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Coaching Energy Management to Maximize Marriage by Jeff and Jill Williams

Jul 12th, 2010 | By | Category: Family Coaching Center

Do you realize that the best aphrodisiacs in the world are free?[1] As Marriage Coaches we regularly prescribe them for couples struggling with emotional and physical intimacy. What are they?  Sleep, rest and relaxation…they rejuvenate and stoke our energy to offer and receive emotional openness and physical closeness.

One couple says this discovery saved their marriage. “We took our own advice after answering one of your coaching questions. In effect we coached our own marriage by asking ourselves your question, ’ If your marriage could speak what would it say?’ Our answer was more time alone to do things that used to be fun and relaxing for us; getting away for a couple of days in a small town, visiting shops, hiking, having small meals at side-walk cafes. Guess what? In the midst of relaxed recreation, rest and the opportunity to give each other our best energies, we rediscovered romance, and decided that we want to stay together!”

“It sounds like you’re relieved to discover that the fix was so simple”, we reflected to the couple. “Yes, relieved is a good word. Somehow in the busyness of life we let time for us slip away. The tools and process you’ve taught us are great, but we have to make time to use them with good levels of energy if we really want a great relationship.”

Pleasure Takes Time

There is no shortage of information to help couples heal, strengthen and restore their marriage[2], but application of these methods requires time and energy. The good news is that the state of the art to help relationships is better than most couples know[3]; the sobering news is that effective methods require ample time and effort. Think about fitness regimens. Some of us are diligent to make time for physical exercise. Why not be as disciplined about making time for relationship workouts?

There is no shortcut to God’s best in anything. There is no hurry up, drive through, microwave answer to maximize marriage. It takes time…quality time and energy. How much of this are you currently providing for your relationship? If you wanted to have more quality time and energy for your marriage how would you do it?

One husband deployed for duty ten time zones away from home cannot place personal calls during the work day so he has to wait until evening to have a private conversation with his wife.  “I could push myself to call right when I get off work, but I do better if I take a walk and get some dinner first. The walk helps me decompress from the day, and dinner restores my energy for some early evening activities. I call my wife about 7p my time and we much better conversations compared to times I’ve called right after the stress of the workday and with low blood sugar.”

Energy Management

Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, authors of The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal recommend “changing the channels” between energy systems throughout the day to maximize physical, mental and relational performance.  That’s why the husband who walks and eats before calling his wife is better able to engage his wife in quality interaction.  After a workday that is mentally taxing, he refreshes himself by exercising and eating, activities that help him to get stoked for relationship.  The result is that he is more attentive and involved in conversation, an outcome that makes waiting worthwhile.  “I’d rather have a quality conversation two hours after he’s off work than a superficial low-energy phone call right after he gets off work,” says the wife.

The energy management gurus also make the point that life is a series of sprints, not a marathon.  How is this helpful? Consider the energy-wise husband one more time.  He knows that the conversation with his wife is going to be about an hour, because they decided in advance to dedicate that time solely to their marriage and nothing else.  So, to prepare himself for a quality conversation he makes preparations to be his best for a 60 minute sprint of effective listening.[4] He makes himself as comfortable as possible (food, water, restroom, etc.) before beginning their conversation so that he can give his best, just like a world–class athlete before a game or a race.[5]

Coaching Energy Management with Couples

The majority (ninety percent) of couples we introduce to the concept and process of Marriage Coaching say that they think it could be helpful to their marriage as long as they make time to work on their relationship outside of our sessions. Yes.  Time…hmmm.  Where to find it?  How to make it?

Most agree that life seems to go at a breakneck pace these days; full-time work, kids in multiple extra-curricular activities, church and other civic responsibilities, etc.  For many, time is too short to just sit around and talk, but it is exactly what is required for couples to effectively open and hold each other’s hearts (i.e., to express and listen to one another’s honest thoughts, feelings and desires). It is definitely a big paradigm shift to make more time to relax in quality conversations. Too often couple’s communications are more about coordination of schedules and other logistics of family life. But in the end, it’s the couple that regularly invests time to explore and listen to each others hearts that maximizes their marriage.

Get Your Calendars!

If a couple doesn’t bring up the issue of finding time to work on their relationship, we do because the process of coaching their own marriage won’t work unless they work it. Thus, we ask, “What are some possible times for the two of you to have quality conversations using the skills and exercises we’re teaching you?” As they begin to think through their schedules we urge them to actually pull out their calendars and ask a follow-up question, “When are you each at your best?  When do you have the most energy, patience and ability to concentrate?” The visual of a calendar helps couples move toward the action-step of blocking times for which they will intentionally prepare themselves to enjoy productive conversations.  All of these questions serve to help couples become strategic about healing, strengthening and protecting their marriage.

Scheduling Action-Steps

The nuts and bolts of coaching energy management (and scheduling) with couples is the same as coaching development of action-steps for any challenge or commitment.  These are some of the questions we ask others couples AND that we use to coach our marriage. “What could you do?  When could you make time for conversation?  How much time do you want to invest in your relationship this week?  Where in your schedules can you make time for this?  Given all of the possibilities you’ve mentioned, what would you like to commit to (i.e. What will you do)?”

Implicit in the discussion of best times is the factor of energy.  Many marriages we’ve coached are polar opposites in temperament and biorhythms.  Often, one partner is a morning person and the other is a night owl.  These couples end up meeting in the middle or taking turns with each other’s schedule.  They often agree to a pre or post dinner time talk or take turns staying up or getting up early.  The point in coaching is to help a couple to agree on a plan that they think is sustainable.  Sometimes this requires some trial and error.  But make no mistake, this MUST be a frequent point of support, encouragement and accountability when coaching couples.  If they are not making time to talk outside of your sessions, they will not only fail to make significant progress, but they will also have trouble retaining the progress they do make.

There’s more to say, but we want you to have time to change the channel from reading to relationship or exercise, or something else that will rejuvenate you!

Tips to Coach Energy Management in Your Own Marriage

  1. Ask yourself and your partner, “What times during the day do I/you have the highest levels of energy?”
  1. Ask, “What can I/we do to stoke energy so that I/we are at our best for important relationship strengthening or healing conversations?”
    1. Rest and pray before the conversation
    2. Be well fed
    3. Be comfortable (clothing, restroom needs)
    4. Organize & take notes to prepare for the conversation
    5. Etc. (what do you need to be your best?)
  1. Discuss and negotiate the times that you will put relationship “appointments” on your calendars.  This is the step that seals your commitment to have high quality and high energy conversations.  (For couples that want to make good progress on their marriage goals, we suggest a minimum of 3-5 scheduled conversations per week, 15 – 60 minutes in duration.)

The most important facet of this process is not frequency or duration, but agreement in your marriage about when, where and for how long you are going to have high quality, skillful, loving and effective conversations that heal or strengthen and protect your relationship.


The importance of time and energy in relationships is often overlooked.  Our experience shows most couples have good intentions in their hearts, but their schedules and energy levels don’t naturally cooperate to maximize marriage.  Our observation is that couples that are vigilant in planning quality time together are happier and have fewer problems. Once a couple gets this, the habit of scheduling and defending high energy periods of time to heal, strengthen and protect one’s marriage becomes self-reinforcing. In other words, the discipline of energy and time management become worth it because the feeling of love, pleasure, is more often and more deeply experienced.

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.

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

[1] According to Dr. Harve Rawson, Ph.D, Professor Emeritus Hanover College, Hanover, IN.

[2] Check out and sign up for the listserv if you would like a daily tour de force of all of the information available to couples across the U.S. and around the world.  Still, a coherent process for evaluation and application of information is needed to help couples move from where they are to where they want to be in their relationship. This is where a client-centered model like Marriage Coaching is helpful.  For example, after reading a book like Love and Respect, by Emmerson Eggerichs, a couple could be coached or coach themselves through the material to decide if and how to apply it to their marriage. If this intrigues you, write to the author of this article for a complimentary consultation.

[3] Marriage Coaching is a great model that engages couples where they are motivated to grow and change, and helps them to decide how to apply information and skills to their marriage that they’ve already learned elsewhere.

[4] Skillful listening from the heart that includes reflection and feedback

[5] He also prepares in advance by making notes throughout the day to remind himself of things he wants to share and discuss.

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