How Do I Ask My Partner to Attend a Coaching Session with Me?

Do you feel that your long-term relationship could benefit from couples coaching but you are concerned that your partner is not open to the idea of seeing a coach? I am often asked, “how do I get my partner to come with me to do couples work”?

In my workshops and one-on-one sessions, I teach individuals and couples how to express their feelings and needs using the non-violent communication model by Marshall Rosenberg. The four step process ends with making a request—not a demand—to have your need met.

Couple’s therapist Ellyn Bader also has an interesting perspective on expressing needs to our partner. She points out that a lot depends on the wording we use. To translate that into NVC wording, we can express our need for something, but the request has to be a true request, not “I want you to”, not “I need you to”, and certainly not “You need to”.

Bader feels that saying “I need you to go to couples coaching with me”, will most likely result in your partner feeling he or she has no choice. They might feel cornered, resistant and get defensive, as there is no room to move. Fears or shame can be triggered for them around seeing a coach or sharing your private conflicts and challenges. They might not even feel they can express their feelings when approached this way. The more autocratic we show up when we express a need, the less likely it is that our partner will want to be open and cooperative.

Here is a better way of approaching the topic. “I really want to go to coaching. I hope you will join me. Here is why I want to go: I realize when you and I get into conflict I don’t handle it the best way possible. I want to learn to understand you better so we can create a better relationship. I want to become a better version of myself and connect at a deeper level with you.”

Notice that all of these are I-statements. You avoid blame or finger pointing. You simply take responsibility for yourself and the change you want to make. You give your partner a free choice to change or stay the same. Ellyn Bader even advises not to use the word “need” at all. Approaching your partner from a softer place allows them to give generously from an open heart and to express their own concerns or hesitations.

It can also help if you highlight the personal gain for your partner when going to couples coaching. You probably have specific topics you want to work on. Let your partner know that you are willing to also work on what they want to change in your partnership. For example, you want your partner to acknowledge your feelings more, and your partner wants to improve your sex life. Knowing they have a potential gain by agreeing to sessions gives them a motivation to come other than the fact that you want them to.

If despite making a request rather than a demand, your partner is not willing to come for sessions, you have the choice to make an appointment for an individual session to do your own relationship work. Even when only one person changes, the relationship itself changes. All relationships are a reflection of the relationship we have with ourselves. Others reflect to us what we believe, think and how much we love ourselves. Our partner always reflects our core wounds from childhood.

Some potential questions to examine in individual sessions could be:

– How has my partner disappointed or hurt me in ways similar to how I was disappointed or hurt as a child?

e.g. My father discounted my feelings and fears and my partner does the same.

– How might I have disappointed or hurt my partner in ways similar to how he or she was disappointed or hurt as a child?

e.g. My partner had a mother who was controlling and demanding. Each time I become controlling or demanding, I remind him of his mother. As a child he felt not good enough and guilty. When I let him know that he is not acknowledging my feelings, he is triggered into not being good enough again. He feels guilty.

– How do I let myself down in ways that are similar to how I feel let down by my partner?

e.g. I don’t take good care of my own feelings.

– Where am I expecting my partner to take care of me in ways I am refusing to take care of myself?

e.g. I expect him to acknowledge my feelings when I am not willing to sit and work through my own feelings.

– What am I making these disappointments mean?

e.g. My feelings, needs and fears don’t matter and will never be acknowledged in a relationship.

– What am I making our challenges mean about the possibilities I have for happiness in romantic partnerships?

e.g. I can’t be myself in a romantic partnership. I have to suppress my feelings and fears. I will never feel safe or accepted to be me.

– What is my limiting story around love and relationships based on my childhood wounds?

e.g. Men are not capable of acknowledging feelings and fears. Women need to make sure they don’t show up as “too needy”, or they lose their partner.

– How do I set my partner up to respond in a way that perpetuates my childhood experience?

e.g. I don’t express my feelings and fears calmly, and instead, I get very stressed and anxious. I express myself loudly and anxiously, using control to manage the anxiety. That triggers my partner into feeling the same way he felt when he was a boy.

 

Contact me for a free phone consultation on either individual sessions or couple’s coaching. I also offer packages for couples.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

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Two Words

There are two words in the English language which have an almost magical power. They make us feel appreciated and valued, they bring a smile to people’s faces and they can completely change the energy between two people.

We can use them with our family; we can use them with our friends; we can use them with complete strangers and make somebody’s day. These words are already effective when said lightly in the passing. But when we put the entire energy of our feelings behind what we are saying, they are like a key which can open anybody’s heart. The more coherent our body language and verbal communication is, the more powerful their effect. “Thank you” goes a very long way. “Thank you” connects and builds bridges. “Thank you” brings out the best in all of us.

Sometimes we get stuck in feeling so unappreciated by others that we forget to thank them or feel stubborn about thanking them. However, these words open up the doors for greater appreciation on both sides. What if we said thank you to our parents and step-parents and to our children, to our siblings and even to our ex-partners? Let’s not stop at saying thank you to those people who we already find so easy to love. Let’s say thank you to those people we feel judged by or unloved by. Perhaps one reason why they are angry at us is that they feel unappreciated.

Many of my relationships are strong due to love and appreciation. My children use every celebration or other opportunity to say thank you for all I have done for them. Their words come straight from their heart. That acknowledgment makes me want to do more for them, give them all I possibly can. I know that they appreciate the quality time we spend together and the financial expenses that come hand-in-hand with raising them. My ex-husband and I are thankful for the mutual flexibility and good communication we extend toward each other. It has taken work to arrive at this point. Knowing that we appreciate the other greatly as a co-parent makes us want to be even better co-parents.

Yet, I have one extended family member who I haven’t said thank you to in a long time. I have been stuck in judgment for this person, only aware of what I don’t like about her. Of course, I know that what I judge about her is exactly something she mirrors for me; it’s an energy which exists in my shadow, and therefore an energy I need to work with and embrace.

It is time to stop my judgments and feelings of dislike and reach out with a simple thank you for all she has done, whether I liked how she has done it or not. I will need to sit down and really put myself in her shoes to appreciate all her efforts and how difficult things have been for her. We all have our own interpretation, our own story about ourselves, the people around us, and the situations we find ourselves in. I am sure she has hers. I certainly have mine, and I don’t doubt that our stories vary greatly. Saying thank you means going beyond these stories of right and wrong.

When did you last say thank you to the parent or step-parent you have judged your entire life long, but who has done his or her best? When did you last tell the partner who we so easily take for granted that you are grateful for their support, which they show in so many different ways? When did you last let your sister or brother know that you appreciate them and their role in the family?

Do you find it hard to do this in-person? Then write a letter or an e-mail simply saying thanks. Don’t expect anything in return. Do it just because. Do it because this world needs more appreciation and gratitude from all of us.

Thank You in Diff Languages

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Relationship Coaching, Shadow Work, Belief Change Coaching

905-286-9466, greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

Intimacy Requires Vulnerability

She is driving; he is sitting next to her. Suddenly, he blurts out, “My God! Will you get off that guy’s ass!”

Her response to being yelled at might be to react defensively and say something along the lines of, “Who is driving here, you or me? You always criticize my driving!”

Not constructive communication, wouldn’t you agree?

What happened in that situation? He went from fear to anger in an instant. Had he been more in touch with his vulnerability he might have been able to say, “I feel a bit unsafe right now. Could you give us some more distance from the car in front of us?” Her response to that would most likely have been to meet his needs with understanding.

When that vulnerable part in us—our inner child—is threatened, we tend to step into a power sub-personality to protect ourselves. One of those power parts is our angry self. Another one might be the rational self, the perfectionist, or any other personality that feels safer and more comfortable. However, to be really close to somebody, to be truly intimate with the people we love, we need to be in touch with our vulnerable self.

In her fabulous TED talk, “The Power of Vulnerability,” Brené Brown analyzes what is needed to make deep connections and why we would want to do that. Connection gives purpose to our life; yet shame keeps us from making those deep connections. Shame is based in the fear or limiting belief of not being worthy of connection. For connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be really seen. Courage is required to allow others to see our vulnerable self. Cour is the Latin word for “heart” and the original meaning of courage is to “tell the story of who you are with your whole heart”.

According to Brené Brown’s research, we also require compassion. This means having compassion with others, but also treating yourself kindly. Connection requires authenticity and vulnerability. It means having the courage to love without guarantees. It requires us to stop controlling and predicting, numbing our feelings, pretending we are not vulnerable, and striving for perfection when the beauty of life is imperfection. Vulnerability after all is “the birthplace of joy, belonging and love” (Brené Brown).

Shadow Energetics work is designed to make us aware of our personality parts—the power selves as much as the vulnerable inner child or the inner critic. They are all important “players” when we make connections with others. Treating ourselves kindly means achieving separation from that inner critic whose only job is to find something to criticize. Instead we can bring in the supportive and loving parent voice to encourage us with kindness. Only if we strive to love ourselves unconditionally can we love others in the same way.

Belief change work and shadow work allows us to re-connect with who we truly are. It brings us back to wholeness and allows us to be more authentic with others. Our relationships can unfold their true beauty. Those individual connections then have a domino effect. My vision is a world in which we all feel safe to connect from love and our authentic core selves.

 

To find out about an individual belief change and shadow work session or the upcoming Shadow Energetic Workshop in Toronto please contact me:

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

905-286-9466