Couples Coaching Couples: The Advantages of Marriage Coaching by Teams of Two By Jeff and Jill WilliamsDec 2nd, 2009 | By Jeff Williams | Category: Family Coaching Center
“Isn’t Jill coming for our Marriage Coaching session?” asked the couple in a disappointed tone of voice. We’d failed to notify our clients of Jill’s schedule conflict, but didn’t think they would mind seeing me alone. That belief was a holdover from marriage counseling, I guess. I was wrong.
“Let’s reschedule” they said. “Jill brings a different perspective and different personality. It’s not that you’re not great. It’s just that we really enjoy having both of you present to coach us. You’re a good team, and we want your whole team to help our team.”
Benefits of being coached by a Couple
Two is better than one when it comes to Marriage Coaching. Couples being coached say they benefit from our team of two in several ways:
- Both male and female personalities and perspectives are represented.
- “We learn by observing how you communicate and resolve conflict.”
- “You’re a good model of blended strengths, and that is helping us to learn to respect and make room for each other’s strengths in our relationship.”
- Couples say they behave better and try harder in front of us than individual coaches, counselors, etc.
- It makes it harder for the couple being coached to triangulate (deflect their own conflict onto the common enemy of an individual coach) because when four of us are present we’re a square, not a triangle.
Couples that have been coached say that the most effective aspect of Marriage Coaching is transparent sharing and authentic modeling by the Marriage Coaching couple. This doesn’t mean that Coaching couples are perfect, but rather that they are humble about the importance of continual growth and they are willing to be transparent about relationship victories and challenges. Marriage Coaching done by a couple inspires hope, models love and teaches skills through the relationship of the Marriage Coaching couple.
For instance, when we coach or train as a team of two, couples benefit from Jill’s gift for details and my gift of exhortation. Often after I passionately encourage couples about the possibility of healing their marriage or becoming an effective team of two to coach others, Jill attends to the pace of the coaching or training session and the details of the learning process to ensure that couples will be practically equipped. A specific example of this was at a public training of 50 couples. After a passionate exhortation to the group about improving their own marriages and transforming their community, Jill interrupted me (politely) to say, “Jeff, I think we are going too fast here, and we’re about to miss some details of how to do this exercise.” I submitted to her sensitivity to the needs of the trainee couples for clarity, and handed the microphone to her. This is one way a team of two can work to combine their strengths to do better for others than either could do themselves: We make room for each others strengths.
Benefits for the Coaching Couple
Coaching couples as a couple is good for the Marriage Coaching couple too! These are a few of the benefits that Jill and I enjoy:
- It gives us a meaningful to do together.
- It keeps us fresh regarding essential elements to grow and protect our marriage.
- We learn from and we are challenged by the couples we coach.
- We learn from one other and grow in love, respect and admiration.
Coaching couples together has brought us together. We blend our strengths by making room for each other in coaching and training sessions. Couples get a better product than if they only got one of us, and we get to enjoy a shared sense of purpose and effectiveness.
Many times after sessions or classes we discuss what we taught. “We do that skill/exercise well” or “We need to do that well in our own marriage. We need to practice what we preach.” “Wow, you we’re amazing when you facilitated that conversation” or “That was a great question.”
In both public and private settings we respect and make room for one another’s styles and gifts. That’s good for our marriage. If you listen to us in public you’ll hear us defer to each other. I sometimes say, “Jill teaches very effectively about the marriage as our client; the oneness of the marriage vs. either individual. ” Jill would you share about that?” And sometimes Jill prompts me, “Jeff, you are really good at teaching about the difference between process and content in coaching. I think it would be helpful to share that now.” In other words, we set the stage for each other to give our best to others. The ability to do this comes from understanding each other’s gifts and strengths and practice ministering together. It’s like dancing. At first you might step on each other’s toes, but the more you practice, the more you will move together in a cooperative rhythm.
Teams of Two: A new wave in ministry?
Individualistic ministry has been a norm among Christians. Typically, the more overtly gifted spouse is sought to lead a ministry and the less publicly gifted spouse feels like a tag along. At least, that is how some of them are seen as they dutifully sit on the front row when their husband/wife preaches or teaches. Sadly, some also feel less than their dynamic and charismatic spouse. This model perpetuates the unbiblical thought that some gifts are better than others. In truth, the gifts are different, not better. (I Corinthians 12). Marriage Coaching, done by couples, synergizes the gifts of both partners for the good of others, and puts both partners on the same level as equally effective contributors to the process.
Most of our ministry experience before 2003 was done as individuals. I worked alone as a counselor, led men’s fellowship groups, served on the Church board, etc. Jill led a women’s Bible study, was the forwarding agent for missionary friends, taught classes for children and sat in the front row when I preached or taught. I’m not saying that any of this was bad, but that it wasn’t as good for our marriage as it is now to serve others as teammates. We are co-coaches, co-trainers and co-laborers in the ministry God has given us to steward together.
Can Individuals Coach Couples?
Is it a luxury to coach couples as a team of two, or should it be a standard?
Jill and I have decided to only train couples to do Marriage Coaching, not individuals. Why? We want those that are helping marriages to be in good and growing marriages themselves. This is one of the reasons behind our policy to require couples to take Level I Marriage Coaching. Regardless of how long they have been married or how much experience they have in ministry, we want to qualify them and for them to qualify themselves as competent to coach others by examining their own marriage. Because the objective of Level I is to help couples to learn and to use the heart and skill of core Marriage Coaching skills, couples are forced to create an oasis of time and space to focus on their own marriage. The result has been that many couples with decades of marriage and ministry experience have been pleasantly surprised by the value of being intentional about proactively strengthening and protecting their marriage. And, they have been able to authentically validate their readiness to give to other couples from the overflow of hope, pleasure and purpose in their own marriage.
Some couples that have gone through Marriage Coaching training have been shocked by what they uncovered in terms of unresolved issues and pain. Still, it’s a good discovery because as they face the brutal facts about their marriage, they’re in a better position to do something about it. Some such couples have paused in the training process to get some private marriage coaching or counseling, or simply to practice using what they have learned in order to accomplish the breakthrough in healing, forgiveness and understanding prerequisite to further training or serving others.
We would like to end this article by inviting you to pray and reflect about what God might have for your marriage.
- What grabbed your heart from this article?
- What excites you or scares you?
- Are you inclined to seek opportunity to proactively strengthen and protect your own marriage?
- Are you dreaming about the possibility of serving others as a team of two?
Possible action steps (please prioritize steps you come up with):
- Discuss with your spouse what you want.
- Talk with friends about your desires and dreams.
- Chat with a Marriage Coaching couple about being coached or trained.
- Arrange to get some Marriage Coaching. A great way to become a Marriage Coaching couple is to be coached because it gives you the opportunity to experience the process.
*Jeff and Jill Williams write and speak about Marriage Coaching. Together they train couples that want to coach marriages through a series of tele-classes that are accessible for any couple (globally) with a phone and internet connection. They have trained couples in six countries and 22 states. Write to Jeff.firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 301-515-1218 for more information.
Copyright 2009 Jeffrey J. Williams | Grace & Truth Relationship Education | Germantown | MD | 20876 301.515.1218, Jeff.email@example.com