Walking and Talking Your Way to a Closer Relationship by Jeff and Jill WilliamsSep 8th, 2009 | By Jeff Williams | Category: Family Coaching Center Guest Posts
“I want to take more walks with you, Jeff” Jill said as part of a demo during one of our Marriage Coach training classes.* Her desire was sincere. (We aim to be transparent and authentic during demos). “I’m curious about you wanting to take more walks” I asked. She was happy to share. “It seems that when we walk we have some of our best talks. There are fewer possibilities of interruption, and it’s when I get your most focused attention. It helps me feel closer to you”, she said. It seemed like a good time to reflect what I’d heard. “I hear that you like having my undivided attention and that you feel closer and more cared about when you get that on a regular basis.” She nodded that I was getting it. “Yes, that’s what I want you to hear”, she concluded. Hmm…what began as a demo had developed into a significant marriage moment with a little bit of embarrassment. The “expert” coach-trainer was being asked in front of the class to improve his listening. The observers were was quiet. They realized that this was sacred territory.
We seized the teachable moment for the class and our marriage by continuing the conversation through a process of exploration that concluded with a shared goal to increase the quality of our conversations by increasing the frequency and duration of our walks; a minimum of three times for 30 minutes during the week, and two hour-long walks on the weekend. In addition, we’ve promised to be intentional about using effective asking and listening skills. Last week we met the goal, and it had the desired effect. We both feel closer.
When I began coach-training the promise from my trainers was that I would learn how to facilitate transformational conversations. That was a bit hard to grasp, but the following explanation made it clearer. “The conversation is the relationship, and the relationship is the conversation.”**
Do you agree? Think about your closest and best relationships. Now, think about the quality, frequency and depth of your conversations. Do you see a correlation? Are your best relationships with people you talk to most frequently and most openly? Now, let’s face the brutal facts. What is the quality of conversations you have with your spouse? Obviously, prior to asking Jill what she wanted during the training demo I would have rated them higher than she would have. (It’s common for us guys to overestimate ourselves in marriage.)
I’ll admit that when Jill said why she wanted more walking time that it hurt. I was chagrinned because I pride myself on making time to talk at home. But, if she has a problem, then I have a problem, because it’s a problem for our marriage. Her identification of a desire and willingness to share it was her gift to our marriage. My willingness to respond to her request is my gift to our marriage. Thankfully, we’ve learned a set of skills that are helpful to coach our own marriage.
Our shared goal to establish the habit of regular walking time is a way we have put our marriage in a position to grow stronger. But it will be the way that we steward those conversations that makes it more than physical exercise. We will need to be intentional about asking and listening with heart and skill, and willing to serve each other by sacrificing to work together on other shared goals that emanate from the conversation. In effect we will be coaching our own marriage,*** much as another couple trained in marriage coaching would facilitate us to ask, to listen and to set goals to honor the desires of our hearts if they were to coach us.
What are you thinking? Could (or does) walking work for you? Or maybe you put your marriage in position for quality conversations some other way?
The point is that great relationships are built one conversation at a time. The bad news might be that we have some blind spots regarding the time we make or the skills we use. The good news is that we can choose to set goals to make the time and learn or renew skills to make the time count.
Got to go…Guess where…it’s time for a walk!
*See http://www.graceandtruthrelationship.com/events_and_classes.html for details.
**Joseph Umidi, President Lifeforming Leadership Coaching, www.lifeformingcoach.org introduced me to Christian Coaching in 2001. Shortly thereafter I enrolled in training which is where I met Tony Stoltzfus, author of LifeForming’s training curriculum.
***Our upcoming book will be about how to coach your own marriage. Hopefully it will be ready by Christmas!
Copyright 2009 Jeffrey J. Williams | Grace & Truth Relationship Education | Germantown | MD | 20876 301.515.1218, Jeff.GTRE@gmail.com
*Jeff Williams is a Professional Coach and Coach Trainer specializing in Marriage Coaching. Jeff and Jill coach and train married couples to strengthen their own marriage and to help other couples. Go to www.graceandtruthrelationship.com or call 301.515.1218 for more information about receiving coaching, training, speaking and seminars.