People often ask me what happens in a coaching session? What will we do or talk about? When I explain that I use strategies it can be a little hard to imagine or explain. So, I thought that I would share just one of the strategies that I use regularly so you can get a small taste of what I do. This is one of my favourite strategies as couples learn to love it and I have seen it transform marriages and relationships. It is also very simple!
As I have said before, connection is the ultimate necessity in every happy, healthy marriage.
Without it, you are in trouble.
You can create connection through effective communication and it seems that communication is an absolute mystery to many couples.
"How can he/she hear this when I said that?" Is a common exclamation from frustrated spouses.
Effective communication creates understanding, empathy, and connection.
The issue with many couples is that they are aiming at the wrong thing with their communication. That is to say, that with their communication their goal is to get their spouse to see that they are RIGHT. Needing to be right is a destructive force in relationships, it just doesn't 'fit' into a content marriage. It has no place at all in a healthy happy relationship. The need to be right overrides your capacity to show your partner that you care. You want them to know that you care about them, how they feel, what they want etc, don't you?
I hear you thinking "What is wrong with wanting to be right? Doesn't everyone? Well, yes, people do love to be right in general, but does that mean you need to be right over your partner? The main reason is that when you are right it makes your partner feel wrong. If your partner feels wrong regularly you will find yourself with an unhappy partner, a disconnected relationship and quite likely a relationship with a good dose of conflict. o you want to be right or do you want to be understood? To be heard, acknowledged, valued and cared for?
So, if you make your intention of your communication to understand your partner or help your partner to understand you then you will get a very different outcome. If you make this a habit by practising it regularly it can change your whole relationship.
If you can get your partner on board then it will be even more powerful.
So here it is:
When, what, how.
So the purpose of when what how is for you to be able to express how you feel to your partner without criticising them or making them wrong. It is a way to tackle delicate subjects without conflict. When we criticise our partners, they (men in particular) tend to shut down. (If your man has shut down on you emotionally or verbally then try going a few days without criticising or blaming him and pay him compliments instead, then do this strategy!)
Criticism or shaming kills connection stone dead.
When: when it happened
What: what happened
How: how it made you feel.
So for example:
One partner has a habit of leaving their clothes next to the washing basket instead of in it. The other partner feels taken for granted and it is making them feel ignored and undervalued. This is having a negative effect on the marriage.
A possible way of communicating this would be:
"You always leave your clothes on the floor! I spend all day tidying this house and you never help! You don't care about how hard I work!."
With 'when, what, how' this would go like this:
"On Saturday, (When) when you put your clothes on the floor next to the washing basket (What) I felt unappreciated and ignored."
Notice that the first communication was all about their partner. There was no opportunity there for the partner to do anything other than defend themselves. The speaker had already decided that they didn't care. To be vulnerable and apologise after that would be difficult for most people. The result could be conflict or silence.
The 'when what how' way is all about the speaker. They are expressing how they feel without making the other person feel shame or guilt. They are simply saying this is how they feel. This opens up the opportunity for the partner to understand how they feel and show that they care how they feel. It gives them the chance to be empathic and turns an annoying habit into an opportunity for connection.
With my clients, I teach them how to do this strategy within a session. I then ask them to have a conversation each evening called the 'Check in'. They decide on a time each day or every couple of days where they will sit together, create a calm space, and have a conversation about their relationship using when what how. Couples learn so much from this about each other!
Over time, the barriers come down and couples can be vulnerable again. Vulnerability is a fundamental part of creating connection.
You know where you are in your relationship right now. Maybe you are not ready for this strategy yet. You may need to create some connection before you put this into place, so don't worry if you can't see this working for you at this moment in time.
I have seen this strategy work for so many couples; it can change relationships beyond recognition in a matter of weeks.
If you are interested in working with me to learn more about how you can revitalise or save your marriage or relationship, please click on the button below, and book yourself in for a complimentary consultation.
I look forward to hearing from you!