When I work with couples, our coaching goes on for about 12 sessions. As you can imagine, it is different for each couple and we play it as it comes. Most of the time, after a few sessions, we all know if couples therapy is what is needed or if coaching is the best way to proceed. It all starts with my simple question:
“Do you want to stay together or not?”
Couples coaching helps you and your partner, among other things, learn to communicate in a more positive and effective way. You learn to assume the positive. You learn to understand how energy, or lack of, it affects your and your partner’s decision-making skills. You also learn that just knowing “why” is seldom sufficient to actually move forward. It is the “how” that matters. How do you move forward? How do you learn to develop new habits and ways of being in the world? How to be a new and improved you for yourself, your partner, and your relationship?
I have clients ask me, “Does couples coaching really work or is it a waste of money?” Or, “Can coaching really help when it comes to saving our relationship, or is it a total waste of our energy?” Well, the answer is that it depends on you and who is in the relationship.
At the end of the day, couples should know that a lot of good things can be learned to help them operate as a team and not against each other. It just depends on the things that the partners in the relationship want to bring to their coaching sessions. Some of the qualities that could make couples coaching work are empathy, being commitment-oriented, integrity, honesty, flexibility, humility, basic intelligence, maturity, mental balance, and being as concerned about the other person as you are about yourself. You may not have these traits in total, but working on them helps you make the most of couples coaching.
Here are some ways couples coaching can help saving a relationship.
See Things From a New Viewpoint
When couples are motivated, they start looking for and exploring the reasons for their challenges in the relationship with a new-found perspective. It is always more insightful and eye-opening when a couple looks at a problem with a fresh viewpoint rather than being inflexible or repetitive about it. Just the act of enrolling for couples coaching demonstrates a willingness to work through their glitches. Couples coaching often gives them that new angle to find solutions rather than remaining stuck where they were. Just accepting the possibility of success can breed a mentality of success.
Better Handling of Hard Choices or Decisions
During couples coaching, couples can safely make and remake those hard choices that are part of wanting to grow their relationship or not. Usually, they discover insightful reasons for the renewing of their commitment. They usually find clarification of why they want to make the relationship work again; it almost always rises to the surface. Most couples I see work very hard to move forward and save what they have and when necessary, rebuild those areas that are lacking in the relationship. In many difficult situations, clients come to see that they will need to build a new relationship with someone, so why not with the person they already have years of history with and still love?
Communication Between Them Deepens
Filters in our lives affect how we see our world and those around us. Connections can become strained in a relationship because of those very filters we developed along the way. High quality communication between partners can be ruined by our filters and without understanding what is happening, it can go on for years. Often these filters cause the couple to reach an impasse with distorted opinions of each other and no good choices in sight. In turn, they lose their ability to trust each other and all their individual and shared weaknesses leap to the front. However, in couples coaching, the clients learn how to improve their communication in a safe and positive way. It allows them a forum to express their positive feelings more openly. They have an avenue to express how they truly feel and where they want things to go in a direction that is sometimes new to them.
Learn New Ways to Handle Challenges
Couples coaching gives couples time to discover new ways to resolve conflicts. Because of an individual’s filters, it can be a challenge to recognize conflicts or its causes and how to go about living through them. While a therapist might be necessary do help deal with certain kinds of difficult issues, in most cases, the help of a relationship coach will be a less negative way to recognize the filters that color your view and develop new patterns for living in the relationship the two of you hope to have. You learn things about yourself and your growth as a person that you may never have known. Most of all you will learn ways better than those employed previously when handling critical situations.
Does Your Baggage Fit in The Overhead Bin?
Yep, most people discover that they’re carrying some “baggage” in their relationship. There are times that you might not even be aware of your own stuff. If you don’t notice it in time, your baggage can cause harm when you’re faced with future challenges. Couples coaching develops “neutral territory” where couples learn to discuss and work through difficult issues on their own to achieve their positive goal. When you work with your coach with your partner by your side, your coach makes you focus on the positive, your shared goals, not your problems or issues from the past. Focusing on the negative is rarely a good solution.
So, it might sound easy, but I want you to understand that couples coaching can, at times, be good but challenging work, require determination, and occasionally require a willingness to take one for the team—your team. It is not for the immature or faint of heart. You will learn as much about yourself as about your partner. In the end, it comes down to the willingness to do whatever you need to do to save your relationship. The work for the couple is in the hands of each of them and the coach is there by their side teaching, questioning, and working with them to see themselves and their partner in new and better ways.
So here again, it comes that first question for you to consider:
“Do you want to stay together, or not?”