My Journey with Couples Alive

Written by Cathy McNally (BSc, DipC), a Core Faculty member who has been associated with the Haven since 1989!

In 2010 my husband Ernie and I, each with a decade of Core Faculty experience, were asked to create a Haven program for couples. A program for couples who want their relationships alive and vital; who are willing to dive deep and explore, together.

One strength of our relationship had always been celebrating and embracing our differences. We leaned in and began weaving our thoughts and dreams about how the program might be. Before long one thing became clear: we needed others, we needed a team. Why? Over our years of working with people we were aware of the many different choices and preferences that individuals have and make—indeed it is this uniqueness that connects us! It occurred that we were only one couple…designing a program that made sense to us. We wanted to be sure to include elements that would suit a wide range of people. We needed other couples with different styles and rhythms to their relationships than ours—and dear friends and colleagues were good examples. So we reached out and asked two of them to join us. They accepted!* This began a vibrant and alive journey of collaboration.

We quickly realized that although we were three couples, we were also a very definite group of six different people—each of whom was not afraid to express their opinion! We had fun, disagreements, discussion, and lots of creativity as we birthed the Couples Alive series. As a group we hoped to always have couples leading and assisting: couples being with couples. Guiding, encouraging, and supporting participant couples to practice, explore and choose what works best for them.

Couples Alive has been going strong since it was launched in 2011. Right from the outset we each remarked on how much we loved leading this particular program! So rewarding to be working with other couples in this very real and honest way. We each, and the participants, work hard, …and also have a lot of fun. (the best way to learn!)

Sadly for me personally, a big change came with the loss of my partner, Ernie, in 2014. For a period of years during and after his illness and death I did not lead the Couples Alive program, though I returned to leading other programs at Haven. In 2021 I was delighted to return to co-leading Couples Alive with dear friends. Happily I am now several years into a new relationship, and discovering all the new things I have the opportunity to learn… which is giving me an abundance of new material to share!

The icing on the cake for me is that in April I am co-leading with my dear colleague and friend Sue Muirhead, and we have two couples in the team: Sue and Aubrey, plus Louise and Richard. (our range of life and couples’ experience is huge!) Can’t wait!

*Our collaborators: Sandey McCartney, David Raithby, Susan Clarke, CrisMarie Campbell.

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