A Crash Course in How To Make Relationships Work

“Hello, South Devon Couples Therapy… How can I help you?”

That’s my standard response to picking up the phone.

And the caller hung up in reply.


Okay, no worries, the wrong number I thought, and got back to work.

A few minutes later…

…You guessed it:


“Hello, South Devon Couples therapy…” I say.

And again…



Now then, I don’t know what it’s like where you are, but mobile connectivity can be a little bit hit and miss here in Dawlish, so I thought: “I’ll give it half an hour and give the caller a ring back.”

And went back to work.

You guessed it.


And this time, I hear a young voice saying “Hello?”.

Now I admit to feeling a little frosty when picking up the phone, but hearing this voice I instantly melted.

Long story short…

…This was a teenager – going through the process of plucking up the courage – to ask for help with his relationship.

I don’t do free advice, but I was so impressed with the courage of this young man I told him to go grab a pen and paper and I was about to give him a crash course in how to make relationships work.

Here’s a summary of what we covered:

  1. You’re awesome – I started by telling him how the research suggests most couples wait at least 6 years before seeking help with the troubles in their relationship.
  2. HOK conversations – Honest, Open, and Kind conversations are how you need to talk with your loved ones. With Kindness being the most important. Most of the couples therapy skills I teach are aimed at helping couples to have HOK conversations.
  3. Gentle Start-Up – Courtesy of the Gottman Institute. John Gottman’s research suggests how you start a conversation predicts how that conversation is going to go. And one of the best ways I’ve found to start an important conversation with a loved one is to use the three parts that make up a Gentle Start-Up.
  4. Ask – The simple way to get whatever you want or need in your life is to ask. Of course… It’s a bit more complicated than that. There are certain rules you need to follow, but you’d be amazed how many couples are shocked to learn they’re allowed to ask their partner for what they want or need.

The vast majority of the therapy I do with couples, includes these foundational principles.

And if you’d like my help using these tools to improve your relationship…

…Go here next.