The couple is a process and, as such, it must update its links to adapt to new situations and challenges. If individual processes monopolize everyone’s attention, increasingly divergent paths are generated in which the original meaning is lost and the couple dissolves.
In this way, coaching is not only effective as an individual process, but also for the couple.
Couple coaching: for a greater well-being of the relationship
This week, Lluís Casado, professor and psychologist coach of the Postgraduate in Psychology Coaching at the Mensalus Institute for Psychological and Psychiatric Assistance, talks to us about the importance of matching the pace of individual growth with the growth of the couple.
From the point of view of couple coaching, what concept do we start with?
Two people build a relationship when they build a bond (us) that meets their current needs. Likewise, people change throughout life for life cycle reasons, whether biological, social, psychological, or even accidental. Because of all this, the original link, if it does not evolve, becomes obsolete.
The couple is a process and, as such, needs to update its bonds to adapt to new situations that emerge over the years.
So what about the couple who don’t update their link?
If this happens, the original bond can become an obstacle to individual development and the development of the couple. Also, if the individual growth rate is not the same, this difference can result in an asynchronous couple in which it becomes difficult to update the link (the expectations and needs of the two parties are different).
Therefore, the harmonious growth of the couple requires measured individual growth. However, this development is not that simple. Let us not forget that we are talking about the growth processes of two autonomous people and the building of new bonds of interdependence.
What elements come into play in the process of individual growth?
People behave according to patterns, habits, personal style, beliefs, values, relationship connections, emotional experiences, identity and life scenario in transactional terminology. In stable situations, our behaviors are adaptive and our relationships are satisfactory.
When we are in a situation of idealization all is well and therefore we do not see the need to change. In the case of the couple, we are in the process of falling in love. But this idyllic wellness situation is artificial in the medium term because people change internally in the same way our environment changes too. Sometimes it is difficult for us to take a step and evolve, we cling to this well-being experienced in a first phase and we disconnect from the present moment.
What does couple coaching do in this regard?
From the coaching, we aim for the two members to reflect on their role in the relationship so that, later, they find the commonalities that lead them to new shared goals of change and evolution.
And what kind of work are we talking about?
We refer to the work in three stages. The first step in the couple coaching process is awareness. Each member needs a space to become aware of where they are and how they feel about the other person.
Couples arrive with a reason for consultation related to the complaint, the difficulty of being heard, of being respected, etc. The request refers to the other rather than to oneself. Precisely in this first stage of the work, it is essential to understand what is the individual role and its consequences.
Once the two are located, it’s time to take responsibility. In the second step of the coaching process, there are three key questions:
- What change am I responsible for?
- What should I contribute to the relationship?
- What can I ask the other? / How can I help take responsibility?
What works from these answers?
Among the aspects that we analyze, we pay particular attention to the way in which each person receives the request of another. It is interesting to observe how the demand arrives and “resonates” with the individual. The associated thoughts and feelings will offer a wide range of meanings that promote mutual accountability, information that is usually overshadowed by unconstructive discussions and conversations.
And what is the last step?
The third step is action. The coach approaches the couple for change based on the following questions:
- What will I do?
- What will you do?
- What will we do together?
As we can see, when working on all these aspects, it is important to keep the focus on yourself, the other and the connection. This is something that doesn’t always happen in a couple’s real life. The coach is responsible for helping to keep all the spotlights active, otherwise the work done throughout the sessions will be in vain.
In short, how to understand the growth of the couple?
The growth of the couple is the permanent search for the bond which, in the “here and now”, allows maximum personal development with the other. The bond is both the common goal and the means which facilitates the greatest individual development. In fact, highly developed couples use couple growth as a catalyst for individual growth because they make the most of the synergy of interdependence as opposed to the blocking that the dependent relationship signifies.