Welcome to Building Healthy Relationships



Based on well researched principles, these workshops are designed to help couples to communicate and manage conflict more effectively. With the assistance of trained professionals, couples will learn and practice listening,speaking, and conflict resolution skills in a safe and comfortable environment.(Note: couples choose the content of the issues discussed so they can control confidentiality.)

The workshops are unlike any other being offered to the public at this time. Professional counsellors trained in Marriage or Family Therapy lead the discussions, while couples are provided with individual facilitators to work directly with the couples in practicing the skills. All this is offered for less than 1/2 the cost of what similar workshops are offered at.

 For more information on workshops, scholarships, presenters, or upcoming workshops, email to info@buildinghealthyrelationships.net

History of the BHR  (adapted from article by Dr. Rob Lees)

Rationale for BHR

Healthy parental relationships and marriages contribute to the well being of all family members, both children, parents and even grandparents . This in turn contributes to community health.
The field of health promotion has demonstrated the link between social determinants and physical health. Although considerable public debate has focussed on same sex marriage and to a lesser degree issues related to divorce, there is no similar discourse related to marital and couple quality, despite it’s known implications for health. Recently the American Government, through its Department of Human Services, has launched a five year, half a billion dollar, Healthy Marriage Initiative. No similar program exists in Canada.

There are complex explanations for this problem. In part, marriage and couple education may be associated with ideas of traditional male dominance in a society that has been coming to terms with the violence against women hidden in this agenda. As well, there was the problem that promoting healthy marriage could contribute to stigma or a sense of inferiority in other family structures, such as single parent lead homes or gay and lesbian relationships. For this reason, academics and researchers have stayed away from the topic. At the recent International Union for Health Promotion and Education (IUHPE), funded and supported significantly by Health Canada and Canada’s Public Health Agency, with Co- Chair Dr. David Butler- Jones, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, among literally hundreds of presentations on the determinants of health, not one addressed marital health. .

The issue may as well be much deeper than these sensitivities. Over 50 years ago, David Mace, the founder of The Association of Couples for Marriage Enrichment, wrote about “the myth of naturalism” and the “inter-marital taboo”. Mace suggested that when life spans were shorter and marriages held together through economic and social pressures, marriages would survive naturally. There would be no need for education. As well, he described a taboo in families related to passing on accurate information about what makes relationships work.

The Ottawa Charter (1986) on Health Promotion held out five principles for health promotion, three of which relate directly to the marriage education activities of the Building Health Relationships Program (BHR); creating supportive environments, developing personal skills, and strengthening community action.

What Is the BHR?

It is a community based consortium of agencies, churches, universities and individuals concerned about promoting healthy couple relationships through evidence based couple and marital education.

The BHR began in Chilliwack with the support of The Ministry for Children and Family Development, The University College of the Fraser Valley (UCFV), Trinity Western University, Ann Davis Transition Services, Chilliwack Community Services, a representative of private therapists and several churches, including the Salvation Army, United Church, Sardis Community Church, the Church on the Southside and Heartland Fellowship. Two of the pastors were on publicly elected entities, namely the Chilliwack School Board (Ken Byl) and Chilliwack City Council (Sharon Gaetz). These members therefore wore “two hats” on the committee.

Since 1998 the BHR has offered week-end courses on relationships at the Chilliwack and Abbotsford Campuses of the UCFV. Agencies contribute staff, the University provides space, Ann Davis Transition Society provides administration and registration. Trinity Western provides graduate student facilitators and fees collected go to costs go to advertising.

The BHR board has been an example of sustained community action. The programs develops personal skills related to communication and conflict resolution and the outcomes, attested by two MA Theses on the program.
These demonstrated the effectiveness of the BHR in building supportive environments through marriage education.

Future Goals of the BHR:


1. Raise community awareness of the need to improve couple and marital quality

2. Increase the number of couples seeking relationship education

4. Build community action for healthy family relationships

3. Study relationship and health outcomes of couples attending BHR courses