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Coaching Communication in Marriage Relationships by Jeff and Jill Williams

Mar 10th, 2010 | By | Category: Family Coaching Center

It is the number one request of couples seeking Marriage Coaching: Improved Communication. This seems to bear witness to the maxim that, “The conversation is the relationship and the relationship is the conversation.”[1] Compromise communication and the quality and pleasure of a relationship drops proportionally.  And, when communication is strained or absent it results in distress, fear and pain that motivates many people to seek ways to reconnect.

Being alone to talk to ourselves about our honest thoughts, feelings and desires is more than uncomfortable.  Lend your ear to a widow or widower to prove this point.  Or offer to listen to a listener (i.e., such as a professional people-helper like a coach or counselor who listens to others for a living.  Listeners need to be listened to).

It is usually after brief but intense communication “break-downs”, (i.e., fights) or lengthy period of silence of walking on egg-shells that couples contact us to ask for help to reconnect their conversations.  These are some of their complaints.

“We need help with our communication…we don’t seem to understand each other.”

Translation – “There are things that I want in our relationship that isn’t happening, and he/she doesn’t seem to care.  If they cared they would do those things.  Obviously I’m not getting through.”

“We don’t talk like we used to.  Maybe you could help us to hear each other.”

Translation – “We need a referee.  We are quick to set each other off by simple words or expressions.  We need someone present to motivate us to behave ourselves.”

“There are things we need to talk about, but we never have time, or we’re both too tired.”

Translation – “We’ve been overcome by life.  Before kids and careers we had plenty of time and energy for each other, but now, everything else and everyone else gets our best, and we give leftovers to each other.”

“It’s to the point that we avoid more topics than we talk about.  Both of us seem to be walking on egg shells, afraid to bring up what we really need to talk about.”

Translation – “We don’t feel safe to bring up the topics that we really need to talk about.  Can you help us figure our how to talk about critical issues between us so that our Cold War doesn’t become an enduring way of life?”

Some Coaching Solutions – How is it that something that seems so simple, communication, get so twisted and complicated?  How can two people who speak the same language miss each other so badly?  The answers to these questions fall more appropriately into the realm of counseling.  But even if those questions are indulged, understanding why a problem is a problem doesn’t always beget the solution.  Couples still need vision for what they would like their communication to be, a map to guide them to their destination, and tools to help them along their journey.  Thus, since the focus of this article is coaching, the more appropriate question is:

“How can Marriage Coaching Couple be most effective and efficient in their efforts to help couples to improve their communication?”

  1. Begin with the end in mind – Ask the couple what will be happening more/less in their communication at the end-point of coaching.  Help the couple to create a picture of “better”.  Call that a 9 or 10 (scale 1-10) and then ask them to estimate where they are now on that scale. In each ensuing appointment, ask them to rate their communication again and to explain what is happening more or less or what has started or stopped happening that supports the change in their rating.
  2. Have partners look at each other – This is obvious, right?  You might be surprised by how many couples talk at each other instead of “to” each other.  If you are in person with a couple ask them to sit so that they can look directly at each other, not you.  This will heighten their focus and sensitivity to non-verbal cues about how their partner is feeling.
  3. Have them reflect to each other after EVERY disclosure of thoughts, feelings and desires. Urge the speaker to limit their sharing to 3-5 sentences because more than that is difficult for the listener to remember.

Relationships rise and fall on communication.  It’s simple but it isn’t easy.  Regardless of the content of the issues that a couple wants you to coach them about, communication must be assessed, taught, modeled and taught.  How a couple communicates about their content is one thing you can definitely provide as Marriage Coaches by applying the preceding three guidelines.  Once that foundation is established, results might surprise you.

Jeff and Jill Williams write and speak about Marriage Coaching.  Together they privately coach couples and train groups of 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 sieven countries and 22 states.  Write to, or call 301-515-1218 for more information.

Copyright 2010 Jeffrey J. Williams | Grace & Truth Relationship Education | Germantown | MD | 20876 301.515.1218,

[1] Joseph Umidi

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