Updates to our Counselling Practice, 2023

Hello Client-Friends, this is an update about our counselling practice and this may impact your visiting with us.

First, Carole and I will not be visiting with new clients (eg intake). We will continue to see individuals, couples, and families that we have worked with prior to 2023. (If you wish to refer friends or family to us, please see our “Counsellor Referral List” below.)

Second, we will not reopen our at-home office for face-to-face meetings. We will continue online using Doxy.me for our counselling and consulting services.

Third, we can help you make a great counselling match if you ask. For a link for counsellors we work with and trust, go to the Tools section on our website and see the Counsellor Referral List. Also, if you wish for a personal recommendation for another counsellor or psychologist, send us a note with some information about your concerns. You can use the Intake Form for this.

As you can see, we are reducing our counselling work with the idea of retirement. Carole will probably retire in a year or so. I (Paddy) will probably follow her when I can come to terms with how old I have become.

I hope this note finds you well.

Paddy

 

 

50 Years Married (and we would do it all again)

As of this weekend, Carole and I have been married for 50 years. Some have asked, “what are your secrets?” with the question mostly addressed to Carole, as in, “how did you live with him for so long?” I have been hard to live with I know, but Carole says she would do it again. (We didn’t discuss whether marrying George Clooney with an endless supply of Nespresso was an option.) Anyway, here is my answer to the “what are your secrets question”.


Having an enduring marriage is a good thing but not particularly virtuous. It doesn’t really take faith, hope, or love to outlast others or the expectations of others. Some didn’t think we would make it and, at times I agreed, worrying that I could not be for Carole what she hoped for and needed. But Carole was different. She knew we were good together. She always believed in us and in me.

To have a good marriage, a marriage “to be proud of” is more than endurance and more than counting years. Good fortune is one of many of those intangibles that helped us. It was my good fortune to meet her in high school where she was the secretary of the “future teacher’s club” and I was the president. She never came to one of my basketball games as her church frowned on men sweating in short pants. But we met young and we married young. That was good.

Over our 50 years, we have shared and talked a lot, as well as reading, worrying, studying, and loving God and people. But those vaulted virtues do not minimize our hunger to touch and hold and kiss each other. I read somewhere that good kissing is one of the best predictors of marital success. We continue to be good at that. Researchers say that shared saliva has a biological bling to sustain marriage when life is difficult. Amen.

We have been partners in so many things from church work, people in our home, conferencing, counselling, and most importantly, child-loving. My we love our two kids. It hurts to love this deeply. Parenting is so fraught with hope and love and pain. It seems to me that marriage carves out the capacity to be head-over-heals in love with kids. And now we have grandchildren and we share all their excitement and fear about their lives. It is as deep a pain as love gets.

Carole and I have crafted a common story where prayer and worship and wonder are integral. In the last several years we have become less churchly and more curious. But we are no less desiring of God and responsive to “them”. Our faith journey is less either-or and more hospitable. We like strangers. Me especially.

We enjoy our shared affections. Red wine, “The Chair” on Netflix, travelling to places like Uganda, Uzbekistan, and China to give back what has so generously been given to us. 

Giving back is a shared value. We used to call it tithing but now we think of it as just giving back. Giving is the best gift one can receive. Rather than buying each other another gift for this anniversary we have decided to give to the Children’s Hospital for all they have given to our family over the years.

One more thing that is important to us and what has inspired our marriage: friends. You. And you. And you. Yes, you. You are our family, the people we love. And we are sustained by you. You continue to be faith, hope, and love to us.

Here is a great meditation on marriage. Mediate away!

Paddy and Carole

 

(If you would like to respond to this or anything else on our website, you are invited to write us at life@theducklows.ca.)

Keep On Keeping On

Carole and I are working out how to “keep on keeping on” in the midst of increasing demands for our counselling time. We are both concerned about our long waiting lists and the urgencies caused by the covid crises. And we are also aware that we can’t work as hard as we have up until this point.

We love the work of listening, wondering, consoling and challenging and we hope to continue our work with you for some time to come. So, to be able to do this and to do so effectively, we are making some changes. Here they are:

  • First — we are going to limit the number of new clients so that we can better serve the people we visit with now. This started on April 1, 2021.
  • Second — we are going to re-package our workdays so that we are not carrying as many hours each day. This will be in effect by September 2021.
  • Third — when covid restrictions have lifted, and this looks like it is coming shortly, we are going to limit in-office visits and keep much of our work online. We will probably open for in-office visits around October 1st. Watch the calendar and this blog for updates.
  • Fourth — we will actively refer people who inquire about working with us. We have an extensive network of counsellors and we think we can match clients and counsellors quite effectively.

In summary, this means that we want to continue to work with you because we have a commitment to you, and we value the work we have accomplished together. But we are going to restrict new commitments to others.

Let us know your thoughts. Write to us at life@theducklows.ca. We will be sure to get back to you. And thanks.

(Updated July 1, 2021 — Happy Canada Day!)

“Bid Theory” and the Spirit of Marriage

Of all the people who marry, only 30 per cent grow towards a quality of marriage that they hoped for when they started out. So says Ty Tashiro in his book, “The Science of Happily Ever After.” A lot of us divorce or separate, and many maintain a “just reasonably content” compromise, and a few of us are “happily ever after.”

By the way, this is true if one is a faith-follower or if one is something else from the spiritual-psychological neighbourhood.

Seattle’s John Gottman, the current marital-parenting guru, has studied married couples for four decades and distilled the nature of their success – and it is completely ordinary. “Much of it comes down to the spirit couples bring to the relationship. Do they bring kindness and generosity or contempt, criticism, and hostility?”

According to Gottman, people whose relationships thrived “scanned the social environment for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. They are building this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully.” Those who gave up on their marriages more than often scanned for their partner’s mistakes.

This part of Gottman’s research is obvious to those who identify gratitude as evidence of God’s Spirit (Ephesians 5:18-20).

Gottman found the key to success in the everyday interactions between couples. He calls them “bids.” Say my partner makes a thoughtful and generous dinner for the family and asks for my response with the hope of some appreciation. I thank her blankly because I’m immersed in my own thing. She has made a “bid,” according to Gottman, for my attention and appreciation and I didn’t deliver. And neither do the kids for that matter.

Did you know that the majority of “bids” between unhappy couples go unanswered or worse, dismissed with contempt?

Here is something interesting: when Gottman examined the decades of marital data, he found divorcing couples responded to bids only infrequently, less than a third of the time. What about couples that thrived? They approached and appreciated the bids nearly 90% of the time. They had “emotional intelligence.”

Seems simple enough but sometimes hard to do.

(Adapted from a July 2014 Vancouver Sun article by Michael Pond.) Updated December 2020.