Five Things You Should Know About Couples Coaching
As a relationship coach, I know all too well the pain and heartache that can come when two people who were once so deeply in love are struggling to connect. It saddens me to think that so many couples suffer through their problems alone, only to call it quits because they don’t have the tools they need to break through bad patterns and emotional blocks. I’ve made it my life’s work to help struggling couples revitalize their relationships. More couples are seeing me now than ever before, but I’ve realized that most people entering into or considering couples coaching don’t know what to expect from the process, and many are hesitant to give it a try. Here are five things you should know about couples coaching:
- Coaching Isn’t Just for Couples in Crisis
I’ve met couples that have suffered through months or even years of hurt but avoided coaching because they weren’t married or thought their problems just weren’t serious enough for them to seek help. Couples coaching is a little like taking care of a house. You wouldn’t wait until your roof was on the verge of collapse before you made the necessary repairs, so why treat your relationship any differently? I coach many couples who have experienced major setbacks and are struggling to “save” their relationships, but I see an equal number who seek out coaching because they want to prevent certain issues from becoming more serious. These couples are crazy about each other, but they’re also human. They hit a bump in the road every so often and want to learn how to stop a negative pattern before it spirals out of control. According to John Gottman, author of “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work,” the majority of couples wait until six years after they admit they need help to actually seek it. By then, it’s often too late. You don’t need to wait until you’re on the brink of catastrophe to seek the help of a coach. If you recognize bad patterns or communication blocks in your relationship, do something about it today.
- Miracles Happen, but They Take Time
You can’t undo years of negative patterns or stunted communication in one or two coaching sessions. I wish it were that easy. The key to success in coaching is consistency. Make a commitment to yourself and your partner to see a coach at least five times if you want to reap lasting benefits. Food for thought: if half of all marriages end in divorce and the majority of couples seeking therapy quit before they reach the five session mark, maybe it’s a sign that people are giving up a little too soon. I suggest couples commit to seeing me a minimum of three times a month for three months. Most couples see some changes after the first couple of sessions, but they don’t see lasting change until around the three-month mark.
- A Good Coach Takes the Side of the Relationship
A good coach isn’t going to side with either member of a couple; she’s going to side with the relationship. At times it may seem like everyone’s against you—when your ego feels threatened or your coach won’t allow you to throw in that little jab at your partner you so badly want to get out—but at the end of the day, your relationship will usually win. Remember that, and learn to be okay with it.
- At First, Things May Seem like They’re Getting Worse
I had a client email me recently in a panic. She and her husband had seen me for a couple sessions and she told me she felt like things were getting worse. She didn’t know what to do. This may sound surprising, but her reaction isn’t uncommon. Coaching brings a lot of stuff to the surface… stuff you haven’t been talking about and would probably rather not look at. Your partner may bring up a disagreement you thought was ancient history, or you may discover some new truths about yourself or your partner. A coach’s job is to listen to each member of the partnership, recognize patterns that might be contributing to problems in the relationship, and help facilitate discussion. It can be painful to rehash past arguments and disappointments in the moment—and even more difficult to take responsibility, but the long-term results can be transformative.
- Things will Get Better
Couples coaching is about building trust—trust in your partner and trust in the coaching process. As you delve deeper into the process and start understanding the patterns that drive your behavior, you will start to feel more in tune with your partner and with the relationship itself. You’ll learn how to effectively communicate your wants and needs, support your partner with love and compassion, and start seeing your relationship as a vehicle for your own growth and learning. Instead of feeling like you need to pull away from your partner when things get tough, you’ll start leaning in, and as you get closer, love and romance flourish.
The Right Fight
Many years ago, I realized that if I could just figure out how to have a peaceful, loving relationship then everything else in my life would fall into place. I was right. I’ve been with my husband for 13 years now and I believe more than ever that having a secure, committed, harmonious relationship is the foundation for a happy life. When I realized how many other people were struggling in their relationships I was compelled to help. In the 13 years I’ve been coaching I have seen how transformative these sessions can be. Couples who were ready to write off their relationships for good are often amazed when they realize how effective the coaching process can be. Don’t get me wrong; for some couples, the first few sessions can get a little dicey. But hang in there. Commit to the process and let go of the idea of instant gratification. It may take time, but I promise you it’s worth it. There is nothing more beautiful than sharing your life with the person you love; if you’re going to fight for anything, don’t fight with your partner—fight for your relationship!
If you and your partner are struggling to connect, set up a coaching consult today!