Sarah is a relationship life coach and has been coaching couples for 35 years. Quite often, individuals seek her help wondering if it is really possible to save or improve their relationship. Perhaps their spouse or life partner is totally uninterested in working on the relationship. Perhaps their partner is an alcoholic or cheats on them. What are their chances of saving their relationship?
How Can a Relationship Life Coach Save a Broken Relationship?
Since two people always get together at their common level of woundedness, here is what Sarah, the relationship life coach, says to the partner who has sought her help: “As long as you choose to remain in this relationship, there are things you need to know and learn. Each partner contributes their 100% to the relationship. While it is often easy to see the negative side of your partner, it is often difficult to see what you are doing. Yet until you learn about your role and part in this relationship, you will take your own dysfunctional behavior with you into another relationship. It’s generally a waste of time – unless there is physical abuse – to leave a relationship before healing yourself. You need to learn to make yourself happy regardless of what your mate is doing. In other words, you need to take charge of your own feelings and discover how to respond to your partner in ways that are loving to yourself and that support your own joy and the relationship.”
When the partner who is available for coaching does his or her inner work, one of two things happen. The other partner will either like what is happening and becomes more open, or the relationship becomes more distant and difficult. Sarah tells her clients that it is a 50-50 deal – half the time things get better and half the time they get worse. They need to be okay with either outcome. If fact, she encourages them to let go of the outcome and just be in the process of learning how to take loving care of themselves.
Let’s look at two other examples. John is unhappy in his marriage because his wife, Martha, constantly nags him and is judgmental toward him. John sees himself as the victim of Martha’s unloving behavior, blaming her for his unhappiness. However, John is an equal part of the relationship system. He generally reacts to Martha’s nagging with compliance, giving himself up in his covert attempt to control Martha’s behavior. He believes that being a nice guy will tame her. So, while Martha is attempting to overtly control John, John is attempting to covertly control Martha. Until John starts to speak his truth rather than give himself up as his form of control, he will feel resentful and distant with Martha. If he has the courage to take loving care of himself by being honest with Martha about how he feels without blame or judgment, and take loving action for himself based on his true feelings, then either things will get better or they will get worse.
Melanie is married to Ken, a non-abusive alcoholic. The problem for Melanie is that when Ken drinks, which is every night, he completely disconnects from her and she feels very lonely with him. She has tried many ways to get Ken to connect to her, but nothing has worked. Most nights, Melanie just watches TV, feeling sad and alone.
Until Melanie decides to do whatever she needs to do to make herself happy, nothing will change. If she decides to take yoga classes, get together with friends, join a support group or talk to a relationship life coach, she will no longer be a victim of Ken’s decision to withdraw through alcohol. If Melanie continues to take care of herself over a time – one to three months – and nothing changes, then she can decide to have a serious talk with Ken about their relationship. Or, she can decide to do nothing and just continue making herself happy and live life to the fullest. The possibility also exists that when Melanie stops depending on Ken to make her happy, he may decide to deal with himself rather than be left alone most of the time.
Can these relationships be helped? Can relationship life coaches save the day? Maybe. Help your clients to do their own inner work and find out!
Writer, Coaches Training Blog community