“Hi, I need help with my relationship.”
These are words I’ve read more times than I would have liked, these past couple of months. I’ve been receiving many new requests for coaching arising specifically from romantic relationships. I sometimes get to work with them as couples, but most of them are individuals who are experiencing pain in their relationships.
Admittedly, things can get tricky, especially when the client’s idea of ‘success’ is in at least some ways, tied to the responses of their significant other. This is why I’m stringent in making sure the client is suitable, before even doing a ‘chemistry’ session with them.
What am I looking for? What determines if I am able and willing to help you, for your romantic relationship?
What determines if coaching is possible for you?
First, let’s get the obvious out of the way: our work is not about helping you to ‘get the person back’. I’m not here to teach you how to attract or retain your object of affection. I’m not a dating or seduction guru.
Secondly, I’m not your ‘Auntie Agony’ – I’m not here to give you advice or answer ‘what do you think I should do’ questions. Although, if I assess you to be a hazard to yourself, I will certainly highlight it to you. It may be surprising, but coaching is also not about you telling me (long) stories of how you’ve suffered.
What makes it possible for me to help you, then?
The broad answer: you have to understand and accept that the focus of coaching is to support you to make progress. Accomplish the things that you want to do… to feel the way you want to feel… to be the way you want to be. I cannot help you with changing the other party, so we won’t spend any time trying to do that.
The moment we’re not careful, we slide down the slippery slope of trying to analyse or change the other person. That’s where the drama and despair of romantic relationships come from. It is exhausting and nothing useful gets done.
Thus, the focus is on you and you only. This is cannot be understated. As I do my job to support you, I will listen and gain understanding of you. But listening to you and understanding you is not the end goal. It’s helping you to make progress.
How coaching can help you for your romantic relationship
Like all of the coaching work I do, it’s about uncovering your own blindspots, so you can access the full range of your personal choice (or power, if you like). Even if your relationship doesn’t work out, what you want to know is that you’ve done all you can, isn’t it? For this to possible, you need to focus on uncovering and owning your own sh*t. This is the only part of the relationship you can change. It is also the same part that you will live with, whether your relationship dies or endures.
Improve how you communicate with your partner
Clear communication is desired, but it remains complex to some. Instead of hanging on to confusing or hidden thoughts that create more misunderstanding and hurt, we can learn to be more effective in expressing ourselves, especially when we have opposing views, or admitting we are wrong.
As we become more familiar with our partners, we start to believe that “they should know” what our needs and preferences are. While this may be sometimes true, it can be damaging when taken to the extreme, i.e. expecting that your partner knows EVERY need and feeling of yours. Do your tastes remain the same over the years, or even months? Can you like something yet choose not to not have it today? If so, you can start to see how crucial it is to learn how to communicate – constantly and clearly.
Be intentionally compassionate/gracious
This might be unexpected, since you already ‘love’ your partner… but as you become more familiar and comfortable with him/her, certain things also become invisible or feel unnecessary. For example, how able are you to slow down and be present with your partner when they need to process their thoughts and feelings?
What about the day-to-day; do you say thank you when your partner tidies the house or washes the dishes? Are you still grateful for the roles your partner plays in your life… and do you still make it known to them?
What are some of the things that have become invisible to you, as you got more comfortable with this person? Chances are, they’ll include some things that you can do to set a more compassionate / gracious mood in your relationship. Without this, a mood of resentment can set in, and start other forms of decay.
Additionally, as every relationship progresses, it sees its fair share of broken promises and hurt, unintentional or otherwise. This, offering grace is also a prominent piece of work that I support many clients on. It is not easy, but usually, things can shift the moment forgiveness becomes an intention.
Strengthen or restore your sense of Self.
Sad to say, I meet quite a number of people who gave themselves totally to the partner… emotionally, physically and even financially. Most of the time, the commitment (while sincere) is premature and therefore highly damaging when the relationship doesn’t go the way they thought it would.
The core of their identity is shaken as they come face to face with the question, “If I don’t have you, who am I?” This is can be a very low, dark place for some, and yes, they sometimes decide to stay there for awhile. But if you choose not to, and are ready to climb out, I can support you to reconnect with your sense of Self – esteem, confidence, worth, love – and move on to a healthier, more fulfilling life.
Grieve if you need to; it’ll help you realize what’s truly important. Yes, trepidation and dread will likely be frequent visitors that come with your decision to take better care of yourself, regardless of how the relationship turns out.
But you need not embark on this healing journey alone.