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Marriage Coaching Tips: Three Essential Questions to Ask Couples by Jeff and Jill Williams

Apr 11th, 2010 | By | Category: Family Coaching Center

Assume that you’ve completed your introduction and orientation session with a couple. You’ve introduced yourselves as a Marriage Coaching couple and described the process to help their relationship.  The couple to be coached has had ample opportunity to ask questions.  They are satisfied with their understanding of the process, and they think it might be helpful.  After a brief review of their objectives for Marriage Coaching you see no contraindications[1] to helping them to strengthen and protect their marriage. You either believe that your Marriage Coaching supervisor or consultant[2] would agree that you have the necessary experience and ability to be helpful to this couple, or you’ve actually reviewed the situation with them and they support your desire to serve the new couple.[3] Now what?

It is critical to the success of the Marriage Coaching process to get answers to three basic questions as soon as possible:

  1. What do they want? What does the couple want to accomplish through Marriage Coaching? What do they want to start or stop happening in their relationship?  What do they want to happen more or less? What outcome(s) would make all of their time, effort and investment in Marriage Coaching completely worthwhile?  What would they like to be able to celebrate in our final session? What will accomplishment of their goals mean to them? What will it mean to their children, to their friends, to their Church, TO GOD? Once you know what a couple wants, you are in position to help them to shape and articulate specific and measurable goals that they want to achieve. Aim at nothing and you’ll hit nothing. Aim at a clear target and perhaps you’ll get close.

  1. How much are they willing to invest to accomplish their goal(s)? It is essential for a couple to invest ample time, energy and money[4] in Marriage Coaching.  Success in anything requires consistent effort over time. Short-term bursts of activity as a response to crisis don’t result in enduring success. Consider exercise, business plans and relationships. Worthwhile results in any meaningful endeavor come from significant application of energy over time. Investment of finances provides self-imposed accountability that couples need to motivate them to work through exercises and to practice skills. Jill and I loved it when a wife turned to her husband in a session, “You know, we’re paying good money for this. We really ought to practice some of these things at home!” Yes, where couples invest their treasure their hearts will follow.

  1. What are potential obstacles to overcome en route to success? Most couples have some barriers to peace and pleasure in their relationship that have either gone unidentified or that have seemed to be beyond their control. Why else would they ask for your help? If they knew how to solve their problems, they probably wouldn’t have asked to talk with you. The easiest barrier to overcome is ignorance. In our experience, most couples don’t know what they don’t know. We didn’t. Until 2004 we had no idea about the state of the art in relationship skills, including how coaching principles, values and skills could help our marriage! Obviously, ignorance is overcome through the impartation of information. Thus, one of our first objectives with a new couple is to download essential concepts and skills that they can use to renew hope and restore pleasure.


Beginning with the end in mind is a great strategy in many endeavors. Knowing how much a couple wants to grow and change is good to know so that you can decide how much to push and challenge them. Clear understanding of potential barriers will help you to guide strategy to overcome them.  Begin with understanding of these three ingredients and you’ll significantly raise the probability that your Marriage Coaching will be helpful.

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] No degree of spousal abuse is taking place, and there are no significant signs or symptoms of a debilitating mental illness present.

[2] Consultation is the sharing of opinions and ideas which a Marriage Coaching couple is not obligated to follow or utilize.  Supervision is a formal arrangement that puts the supervisor in a position of responsibility for the client, and the supervisees are obligated to follow the instructions of the supervisor.  These distinctions of roles are commonly made and followed in people-helping professions such as counseling.  They are defined in this article because the authors opine that all Marriage Coaching couples should be under supervision, unless one of the partners of the Marriage Coaching team has an independent license in a related profession, such as counseling, social work or psychology.

[3] Again, whether a Marriage Coaching Couple is under supervision or not is not a matter of law, since coaching is not a regulated by law (yet).  But the authors opine that it is wise to follow long established ethics and practices of people-helping professions that require supervision for junior members of a profession, and provision for consultation for all members of a profession.  Only those with independent licenses in professions such as counseling, social work, psychology, medicine, etc. are exempt from supervision, but they still practice consultation to protect the best interest of their clients.

[4] Some feel strongly that ministry should be free.  We opine that no ministry is actually free.  Someone subsidizes the time of pastors and ministry staff, and part-time or lay ministry persons subsidize their time with employment or self-employment.  Simply said, we have given away our services and we have charged fees.  We see couples work harder and move more efficiently toward their objectives when they make a financial investment in addition to a commitment of time and energy.

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