Relationship enhancement

Say Yes to Communication Success

Kollar Couples Counselling Services VancouverHave you ever requested or mentioned something to your partner only to follow up on it a few days later and hear he or she has no recollection of what you had said?  You could attribute it to your partner having poor listening skills but that could lead to feeling resentful and if it happens repeatedly, even lonely. Another, more self-empowering, approach is to ask yourself if you are doing everything you can to set up each communication exchange for success.  Often times, we assume it is a good time for our partner to receive whatever information we are trying to impart on him or her whenever it happens to be a good time for ourselves.  In reality, it’s probably not a good time.  Shouting from the kitchen when your partner is in the next room or talking when your partner is on the internet or watching a program on tv are typical examples of acting on this assumption.

Tip:  To set up each communication exchange for success try asking your partner if this is a good time for him or her to listen to you.  Your partner may reply yes and give you undivided attention which means looking directly at you and confirming that they have heard you. However, sometimes it just isn’t a good time for your partner. In that case, ask your partner when he or she will be available to give you full attention.  Keep in mind, when your partner ask this of you, you probably want to give them a precise time you’ll be available on that same day.

Infidelity – We can heal and grow from it

Kollar Counselling BlogA poignant Ted Talk, “Rethinking Infidelity…a talk for anyone who has every loved”, by Esther Perel, a leading relationship therapist and author asks us to question contemporary social norms and attitudes about marriage and affairs.  With regards to the high divorce rate in our culture, she describes people having ‘happiness entitlement’ so that many are now getting divorced not to be happy but to be happier.  She speaks of the social norm that dictates we must leave our partner upon discovering their affair and of the shame one can feel when they instead choose to stay and work on the relationship.

Some of the many positive messages from this talk are that relationships can heal after an affair.  In fact, the fear of loss an affair incites can actually rekindle desire and create a depth in conversations that a couple may not have had in years and consequently foster self growth and discovery.

She explains a crucial ingredient to healing is that the person who had the affair feels and expresses their remorse and concern about hurting their partner therefore demonstrating to their partner they have not forgotten the damage the affair created.

Esther maintains that in contemporary western culture, you will have three main relationships or marriages in your adult life.  After an affair, your first marriage is over.  It is up to you to decide if you want to create the second one together.   

Watch video here.

Relationship and Autopilot are Mutually Exclusive

Relationship and Autopilot are Mutually ExclusiveTime and again, couples in my office try to make sense of how their relationship came to be in such a state of disrepair.  I hear things like, “I was going to put my focus back on the relationship once I received that promotion or when the kids started school.” Why is this faulty logic?  Just like your car needs oil in order to keep running or your body needs exercise to stay strong, your relationship needs your active attention to stay healthy and connected.  Relationships cannot work on autopilot.  Unfortunately, it often takes the relationship hitting rock bottom to jolt one out of the misconception that he or she could put the relationship on the backburner.

Ways to ensure you are not putting your relationship aside is to have frequent discussions about how the two of you can get through busy or tough times together. Learn what your partner’s needs are out of relationship and actively work to fulfill them.  Ask each other regularly how you are doing in terms of fulfilling those needs.  If these conversations are difficult for you, seek out the help of a relationship counsellor to facilitate these dialogues.  The main thing is DO NOT ASSUME it is okay to give other life demands priority over your relationship for an extended period.

Be Responsible for your own Energy

Be Responsible for your own Energy

Being aware your own energy can benefit your relationship greatly.  Think of your relationship as the space between you and your partner and think of that space as a sacred one.  Set the intention of filling that space with positive, loving energy…always.  If you have children, it is even more important that you set this intention and deliver on it because that space is the air that your children live and breathe.

One way of remaining intentional about emanating positive and loving energy into the sacred space is to make a habit of assessing your own energy before you are in the presence of your partner.  Ask yourself, “What is my mood like right now?” and “what do my posture, facial expression and movements portray?”  If your energy is negative, impatient, anxious, or angry it can lead to your relationship feeling emotionally unsafe.  Learn how to press your own reset button.  For example, take a few moments to yourself to breathe deeply, go for a walk or anything else you know to do that can help you to enter that space in a responsible manner.  In doing so, not only are you being respectful of your partner’s emotional safety but you are also setting up your interaction to be successful and connected.

Turning to a confidant about your relationship problems? Ensure it is helping you and your relationship.

When dealing with a difficult situation in your relationship, it is common to turn to a family member or friend for a supportive ear.  Unfortunately, sometimes that supportive ear may be creating more problems in your relationship. One way turning to a confidant can be detrimental to your relationship is if that person colludes with you. This will prevent you from seeing your part in it and believing the state of the relationship is solely your partner’s fault. It is also counterproductive if your confidant feels anger towards your partner instead of staying neutral.  Lastly, it is clear they do not value your relationship or its longevity,  if your confidant seems to encourage you to leave the relationship after each fight instead of helping you work on it. (more…)

A Surefire Way to Stay Connected…Despite a Busy Schedule

We are all too aware of how busy the days are, and how that can get in the way of feeling connected as a couple.  Fortunately, there is a simple way to stay connected with your partner even when your day does not permit for quality time together.  This is accomplished by having short but meaningful interactions at four different points throughout the day. These points are: the first five minutes both you and your partner are awake, right before you part for the day, the first five minutes when you are both home, and right before you go to sleep. Contact at these points can be as simple as a kiss, an embrace, or a squeeze of a hand. (more…)

You Can be Right, or You Can Have a Relationship, but You Can’t Have Both!

Often times, couples fall into the same pattern of arguing. To find who truly is at fault, each partner can talk over the other in a futile attempt to prove his or her version of the issue that sparked the argument, is the “right” version.  This only results in a communication break down where no one’s point of view is actually being heard. Sound familiar?

How does one stay connected to their partner even when discussing differences? You can stay connected by welcoming your partner’s perspective and validating it. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with it but you can accept it as valid just as you feel your perspective is. (more…)

Wanting to improve your relationship? Striving for balance in your life is a big part of the solution.


Often times when we are looking to enhance or repair our relationship, a crucial element to the solution can be easily overlooked. A successful relationship depends on both partners working towards balance in life.
Have you ever noticed that when you feel tired from a lack of sleep, lonely from not spending time with friends and family, or bored from not pursuing your interests and hobbies, your relationship begins to feel tense or disconnected? That’s because your relationship, while able to meet some of your needs, cannot fulfill all of them. Nor can you begin to be the kind of partner you aim to be when feeling depleted in this way. Therefore, balance is a must. (more…)