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Ask the Coach: Isn’t Relationship Coaching Nothing More Than Snake Oil?
Dear Coach Linda:
Forgive me for being blunt, but what do you think you’re doing here on Meet Up.com, promoting yourself as a relationship coach? You are nothing more than a snake oil salesman, out to make a buck. – Jim
I’m curious about how vehemently you are opposed to relationship coaching – I assume stems from your concern about people being taken advantage of, especially those who have recently gone through a divorce and may be feeling vulnerable, hurt, and lonely. If this is true, then I appreciate your desire to protect people from vultures.
But I whole-heartedly disagree with you about relationship coaching being nothing more than snake oil. Here’s why.
Except for psychopaths and sociopaths who possess extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience (which I assume you are not), we all want to love and be loved – for who we are – to be seen and appreciated in all of our glory … to be able to see and appreciate another. We all yearn for deep, healthy, balanced connection with others.
The ironic part is that we aren’t born knowing how to create this dynamic. The relationship skills we first learn come from our parents or primary care-givers, either directly or by observation, and our role models for those skills vary widely between healthy and unhealthy. Our relationships with each other, especially personal or intimate relationships, require an ability to be open, honest and vulnerable. We haven’t always had a safe place to learn how to be that honest and vulnerable.
Couple that with our culture’s tendency to feed us with “fairy tales” about love and marriage, it’s no wonder that in today’s world, despite our deepest yearnings, people struggle to create and maintain successful love relationships that last. Most people are unsuccessful in the realm of the heart, with divorce rates hovering around 50%. With less than a 50/50 chance of success, its not surprising that the marriage rate is declining and more couples are opting to simply live together, to try and avoid the toxic effects of divorce. While on the surface that might seem like a good solution, close to 80% of common-law relationships fail.
The impact of divorce and relationship failure has detrimental and long-term consequences on society — on the children who are impacted — and on the health, well-being, and financial resources of the adults and families involved. Plus we live in a spiritually challenged world that is characterized by self-centeredness, consumerism and unrealistic expectations. Too many people are lost – they sleepwalk through life with no sense of direction or purpose and no clarity about what is really important to them.
To illustrate how important I feel relationship coaching is, consider these facts (with thanks to RCI):
- People, on average, divorce in the third year of their marriages. This statistic indicates that relationships – even those that are supposedly committed – have become disposable, and people’s expectations of romance and marriage are unrealistic. When a new marriage starts to lose its glow and reality sets in, the partners would rather bail than try to work to make it a successful union. (The flip side to this statistic is people staying in a relationship that has become degraded or even abusive.)
- People who divorce and enter into subsequent marriages have a greater likelihood of those relationships failing – which indicates that people repeat their relationship mistakes and don’t have the knowledge and skills needed to create successful partnerships.
- For couples that divorce and then marry new partners, the lack of emotional closure with their former partner often sabotages their new relationships.
After some (or many) challenging relationship experiences, our natural inclination to protect ourselves builds up and we might find ourselves shrinking back into any safe place we can find. We create a shell that protects us from the pain, but also keeps us from experiencing the joy. So we’ve got an overwhelming majority of single people who desire a successful relationship yet fear failure, fear intimacy and above all keep making the same frickin’ mistakes over and over again.
Then let’s look at our ability to attract healthy relationships. Because many people do not take the time to discover what a healthy relationship looks like and feels like, and how to attract it … and because most people suffer from unbalanced self-esteem issues … they wind up attracting abusive relationships. Consider these facts (with thanks to Domestic Abuse Shelter.org):
· One out of every three women will be abused at some point in her life.
· Battering is the single major cause of injury to women, exceeding rapes, muggings and auto accidents combined.
· A woman is more likely to be killed by a male partner (or former partner) than any other person.
· About 4,000 women die each year due to domestic violence.
· Of the total domestic violence homicides, about 75% of the victims were killed as they attempted to leave the relationship or after the relationship had ended.
· Seventy-three percent of male abusers were abused as children.
· Thirty percent of Americans say they know a woman who has been physically abused by her husband in the past year.
· Intimate partner violence is a crime that largely affects women. In 1999, women accounted for 85% of the victims of intimate partner violence.
· On average, a woman will leave an abusive relationship SEVEN times before she leaves for good.
· Approximately 75% of women who are killed by their batterers are murdered when they attempt to leave or after they have left an abusive relationship.
I firmly believe that if people took the time to educate themselves on how to attract healthy relationships, these statistics would be dramatically reduced. I, for one, would love to see more women enroll in my programs and take back control of their lives. (Yes, part of my program focuses on how to identify “red flags”.) Through my programs, people learn how to say YES to what better serves them, and to emphatically say NO to what doesn’t. That’s what my programs provide.
Healthy relationship skills can be learned, and unhealthy relationship patterns can be changed. Supporting my clients to develop and fine-tune their skills to create balanced and fulfilling relationships is my role as a Relationship Coach. Together, my clients and I work to create compelling visions for their relationships, define strategies for letting go of toxic relationships, as well as create approaches for transforming other relationships, and proactively co-creating healthy new relationships.
Life is all about relationships. Everything that we do revolves around our relationships with each other. It’s time for our relationships to be harmonious, balanced and fulfilling. Unless of course you feel divorce and broken relationships, and a culture of domestic violence against women, is a better investment of time and resources. What are your thoughts?