I typically do not work with couples because I know it is possible to make profound positive changes in a marriage when only one person in the relationship changes. However, when I am approached by a couple who are both ‘all in’ to work with a marriage coach, my suggestion is that each spouse do an individual session with me each week. We can often achieve even greater results in far less time when both spouses want to improve their marriage and work individually with me to do so.
Now, working with both spouses individually is quite different than couples counseling. I need to make it clear that I’m not saying that couples counseling isn’t valuable or that you shouldn’t seek it, but in my experience, it wasn’t able to prevent my husband and I from spending hours and hours focusing on the past, negotiating what we both wanted, and trying to convince the counselor that the other spouse was ‘wrong.’
It seemed like I spent a huge amount of time explaining how he could ‘meet my needs’ and him giving it his very best shot BUT STILL NOT BEING ABLE TO DO IT. I mean, he honestly tried, he gave it his all, but it just did not work. Do you know why? Because it’s an IMPOSSIBLE task!
If you tell your spouse, “here are my needs, and you need to meet them,” you are like a dependent child who needs someone else to make you happy. If he, in turn, tells you what he needs you to do to make him happy, you have both put your happiness in each other’s hands, which is not a good place to be. Most people can’t even make themselves happy, never mind someone else!
My marriage changed when I stopped trying to get my husband to “make me happy”–instead, I took responsibility for my own happiness (as well as unhappiness) and we no longer expect each other to do it. Instead, we meet our own needs first, and then meet in the middle to enjoy our time together.
SO much better!