Strategies for Couples with Relationship Issues
When coaching couples, part of the strategy involves:
- Understanding where they both are and do they still love each other.
- We need to discover what vision of their life they wish to build together.
- Establishing what obstacles are preventing them to have the relationship they want.
- Providing them with very simple but effective strategies to prevent arguments so they can start to move forward. This is of paramount importance to help them improve how they respond to each other, whilst keeping their personal values intact.
- It involves seeing them both and/or seeing them individually to work on their personal ‘blind’ spots and development to help them grow.
Couples coaching always involves each individual’s self-development as well as better understanding their partner and their patterns of interactions. I think it’s important to give strategies immediately so they can begin to move forward in their relationship. Something that isn’t useful is to let them use the session as a blaming and an off-loading of responsibility about their problems that they are having.
Coaching always works best when each partner has more goals for themselves than the other (I have to say often they come in with the opposite in mind)!
Nonviolent Communication is a process that was developed by Marshall Rosenberg and is used all other the world to resolve conflicts of any kind and scale.
This is something I like to teach a couple from the word go because it is very effective when a problem arises, yet it takes some practice.
Briefly, it goes like this:
- The partner who wants to bring up a topic/problem asks if this is a good time to talk, if it is, they do so, if not. they schedule in a time and place that is mutually convenient.
- The process involves how to bring up the problem and take responsibility for their own feelings and then ask for their request and what the other person thinks about what they just said. During this their partner listens from the heart, without an agenda, without interrupting, then responds.
Let’s take a simple example: if one of you really hates it when the other doesn’t tidy their dirty dishes away after eating…
- (Ask) “I would like to talk to you about something, is now a good time?”
- (If yes) State the problem neutrally. “You know when you leave your dishes on the coffee table and scattered around the house, well it really frustrates me and I feel upset that you don’t put them away as soon as you’ve finished.”
- (Request) “I wonder could you do that from now on please?”
- Let’s say the person says: “You are being too fussy, get over it”
- (You): “I asked you with respect and I would like you take that on board, would you do it please or do you have a good reason not to?”
Usually, if it’s a reasonable request the person would agree or perhaps a compromise…
- “Would it be okay if I take them all away when I leave the room as opposed to immediately?”
- (You) (if that’s a reasonable request): “Yes, okay, and thank you.”
Now that’s a really simple example, but the crucial point is: asking and listening with respect. Both of you!
You see, it really doesn’t matter if the other person thinks it’s fussy, the point is their partner is asking for it because it upsets them and since it’s not such a big, important task, why not accommodate them?
Should it be something much more important, the same ‘rules’ apply, it’s not about making someone right or wrong, it’s about finding a more harmonious way forward together.
Many people have told me that after using this strategy, for the first time, they really feel listened to. Furthermore, as one is speaking (and listening) the other one often gains insights about themselves. This is a very powerful process that once learned properly and conditioned into their nervous system can help in so many areas of life.
When a couple begins coming from a compassionate place both for themselves and their partner, something beautiful happens: they really connect, they find their own authenticity and re-kindle the love, or they may even amicably decide to part, but in peace, often as good friends.
Either way they have deepened their understanding of themselves and each other, which ‘spill’ over into other areas of their lives too.
If you are experiencing difficulties right now in your relationship and I could give one word of advice, it would be to give up your need to be right and listen from your heart, often just doing that is so liberating for both partners.
If you’d like help or some clarity then contact me now for your free phone consultation and questionnaire.