A married couple sits on opposite ends of our big comfy couch with an emotional chasm between them. I ask, “Tell me why you’re here today?” The wife responds first, “I begged him to come to marriage coaching months ago, and he said we didn’t need anyone’s help. We could figure it out for ourselves. Now we’re both threatening divorce and coming here is our last-ditch effort to see whether we can make our marriage work for the kids’ sake.” The husband follows, “I realize now we should’ve come sooner but can you still help us?”
Our short answer: “Yes, we can help. But I don’t know whether you’re committed to do the hard work and get to the better side.” This usually gets a quizzical look, as if they’re unsure of the answer themselves. They probably don’t know and neither do we, because they’ve never had to work so hard at a relationship to turn it into what they’d dreamed of in the first place. Oxytocin and Serotonin fooled them into thinking they could live off the love chemicals for the length of their marriage.
Next, we share the following ground rules to see whether the couple is willing to play and win.
- Understand there is no magic pill—no one and done
- Recognize there is no overnight success—it took years to get your marriage in this condition and it will take time to make it better
- Appreciate that if you’re not deeply committed to your marriage, it won’t succeed
- Be self-introspective and vulnerable about how you show up and impact your marriage
- Live out a marriage mindset that you’re 100% responsible for success of your marriage
If the couple can truly get comfortable with these marriage coaching rules, they have a good chance of pulling their marriage out of the abyss.
Most couples sign up for marriage coaching, believing they are ready to do the hard work. A few tap out early and either choose to stay in miserable marriages or file for divorce. For spouses who decide it’s too much work, I share: “You’ll have to do the hard work sooner or later if you want any happy marriage. If you walk away now, you’ll likely be in the same position with another spouse down the road. Would you like to do it now or wait until later?”
About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a marriage coach along with her husband, Darin, who help couples across the world via seminars, workshops, and private sessions. She customizes a relationship journey for her clients based on their experience and curriculum from Prepare & Enrich, SYMBIS, FOCCUS, and Marriage on the Rock. Couples design their marriage, learn tools, and then work toward achieving their vision. Learn more about the ministry or sign up for a session by contacting Sandra at firstname.lastname@example.org