Do you go out once a year, on Valentine’s Day?
If it wasn’t for Valentine’s Day my husband and I might not have gone out on a date.
But here we are after relationship coaching…
It was a Wednesday night. My husband and I walked into the bar to the dance floor. We stood next to each other in a large circle of people with two instructors, swing dancing instructors. Intertwining hands we smiled and attempted our lesson. As we danced that night as a couple as well as with other partners there was a relief and comfort of coming back to one other.
This seemed like a natural progression. When my husband and I were engaged we took swing dancing lessons. He often joked with me, “I know you wish you could lead.” I enjoyed him taking the lead as he does in many aspects of our relationship and find this very attractive.
Why Relationship Coaching?
After three children, the intimacy of touch and vulnerability with one another took a back seat to many obligations. My husband and I started relationship coaching with a man who identifies himself as the Love Guru! Yes, that is correct. The Love Guru. His story is an entire blog post within itself. He trusted that our relationship would thrive, giving us guidance and love every step of the way.
Having Babies & Needing Support
During every pregnancy, the thought of relationship counseling weighed heavy on my heart. During our second pregnancy, my husband and I read through John Gottman’s book: “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide From the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert.” We worked through the seven principles. We were reminded why we started dating and what we loved about one another.
It was not until we had our third baby we attempted traditional counseling. During our first and only session, our therapist casually sat back in his chair exploring our conscious and unconscious thoughts. He had a Freudian style that did not resonate with me.
A good therapist is definitely worth investigating though. Especially if there is a history of trauma, abuse, addiction, cheating, or emotional or personality disorders.
“Couples therapy can do more harm than good when the therapist doesn’t know how to help a couple,” said Dr. Susan M. Johnson, professor of psychology at the University of Ottawa and director of the Ottawa Couple and Family Institute.
Therapy versus Coaching
Therapists, whether a psychologist or counselor are licensed with a master’s or a doctorate degree in their state of practice. Depending on insurance policies, therapy sessions can be partially covered by insurance. This is definitely worth investigating through your health insurance plan. More traditional therapy that I’m familiar with tends to focus on emotional support through past experiences to gain confidence and knowledge to focus on resolutions. It is important to note that different therapists have different training, background, beliefs, and styles.
In 2012, after reviewing 40 years of couples’ therapy research, Lisa Benson, Meghan McGinn, and Andrew Christensen psychologists from UCLA found that five basic principles of effective couples therapy:
- Change the view of the relationship. The therapist attempts to help the couple see their own contribution to the relationship as individuals without blaming one another.
- Modify dysfunctional behavior. The therapist attempts to change the way that the partners interact and improve these interactions.
- Decrease emotional avoidance. Couples who avoid expressing their feelings put themselves at greater risk of becoming emotionally distant.
- Improves communication. The therapist should focus on helping the couple to communicate more effectively.
- Promotes strengths. The therapist may point out the strengths in the relationship.
As for life coaches, they can be certified through a coaching program, but this is not required. Yes, that means anyone can call themselves a life coach. Coaching tends to be more result focused and goal oriented to give emotional support. This can help clients fulfill their dreams or desires. Coaching can be expensive, it’s not for everyone, but it was worth it to move our marriage in a more positive direction. For the growth of our relationship, skyping with a coach in the comfort of our own home was a good fit.
What I have learned.
For me, it all boils down to intimacy: to be authentic, put aside all obligations, and sit down on the couch with my husband. I also needed to find true vulnerability in swing dancing, dinner, holding hands, and having serious conversations. This Valentine’s Day, make it simple and go back to the foundation on which your relationship was built. Reconnect on a deeper level as a couple. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. As for my husband and me, we are looking forward to eight more weeks of relationship coaching!