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Marriage Coaching: It’s About More Than Preserving the Union by Jeff and Jill Williams

May 18th, 2010 | By | Category: Family Coaching Center

Saving marriages is one thing, but helping couples to live in a pleasurable and purposeful relationship is another. Marriage Coaching is an effective process that helps couples to save their marriage, to increase and sustain pleasure in their relationship and to live their purpose as a team of two.

Just because a couple decides to remain married doesn’t mean they’re happy. How many couples do you know that have “settled” for less than best? In some cases it appears to be a respectable decision to “grit it out” when things are tough in marriage. But shouldn’t it be about more than commitment, endurance and perseverance? Can more couples experience more pleasure, joy, purpose and fulfillment?  We believe that intentionality about pleasuring your partner and discovering and living the purpose of your marriage are practical steps that any couple can take to reduce pain, sustain pleasure and fulfill the purpose of their marriage.

Moving Toward Pleasure and Purpose

Why is Marriage Coaching a good approach to save and strengthen marriages? Because by definition coaching is future oriented and focuses on what people want to accomplish and experience. The Marriage Coaching process begins by eliciting a couple’s vision for a better future and ends with the fruition of that vision. The core process is facilitation of couples to ask, listen and set goals. Couples are prompted to envision their future, and to take steps to make their vision reality.  Along the way they check their vision for alignment with God’s purposes.  That’s what makes Christian Marriage Coaching unique.  It seeks congruence with God’s purposes and plans for a couple’s marriage.

Think about your own marriage as a way to think about others. If your marriage could speak, what would it say? If your marriage could make requests, what would it ask for?  What does your marriage need? What does it want? Do you regularly think like this? If not, you can start today.  Practice asking these questions about your own marriage.

From Pain to Pleasure and Purpose

In our experience it is uncommon to coach a couple that doesn’t have some level of pain in their relationship. Their discomfort and desire for something better is what motivates them to get some help. Sometimes we minister to couples that have begun to entertain the idea of ending their relationship. Essentially, they want the pain to end.  This is where Marriage Coaching can be helpful because it is a process that gets specific about solutions.  Powerful questions such as these help a couple to consider a better future: “When your marriage is like you want it to be, what will be happening? How will you be feeling? What won’t be happening?”

In addition, it is often helps couples to think about a time in the past when their relationship was pleasurable. “When were things good for you? When were you happiest in your marriage? What was different then compared to now?” A couple’s answers to these questions can be the seeds of action-steps the couple can do to reduce pain and increase pleasure.

Meeting Each Other’s Needs

Just this morning Jill asked me what I would like from her today. “What would you like from me today? I’m not asking what you want in general, but what you would like from me, specifically.” Wow! I love being asked this question because it says to me that Jill wants me to experience her love in action; that she wants me to experience the feeling of love, pleasure. And guess what? Her initiative prompted me to ask her the same. By sharing our responses to each other’s inquiries, we are both aware of how to pleasure each other today. Could it be this easy to build and sustain pleasure in marriage? If we are proactive to meet each other’s needs could it reduce pain and disappointment? Our experience is that it does.

The Purpose of Your Team of Two

What’s the purpose of your marriage? Why did God bring you together? His plan from scripture (Genesis) was to provide a solution for loneliness, to propagate the human race and to provide help to man in a way that results in mutual fulfillment for men and women as they work in and care for creation. It’s the work part that we want to focus on.

What type of work were you made to do? More specifically, what kind of work/ministry has your team of two been called to do? What is the story of your marital union? What is the uniqueness of your design and preparation through experiences God has orchestrated for you? For whom has your marriage been prepared to serve? When does your team of two shine? To what extent are you able to answer these questions? Is this a new way of thinking, or do you clearly know the purpose of your marriage?

The Process of Becoming a Team

Becoming a team of two has been in process for Jill and me since we met twenty-eight years ago, but we’ve only been intentional in our efforts to understand the unique purpose of our union for the last eight years. We’ve been learning about each other’s gifts, strengths and passions.  We’ve spent hours in conversation about what we’ve learned from our experiences, and our compassion has grown for different types of marriages and marital circumstances through a variety of our own experiences and by serving other couples.  While it has been extremely challenging to learn to walk together as in a three-legged race, it has also been entirely worthwhile as we’ve learned to live our purpose of inspiring couples to hope and to live loving.[1]

What one couple can do, another couple can do.  Have you ever suspected that God has a plan and purpose for your marriage?  Perhaps you’ve already begun to explore it.  A great way to get more specific would be to read through a book like A Leader’s Life Purpose[2] together and to reflect on and discuss questions about design, preparation, passion and call.  Typically, leaders are thought of as individuals, but we see evidence that God is shaping couples as teams of two to lead together.[3] Perhaps your marriage is among those that He is calling.

Solving Pain, Building Pleasure and Living Purpose

Pain either motivates couples to learn and grow or separates them. Hopeful couples ask, “What can we do to end the pain, and/or to replace it with pleasure?” Generally, this can be accomplished by welcoming each other’s complaints with requests for change.  “What do you like about our relationship and what would you like to change?” The consideration of such future-oriented questions infers that there is hope for a couple’s marriage.

Pleasure results from meeting each other’s needs and desires. Doing this requires awareness of what our partner wants. Variations of the question, “What do you want?” such as, “What would you like (more of, less of) from me?” reveal our partners desires, and puts us in a position to meet them.  As we dedicate ourselves to serving our partner, we live loving.

Marriage purpose is discovered through reflection and discussion about the experiences that God has given to a couple, assessment of their gifts, strengths, passions and fruit of ministry to others.

Summary: From Pain to Purpose

We tell every Christian couple we coach that what they receive from the ministry of Marriage Coaching is not just for them, but others. At the very least, a preserved marriage is a testimony that glorifies God and inspires other couples to try when things seem bleak.  At the most, a recovered and preserved marriage eventually becomes a team of two that dedicates itself to helping other couples to save and strengthen their marriages.

Pain eventually arises in every relationship. Disappointments, selfish motives, harsh words, etc. separates partners. Thank God that He has made a way to repair and restore relationship, with Him and each other. Acknowledgment of wrong-doing, apology, forgiveness and willingness to hear and absorb the effect of harmful words and actions are some of the steps necessary to restore relationship. Once that phase of the process is complete, it becomes possible to proactively plan to build and sustain pleasure. As a couple begins to do this effectively they can turn their energy toward discovery of their purpose.  Finally, a couple can fulfill their purpose by living as a team of two for others.

God’s Plan for Your Marriage

Where are you and those you are serving on this continuum? Are you in pain? Take heart.  God wants to meet you there and move you back to pleasure, possibly through the ministry of a Marriage Coaching couple. Are you experiencing pleasure, yet yearning to discover and live your purpose as a team of two? If so, being coached or trained to coach others could be in order. Are you living your purpose? If so, don’t take for granted that you will be free of pain or threats to pleasure. You are a primary target of the enemy who is always seeking to steal, kill and destroy.  Please protect your marriage by proactively nurturing pleasure in your relationship, and affiliating with other ministry marriages willing to pray for and befriend you.

Finally, remember that wherever you are on the journey that God wants to meet you there, and walk with you to a better place.  He is good, and He works all things together for good.  Engage the season of marriage in which He has you.  Mine it for as much as you can learn.  Expect to grow.  Learn to live loving, and expect opportunities to export to others what He gives to you.

[1] Living loved by God that we might live loving with others and thereby love living is something I’ve heard two men talk about: Wayne Jacobsen,, and Tom Wymore,   Personal conversations, podcasts, books and blogs.

[2] A Leader’s Life Purpose, by Tony Stoltzfus,

[3] Marriage Coaching is the application of individual Christian Leadership Coaching principles, values and practices to marriage.  Christian Leadership Life Purpose Coaching is the application of Life Purpose discovery process to marriage.  Our Level III Marriage Coaching training course helps couples to explore their unique experiences, design, passion and call.  See for more information.

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