Relationship Coaching

Are You Struggling in a Relationship?

Humans are tribal creatures – we need relationships to thrive. But relating to other humans is also difficult. Sometimes when we hit relationship challenges and don’t have the support or tools we need things can spiral, pulling us into patterns that reinforce the hard parts rather than helping us find a path through them to something better.

  • Do you find your attempts to communicate often pushing you apart instead of connecting you?

  • Do you notice yourself or the other(s) in your relationship becoming highly reactive – getting triggered quickly, talking at or past each other, pulling away instead of reaching in when things get hard?

  • Are you feeling rigid, entrenched in positions/beliefs about what has happened and what’s possible?

  • Are you stuck in your stories – stories that don’t match – about what’s wrong?

  • Are you not feeling seen and heard or understood?

  • Are you wishing your relationship could be more like it used to be, or do you feel like the relationship needs to change, but there is a lot of resistance to making changes?

  • Are you not sure you should be in this relationship anymore, even though you don’t really want to leave, or do you know you really want to be in the relationship, but also know you need it to shift somehow?

  • Are you just feeling really confused about why you are not feeling happy in a relationship?

If you answered yes to some of these questions, I invite you to read on and explore what relationship coaching with me might bring you and your partner(s).

(This section of the website is focused on the coaching I do with all of the people in a relationship. If you want coaching as an individual about relationships – or a relationship – that work is included on my life coaching pages.)

What Sorts of Relationships Do I Coach?

While most of the relationships I coach are between people who are married or domestic partners or otherwise in a long-term “intimate” relationship, I am also happy to coach people in other sorts of relationships – siblings, parent-child relationships, co-parents who are no longer couples in that other sense, friendships – any relationship in which people are wanting to be strongly committed to each other over the long haul. (If you are interested in my work with teams in work settings, please see my Leadership Coaching page.)

I welcome relationships of all gender/sexual identity combinations. I am also happy to coach poly-relationships.

What is Coaching?

In coaching, we work together to clearly identify the challenges you are wrestling with, find new and useful ways to understand those challenges, and choose actions that will move you toward what you want to create. It is a process rooted in the assumption that you are, at your best, creative, resourceful, and whole; that you have the capacity to identify and work though whatever you are struggling with in ways that will lead to more understanding, more authenticity, and ways to be in relationship that honor and support you and the other(s) in the relationship.

My role as a coach is to support you in this process by:

  • Listening well, with deep curiosity, compassion, and appreciation.

  • Asking questions you might not think to ask.

  • Reflecting back what I think am hearing/seeing – the possible patterns, your deep wisdom (which you might just go right by without noticing), the things you are saying you want, the commitments you are making – without ever getting attached to whether I am right; just laying them out there for you to see and respond to.

  • Offering you new tools, new framings, to try out.

  • Actively holding a space for you to do this work – that is, setting up a regular time for you to focus on it, and gently helping you stay focused on what you have said you want to work on during that time.

Coaching Is Not Therapy (nor is it mentoring, counseling, or advice)

I am not a psychiatrist or psychologist. The work we will do is not about identifying pathologies, or focusing on the ways that you, or your relationship, are broken. It is not my job to diagnose you in any way, nor will we focus a lot of time on the past, or on the ways in which whatever you find challenging has been labeled in the past. This does not mean that I will ignore, or ask you to ignore, lenses that may be useful to you in identifying your experiences (and “diagnoses” can be lenses); it just means that I will not be focused on those labels. I will be focused on what your experience is, now, and what you want it to be in the future.

What Happens in Relationship Coaching?

  • You will face each other, not me, and a lot of the time will be spent talking with each other, with me helping to facilitate those conversations so the reactive patterns that get in your way can calm down and allow space for other kinds of communication.

  • I will offer you gentle interruptions to old stories and reactions, curiosity-based questions, reflections about possible patterns, exercises, and tools, but not answers. My job is to work side by side with you to help whatever needs to emerge become visible, and let you tap into your deep wisdom to see and make the changes you want.

  • We will spend a lot more time focused on the present, and what you want for the future, than on the past; discussions of what happened before will always be in service to understanding what is happening now, and what needs to shift for you to create what you want to create.

  • You’ll develop a new set of common tools – concrete ways to connect and communicate, build understanding, and work on your goals between sessions, where most of the real work happens.

  • At least some of it will be fun.

Relationship coaching will give you:

  • New frameworks to view your differences, wants and needs, that open up new ways to meet each other and be in relationship.

  • Ways to let go of old patterns and assumptions and try something different. What if your picture of “how the other person is” (or how you are) isn’t the complete story? Coaching supports you in giving yourselves permission to experiment with new ways of seeing and interacting.

  • Ways to break through hopelessness, to move out of the “no way forward” perspective and getting curious about what else is possible.

  • New ways to understand/hear each other’s stories – and your own – about hard times and good times, and support to not feeling threatened when those stories are different.

  • Useful, simple tools for improving communication and building understanding.

  • Reduced pressure on the relationship as you get more clarity on how to communicate wants and needs in ways that make it easier for them to be fulfilled, and sort out ways to get some of your needs met in other ways.

  • More playfulness, curiosity and ease in the relationship.

  • Permission to have it not be perfect; concrete ways to cultivate active compassion for yourself and each other, and tools for figuring out when to focus in on problems, and when to consciously and transparently set them aside to be addressed at a better time.

What will change as you work with me?

This work is ultimately about letting go of the relationship in its current form, opening up to changes that will allow the people in it to be healthier and happier. In some cases, this can mean the end of the relationship, or at least a radical redefinition of it, but more often involves a reset of expectations, assumptions and experience inside the relationship. The work is not a failure either way. We are holding a space where there is permission to change, and where the agreed-upon goal is not a particular shape of relationship, but the ease, health, and joy of the people in the relationship.

My hope for you, if you come into this work with me, is that you will:

  • Find more curiosity, playfulness and ease.

  • Develop more ways to be compassionate, creative and resourceful rather than reactive and defensive when you feel upset with each other, and have the tools to support each other in those moments when you may need help getting there.

  • Create more ways to interact that are satisfying to both/all of the people in the relationship.

  • Have the tools you need to work, alone and together, to stand in/respond from your best selves* more and more often – with each other, within yourselves, and in the larger world.

(* Note: Being your best self does not mean being “nice” all the time. It means having your experience and actions be deeply consistent with your core values, and feeling both authentic and good about who you are being as you move through the world.)

Please click this link for information on the process and cost.

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