Recipe for a Strong Relationship

By Tara Murphy

Consider your favourite homemade meal, and the warmth and joy that comes from eating it –every time. Think of each ingredient used in it and how once you’ve added each item to your recipe, you put it back on the shelf. If those items stay there for a long time they may get stale, change, or ruin and this impacts how your meal tastes next time. Consider these ingredients to be every aspect of your relationship with your partner –humor you share, common interests, romantic gestures, appreciation, intimacy, etc. Together they make a beautiful dish, or in this case a relationship, but when life gets in the way we forget to check on them, replenish them, or adjust them so they may alter in flavour and noticeability. Couples therapy is designed to work with the recipe you’ve already created with your partner and find ways to replenish, refresh, and perhaps alter some ‘ingredients’ to maintain that lovely dish that has brought you much love and comfort in the past. 

Not sure if your relationship is at the point of needing couples therapy? 

This is a very common question! Relationships can naturally fluctuate somewhat with life’s stresses, but often times we don’t feel the need to prioritize our relationship because we assume it’s just a ‘rough patch’ – until the ‘rough patch’ is a rough year, decade, or it’s at its breaking point. Therapy is usually most effective when new tools are added to the toolbox before we’re at that breaking point (Gottman & Gottman, 2008). Don’t wait for those ingredients to go stale or empty before replenishing!

Here are some common thoughts people often have before coming in for couples therapy: 

  • I feel like my partner isn’t really listening or hearing me when I bring up things that bother me
  • We used to have so much in common and now we don’t agree on anything or share many interests
  • I can feel my partner distancing from me and I don’t know what to do, or I feel myself distancing from my partner and am not sure why or how to fix it 
  • I’m not certain my partner likes me anymore. They are critical of me or don’t acknowledge what I do well 
  • I want to become best friends with my partner again 
  • It’s hard to find time exclusively with my partner with busy kids and life 
  • I want to be a team with my partner 
  • I want to be seen and appreciated by my partner 

What couples therapy looks like: 

[utilizing the Gottman Method (Gottman & Gottman, 2008)]

  • The initial session is a chance for you to meet your therapist and let your therapist get an idea of what your relationship looks like, areas you enjoy about your relationship, areas you want to work on, and goals for therapy (1 hour -1.5 hour)
  • Next two sessions (each an hour) are for each partner to attend individually. This is for you to reflect more individually on your needs and wants in your relationship, perhaps give some personal background, and consider the goals you feel are important to achieve. There may be some questionnaires provided at these sessions. 
  • Reunited: after the individual sessions, your next session will be with your partner and will focus on creating a plan with your therapist on what you want your journey of togetherness to look like what that recipe might need. Your therapist will work to guide you and your partner in developing and practicing skills and behaviours that work to achieve the goals you’ve set together. More individual sessions may be suggested. 

If couples therapy interests you or you’d like to learn more, contact us through or 780-886-5471 and a couples therapist can consult with you for free. I look forward to supporting you and your partner on your journey to replenishing that comfort-favourite recipe! 


Gottman, J. M., & Gottman, J. S. (2008). Gottman method couple therapy: Clinical handbook of couple therapy. The Guilford Press.

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