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A long-term client of mine, a smart and warm man, who I have coached through different personal and professional challenges and previous relationship struggles, just came in with his new girlfriend of one month. I was thrilled—and so was his girlfriend. There is a man who is aware of the importance of working on himself and on a relationship from the very start. Both, he and his partner, have had—like all of us above a certain age—previous experiences of how we can get hurt in relationships. They both recognize the importance of getting to know each other well and of navigating potential pitfalls with awareness.
Most of my clients come in when there is a crisis and when they have already been struggling for a while. What if we didn’t wait until the path we are travelling on has so many potholes that our relationship car is in acute danger of breaking down on this road, but if we committed from the start to doing regular maintenance?
Different religious affiliations offer premarital counselling or marriage classes prior to making the commitment. Some of those sessions might be more helpful than others but the intention is to get to know each other better. Counselling offered by a church might not be a consideration for all couples, depending on one’s spirituality or lack there of.
Premarital coaching, or simply relationship coaching from the start of a relationship, is an alternative, independent of your religious affiliation. It helps both partners to learn to communicate about challenging topics and to learn to hold each other in those vulnerable moments we all experience. Coaching allows us to become aware of patterns and to release them. Relationship sessions enhance any relationship and help us to be able to be our best self in our long-term relationship or marriage.
You might wonder what there can possibly be at the beginning of the relationship, when we are in the honeymoon stage and everything looks rosy and hopeful. There actually are a lot of topics to explore.
What kind of questions might we ask in a relationship coaching session at the start of a relationship?
- Let’s talk about values. What are my top values in life, what are my partner’s?
- Let’s become aware of our subconscious. What beliefs and fears have I learned based on my family history and my past relationship history?
- Let’s talk about expressing affection. What is my primary love language, what my partner’s?
- How do I tend to handle conflict, and how about my partner?
- Do I know what my emotional triggers are and can I share them with my partner?
- Let’s talk about mutual support. What emotional support do we both hope to get from each other? What practical or financial support?
- What does it mean to each of us to commit to a relationship?
- What did our own parents model for us concerning love and a long-term relationship or marriage?
- What attracted me to my partner and who do I believe my partner will help me to be?
- Let’s talk about goals. What personal and professional goals do we both hope to achieve and how do we see the partner’s role in that?
- How are we planning to create a life-work balance?
- What is a comfortable balance for spending time with my partner and with other people?
- Let’s talk about needs. What are my top ten needs, what are my partner’s? How comfortable am I expressing my needs?
- Who will take on what responsibilities at home?
- Let’s talk about money. How do we feel about differences in financial income, joint accounts, debt, keeping a budget, having spending money, paying bills, completing income tax, financially supporting parents or previous children, and so on.
- Let’s talk about our families and the in-laws. What boundaries with regard to family interactions do we both need? How do we show up as a team with third parties?
- Let’s talk about future or current common children and/or step-children and about parenting. Where do we have overlapping ideas where do we differ? How are we going to handle differences?
- Let’s talk about intimacy and sex. Do we need to learn to talk about this sensitive topic? What are our hopes and expectations?
- Let’s talk about spirituality. What are our beliefs and practices? Where are there differences and can we be tolerant of each other’s differences?
- Let’s talk about monogamy and affairs. How do we both feel about one of us slipping up? Can we both commit to talking to our partner when we experience an attraction to somebody else, in order to strengthen the bond between us and to avoid sliding across the line with an outsider? Can we also commit to not talking to a person who is not a “friend of the marriage”, about our relationship problems because this builds a bond outside of our relationship? (For more information and to learn more about what this means, check out my blog series “Affairs”.)
Contact me for individual coaching sessions,
couples’ sessions or workshops.
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