I’m pretty familiar with counseling to “get over” stuff and/or to attempt to save a relationship. Let’s just say there have been mixed results. One awesome and eclectic counselor was a godsend to held me get past a few abuse issues that haunted me. But for the most part, other experiences have been less than satisfying (not always the fault of the counselor during couple’s work when my ex refused to actually participate.)
To be honest, discovering the connections on why something affects me and healing the past don’t ignite a passion within me. The past is the past, let’s get this party started and roll forward.
Somewhere along the way I was introduced to the concept of coaching. (Squirrel – Not to say some counselors don’t coach – the good ones do, generally after they feel you have tackled your demons.) For the most part, a life coach may let you “tell your story” and whine and bitch and moan about what happened to you. After that it is down to business. What do you really want to do or be or see happen? What steps can you take to get there?
That’s more like it. Concrete solutions.
In a coffee shop I overheard a coach working with about a woman who came to her to improve the communication with her darling hubby (DH). ” He doesn’t listen to me, blah blah blah.” I wanted to pitch in that he probably will never learn, but kept my pie-hole shut and kept listening. It was like watching an archeologist excavating:
Active listening skills- check. Have his attention- check. Tried marriage counseling – check, several for years. What specifically is he not listening to you about? “Anything and everything. Lots of little things. For example, DH always wipes his mouth on the bathroom hand towel after he brushes his teeth. Pisses me off and he won’t stop doing it no matter how much I nag him! I can’t dry my hands on a clean towel” So, am I hearing you correctly that you would be happier if you had a clean towel in the bathroom to dry your hands? “YES! But he messes it up every time.” OK. You’ve said you tried and can’t change him on that habit. What can YOU do to ensure you have a clean hand towel?
With the coach digging out what she really wanted (the clean towel), finally the woman decided that she could hang a second hand towel in the bathroom. DH could wipe his mouth and she could have a clean towel to dry her hands. The woman and the coach explored other examples of the “piss poor communication” and broke them down into what the woman really wanted, and what she could do on her own to get them. Her “homework” for their next session was to be aware of when she was frustrated with the communication and write it down, and every evening before bed to try to tease out what is was she really wanted and list at least one possible action that she could take to be happier/more content.
Damn. Several attempts at marriage counseling with my own DH, the last attempt spanning years after it was finally his idea to go, and never once did the counselors try to break anything down like that. Not that it would have kept me from ultimately divorcing him, but I would have been a lot happier on my way there. If I need a next time with another sweetie, I’ll find me and/or us a coach (or at least a counselor who does a good bit of coaching.)