Developing a healthy couple relationship

Research shows couples that are struggling in their relationship will wait an average of six years before seeking help. You read that right- six years! No relationship is perfect — even happy couples go through ups and downs- and most couples will benefit from receiving support, especially if they reach out for it early instead of living with the issue for years.

"In this time, the problem festers and becomes more complex as the ripple effect of the issue creates more pain. People who have been suffering an unhappy relationship are understandably exhausted and have little energy to invest in the work required to make the relationship better, with or without a therapist's help," says Jodie Voth, manager of Employee Assistance Services* at Manitoba Blue Cross.

While going to therapy is one approach, there is another valuable option that may be more accessible for many people. Manitoba Blue Cross has created an online learning program, Developing Healthy Couple Relationships. This self-paced couple relationship education program will help you learn about what makes couple relationships healthy and how to strengthen your own relationship.

"After providing couples counselling for over 10 years, I've come to believe that everyone can benefit from being taught the skills needed to be in a healthy relationship because they aren't instinctive and we don't learn them by chance," says Voth, who has a Master of Marriage and Family Therapy degree.

Throughout the program's eight sessions, you'll learn about:

  • attachment (the safe connection between partners)
  • communication
  • how to have healthy conflict
  • calming and coping strategies
  • how to bring balance to the relationship
  • fostering commitment
  • and other valuable relationship-focused topics

"Couples today commonly report a lack of time and energy for the things they know will improve their relationship. That's why this program gets right to the point about what makes relationships tick. Each session can be completed in an hour or less. That means participants learn tools they can use right away in about the same amount of time they'd spend in a therapy session, but it can be done anytime, anywhere, together with a partner or separately," says Voth, who wrote the program.

When creating Developing Healthy Couple Relationships, Voth wanted to address the issues that most commonly bring couples to therapy in a sound, research-supported, evidence-based format.

"When I was doing the research to develop the program, I found a lot of online couple programs that were not supported by research. I wanted to create something that would make it easy for participants to access reputable information that is proven to help in a self-paced course format," says Voth.

The result is a practical, accessible and interactive program with lots of opportunities to discuss and reflect along the way.

Manitoba Blue Cross members with Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or Individual Assistance Program (IAP) coverage can access the program at no cost.

Or if you feel you need more support, consider finding a couples therapist to help you grow and strengthen your relationship. Manitoba Blue Cross’s counselling services are available to all Manitobans, regardless of whether or not you have coverage with Manitoba Blue Cross. Find the available support that's right for you here.

If you're unsure of your coverage with Manitoba Blue Cross, log in to your mybluecross® account to confirm.

*This article was updated on February 1, 2023, to reflect the current job title of Jodie Voth.

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