Dear Candy,
I’m finding it difficult to bring up to my partner that I’d like to try couples counseling. It isn’t that things are wrong; they’re just not completely right. He’s very pessimistic, and I don’t want him to blame himself for my wanting to seek third-party help. How can I break the ice on this difficult conversation?

— Wanting Help

Dear Wanting Help,
The best way to set up an important conversation is to ask your partner when a good time would be for the two of you to have about a 30-minute conversation. Give him the topic of the conversation so he doesn’t have to wonder what’s up with you and him. No alcohol; no TV; put down electronic devices. Find a place in the house where you are sitting and facing each other.

Use what is called a “soft start-up.” The data shows that whether using either a soft start-up or harsh start-up, the rest of the conversation will stay in that style.

Think about the two to three messages you want to give to your partner. For example, “It isn’t that things are wrong; they’re just not completely right.” Or, “It isn’t about one of us; it’s about both of us, and how we connect and relate to one another.” Say, “I believe that couples counseling can help us have a more fulfilling relationship.”

These are the messages you put in your letter to me stated above.

Couples Counseling is not only appropriate for problems within a relationship but also for helping a couple have better conversations and, therefore, better connections.

— Good luck, Candy

Dear Candy,
I had a catastrophic breakup with my ex-girlfriend this time last year, and, while it didn’t end well, deep down we can’t deny that there will always be something there. Recently, she reached out to me to rekindle our flame, but I’m very hesitant to put myself back in a situation that ended messy. What should my next step be?

— Hesitant

Dear Hesitant,
I’ve heard people talk about a relationship in terms of love: “It can’t be over, because we love each other.” But a relationship takes more than just love. It takes respect, trust, dependability, commitment, teamwork and friendship. Love alone is not enough.

I know that last sentence is not very romantic. But it is reality. Friendship is a very important characteristic of a healthy and fulfilling partnership. Sure, it’s about whether you love her.

But do you like her?

Listen to yourself. I hear real concern on your part about getting involved with your ex again. Whatever your concern and hesitation are about, pay attention to you. It may also help to run this reunion with friends and family who know you two. Their feedback may help you make that decision of letting the past stay in the past or giving it another go.

— Good luck, Candy