated (research shows that couples often come to counselling 3 years too late!). They want help with the conflict but they have walls of self protection that are so high there is not a hope they can work together until they go back down the hierarchy. The bottom of the hierarchy is about creating a secure friendship, one that supports trust and a mutual attachment. Often I am sending the couple away with homework that begins this process by simple non threatening acts that speak the other person’s love language every day until we see each other again. The hope that there may be a possibility of feeling other feelings besides a numbness or anger helps to set the stage for the next level in the hierarchy. This first level includes all that we know about friendship in marriage from research, including, creating a culture of appreciation, creating a space in your mind for knowing your partner and staying up to date on their changing feelings, dreams, expectations, beliefs and perceptions about their world, choosing a positive mindset about your partner, creating emotional safety and of course, creating fun and romance together. Some couples dismiss this layer of the hierarchy and let time pressure and other pressing needs take over their lives (so easy to do) to the detriment of their relationship. One of the lines that I hear often when enquiring what this week’s date night might be in a couple who is just barely hanging on to their relationship is, ‘I haven’t really thought about it’. It is not just chance that the research talks about this first level as the foundation of relationships that actually work.

You might be much higher on the hierarchy then this first level, in fact, you may be at the top, where you are creating a legacy as a couple, deciding what you will give back from your life together. You still need to come back to this level when you notice distance occurring in your relationship or you are going through a difficult time. As in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, many today find themselves in financial difficulty, worried about their survival needs. In the same way, you may come back to this place over and over as life challenges you in your couple relationship in a variety of ways. In other words, when you are having difficulty in your relationship, go here first and make some changes at this foundational level. Go forth and be wonderful in your relationship today!

An Opportunity:
I am creating a course called, “Creating Exquisite Moments of Connection in Your Relationship” and need a small group of couples to do a smaller version of the course. This will be no cost and will require you to be available for 4 calls and time to do some activities with your partner. Please connect with me to see if your needs and the study are compatible.



Spring – a Time of Recommitment

Spring represents new life and rebirth. If your commitment together was a long time ago, this spring might be an excellent time to consider a new recommitment between your partner and yourself. Imagine the meaning of being chosen by your partner once again! Use a date night in the next 2 weeks to do this. Talk to your partner about how you might make this recommitment ritual meaningful for both of you. Some people find that rewriting their vows makes a big difference in their thinking and being in the relationship. Sometimes it is good to have a symbol that helps to renew your commitment to your relationship.

One idea is to buy a small tree and plant it in your garden or a pot on your balcony. Take care of the plant together, noticing the changes and growth that occurs as you water and fertilize it and it gets exposed to the sunlight. Write a list of things that help your relationship to grow. What is represented by the elements of water, of fertilizer, of sunlight in your relationship?

Some couples like to keep this ritual private and others do not. Consider how it might affect your children if they knew that you were recommitting yourself to each other. Consider how you would feel if you let other couples who are your closest friends know of your recommitment. Or, how would you feel if they told you they were recommitting to each other. We live in community and are affected by one another. Your increase in attachment makes a positive difference to your community whether you choose to share or not to share your recommitment. Go forth and be wonderful in this!

Life Changes in Couple Relationships

I have been doing some changing of my business and while I have been doing that – I have been thinking about the challenges of change. If you are like me, change is a lovely challenge. I embrace it with excitement, interest and intrigue. The difficulty for me is that my mind goes so quickly to that terrific place in my where there are so many great possibilities and ideas that I can get stalled there. Deciding on a definitive change and then following through would be more of my challenge. I usually have to make a mind map and then I have found that I really need to limit myself to 3 goals for the week in order to get out of the dreaming stage and into the doing stage.

I know from our relationship together in the counselling room that change is not at all like that for all of you. For some of you, change is threatening and something to be resisted. All kinds of fears come up. What if I can’t do what I have proposed for myself or my partner?  I have tried to change before and did not follow through, disappointing myself and others. Or perhaps the comfort of your current dysfunction, painful as it is, is better then the unknown of change. Or you are stuck in not wanting to change unless your partner changes. And so the time rolls by, the suffering continues and the isolation in the relationship continues with the ideal of a healthy marriage becoming a distant dream.

If this is where you are at, I invite you to consider that change is actually for your benefit personally. Your relationship is the gift that you get to bump up against yourself and your need to change, where your interactions together surfaces some grit in your oyster. Whether your partner changes or does not, is irrelevant to our own need for change. Consider embracing the changes you are being invited to, turn that grit into a very fine pearl. As usual, go forth and be wonderful and love like you actually mean it!

Lynda Chalmers