I Want to Leave, He Wants Couples Counselling

I Want to Leave, He Wants Couples Counselling

If you’ve landed on this page after searching “I want to leave but he wants couples counselling”, you are likely feeling confused, hurt, frustrated and lonely in your relationship. 

Grappling with the difficult choice of whether to stay in a troubled relationship or leave, is not easy.

After all, when you got together, you had the intention of staying together. 

Even though you know it’s cliche, you really did hope to live happily ever after.

Yet, despite all your hopes and dreams in the beginning, and all your good intentions now, there are days when it seems impossible to continue. 

You’ve lived through too many battles and experienced so many unresolved hurts.  It’s no wonder, at least intellectually, you’re considering moving on.

If you’re wrestling with thoughts of leaving your relationship, you’re not alone.  A study of by The National Divorce Decision-Making Project that surveyed married individuals (ages 25-50) found that 1 in 4 (25%) survey participants reported some recent thoughts about divorce. Of those that had recently thought about divorce, 40% have spoken with their spouse about these thoughts.

Perhaps you are considering sharing these feelings with your partner or, maybe you’ve already made your thoughts known. 

Either way, what’s clear is that they don’t agree with the decision to break up. 

I want to leave he wants couples counselling discernment counselling Bedford Halifax

It’s not uncommon for me to get a call from a prospective client asking “I want to leave, he wants couples counselling.  What should we do?”  

It’s been my experience, that this conversation is often what prompts couples who have let frustration, disconnection and resentment build up in their relationship for a long time, decide to seek couples counselling.  

Because it has been hard for so long, it makes perfect sense that one, or both, of you are skeptical or unsure if counselling can help.

Even if one or both of you have very little hope that things can be different, if you are both are open to exploring the possibility, couples therapy can be very helpful.

However, there are some situations when traditional marriage & couples counselling is not going to be a right fit:

  • If one person is having an affair and does not want to leave their affair partner
  • If one person is committed to separation/divorce and has their mind made up
  • If one person is not willing to attend couples therapy. Attending therapy is not something you want to pressure or talk your partner into. 
  • If there is intimate partner violence and you don’t feel safe 

Can couples therapy help us?

Research studies on the effect of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) consistently show that it decreases relationship distress. These improvements not only happen during therapy, but continue after therapy has concluded. 

EFT is an evidence based therapy rooted in attachment science and neurobiology.  Studies such as “Soothing The Threatened Brain” confirm, through the use of modern science, that therapy can help shape loving feelings between partners and change the way our brains respond to threat and pain.

Marriage counselling can help you;

  • Identify behavioural patterns that are keeping you and your partner stuck 
  • Help each partner can gain new insights about their primary (softer) emotions and learn to communicate these in the relationship
  • Resolve conflict effectively  by first having you experience successful communication in session and showing you how to do it between sessions too
  • Deepen your sense of empathy and connection with your partner as you begin to know them more fully


should I end relationship counselling Bedford Halifax

I Want to Leave and he Wants Couples Counselling.

You may not be 100% sure that you want to pursue a separation, but you are sure that you do not want to go to couples counselling to talk about restoring your relationship.  

You have expressed your desire to leave but your spouse wants to go to couples counselling. 

Discernment Counselling is designed for you.  

Unlike traditional marriage  & couples counselling which is aimed at rebuilding your relationship, Discernment Counselling is designed to guide you and your partner, through a series of conversations to help you conclude what direction you will move in. 

These conversations help couples, where one person is “leaning out” of the relationship and the other is “leaning in”. Or, in other words, both partners do not have the same goals for their relationship going into therapy. 

How does Discernment Counselling Help Me?

Discernment counselling helps both partners look at their contribution to the state of the relationship.  Part of a Discernment Counselling session is spent 1:1 with a therapist. 

If you are the “leaning in” spouse, you will learn new skills to help you cope effectively in the midst of these difficult circumstances. You will also explore some of the ways you have contributed to the challenges you currently face in your relationship. 

If you are the”leaning out” spouse you will gain greater clarity concerning the difficult decision you are making. The objective of discernment counselling for the “leaning out” spouse is, in part, to help you consider all the implications so that you can feel more certain that you are making the best choice possible.

Following 1:1 time, the three of us will meet together to discuss what each of you have learned in your individual meetings and help you evaluate if you are ready to commit to a course of action- to pursue a separation or to commit to a 6-month course of couples therapy. 

Discernment Counselling is a short term form of help (up to 5 sessions) and is considered successful when both partners have an increased understanding of what went wrong in the relationship and how they want to move forward.

discernment counselling couples counselling  Bedford Halifax

Will this help me decide if I want to leave?

Making  the decision to stay married or to separate is a very difficult and complex. An experienced relationship therapist can help you individually to sort through your own thoughts and feelings, but, they do not know your partner or their side of the relationship.  

The benefit of Discernment Counselling is that there is a specific roadmap for the therapist to follow.  It is a structured process that can help both of you look at your relationship and the decision you face more objectively  It gives both of you emotional support through the process. 

By the end of the Discernment Counselling sessions, you will have explored these 4 key questions;

-“What has happened to your marriage that has gotten you to the point where separation/divorce is a possibility?” 

-“What have you done to try to fix these problems so that you didn’t get to this point? It might be things you tried individually, as a couple, or with outside help.”

-“What role, if any, do your children play in your decision making about the future of your marriage?” 

– “What was the best of times in your relationship since you met? A time when you felt the most connection and joy in your relationship.” 

If you’ve been struggling with a strained romantic relationship, marriage & couples counselling can be very helpful. I invite you to reach out for a free 15 minute consultation to see if we’d be a good fit to work together, to help get your relationship back on track.I have completed training by the Doherty Relationship Institute as a Certified Discernment Counsellor. I also have extensive training and experience as an Emotional Focused Couples Therapist.
3 Ways Individual Counseling Can Help Your Marriage

3 Ways Individual Counseling Can Help Your Marriage

Even happily married couples can hit obstacles along the way. Did you know that individual counselling can be helpful, even when your partner is not interested or able to attend couples therapy.

John Gottman, is an American psychologist, researcher and clinician who has studied divorce and marital stability for more than 40 years.  He found that couples are in distressed relationships for more than 6 years before seeking help. That is a long time to struggle.

In my clinical practice, people often tell me that they have waited to come to therapy until their partner was willing or able to seek help.  The person who has been waiting, often expresses a mix of relief and frustration when their partner finally agrees to come to counselling.  They feel like they have been wrestling with the problems in their relationship all by themselves for a long time. 

 Many people assume that when their partner is unwilling or unable to come to therapy, that they have to wait tho see a therapist until both people can see one together.

While I there is solid research that shows the effectiveness of couples counselling for resolving relationship problems, if your spouse is unwilling or unable to come, I would encourage you to consider coming to counselling on your own.  

Individual counselling can help you learn new skills and strategies to cope in your relationship. And while there is no guarantee that your partner will be responsive to your changes, individual counselling can help you feel like you are coping in the best possible way with the challenges in your relationship.

3 Ways Individual Counselling can Help Your Relationship.


1.  Identifying Behavioral Patterns

 Most of us are aware of our partner’s behaviours but less focused on our own.  

In a struggling relationship, it is not uncommon for the focus to be the other person’s behaviour.  But when you can’t seem to get them to change, the problems in your marriage can seem overwhelming and discouraging.

But here’s the truth. I have never met a someone who said their behaviour was transformed because their partner continually pointed out their flaws and shortcomings.

 If you are going to help things improve in your relationship, getting clear about your own steps in ‘the dance’ and making sense of why you keep going back to these same old unhelpful behaviours is so important.  

 Individual Therapy Can Help You Recognize Your Own Negative Patterns

 As someone who specializes in marriage and couples therapy, I am trained to help individuals recognize their own negative patterns and how they play out in their relationship.

 I can help you get clear about the kind of responses that you would rather give, even when things are strained between the two of you.

Individual therapy can help you learn to slow down your reactions so you can intentionally behave in ways that are more like the kind of partner you want to be.

 Individual therapy will help you make better sense of what happens to you emotionally in conflict situations.  You can learn to recognize triggers for behaviour that ends up getting you and your partner stuck.

 As a result, you will be empowered and able to take a step back during conflicts as they occur, preventing escalation.

 As a bonus, a therapist can also point out the strengths and resources they find in your relationship so you can leverage and learn how to nourish them.

 2. Change at the Root Level

Once your therapist has helped you identify negative patterns, they can then help you understand why they are happening and assist you in changing them. Most behavioral patterns are formed and ingrained when we are very young – before we become self-aware and before we’ve met our significant others.

 Our attachment strategies, how we seek to maintain closeness with others,  are formed early in life and have a lot to do with our first relationship with a primary caregiver.  

 Lesley Becker-Phelps, author of Insecure in Love: How Anxious Attachment Can Make you Feel Jealous, Needy and Worried notes that your current attachment style is probably the same as what was nurtured in your childhood relationships.  If you never experienced as sense of security in your relationship, were fearful of being rejected or had a desire for closeness you could never satisfy, you are likely to still struggle with some of these worries.  

 The ways in which people deal with these ‘attachment insecurities’  are known as attachment styles, which describe how you relate to yourself (how worthy you feel of being loved which can create anxiety) and significant other in a relationship (how much you feel you can rely on others which can create avoidance).  The 4 attachment styles; preoccupied, fearful, dismissive and secure, reflect varying characteristic of anxiety/avoidance.   You can read more about attachment styles in this awesome book.  

 Even if you have never experienced a close, connected relationship, you can develop a more secure attachment style known as “earned secure attachment”.  While this often happens in adult love relationships, earned secure attachment can also develop in therapy.  This happens because of several key events;   a strong alliance with your therapist.  and learning to become more self-aware and self-compassionate.  

 Having a more secure attachment style and a sense of compassion for yourself  can create a positive difference in your relationship.


3. Coping Strategies

We often reach for  unworkable coping strategies.  Things like opting out (not doing something or going somewhere), distracting ourselves (hello, Netflix binges!) and numbing ourselves with food, alcohol, drugs, etc. are all effective in the short term to get rid of uncomfortable sensations and emotions.

 The problem is that in the long term, overusing these strategies often leads us away from being the kind of person and the kind of partner we want to be.

The emotional pain of being in a struggling relationship can often lead people to get caught in a vicious cycle of overusing these unworkable coping strategies.

This impacts their relationship, leading to further conflict, which leads to more unworkable coping strategies.  Individual therapy can help learn new ways to regulate your emotions and find more compassion for yourself, both of which can have an impact on your relationship. 


While these things may not directly ‘working on’ your relationship, they can give you the emotional balance you need to do things differently. 


If after checking out this blog post you realize that you’d benefit from individual therapy to improve your relationship, let’s chat. I work with women and couples in Halifax/Dartmouth/Sackville and surrounding areas at my Bedford Office.  


 You can book a free 15 minute consultation  online or call Stephanie at (902) 702-7722 to schedule an appointment.


 All my best,



A Dozen Date Night Ideas To Build Connection In Your Relationship

A Dozen Date Night Ideas To Build Connection In Your Relationship

I get it; life is busy and it’s tough to find time for date nights with your partner, but what I know to be true after more than a decade of working with couples is that if you don’t work to build connection with your spouse, it will fade. 

It doesn’t always have to be a big deal and it doesn’t have to happen every week, but it’s important to make time for your partner – to find ways to build connection and keep things fresh and exciting. 

Whether you’ve been together for one year or 50 it’s always valuable to do something unique with your spouse so you have time together to bond and talk without a screen distracting you. 

It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut and forget how fun simple dates can be.  So why not turn it up a notch and do something new once in awhile? 

Here are a dozen ideas to keep things fresh and build connection in your relationship. 


  1. Have a picnic – Remember how fun it can be to throw some snacks, a blanket and maybe some wine into a bag and search for a nice spot to just sit, hang out and talk? Whether you find a beach, a park or maybe even a hiking spot is up to you, but some place where you can have some alone time is recommended. Bonus points if you bring along a game such as crib or scrabble.

  2. Photography expedition – A personal favourite of ours – it’s just the best feeling to jump in the car and drive to a small town or two nearby and snap some photos. You can each take your own unique shots and compare after. Find a small town to explore and take photos of the people and things you find. Nova Scotia is full of picturesque spots. Terence Bay, Three Fathom Harbour, Wolfville, Advocate Harbour and Baddeck – just to name a few! This activity is a great way to connect and all you need is a tank of gas and your cameras.


  3. Take a class together – This is a great opportunity to pick an activity you both enjoy or want to learn together and get out once a week. Whether it’s a cooking class, a self-defence class, or an art class, there’s something for every couple and so much fun to be had. This is something that will take your mind off your responsibilities, and, if you are feeling disconnected in a relationship, learning something new together gives you a level playing field to spark that connection once again.


  4. Visit a city landmark/tourist attraction  It could be Citadel Hill, The Nova Scotia Art Gallery, Peggy’s Cove or a tour on the Harbour Hopper, but visiting some of your city’s cool landmarks and tourist attractions are a fun way to not only get to know your partner more but your hometown more too. Learning, laughing and exploring together are a great way to stay connected in a relationship.


  5. Boardgames – If you struggle to stay away from talking only about your children or work during date nights, playing games is a great way to help you focus on the moment and connect with your spouse. Here is a link to why boardgames are a great date activity!


  6. Date Nights At Home – You don’t have to go out on the town to have a special time with your partner. Sometimes its most relaxing to set aside time to curl up on the couch together with snacks and a movie or even order in a late night dinner. Simple, yet effective. (It would be best, however, to leave those smart phones somewhere else in the house for those couple of hours! Your goal is to connect with each other during this time – not to keep connected with the rest of the world.)


  7. Watch a live sporting event – It’s one thing to watch sports on the television, but it’s a lot more fun to catch a baseball, basketball, football or hockey event live. You can get into the team spirit by dressing in your team’s colour and bond over your love for the game.


  8. Volunteer together – This is a great way to bond and also give back to the community. You could volunteer at the local animal rescue, the homeless shelter serving food or a nursing home. You will find yourself learning more about each other. It also feels good to give back.


  9. Try something new together – Is there something you’ve always wanted to try but just haven’t? It could be camping in the woods, whitewater rafting, horseback riding or kayaking – experiencing a new activity together is one of the best things you can do. It’s fun and you can bond over the experience.


  10. Rent bikes/explore your city – Some cities offer bike rentals and you can cycle around and explore together. If there are no bikes, just walk around and visit new stores you haven’t yet visited. It gives you a chance to talk, laugh and see new things.


  11. Stargaze – If you can drive a little bit out of the city with a blanket and some warm clothes, you can catch the sky and the stars together after the sun goes down. Nothing is more romantic than laying in each other’s arms and looking up into the star-filled sky. (Fun Fact: Do you know part of Southwest Nova Scotia has been designated as the first Starlight Tourism Destination in North America by the UNESCO-affiliated International Starlight Federation?)


  12. Go for a walk – Although all these ideas may sound great, maybe some weeks you just don’t have a couple hours to set aside for a date night. That’s okay. If you have a half hour, leave the home behind and go for a walk (or if you are ambitious… a run!) together. I find it’s a nice way to connect with my hubby, let go of the stress of the day and tune in to each other. All while enjoying mental, physical, and emotional health benefits!

If after checking out this blog post you realize you’d like to talk to someone about how to improve your relationship and build connection in your marriage/partnership, let’s connect.  You can book a session online or call Stephanie at (902) 702-7722 to book an appointment. You can also read more about the therapy for couples or for women who want to work on their relationships through individual counselling.

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