Take small steps to change your life
Vail CO, Colorado
Last week’s column focused on Mitch, a man who, after starting to become interested in a woman at work, decided to try and shift his energy back into his marriage and try to make it fun again.
Mitch returned for our next appointment to let me know how things went with Meg. Were they able to add fun to their relationship? Did his attraction to the woman at work subside? Did Meg agree to see a marriage counselor? I asked for an update on his progress.
“I left our last coaching session with intentions to focus attention on my marriage,” he began. “Meg loved our surprise date.” Mitch hesitated.
“It sounds like something may not have gone as you had hoped,” I said.
“A couple days later, I talked to Meg about how I was feeling. I told her about my conversation with you and how the woman at work piqued my interest,” he said. “She immediately got defensive. I thought she would be happy that I was considering going to a marriage counselor, but that made her even madder.”
“You must have been anticipating a different reaction,” I offered. “What happened?”
“Meg’s convinced that I cheated on her and when I try to explain, I dig a deeper hole. We try to talk, but both end up defensive and mad.”
Mitch was upset and I empathized with his current predicament. In an effort to strengthen their relationship, his intentions may have backfired … at least temporarily.
“I don’t know what to do. It’s like ice between us. We barely talk. I’m sure the kids know something is going on. I should have kept my mouth shut. It would have been better had I not said anything.”
I paused for a moment as we both reflected on his last statement.
“That’s not true,” he added. “Whether I said something or not, the problem was there. We were just pretending that it wasn’t.”
“It sounds like pretending won’t work anymore,” I said. “How can you consciously NOT pretend?”
“I told her I would go to counseling. Maybe I should move out for a while,” he hesitated. “I don’t know how to fix this.”
“Knowing Meg, and seeing her reaction, do you think ‘fixing it’ is most important to her?”
He looked confused so I added, “When you have seen Meg upset by something outside of your relationship, how does she handle it?”
“She talks about it … a lot. She and her sister can be on the phone for hours talking about what happened and how she feels.”
A light suddenly went on above his head. “I get it. She doesn’t want me to solve the problem. She wants to talk about it and to be understood.”
“How could you help Meg to feel understood?”
“If I were to approach her like her sister does, she might talk to me. I could ask questions, talk about her feelings and empathize with her. I’m much more comfortable just solving the problem, but I guess I could try listening.”
“How will you start the conversation?” I asked.
“I will say, ‘I am sorry you are upset. Tell me how you have been feeling.'” He described other questions he would ask to understand Meg rather than to try to fix anything.
He continued, “It’s awkward, but I’ll try,” he said. “I don’t want to lose Meg.” Mitch committed to have the conversation that evening and would email to let me know that it had occurred.
Although Mitch’s initial attempt to strengthen the marriage wasn’t met with complete success, I knew that if he kept moving forward, he and Meg could stay REAL and move through their situation. There is benefit to forward, focused movement, even when it takes us into temporarily uncomfortable territory.
Coaching Challenge: Each time you take a step forward in any area of your life, you have the opportunity to re-evaluate where you are, what’s important and how to move forward. It can be easy to settle with the way things are and stay stuck. Write in your journal about an area in your life where you feel stuck. Make a plan to take at least one small step forward. Each time you take a step, re-evaluate and take another step. Thoughtful, courageous baby steps are the best way to keep moving forward.
Sheri Fisher is a Life Coach who lives in Grand Junction with her husband Tom and three sons. Having completed an extensive training program through Coaches Training Institute, her practice focuses on personal and professional coaching. The situations and characters in her column are fictional to maintain client confidentiality. Sheri can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or for more information, visit http://www.coachwithsheri.com.
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