MASTER COACH TRAINING
Module 18. Coaching Radical Relationships
Video Two: Couples in Crisis
Welcome to Video #2 in Module 18. In this video, we’ll look at one approach to coaching a couple who are undecided whether to stay committed to the relationship even though it’s in trouble, or to call it a day and move on. I already made a brief reference to this Make-It-or-Break-It process in the last module as a VIP Day + a follow-up. But, I feel the need to flesh it out for you a bit more so that you can use the idea or some variation of it.
So, first of all, let me explain a VIP Day to you. This is where I spend a whole day with a person, or this case a couple, getting a lot more done in a day than I would by doing a few hourly sessions. It can be done in person or by Skype. You might think about doing these when you have built up a bit of experience and got enough confidence.
The way I do the Make-It-Or-Break-It session is that on the first day the goal is not to get them to the point of making the decision, but simply to get clarity about where the relationship stands at that point in time.
And, for that, I mainly use the Relationship Assessment Worksheet, which you will find in the Resources Section. In fact, I usually send it to them in advance, so that they fill it in independently of each other, and each sends it to me a day or two beforehand. If there is not enough time, they bring it with them. I get them to swear not to share or collaborate over them.
I then compare the two to see where the relationship is and we go from there. I may or may not teach them Radical Forgiveness at this point, depending where their consciousness is, but on the whole, they usually have a good idea of what it is. Why else would they come to me, or you for that matter if not for Radical Forgiveness?
Anyway, at the end, I give them a copy of the book if they don’t already have it, some Radical Forgiveness worksheets and Acceptance worksheets to do before I see them again in a months’ time for another half a day or so. I will have done a couple of coaching sessions in between, but it will be at this time I will push
them to make a decision one way or another to commit or leave.
If it is to stay, then we move into using the Radical Reconciliation worksheet, which I will show you in the next module, and spend more time going over that, working on agreements, boundaries, and expectations. If the decision is to leave, then we coach them how to do that in a loving and supportive way, so everyone feels that the outcome is the best possible for everyone concerned, including the children if there are any.
So, that’s the basic idea, but you can do it any way you wish, the aim being to help them get to a point where they have enough clarity about their relationship to know whether they need to break or not and then to make the decision. What we’ve found is that they learn so much about each other during the work they do with us on reconciliation and forgiveness, and perhaps having become more awakened than they were at the beginning, and assuming that they each came feeling that they could go either way, they more often
than not choose to give the relationship another try.
If this is the case and your offer to continue working with them is accepted, you can really start to dig in and, while continuing with the process of reconciliation, help them transform their way of relating to each other, the goal being to encourage them to reach for Phase Four.
You will also be teaching them how to forgive the past all the way back along the time line, using the worksheets and other tools. You will teach them about projection and how to recognize when they are projecting and to love themselves for doing it and then taking it back, knowing it’s theirs — a part of themselves that they have
denied, repressed, and projected out there, that they can now love and accept in themselves.
You’ll be helping them to give up their expectations and demands on each other, respecting their boundaries, honoring each other’s values — even if they are not the same, and so on.
Now, one of the most difficult habits to break is that of co dependence. I would go so far as to say it is almost impossible, but at the very least they need to be coached to be aware of it and do what they can to shift away from it.
A co-dependent relationship is one where the love, which may initially seem to have arisen out of genuine physical attraction, reveals itself as a Faustian bargain which is negotiated and struck on the basis of mutual and pathological neediness. Both partners sell their souls in order to feed their respective neuroses.
The worst case is where a co-dependent person marries a narcissist who needs a partner who will always put him or her first and will willingly subjugate him/herself to the narcissist’s happiness. The co-dependent partner, on the other hand, needs someone upon whom they can lavish attention in order to feel wanted.
Unfortunately, narcissists and ‘people-pleasers’ are magnets for each other and together create a neurotic co-dependent relationship.
The co-dependent partner does not say, but will always imply, “I will always be here for you, take care of you and do everything to ensure your pleasure and comfort, just so long as you tell me every day that you love me and cannot do without me.” To complete the bargain, the narcissist will also imply, without saying,
“I will tell you every day that I love you so long as you fulfill my need for what I unconsciously feel is my right to have.”
So long as this bargain is maintained, the relationship will work; but there won’t be any love in it. No matter how it looks on the surface, the co-dependent relationship has a foundation based on dysfunction, denial, and an unwillingness to heal the neuroses which created the neediness in the first place. Should one partner
break their side of the bargain, then whatever looked like love in the beginning, will rapidly turn to hate.
Co-dependent people have what is known as a ‘Type C’ personality which is characterized by denial of feelings, low self-esteem, and an excessive concern for the needs of others to the detriment of themselves.
They are the people-pleasers, rescuers, and caretakers of this world. [I once heard someone give a humorous definition of a co-dependent as one for whom when they have a near-death-experience, someone else’s life flashes before their eyes.]
A marriage built on co-dependence might last many years, but there will be little love in it. There will also be a lot of denial in it too because both spouses will present a good face and even kid themselves that it is working. There will be lots of opportunity to feel the pain of separation in this kind of relationship, so it rarely gets beyond Phase Three. So, if you have someone who is seriously co-dependent, you will have your work cut out in getting them even close to Phase Four.
Another impediment in getting a couple to Phase Four is if one or both are afflicted with severe perfectionism. Now, just to be clear, a perfectionist is not a person who is obsessed with perfection; they are obsessed with imperfection. They look for imperfection all the time, and they always find it, whether in themselves or in others. They are never happy with things the way they are, and that makes them highly critical and judgmental.
They are hard on themselves as well as on their partners and always think whatever they do is not good enough. The underlying core-negative belief which you would want to work with them to neutralize is, “No matter how hard I try, it is never enough.” That comes from one or both parents who probably were themselves
perfectionists always pushing the child to do more or better no matter how well they did. Forgiveness of the parents is really the only way to reduce this neurotic drive towards perfectionism.
Ok, that’s it for this video. In the next one, we look at how to coach a couple through a break-up.