If you’re like me, you may have tried marriage or couples counseling at some point in your life and found it wanting, and by that I mean next to friggin’ useless. Don’t get me wrong, therapy has its place and is of tremendous help – particularly when building your sense of self and dealing with issues related to past trauma, but too many therapists rely on a talk-only regimen that fails to yield optimal results. As crucial as personal insight is, by itself, it doesn’t lead to actual change… but I know what does. Nano-changes that lead to micro changes that lead to teeny-tiny changes which lead to small changes and so on. Bottom line: change leads to change. And change is action. If you truly want to change the direction of your troubled or failing relationship, you must take action. The key here is, that initial action doesn’t have to be some massively disruptive force; when it comes to meaningful change that lasts, the smaller the start, the more likely you will build traction toward consistent progress, rather than becoming quickly overwhelmed and giving up.
Picture yourself on a vast, seemingly endless sea in a small sail boat. If you move that boat’s rudder just a hair, you won’t notice much at first, but gradually, over time, even an infinitesimal adjustment at the outset of your journey will lead to a dramatically different endpoint. With some further small adjustments to the sail, the wind and keel will enable further course corrections, turning your slight change into a major new destination. But to get somewhere different you’ve got to start with some form of action. If you simply sit on deck with your partner and therapist recounting your profound new knowledge of navigation then postulate how much you’d love to change course and land on that life-sustaining island with the hot-bodied, scantily-clad reality TV stars (rather than the sharp rocks your heading for) what good would all the talk or wisdom in the world do? As you near those deadly rocks, in the throes of your consuming panic, you look at your beleaguered partner and are suddenly struck by another profound insight “Hey, I think this thing actually has a motor and a full tank of gas.” Without starting the motor, what frickin’ difference does it make?
No matter what incredible realizations your marital counselor or therapist may have helped you come to, if you weren’t given concrete steps and behavior-based exercises to turn those insights into action, your relationship counselor failed you. I will not fail you. That is not to say every relationship is salvageable – with my help or anyone else’s, it means that saving a relationship takes more than talk, understanding or even communication. It takes action, accountability and want-to by both parties. Therapy has its place (CBT/DBT in particular), and coaching is not therapy. While therapy often strives to uncover the origin of our behaviors, coaching concentrates on a “from this point forward” approach, delivering exercises, assignments and tools tailored to promote that almost imperceptible course correction (spawned by action) that over time can lead to dramatic life change.
It’s paramount to gain insight, into ourselves and into our partners, but simply “talking” once a week to me or anyone else won’t turn that insight into actionable steps that will lead to positive, transformative change. I will help both you and your loved one gain the critical insight you need and turn that wisdom into concrete action that will ensure you improve your overall communication and build go-to coping mechanisms and bounce-back strategies to employ when you’re feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, unheard, stressed out, angry or resentful.
In my life coaching business, I leverage cutting-edge research and diagnostic skills while I work closely with clients to identify and defuse potential triggers, reshape deceptive self-perceptions, build self-confidence and recognize destructive patterns and habits–all leading to healthier relationships through a healthier you.
When you and your significant other agree to be coached by me, I do a hell of a lot more than just listen intently and ask “how does that make you feel?”. I take in all your emotional intensity, all the feelings conveyed, every bit of detailed information I can before creating practical exercises and tools that I customize to meet both of your needs, factoring in your individual learning modes and personal comfort levels–employing real measures empowering you to tone down your triggers and relieve your pain points. And while I make sure I hear everything you’re saying, I won’t just sit there during our session; I will provide specific exercises I want you both to try and we will work together diligently to review the effectiveness of our joint plan as we continue modifying our approach until you both agree you’re headed in the right direction, a path that moves you forward, rather than spinning your wheels churning up the same old crap.
Sometimes couples come to me seeking an amicable separation and end up rebuilding their relationship, sometimes despite both party’s best efforts to reunite the best the path forward may turn out to be that amicable split. The most important factor is to learn from and do our best to correct the mistakes we make and work diligently to modify self-defeating and destructive behaviors so that we not only give our current relationship a fighting chance, but gradually pare down our very human luggage from that check-in trunk to some handsome carry-on Tumi’s that will not only improve our current situation but ensure we don’t repeat and recycle behaviors that would lead to a similar result in our next relationship – should you determine separation to be the best way forward.
To get to what works for your relationship, I might leverage the latest behavioral science from the West and mix it with peer-reviewed mindfulness exercises based on thousand-year-old traditions from the East. If whatever we come up with doesn’t show promise we’ll either tweak it or scrap it until we arrive at something that does. I work my ass off to discover and deliver the most meaningful results for you. For example, one of many go-to tools I use to help both individuals and couples navigate personal relationships is what I refer to as my “Lock Down Corner” strategy. Based on the need for top NFL cornerbacks – and all premier athletes and competitors for that matter – to retain a short memory (in this case forgetting that just-completed pass in order to successfully defend the next long ball), I work closely with my clients to shorten their retention of information that doesn’t serve their long-term interests. This technique effectively counteracts your trigger pressure, easing your foot off your emotional accelerator so that you can reflect before speaking or acting out in resentment or anger. In our relationships with loved ones, often those few words said or that brief cold shoulder brandished in the heat of the moment is piled on top of past slights imagined or real, adding up to an explosive reaction that dwarves the immediate perceived affront. To maintain more harmonious relationships, I help my clients attain greater mindfulness, addressing the situation at hand like the isolated incident it is, and confronting it without the added-on anger or intensity (or stockpiling) that results from grouping perceived or real slights into a noxious slag of rage that seems to come from nowhere.
When we do our best to shorten our memories and live in the present, we allow our partners the same break we deserve when we too resort to our petty frustrations, annoying nitpicking, occasional bitching or sudden temper flares. It’s a process and it takes a great deal of work to undo all the baggage we’ve allowed to build-up or simply tamped down for so many years – but the results can be extraordinary – if not exactly lifesaving, relationship-saving. And that is only one of the many techniques in my relationship-mending arsenal. Contact me now for a free couples’ coaching consultation.