More couples looking to mend troubled relationships

A concern for the children is driving more parents to programs like ‘Couples Boot Camp’

Concern for the kids drive more parents to programs like ‘Couples Boot Camp’

“We are going to see the parent-teacher.” That’s what a couple tells their children when they come and see me. In fact, these parents are talking about how they relate in what could be called traditional couples counselling. The reason they are coming is to reduce damage on their children from their distressed relationship. This seems to be a growing trend. It is based on my observations from more than 25 years of counselling families: parents more often working to fix their relationship, mindful of the impacts on the children. Yes, it is a limited sample. Yes, there may be times when it is better for parents to be apart than together to reduce exposing children to conflict. Still, it is encouraging to see the dedication of parents willing to unravel the knots in their relationships, let go of old hurts and learn new patterns and skills, because they understand the trickle down effect on their kids.

The shift is somewhat nuanced. I used to see more parents determined to separate, but wanting to help their kids cope. Now I see more who are determined to stay and improve their relationship. Parents are the tectonic plates on which the emotional lives of children rest. What’s encouraging to me is that more parents seem to truly understand this. They see a direct link between their relationships and their children’s emotions and they are deeply concerned about it. Dates, playfulness, kindness and deep dialogue between parents are a balm that soothes the soul of developing and dependent young minds.

There is talk about “helicopter” parents, hovering over their children, obsessed with their lives. While it’s good for parents to be involved in the lives of their children, it is equally and perhaps more important that parents have their own lives.

Chilliwack has had a partnership of agencies and churches, along with University of the Fraser Valley and Trinity Western University that for 16 years have offered courses for couples, branded “Boot Camp” for couples. There are three courses. If a couple took all three it would amount to 30 hours of their time. Less than a work week. Participants have often lamented that they didn’t learn these skills in school as they are so critical to their most important investment – their family.

Here are few of the key skills;

• Self-sooth – learn to self-calm so you can be rational and see the other’s point of view

• Complain well – speak for yourself without using words that evoke blame or criticism

• Be a softie – see the “soft” emotions that underlie hard feelings. For example, the soft emotion of hurt often lies beneath the hard emotion, anger.

• Interpret protest accurately – the raging spouse is usually someone who is insecure about whether they matter and are making a protest in a bid to have their anxiety alleviated.

• Cultivate friendship – create a love map and intentionally foster fond feelings towards the other

• Create a shared vision – “Dreams within conflict” is a phrase used to describe how poorly articulated and resolved life goals become sources of ongoing conflict in relationships.

For more about the Couples Boot Camp, contact Ann Davis Services in Chilliwack or www.buildinghealthyrelationships.net.

Dr. Robert Lees, R.Psych is the Community Psychologist for the Ministry for Children and Family Development in Chilliwack.

Just Posted

Mathieu Caron leads Chilliwack Chiefs to shutout win over Wenatchee Wild

Chilliwack’s netminder stopped 29 pucks Saturday night in a BCHL Showcase game at Prospera Centre.

Chilliwack Chiefs erase three goal deficit in overtime win

Down 3-0 to the Cowichan Capitals, the Chiefs came back to win 4-3 in the BCHL Showcase match.

Chilliwack man feeling helpless about puppy stolen while at church

Evidence of neighbour trespassing and accusing him of dog neglect not enough for RCMP

UPDATE: Missing Chilliwack man has been found

Chilliwack RCMP is thanking the public for keeping an eye out

UPDATED: Chilliwack councillor’s expenses being sent to the RCMP

Decision to have expenses audited and shared with RCMP taken at special meeting of council

Conservation officer frees B.C. deer from flotation gear mishap

BC Conservation Officer Service is reminding residents to keep backyards clear of entanglements

Lions earn stunning 35-32 OT win over Ticats

Epic comeback lifts B.C. past Hamilton in CFL thriller

Czarnik nets 3 as Flames dump Canucks 5-2

Calgary picks up exhibition win over Vancouver

Ottawa to name new ambassador for women, peace and security, Freeland says

Chrystia Freeland also confirmed Canada would spend about $25 million to fund number of initiatives

‘A little bright spot:’ Ottawa residents rescue dog trapped beneath rubble

Freelance journalist says rescue of a dog trapped under rubble was happy ending amid chaos in Ottawa

B.C. deaf community wants different sign languages on federal accessibility act

Advocates also want Indigenous Sign Language to be recognized on the Indigenous Language Act

Remainder of Vancouver Whitecaps season filled with ‘must-win’ games: coach

With Vancouver currently sitting four points out of a post-season spot, each contest is crucial

VIDEO: B.C.-born firefighter remembered by MP in emotional speech

Family asks first responders to look after one another in wake of suicide, growing concerns of PTSD

Airline has ‘close call’ with drone while en route to B.C. airport

Jazz Aviation reported the drone sighting near Vancouver to the RCMP and Transport Canada

Most Read