Coaching Strategy for those who are Crazy in Love… or Driving each other Crazy

Dwight Bain, Certified Coach and Certified Family Law Mediator

Have you ever wondered why so many couples are crazy in love and can’t wait to get together, but then drive each other crazy and can’t wait to split up? I sure have… so I developed some key factors to use in coaching couples to build marital connection and avoid marital conflict.

Below are the most common factors that can lead to marital crisis requiring therapy or, worse, an attorney. As you read through this list, think about the clients you coach. Get real, get honest, and be tough with these factors because the future success of your client’s marriage is at stake. Once you identify key areas that need attention, then you can focus on the importance of developing coaching strategies so they can find peace and intimate connections instead of the risk of growing apart, which can lead to a miserable life… or even divorce. Coaches confront the following issues:

Financial and Career
• Conflict over spending issues (unresolved spending conflict can linger for years)
• Excessive debt (credit cards, late payments, IRS, low FICO, student loans, etc.)
• Excessive lifestyle (house, cars, entertainment, travel, recreational vehicles, etc.)
• Business success or failure (especially with family or home-based businesses)
• Inability to maintain stable employment (or seek job training to increase options)
• Lack of income or feeling used financially by spouse who doesn’t contribute
• Excessive business travel or weekend work that prevents relationship time
• Workaholic or exhausted from the driven need to accomplish greater success
• Married to their job instead of to their marriage partner

Emotional
• Anger issues (sarcasm, resentment, criticism, bitterness, passive-aggressive, etc.)
• Rage, violent temper or episodes of violence (including unresolved past fights)
• Stress or burnout (including chronic physical problems or stress-related disorders)
• Suffocating emotions (jealousy, low self-esteem, insecurity, codependency, etc.)
• Substance abuse (alcohol, drugs, prescription medication, eating disorders, etc.)
• Gambling, pornography or other addictive and secretive behaviors
• Criminal behavior, illegal activity or forcing spouse to participate in any unethical acts
• Immaturity, ego or selfishness, including the compulsive need to always be “right” or win
• Loneliness, rejection, phobic disorders or social isolation disconnected from family or friends
• Mental, psychological or psychiatric problems or failure to seek professional help for these issues
• Violation of treatment plan or meds to regain emotional stability (e.g., ADD, bi-polar, OCD)
• TV addiction to escape reality (soaps, sports, sitcoms, shopping, news, movies, etc.)
• Internet addiction to avoid relationship (chat rooms, IM, virtual relationships, e-mail pals, etc.)
• Video or computer games to escape reality and relationships (role playing games, online gaming)

Relational
• Communication problems, misunderstandings, total silence or failure to listen
• Intimacy problems, sexual frustration, sexual distance or lack of sexual desire
• Emotional affair or continual flirting for attention from the opposite sex
• Sexual behavior with another person outside of the marriage relationship
• Sexual behavior with a fantasy image or virtual relationship (sexual addictions)
• Unrealistic expectations of marital role or marital responsibilities for each partner
• Power and manipulation (or controlling behavior with spouse, children, family or others)
• Abuse (emotional, verbal, physical, sexual or threat of abuse with spouse or children)
• In-law interference or extreme conflict and dysfunction from extended family system
• Abusiveness toward pets or other people, especially if threats of a weapon are involved
• Parenting struggles (child management, blended family issues, absent or controlling parent)
• Household management of chores and clutter or the failure to respect the time and schedule of others
• Unresolved legal conflicts (past support or custody issues, business disputes, etc.)
• Feeling overwhelmed and exhausted from trying to make the marriage work alone

Spiritual
• Religious differences or lack of worship together through a shared house of faith
• Dishonesty, lying, misrepresentation, half-truth, ethical violations or other breeches of integrity
• Attacking, disrespectful, disloyal, rude or hateful toward other faiths, cultures and belief systems
• Not living consistent with personal values and morality or failure to work on character flaws
• Trust violations, since trust is the foundational element for any successful relationship

Bottom Line
In light of these many factors, when should couples absolutely get help for their marriages?
• When children become the exclusive focus of the marriage
• When one marriage partner dominates or controls the other
• When blaming, shouting, sarcasm or threats become commonplace
• When sexual or financial issues are ignored or are a constant battleground
• When trust is violated over money, morality or unexplained absences
• When affection and kindness to each other ceases
• When outside factors (job stress, child issues, financial crisis) increase
• When it is easier to discuss feelings with someone of the opposite sex other than your marriage partner
• When drugs or alcohol abuse are an issue
• When physical or sexual abuse occurs

Three or more of the above factors can usually be sorted through with a skilled marriage coach; however, if there are more than five, it would be a better choice to contact a professionally-trained and certified Christian counselor. Note: The last two categories are so dangerous that they should be referred to a qualified professional to prevent the loss of life and protect the safety of the partner in danger.

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