Relationship Coaching

 

My Approach

I guide couples to strengthen relationship bonds, to communicate more effectively, to understand and embrace their differences within the relationship, to resolve conflicts, and to allow their growth to unfold both as individuals and intimate partners.

Why Relationship Coaching?

Couples coaching works! It is a way of facilitating or navigating changes. It serves couples by deepening connection, creating harmony, resolving differences, healing wounds of past conflict, and/or bringing closure to a phase in the relationship.

Couples coaching begins with the assumptions that each member of the partnership is creative, resourceful and whole and that no one gets to be wrong, only fully responsible, for what happens. Coaching is a way of assessing what works, what does not work, and what is needed in a relationship. The process involves establishing a vision for change and growth, followed by sessions that support the development of plans for that growth and their implementation.

I have over 28 years experience successfully working with couples around a variety of issues. These issues may include: premarital counseling, life altering decisions, relationship repair, growth of intimacy, improving communication, building trust, in-laws, relationship boundaries, co-parenting, child discipline, the empty nest and even planning an amenable divorce.

The Challenges to Relationships

Maintaining a strong relationship is a challenge that all couples face. Keeping that connection, developing intimacy and meeting life's challenges together are just some of the reasons that couples pursue relationship coaching. There are always new forces and circumstances that need to be acknowledged and integrated into the life of a relationship.

Personal preferences differ because of the reality of diversity. Gender differences, family of origin, faith, ethnic culture, style, and personal temperament are some of the sources of both joy and tension in relationships. All of these differences are part of who we are. Each couple holds the desire and the keys to transform the diversity in their relationship into complimentary relational harmony.

The drift that can occur in a couple’s connection is often due to a process of progressive attrition of possibilities. The couple’s repertoire of fun and enlivening activities can decrease over time. This attrition of possibilities flattens, dulls, and eventually destroys the heart of the relationship. Attrition of possibilities occurs in a variety of ways. Sometimes it occurs when assumptions and expectations are not explored in ongoing conversations and then are taken on as rules and universal statements. Rules like "I can't" or "I will not" and universal statements like "always" or "never" diminish and undermine spontaneity in the relationship. Communication about what is needed is part of the solution for creating new possibilities. Assumptions and expectations deserve regular conversation for the sake of mutual understanding and clarity.

Couples coaching moves the partnership towards new possibilities and breaks through barriers that have been previously established. Couples create these barriers inadvertently over time and as a consequence of hurried accommodation to specific circumstances. Then these accommodations gradually become a cumbersome precedent for the routines of life. Couples can work together to undo the limitations that they have mistakenly co-created.

Click on any of these topics for more information about the coaching and counseling that I provide.

 


Personal Responsibility

Maintaining personal and communal responsibility are fundamental to the work in couples coaching. Personal responsibility involves ownership of our words and actions and the consequences of all that we do. It also involves self-forgiveness for whatever has gone wrong. If we make a mess, we clean it up and move forward. After that guilt is not necessary. Communal responsibility is the essence of partnership, collaboration, complementarity and teamwork in relationships. Communal responsibility requires mutual support, honest and courageous communication, and openness to mutual accountability. Couples coaching supports supports this process.

Relational Growth

Relational growth is the expanding capacity to be vulnerable, connected and open to spontaneity when in relationship with another person. Being open to spontaneity means you do not know what will happen and that is OK. It means you trust yourself and your ability to maintain personal integrity, personal responsibility and personal safety.

Relational growth has ingredients:
1. An innate compulsion to move forward in life.
2. A willingness and commitment to meet the forces of resistance both inside and outside of ourselves.
3. A desire for health, love, and happiness.
4. A commitment to take full responsibility for past and present actions, in order to create a partnership of mutual respect and accountability.

A Strength Based Approach to Relationship Change

If we are willing to focus on our strengths and honestly acknowledge our weakness, we will notice that the weaknesses show up less and less. Adding to what is positive in a relationship begins to outweigh the negative. Couples coaching focuses on existing strengths as well as the development of new ones.

Changing Perspectives

There are many possible perspectives. We often consider only the one we hold. Being open to different perspectives is part of the solution for growth in relationships. Despite our life-long tendencies even optimism and pessimism are choices. A change in perspective creates opportunities for creativity and growth. The couples coach calls on the individuals in the partnership to step out of their customary way of looking at their situation and choose a new way of looking at it. This is a process of stepping out into unknown territory, developing a new level of trust and overcoming fears.

Creating Harmony

Creating harmony in relationships often starts with personal growth work. This means learning to manage and be in harmony with oneself and one’s surroundings. Unverified assumptions and secret expectations are sources of relational dissonance. Speaking up about your expectations and assumptions serves to preserve mutual understanding and creates clarity within the relationship.

Learning Communications Skills

Communication skills are learned. Effective, respectful communication has several components. There are different levels of listening and some people only listen at the first level. The second level requires suspending judgment and pushing off the ongoing internal dialogue long enough to understand the other persons perspective. Active curiosity leads to an understanding of what the other person meant by his or her words. Words often mean different things to different people. Real listening involves hearing what the other person is saying; understanding it word-for-word and then letting the speaker know what you understand. This creates a sense of satisfaction within the speaker. That person will feel respected, taken into account, important to you and satisfied because they feel heard. Reviewing and teaching listening skills are an ongoing part of the relationship coaching process.

Commitment and Resolve for Growth

The distractions of life and complacency in a relationship both result in a kind of coasting towards boredom. A strengthened and renewed commitment is called for in couples coaching. Moving forward requires pushing through the resistance. It means standing up for what you want and being your own strong spokesperson. Courage and commitment are what move couples through their fear of confrontation, their hesitation about being selfish, and their doubts about success in relationships. Renewed commitment leads to the creation of new ground rules for the relationship.

Deepening Intimacy

The most potent and powerful thing anyone can do to deepen intimacy is to become vulnerable. This requires letting go of control, tuning in to your body’s intuition, speaking your truth, letting go of judgments about yourself or your significant other, taking your partner into account, and showing up fully present and approachable. Success in this area requires encouragement, coaching, and practice.

Building Trust

The couples coaching process often involves rebuilding trust. If trust is broken then repair is in order. The essence of this healing process is described in these two articles, both available on this website:
1. Rebuilding Trust: The Loving Salve for Relational Betrayal or Other Relational Injury
2. Behavior Guide for Respectful Relationships, Building Trust and Resolving Differences

Cooperative, Collaborative Parenting

Couples sometimes find collaboration around parenting to be a challenge. Having been raised by different parents, they have different experiences and ideas about parenting. Since parenting is an evolving process that changes as children age, couples need to find a collaborative style early on to avoid years of stress and resentment. Collaborative parenting involves finding a new way that encompasses the best of both styles. Couples coaching can help young couples establish collaboration, early on in the family development. Couples coaching can also help parents with older children to create new patterns of mutually supportive parenting.

Facing Family Transitions

Life is always changing. The unexpected happens: career interests shift, jobs end, schedules change, children age and move on with their lives, and health and prosperity have peaks and valleys. Facing transitions means tapping into relational commitment, communication skills, trust and personal strengths to achieve success and positive transformation. Coaching brings a fresh perspective and helps couples see the many possibilities that can be the result of shifting circumstances. The best time to create positive and lasting habits of relating is in a time of transition or crisis.

Recovery from Relational Collapse Caused by Addictions, Affairs, Abuse or Neglect.

Recovery from the consequences of addictions, affairs, abuse or neglect involves a process of stepping into the unknown. The process requires courage, honesty, vulnerability, openness and commitment to recovery. Other necessary ingredients are: love, desire, compassion, respect, and a strong sense of personal responsibility for past shortcomings. The process involves accepting differences, healing emotional wounds, repairing trust and taking action to create and protect ongoing safety within the relationship. This process often combines the use of couples coaching and individual and individual coaching. The essence of the process is described in the article: Rebuilding Trust: The Loving Salve for Relational Betrayal or Other Relational Injury. This article is available in the Resources section of this website. 

Successful Parenting and Discipline

Children challenge their parents to work together. Discipline styles and attitudes often differ because of how the parents were treated when they were children themselves. The article, Successful Parenting Discipline (available in Resources) is meant to serve as a guide for getting parents on the same page regarding parenting and discipline. The principles in this article are an integral part of parent coaching.