Last week, I was working with a client who appreciated how valuable it is to have a compassionate coach support and challenge you to make the changes you want to make. This remarkable woman, let’s call her Kimberley, was motivated and invested in doing her own work in different areas of her life. Kim is also consciously aware of her relationship patterns. We pinpointed how she reacts in her current relationship is the same as in her previous marriage; it is also the same way she showed up with her dad when she was a child. Like so often, her emotions and traumas are older than the current relationship.
However, we can heal old wounds with our current partner. The more our nervous system is activated into a fight, flight or freeze response, the less we can have productive exchanges with the other person. So, healing requires understanding ourselves, sharing with our partner and practicing new ways of interaction in a safe space. When I suggested that she do sessions with her partner, I was surprised to hear, “But we haven’t been together for that long. Should we need counselling already?”
That is the greatest misconception about relationship work that I keep coming across. It doesn’t matter how long you have been together! The opposite is true. The sooner you come for sessions, the more likely you will be able to change previous patterns and establish a solid foundation for your new love relationship.
Here are eight common misconceptions about marriage or relationship counselling that I come across:
Misconception #1 – We haven’t been together long enough to “need” coaching.
Or in other words: Counselling is for couples who have been married for years and are heading for divorce. When one of you has more or less made up their mind to leave the marriage, and you are just giving it a “last try” to fix things half-heartedly, it is usually too late for your relationship. So I can only urge you to come in before you are at that point in your long-term relationship. It is never too early to profit from relationship coaching.
The transition from the honeymoon period to a more challenging time in the relationship can happen at any time between a few months and two years into the relationship, depending on what life challenges occur. After the honeymoon period, the next stage is one in which we need to work through issues that have not come to the surface in the beginning.
Misconception #2 – We are only getting married, so there are no issues to address.
Even better than waiting for the honeymoon period to be over is to come for coaching sessions with your future spouse or common-law partner before you decide to move in or get married. At that point, we can assess different areas and prevent major relationship issues down the road. You can build a rock-solid foundation for a strong and secure long-term relationship. I have specifically designed a “course” for couples at that point in their life called “The Course for your Powerful Life Partnership.”
If committing to 8-12 hours of this course feels like a big step, let’s do a couple of two-hour sessions to give you insights into your strengths and challenges as a couple and practice some essential skills for longevity in a relationship.
Misconception #3 – It is embarrassing that we are struggling; something must be wrong with us.
ALL couples struggle. The most fantastic relationship coaches or marriage therapists encounter challenges in their own relationships. That you are getting triggered and have something to work through is a sign that you are in a perfectly normal relationship. Our intimate relationships are designed to bring out challenges, especially when life serves you a curve ball in some way.
Misconception #4 – We can read self-help books and “fix” our own relationship.
Self-help books are fabulous, but more than theoretical knowledge is required. Why would you choose to muddle through on your own when you can have an impartial relationship coach present while you practice new skills of connecting, communicating and interacting until they come to you more naturally?
Image by Marisa Sias from Pixabay
Misconception # 5 – The coach or therapist will “fix” my partner.
We are all very quick to notice what our partner should change. However, there are always two sides to every interaction. First, you will be asked to shift your perspective from what your partner is doing wrong to what you can change. That shift alone changes the energy between the partners and allows both of you to take a step towards understanding each other and connecting deeper.
Just as incorrect is idea #6
Misconception #6 – The coach or therapist will take my partner’s side.
No good couples coach or marriage therapist would ever take sides! The whole premise of couples coaching is that it is a non-judgemental stage and that you might both get called out on your part in unsuccessful interactions. As a relationship coach, my client is your relationship. I will always ask, “What does your marriage or long-term relationship need from both of you to become stronger?” Then we move beyond blame and shame; there are no sides. There simply are dynamics that either support a secure and mutually fulfilling partnership or not. It is also understood that neither of the partners is at fault, but everybody gets triggered or stuck at times. The only thing I ask couples to bring to the table is the willingness to make changes.
Misconception #7 – In couples coaching, I have to dig up past hurts and traumas that I would rather forget.
Your past experiences, learned beliefs, and emotional traumas will influence your current relationships unconsciously, whether you admit it or not. “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life, and you will call it fate.” (Carl Jung)
So is it not better to understand how the past affects your present and future? To understand this and change your beliefs, it is not necessary to “dig around” and “dwell” on the past. However, developing compassion for yourself and your partner related to your past experiences is essential. From a place of compassion and understanding, you can shift from unconscious patterns and be the safe haven for each other.
Misconception #8 – Coaching is too Expensive.
What is more important than your family, marriage or common-law partnership? Please list everything you are willing to spend money on and reassess if any expenses are more important than being in a supportive, loving relationship. If you realize that your primary relationships are precious and you are willing to commit to four or more regular sessions, I am happy to work out a discount package with you.
Most of these misconceptions are based on the idea that we should know how to do relationships and that we shouldn’t need help. Yet, if you are starting a business or struggling with your health or exercise, you wouldn’t hesitate to hire a coach. Couples coaching is hugely beneficial for your relationship, so reach out for a free Zoom consultation to see if we are a good fit.